Director of Education

Director of Education’s Easter Message to the Community

It seems like the world is divided. In politics, economics, social issues, religious orthodoxy and science, there are forces driving us apart. Perhaps Holy Week can give us insight on how to reconcile these polarities.

Holy Week is a time when we experience dichotomy – contrasts of opposing things. During the Triduum, we visit a place where chaos and order; wonder and repulsion; terror and amazement; betrayal and loyalty; fear and love; isolation and accompaniment; desolation and consolation; light and dark; serenity and anxiety; coexist – they are tensions rooted in our reality. Every day, in the sky and in the weeds – we experience these things. How does our Triduum experience help to reconcile these opposing forces? How can we bring light to the darkness?

Spending time with scriptures during Holy Week can be a roller coaster experience! Palm Sunday’s readings set the stage for us … basically … make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened! During the Gospel passage from Palm Sunday, I noticed something that I hadn’t paid very much attention to in the past. In Mark’s Gospel passage for Palm Sunday, the passion narrative begins with an act of service and love:

‘A woman with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.’ (Mark 14)

Perhaps the nervousness of knowing what is about to unfold in the passion narrative led to an overshadowing of the importance of this important starting point. Throughout the roller coaster of events during Holy Week there are subtle (and not so subtle) reminders for us about the need to serve one another with love and in a spirit of forgiveness and compassion. Whether we are in the midst of great upheaval or settling into a pattern of peace; a consistent theme is our call to serve and our call to love.

On Good Friday we might contemplate the notion that the ultimate act of service is sacrifice. By giving His life for us Christ heals the broken world.

‘But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises, we are healed.’ (Isaiah 52-53)

In Mark’s Gospel passage for the Easter Vigil, Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of James return to the tomb to anoint Jesus; what they thought might be a final act of service. And in the midst of this service – they learn of the resurrection of Jesus – life overcomes death.

I hope that you will take time to ride the roller coaster and experience the array of feelings that come to us during the Easter Triduum. May you have an opportunity to accept the call to love and service this weekend. I hope that you will find time for prayer and worship this week and I hope that you will be able to carve out opportunities for prayerful contemplation.

I wish you all a blessed Triduum and a most joyous Easter! May the joy that comes in the Risen Christ be with you through Eastertide!!

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary




Director of Education’s Lent Message to the Community

I have three prints in my office that are by Michelangelo Caravaggio (I encourage you to come by my office sometime to see them and to say ‘hi’). Each piece has a central character in common – St. Matthew the Evangelist. The first print (enclosed) is entitled The Calling of St. Matthew, one of Caravaggio’s most famous paintings. There is much to say about this piece but one aspect of this painting that is worth noting is the ambiguity about the identity of St. Matthew. We might conclude that the vagueness about who is being called is intentional. Notwithstanding, what is less ambiguous is that Christ is calling … if not, Matthew – He is calling us! We might consider Lent as an opportunity to respond to His call.

As we embark on our Lenten journey we are called to Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving in preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection. Our calling, during these 40 days, is a call to serve the poor. 


For our Catholic schools, we might consider an expansive definition in relation to the notion of poverty. We might survey our school community and think about almsgiving in a different way – how we will give our time to serve the poor? We might think about service in our community (e.g. Society of St. Vincent de Paul) or we might think about a reflection about who among us is poor. We might ponder service to those among who are lonely or grieving or sick or struggling with addictions or are having trouble fitting in with their peers.

Wash yourselves;
make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of you doings
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1.16-17)* 


The Lenten commitments do not need to be grandiose – perhaps we should consider humble and quiet commitments. My hope for all of us is that we might be able to make a quiet commitment to give alms (especially through our time and attention), with great love, to those around us. My hope is that we will all hear Christ’s unambiguous call to follow him accompanying the marginalized on our way to the Last Supper and beyond.

I wish you all a prayerful and blessed Lent. May your commitment to prayer, fasting and almsgiving bring you closer to God and lead to fulfillment at Easter!

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary


*Blessing and Prayers: For Home and Family (CCCB 2004)  p.251

Director of Education’s Christmas Message to the Community

The Christmas season is often associated with the notion of surprises. I was driving through the district after sunset the other day and was keeping my eyes peeled for deer running (tis the season!) and I glanced up to a clear star-lit sky. Times like this remind me of God’s presence in our midst – the majesty of His creation and the surprise gifts He gives to us throughout the year.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shone. (Isaiah 9.2)1

In conjunction with the sense of presence was the sense of surprise that accompanied the way the stars were visible. For me, November and December seem like one long, gray stretch – sprinkled with cold rain and blowing snow. The surprise of seeing beauty at night and in nature at this time of year was a blessing – a source of joy. Why was I so surprised? Maybe I need to be more open to surprises.

