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Director of Education

Director’s Message on Equity and Inclusion

The Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board’s core values underscore our collective belief in the sacred dignity and inclusive success of all persons.  As a Catholic community, we must work to ensure that everyone in our society feels welcome, valued and appreciated. 1

This month, we recognize the plight of the elderly in long-term care facilities, Indigenous people, the need for safe and inclusive spaces for the LGTBQ+ community and now the scourge of anti-Black racism.  Coupled with the global pandemic, our collective call to work towards the common good and reconciliation could never be louder.

As Catholics, we believe that we are all made in the image and likeness of a God who created us and loves us unconditionally – just as we are. We are called to know, love and celebrate one another, just as God knows, loves and celebrates each one of us because we are wonderfully made. We honour the inherent dignity in each other by treating one another with sensitivity, compassion and respect. Because each person is wholly created from God’s bountiful goodness and gifted with essential dignity and worth, we all share a gospel mandate and a moral imperative to respect one another as persons. 2

The following is a quote attributed to Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis from 2003.

“Racism is a serious offense against God precisely because it violates the innate dignity of the human person. At its core racism is a failure to love our neighbor. Since we cannot claim to love God unless we love our neighbor, we can only be one with God if we reject racism and work aggressively to remove it from our personal lives, our church, and our society.”

                                                                                          (Archbishop Harry Flynn of Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, 2003) 3

June is the month traditionally devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which for Catholics is a sign and symbol of God’s boundless and passionate love for all humanity.  This month, our Catholic community will pray for all who experience injustice because of our failure to recognize the inherent dignity of all persons and pray for an end to inequality.

Prayer for Justice and Peace

God of yesterday, today and tomorrow,
we call to mind your presence within us and around us.

Open our ears that we may hear your Word.
Open our hearts that we may understand your Word.
Open our mouths that we may speak your Word.

Inspire us with the Gospel message,
that we may celebrate all that is life-giving,
restore hope where it has been lost,
and work to bring about change where it is needed.

May we live the Gospel with courage,
constancy and love.
May we be open to the challenge
of your call to true freedom.
May we be faithful to you in our daily choices and decisions.
May we make your love known
through our words and actions.

May the triune God reign in our hearts, now and forever.

Amen 4

 

  1. huronperthcatholic.ca
  2. The Institute for Catholic Education (2020)
  3. In God’s Image: Pastoral Letter on Racism, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, 2003
  4. Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (socialjusticeresoucecenter.org)

Director’s Message for Easter

These days of physical distancing and self-isolation seem to fit nicely into the season of Lent.  But where does Easter fit in these different times?  One recent phenomenon that has taken over social media is the effort put into finding distractions while we await the end to this pandemic.  This includes everything from sourdough bread making (feel free to drop off at my place anytime), attention to mindfulness practices (make sure to try Christian meditation) and every other distraction are intended to help take our mind off the problems at hand. As we move into the Easter season, I encourage you to redouble your efforts to build your relationship with God as this is the worthiest of actions.

If we were not on the Road to Emmaus before the pandemic – we are now.  The great joy of the resurrection of Christ can be lost in our self-isolation.  This Easter season reminds us that we are on this journey together; we are called to encounter, accompany and transform.   Today, I ask you to listen to and encounter Christ who is always with us, and to turn away from Emmaus to return to Jerusalem. There is work to be done!  Our community needs us to be the living presence of Christ among the needy. We are called to be compassionate servants in our leadership and truly present in the faith life of our community.

We are blessed! We have some of the best staff in the province – we are coordinated and connected – we are in the best possible position to lead in faith and learning.  As you encounter our families and one another in this new reality, remember that you can be Christ to those we accompany.  Anything that you can do to promote a life of faith through your work will go incredibly far to advance our goal of transforming the world.

I thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do.  I wish you, your family and your friends health and happiness, and I pray that the joy that we experience in the resurrection of Christ be with you now and always.  Happy Easter!

Prayer for the Catholic Community of Huron-Perth

 O God, during this Easter season grant that we, who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by your spirit, rise up in the light of life.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

(Adapted from the Collect – Easter Sunday Mass – 2020).

The Road to Emmaus – Mike Torevell

Director’s Message for Lent – Reflecting Forward with the Emmaus Story

The Board recently approved our multi-year spiritual theme: Together on the Journey: Encounter ~ Accompany ~ Transform. This theme was arrived upon after a significant communal discernment and much prayer. The theme is animated by the Emmaus story from Luke’s Gospel. While the Emmaus story is firmly rooted in the season of Easter, it is a useful reflection for Lent as well. One of the most interesting aspects of the Emmaus story is the contrast of introspective and somewhat despondent disciples set against the great joy of the resurrection of Christ. It reminds us that the need for us to journey together in the light of presence, accompaniment and hope is our pathway for consolation with God. This is also the journey of Lent. We walk a path to get closer to God that ultimately results in the joy of the resurrection.