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!” (Luke 2.1)2

Apart from surprises around the Christmas tree – my hope for you at Christmas is that you will have moments like this …. moments of genuine surprise and joy that bring you closer to God and your family. Maybe the source of surprise may be in nature or during your time with family and friends. Maybe it will be at a hockey rink, walking in your neighbourhood and at Mass. Whatever the case, may this time of surprises be a source of faith, hope and love for you and your family.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord, for our Saviour has been born in the world. Today true peace has come down to us from heaven. (Psalm 2.7)3

Merry Christmas! May comfort, peace and joy be with you during this Christmastide!

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary


1, 2 and 3. – Mass During the Night Christmas 2023

Incidentally and within a few days of drafting this message – I saw a bald eagle flying near Auburn. Surprise!


Director of Education’s Advent Message to the Community

Dear students, staff and caregivers in the Huron-Perth Catholic community:

I am sure there’s a Star Trek episode about ‘slowing down time’ but, at the moment, it is not coming to me. In the Star Trek series, The Next Generation – perhaps the character Q would do this to teach Captain Picard a lesson or two? In the yet-to-be-written Star Trek episode – Picard might not have the choice – he might have to learn the lesson that Q has in store – but what would the lesson be? If the crew of the Enterprise had to slow down – what would they learn from this? If we could choose to slow things down, would we? What would get in our way? If we could slow down time in order to improve our Christmas experience – would we dare try?

The busyness of our lives do not lend themselves very well to the calling of Advent – the call to make room for Christ’s coming.

As you run the race of this present life, may he make you firm in faith, joyful in hope and active in charity. Amen (Blessing from First Sunday of Advent)

As we seek to slow down and be present during Advent – we inevitably get caught up in every other demand in our lives. The Gospel for the first Sunday of Advent reminds us that the time to prepare for the coming of Christ is always now. Advent lays down a slower rhythm to move with and a path that leads to closeness with Him – but what gets in our way?

Sometimes we need a voice to give us permission to change and disrupt our patterns of busyness. In Star Trek TNG, the character Q often provided this disruption to the crew of the Enterprise. Inserting himself in the middle of whatever important work was being undertaken. Unavoidably, the crew is forced to choose – continue on something less important or change course to deal with what is in front of us.

Jesus said to his disciples; “Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13)

Where might we find an unavoidable disruption? Perhaps we can put our ears to the wind to hear the words of John the Baptist in the time leading up to Christ’s birth. Can we hear his urgent call for repentance and transformational change? Perhaps we can answer John the Baptist’s call with a choice? Perhaps we can disrupt the busyness of our lives?

He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3-9)

During Advent we choose to light a candle as the days grow shorter and darkness increases. Advent allows us the opportunity to be light to our own families by choosing to slow down – by choosing transformation.  Perhaps we can bring peace to our lives by bringing peace to those around us.

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, what we may be saved. (Psalm 80)

Whether you are hurtling through space on the Enterprise or finding your way through the mall at Christmas – I hope that you are able to embrace the quiet calling of peace during Advent. May we answer the call of John the Baptist and dedicate ourselves to transformation.  May our effort to engage in quiet contemplation amid the business of our lives bring us closer to God.  May our dedication and humble service to our families and friends lead to a joyful Christmas.  

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary



  • Blessings and scripture from First Sunday of Advent
  • Star Trek TNG Photo – The Guardian
  • St. John the Baptist – Icon from Ukrainian Catholic Shrine of St. John the Baptist
  • Advent Wreath –

Director of Education’s Thanksgiving Message to the Community

Dear students, staff and caregivers in the Huron-Perth Catholic community:

Over the last many years, I tried to spend time touching base with the readings of the day using the Living with Christ app. I continue to be mystified at how often the reading relates to some aspect of my day or current situation. This Sunday’s second reading typifies this phenomenon.

Brothers and sisters: Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus … Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4.609).

During my morning drives to the Catholic Education Centre this week, the view across the fields, forests, streams and farms was breathtaking. I am thankful for being here and thankful for walking alongside you in our Catholic community.