Embracing a pathway of sacrifice and struggle is not easy and yet our current times in education force this upon us. In spite of these challenges, as Eucharistic people we are called to deal with conflict within our community. How can we find moments of clarity that bring us to an understanding and action of reconciliation and togetherness? In Lent, we rely heavily upon prayer, fasting and almsgiving as roads to clarity and renewal of our Baptismal call. As we journey together through Lent – may we commit ourselves to prayer, fasting and almsgiving recognizing that a hopeful future is one that involves togetherness, reconciliation and gratitude.

Director’s Message for Easter

These days of physical distancing and self-isolation seem to fit nicely into the season of Lent.  But where does Easter fit in these different times?  One recent phenomenon that has taken over social media is the effort put into finding distractions while we await the end to this pandemic.  This includes everything from sourdough bread making (feel free to drop off at my place anytime), attention to mindfulness practices (make sure to try Christian meditation) and every other distraction are intended to help take our mind off the problems at hand. As we move into the Easter season, I encourage you to redouble your efforts to build your relationship with God as this is the worthiest of actions.

If we were not on the Road to Emmaus before the pandemic – we are now.  The great joy of the resurrection of Christ can be lost in our self-isolation.  This Easter season reminds us that we are on this journey together; we are called to encounter, accompany and transform.   Today, I ask you to listen to and encounter Christ who is always with us, and to turn away from Emmaus to return to Jerusalem. There is work to be done!  Our community needs us to be the living presence of Christ among the needy. We are called to be compassionate servants in our leadership and truly present in the faith life of our community.

We are blessed! We have some of the best staff in the province – we are coordinated and connected – we are in the best possible position to lead in faith and learning.  As you encounter our families and one another in this new reality, remember that you can be Christ to those we accompany.  Anything that you can do to promote a life of faith through your work will go incredibly far to advance our goal of transforming the world.

I thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do.  I wish you, your family and your friends health and happiness, and I pray that the joy that we experience in the resurrection of Christ be with you now and always.  Happy Easter!

Prayer for the Catholic Community of Huron-Perth

 O God, during this Easter season grant that we, who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by your spirit, rise up in the light of life.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

(Adapted from the Collect – Easter Sunday Mass – 2020).

The Road to Emmaus – Mike Torevell

Director’s Message for Lent – Reflecting Forward with the Emmaus Story

The Board recently approved our multi-year spiritual theme: Together on the Journey: Encounter ~ Accompany ~ Transform. This theme was arrived upon after a significant communal discernment and much prayer. The theme is animated by the Emmaus story from Luke’s Gospel. While the Emmaus story is firmly rooted in the season of Easter, it is a useful reflection for Lent as well. One of the most interesting aspects of the Emmaus story is the contrast of introspective and somewhat despondent disciples set against the great joy of the resurrection of Christ. It reminds us that the need for us to journey together in the light of presence, accompaniment and hope is our pathway for consolation with God. This is also the journey of Lent. We walk a path to get closer to God that ultimately results in the joy of the resurrection.

Embracing a pathway of sacrifice and struggle is not easy and yet our current times in education force this upon us. In spite of these challenges, as Eucharistic people we are called to deal with conflict within our community. How can we find moments of clarity that bring us to an understanding and action of reconciliation and togetherness? In Lent, we rely heavily upon prayer, fasting and almsgiving as roads to clarity and renewal of our Baptismal call. As we journey together through Lent – may we commit ourselves to prayer, fasting and almsgiving recognizing that a hopeful future is one that involves togetherness, reconciliation and gratitude.

Director’s Message for Easter

These days of physical distancing and self-isolation seem to fit nicely into the season of Lent.  But where does Easter fit in these different times?  One recent phenomenon that has taken over social media is the effort put into finding distractions while we await the end to this pandemic.  This includes everything from sourdough bread making (feel free to drop off at my place anytime), attention to mindfulness practices (make sure to try Christian meditation) and every other distraction are intended to help take our mind off the problems at hand. As we move into the Easter season, I encourage you to redouble your efforts to build your relationship with God as this is the worthiest of actions.

If we were not on the Road to Emmaus before the pandemic – we are now.  The great joy of the resurrection of Christ can be lost in our self-isolation.  This Easter season reminds us that we are on this journey together; we are called to encounter, accompany and transform.   Today, I ask you to listen to and encounter Christ who is always with us, and to turn away from Emmaus to return to Jerusalem. There is work to be done!  Our community needs us to be the living presence of Christ among the needy. We are called to be compassionate servants in our leadership and truly present in the faith life of our community.

We are blessed! We have some of the best staff in the province – we are coordinated and connected – we are in the best possible position to lead in faith and learning.  As you encounter our families and one another in this new reality, remember that you can be Christ to those we accompany.  Anything that you can do to promote a life of faith through your work will go incredibly far to advance our goal of transforming the world.

I thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do.  I wish you, your family and your friends health and happiness, and I pray that the joy that we experience in the resurrection of Christ be with you now and always.  Happy Easter!

Prayer for the Catholic Community of Huron-Perth

 O God, during this Easter season grant that we, who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by your spirit, rise up in the light of life.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

(Adapted from the Collect – Easter Sunday Mass – 2020).

The Road to Emmaus – Mike Torevell

Director’s Message for Lent – Reflecting Forward with the Emmaus Story

The Board recently approved our multi-year spiritual theme: Together on the Journey: Encounter ~ Accompany ~ Transform. This theme was arrived upon after a significant communal discernment and much prayer. The theme is animated by the Emmaus story from Luke’s Gospel. While the Emmaus story is firmly rooted in the season of Easter, it is a useful reflection for Lent as well. One of the most interesting aspects of the Emmaus story is the contrast of introspective and somewhat despondent disciples set against the great joy of the resurrection of Christ. It reminds us that the need for us to journey together in the light of presence, accompaniment and hope is our pathway for consolation with God. This is also the journey of Lent. We walk a path to get closer to God that ultimately results in the joy of the resurrection.

Embracing a pathway of sacrifice and struggle is not easy and yet our current times in education force this upon us. In spite of these challenges, as Eucharistic people we are called to deal with conflict within our community. How can we find moments of clarity that bring us to an understanding and action of reconciliation and togetherness? In Lent, we rely heavily upon prayer, fasting and almsgiving as roads to clarity and renewal of our Baptismal call. As we journey together through Lent – may we commit ourselves to prayer, fasting and almsgiving recognizing that a hopeful future is one that involves togetherness, reconciliation and gratitude.

Road to Emmaus – Mike Torevell

Christmas Message

We recently held our annual Baby Day at the Catholic Education Center in which we welcomed special representatives of the class of 2037 along with their moms to spend some time together in celebration of this wonderful time in their family’s life and in our HPC community.  This is a tradition started by our late Director and my mentor, Larry Langan.  This annual event basically paralyzes the office which is something to behold!  Everyone leaves their desk and converges in our meeting room to not only see the babies but to play with them and to hold them.

We hold this event during the Advent season – I don’t know if the tradition started as a means of giving us insight into the true meaning of the season, but it is a picture of unmitigated joy and celebration: it is a true image of Christmas.

Like our staff leaving their work to visit with the babies – we need to leave our busy lives to be with the newborn Jesus.  We leave for Bethlehem to see Jesus, be with Jesus and to hold Jesus.  May your Christmas be filled with the peace and joy that comes in spending time with Jesus and may it remind us all of the joy of new life.

 

Chris Roehrig - Director of EducationAdvent as Pilgrimage

One of my favourite stories associated with Christmas is a 19th century novella entitled A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Until recently, I had never thought about the story through the lens of Advent.  Ebenezer Scrooge gets a compressed Advent experience.  He is forced to look back, be present and look ahead.  Ultimately, his experience is transformative for his life.  Can our Advent experience be  transformative?

Looking Back

Challenge as opportunity – how can we use the stillness, silence and darkness of December to bring us closer to God? What can we stop doing in order to find the stillness needed for contemplative prayer?  Can we find respite from the inundation of media to listen to one another and to God through prayer?  Advent provides us with the opportunity to look back over the past year and to assess our shortcomings – to see clearly the things that move us away from God.

Being Present

In the Gospels leading up to the birth of Christ all of the central figures on travelling: the Holy Family travels to Bethlehem at the command of the governor for the census  (Luke 2:4); the magi travel from Herod (seemingly to report back to Herod) to the place where Jesus was born (Matthew 2:7); the shepherd travel from their fields at the prompting of the angel of the Lord (Luke 2:12) to visit the baby Jesus. They are truly on a pilgrimage, journeying to a place that is unknown to them seeking a new understanding: moving knowingly or unknowingly towards transformation.