May your time this weekend spent in prayer and in the spirit of thanksgiving bring you peace and blessings! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary


Director of Education’s New School Year Message to the Community

The 2023-24 school year has begun!  We push off together on our journey of faith and learning with great anticipation and enthusiasm.  As a district we enter the last year of our multi-year strategic plan that emphasizes our goals of reaching high levels of achievement while living in Christ in hope, faith and love.  There are many exciting initiatives in store to help us get there – thank you for your unwavering and relentless support!

Today’s reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians reminds us to ‘encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing’.  When I am visiting our schools – I see this come to life.  We are a Catholic community committed to excellence – committed to helping one another reach our potential and committed to the marginalized.  I am so proud to be one of your colleagues.

Please keep our whole Catholic community in your prayers – may our prayers lead to peace and may our prayers continue to bring us closer to Him.

God Bless and Happy New Year!

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary


Director of Education’s Easter Message to the Community

I used to coach high school basketball and was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a Nike National Coaches Clinic with my fellow coaches from St. David in Waterloo when I first started teaching.  It was the first conference I had ever attended as a teacher which is somewhat curious given my career trajectory.  I had attended a basketball conference before I had even attended a teaching conference.  It was awesome.  We had an opportunity to hear from several college coaching legends like Dean Smith, Gene Keady, Jim Boheim and Mike Kryzewski (Coach K).  I learned a great deal from all of these coaches.  I learned two valuable lessons from Coach K – one pertains to Easter and one does not.  To address the latter, I would say that I learned an important lesson on how to get a good seat at a general admission workshop!  Coach K from Duke University was the keynote speaker (and obviously the main draw)  in a very large conference room which hosted hundreds of coaches from across North America.  Intent on securing the best possible seat,  my coaching peers and I went to the workshop a few hours ahead of time and left our Nike clipboards with our name tags on the seats directly in front of the podium – six feet from where Coach K was to speak.  Five minutes before the talk began, we passed through a sea of coaches like Caitlin Clark through a forest of forwards and sauntered to the front; we took our seats where our clipboards were and enjoyed a one-hour workshop on coaching from one of the best!  A conference success story!


Apart from an exemplary command of Xs and Os (strategy and tactics), Coach K reminded us that relentless attention to improvement was a key to his success (which, by the early 1990’s was already legendary).  It highlighted for me that both my team and I needed to be better every minute, every hour and every day.  It may have been here that I began to think really hard about how time on the court and in my classroom was being used.  I began to think about how I was going to squeeze improvement out of every moment.  Every second and every minute not attending to being a better shooter, a better passer, a better defender but more importantly a better person and a better Christian – was time lost.   It is a lesson from our Lenten journey. We pay careful attention to improving our relationship with God and one another through Lent – we aspire to build upon it through the 40 days. We endeavour for a relentless attention to things that bring us closer to God for personal and communal betterment – this assures us of the promise of eternal life.  

If the National Championship is the apex of achievement for the NCAA tournament, the Easter Triduum is the apex for our spiritual journey.  While we attend to the prayer and worship in the majesty of these days – and we greet the end of the Lenten journey with a great ‘Alleluia’!  … we are reminded by great coaches and the Greatest Coach that we need to cherish and enjoy the moment.  Take it all in … all the days of the Triduum.  Be present … take a deep breath and be with the rhythm of these days.  Enjoy our time with family – be inspired by the emotional highs and lows and highs of Holy Week.  

O Mary, come and say
What you saw at break of day.

The empty tomb of my living Lord!
I saw Christ Jesus risen and adored!

Share the Good News, sing joyfully:
His death is victory!

Lord Jesus, Victor King, show us mercy.

 When we pass through Easter Sunday we might be reminded that after we cut the nets down from the rim and climb down the ladder and finish celebrating – we use the next 50 days of Eastertide to prepare for the next National Championship.  Like the disciples returning to Jerusalem from Emmaus,  the joy of Easter inspired and started the path to Pentecost, enlightening the way for all of us as missionary disciples.  

I wish all of you a blessed and joyous Easter!  Unlike watching a basketball tournament unfold from a distance – we have the opportunity to be on the court during this Triduum.  I hope and pray that our community will be active and present in our parishes this weekend (jacking up spiritual three-pointers all weekend long).  I wish you and your family continued peace and blessings.   May the 50 days of Eastertide continue to bring you joy and inspire you to blaze a new trail of discipleship!  

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary

* Caitlin Clark photo – New York Times
** Coach K photo – Denver Post
*** Empty Tomb – CNR – Carthage 2022
**** Easter Sequence – Victimae Paschali Laudes 


Director of Education’s Lent Message to the Community

The season of Lent is upon us and we commit ourselves to a closer relationship with God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The idea of a 40-day journey roots us in the need for transformation. We continue on our journey together, aware that a renewed commitment or even a new commitment may be necessary to achieve our goal of transformation and consolation with God. This season of Lent presents us with the challenge of assisting our parishes in their efforts to bounce back from the pandemic. I hope and pray that our community of the faithful will be able to participate and lead in the ongoing support of parish life. Our leadership is important for our personal faith journeys as well as the journey of the institutional church.

This past summer I spent some time in Carthage to tour some Roman ruins.1 As part of the tour I was able to encounter a Roman aqueduct and walk among the ruins that were one of the destinations of the water. To put an exclamation point on the impact, it was extremely hot that day (even by the standards of the tour guides) and the deep desire and appreciation for relief from our environment was overwhelming. I was struck by incredible awe by the sheer magnitude of the accomplishment. This aqueduct moved life-giving water across 132 kilometers near the largest hot desert on the planet (the Sahara). The water emptied into enormous pools providing a place to gather and a place for refuge. For our 40 days in the desert – where will our life-giving water come from? How does the experience of fasting, prayer and almsgiving give us relief from our world? How can our return to parish life help to quench our thirst for a relationship with Christ?

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary


Director of Education’s Christmas Message to the Community

The Baroque period brought about a clearer sense of realism and tension in paintings. In Caravaggio’s Nativity, these characteristics brought with it a certain duality. It presents a paradox of the moment in the form of a question: Can the coming of Christ into the world be a source of uncertainty and joy? The human side of the equation lends itself to the notion of uncertainty; feelings of doubt, fear and confusion, can be met with the spiritual side with sentiments of consolation, courage and grace. The Gospel accounts support this contrast – the presence of the angels to the shepherds, in all its glory, set against the utter humility of the stable and the manger.

“Then an Angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the Angel said to them, “Do not be afraid: for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David and Saviour, who is the Christ, the Lord.” (Luke 2.1-16)

Caravaggio’s paintings are often noted for the choice of characters being represented. In this instance, St. Francis and St. Lawrence are depicted in the scene. But why these two saints that walked among us many hundreds of years apart?

Caravaggio’s work might suggest the selection of the characters is a clue to resolve the paradox, a clue laid out in the path in the lives of St. Lawrence and St. Francis. These two saints may signal for us the way through uncertain times. Both Lawrence and Francis lived out lives of service to God and to those in their community. In the Nativity of our Lord – we see the Word made flesh. St. Francis is said to have preached: “Your God is of your flesh, He lives in your nearest neighbour, in every man.”1 Perhaps the true joy of Christmas is manifest when we acknowledge Christ in each of us and live out a life of service to God and each other.


“So they went with taste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.” (Luke 2.14)

In our Catholic schools, we can live out our Christmas mission each day as we work alongside our students, families and peers with a sacramental vision of Christ alive in everyone around us. We are blessed to have this opportunity to work in this environment and I am blessed to have you as a colleague. In a spirit of gratitude that comes at this time of year – I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the Christmas season bring you closer to God in hope, faith, joy and peace – may the New Year bring opportunity for spiritual consolation with God and personal consolation with your friends and family. Thank you for your service to God and one another – may God bless you.

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education & Secretary

1. Eimerl, Sarel (1967). The World of Giotto: c. 1267-1337 (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Student art by Gracy O – St. Mary’s, Goderich (Winner of our Christmas Card Contest) 



Director of Education’s Advent Message to the Community

Last week and in true Huron-Perth fashion, winter announced its imminent arrival. On the heels of a rather temperate November (if there is such a thing), a series of snow squalls over the course of four days ensued.  

On the evening of the first of snowsquall I had a rather rude encounter with the elements. After nightfall in the face of a howling northwest wind – I opened the patio door to let out the dog. I took three steps down a small set of stairs onto the back patio and the cold wind took my breath away. Nothing like a big gulp of arctic air to get you focused! I noticed two things. The first is more obvious than the second ….get inside! In military fashion, I immediately made an about face towards the house and hustled my way back up the stairs with the dog in tow. 