In our lives we seem to be always going somewhere.  Are we pilgrims or commuters?  Where are we travelling?  Do we see our lives as pilgrimage or a series of journeys sown together by our busyness, our work or our desires?  Shifting to a life as pilgrims in Advent requires a personal exile from the day-to-day towards a journey that intends to transform our faith.  The pilgrimage of Advent requires that we leave our home to find our home. Pilgrimage as spiritual exercise requires attention to prayer – we attend to our inner self through prayer and service to God and one another.

Pilgrimages force us to let go of the things that we cling to that matter less and encourage us to move towards things that matter more.  Pilgrims support one another and know that God walks beside them.  On the pilgrimage, we have the deep excitement of destination and yet the journey is long enough that the constant experience of one foot in front of the other, cannot help but keep us present. Presence is the true gift of Advent and perhaps, Christmas itself.

Looking Forward

The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

Upon those who lived in a land of gloom

a light has shone.

You have brought them abundant joy

and great rejoicing. (Isaiah 9:1)

The star over Bethlehem marked the birth of Christ the King.  A great light in the darkness – a star to provide hope, guidance and joy.  While Advent prepares us for Christ’s birth it also provides reflection to celebrate His coming among us now and when he will come again, in Glory.*

In this season of hope, preparation, expectation and celebration, we are encouraged to look back, be present and look forward.  The season of Advent offers us a very counter cultural way of being in our times in which we can be easily distracted by the busyness, and consumerism of the secular life around us: the season of Advent can bear many spiritual fruits if we allow it.  May we all mark the steps of our pilgrimage in the lighting of our Advent candles, and may the light that shines from our candles remind us that Christ is the true light which enlightens everyone by coming into the world. **

* From infographic provided by the Archdiocese of Toronto.

** John 1:9

Director’s Message

These days it seems prudent to root ourselves in stories of our faith.  While our times seem steeped in confusion and uncertainty, we can find comfort in an approach to seeing life as journey buoyed by a commitment to accompaniment and encounter.  Our lives of prayer and contemplation are important tools to help us be a people of hope.

The Road to Emmaus

In the pastoral letter on Catholic education “Renewing the Promise” – we are encouraged to use the Emmaus story as inspiration for a way forward in this age.  Firstly, the Emmaus story (often ascribed as ‘The Road to Emmaus’) inspires us to think about the narrative of journey and destination simultaneously.  Perhaps more importantly the journey on the road is filled with images of consolation and desolation; it is beset with fear and comfort and uncertainty and clarity.  It is the perfect metaphor for our times.  In its destination – we are transformed by a personal experience with Christ through the opening of scripture and through sacrament (Eucharist).  Consider the image of the Road to Emmaus from the St. John’s Bible (saintjohnsbible.org).  It reflects these sentiments and more.  This image is useful for careful contemplation in conjunction with a prayer of visio divina.  The piece concerns itself with images of journey; an interplay of light and dark; pictures that are simultaneously blurred and precise.

Encounter and Transformation

The comfort that comes from transformation is easier said than done.  What does the story say to us about how we come to this moment of clarity and comfort? The transformational experience cannot happen without the journey – it is a journey that requires encounter and accompaniment.   The story is about relationship.  We yearn for a closer relationship with God and He reaches out to us for the same.  For the disciples, fear, isolation, despair and perhaps flight get in the way of seeing things as they ought to be.  This is true today!  When we surround ourselves with narratives of tumult, and park all that we see inside that narrative, it is nearly impossible to see that He is with us.  This painting from Fra Bartolommeo emphasizes the relational focus in the Road to Emmaus.  The disciple appears to seek the comfort of Christ – he reaches out and grabs the wrist of Christ.  Christ appears to be carrying his pack on his back – this will not be His first or last encounter with us for comfort.  In the story and subsequent stories after the resurrection (this time in the Gospel of Luke but also throughout the Acts of the Apostles) humans struggle to see that Christ is among us.  Inevitably, we need this difficult journey and the accompaniment of each other with God to see it through.

In closing, the road ahead is always the Road to Emmaus.  We journey beside one another sometimes aware and sometimes unaware that God is with us.  For the upcoming months, let us all be mindful that journey, encounter and transformation are all necessary steps for our salvation.  If the road ahead seems uncertain – let us all reflect upon the experience of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus so we can fully commit ourselves to being a mission-oriented school system that forms disciples of Jesus.

Strategic Plan 2020 and Annual Commitments

Director’s Annual Report 2019

Annual Commitments 2020

Director's Annual Report 2019