Open the gates, so that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace – in peace because they trust in you.  Isaiah 26:1 – First Week of Advent

After turning back to the patio door and looking out, the second thing I noticed immediately arriving into the house was that the sun hadn’t yet fully set and in the far south a narrow line of a sunset between a line of dark clouds and the horizon. The snow was starting to come down and all the evergreens, grass and housetops gathered the snowy icing and began to take on the inside of a snow globe. Breaking through the dark and wind and cold, beauty and hope!  

With an uncertain look from my dog – I put on his collar and we went for a walk. Well prepared and dressed for the elements – it was a beautiful cold night. 

The endurance of darkness is the preparation for great light. – St. John of the Cross 

God’s very imprint of creation is in nature. Can something in the discomfort of these days – something in the hidden beauty of these days, instruct us about how to lead us to a closer relationship with Him? Can we hear the Lord in whistling winds? Can we be revitalized by gusts of fresh cold air? Can we see light breaking in the darkness? Is there something we can learn from making an effort to find beauty and hope in the darkness that can help us make a better Advent? Can our encounter with nature bridge an encounter with Him?  

‘We consider Christmas as the encounter, the great encounter, the historical encounter, the decisive encounter, between God and humanity.”

– St. Paul VI

What does the world around us say to us about the return of Christ? What does the world around us say about preparing for Christ? Can an understanding of what is around us lead us to a better understand what is happening within us? More importantly, can understanding the physical world help us to bridge the chasm to the heavenly world?  Is being present to what is around us, instructive to the path we need to take that leads us to Him. Can we take care of business in the here and now, in our families and in our communities, embracing a service that will lead to the light of Christ.

Open wide your door to the one who comes. Open your soul, throw open the depths of your heart to see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the sweetness of grace. Open your heart and run to meet the Sun of eternal light that illuminates all people. – St. Ambrose

In preparation for this message, I read many of the liturgical readings for this Advent. I recommend it! Stitching together the readings in a few sittings provided a good feel for the ebb and flow of the season. I hope that your prayer life during the season will be one that brings you closer to Him. Bishop Dabrowski (Auxiliary Bishop of London) produced some excellent Advent videos. I encourage you to spend some time with them. In the run up Christmas through Advent – I hope that this time of hope, faith, joy and peace lead to a blessed Christmas. May God bless you and your family. Thank you for your continued prayers for our community.

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education

*Thank you to the folks at Living with Christ for inserting the quotes from St. John of the Cross, St. Paul VI and St. Ambrose in the seasonal missals for this year!


Director of Education’s Start of School Year Message to the Community

We are entering the third year of our multi-year spiritual theme which is Together on the Journey, which emphasizes the notion of transformation in the context of the Emmaus story from Luke’s Gospel. For the disciples walking to Emmaus from Jerusalem amidst the backdrop of Christ’s death and resurrection – their experience of transformation is sparked by the revelation of Christ among them as they encounter Him through scripture and the breaking of the bread. Their hearts are kindled by this experience and their transformation ensues.

Many artists have rendered versions of the Emmaus story over the centuries. Two artists to accomplish this were Caravaggio and Melone. Melone was a Renaissance artist who’s rendition was completed between around the 15th and 16th century, while Caravaggio’s work was completed around the 16th and 17th century. Their work (seen below) captures two different perspectives of the Emmaus story in very different styles. Setting aside a thorough analysis from an interpretive and historical perspective – they have one very interesting similarity. Both works point to aspects of pilgrimage within the images. Melone (left) makes a very curious point to make Christ the pilgrim. In the image – the symbol for Christian pilgrims (the clamshell) is on Christ’s hat. For Caravaggio (right) it is one of the disciples who boast the clamshell.



What does the Emmaus story have to do with pilgrimages? Are we on a pilgrimage? Can the adoption of a pilgrim mindset inspire our journey?

In the Catholic tradition, there are three major pilgrimages – Rome, Jerusalem and the Cathedral of Santiago (Spain). The purpose of a personal pilgrimage can vary but at its heart is the notion of spiritual consolation or closeness with God. The paintings of Caravaggio and Melone remind us that we live out the role of a pilgrim in our daily lives. Like the pilgrim we aspire to seek out a sacramental existence and search for encounter with God. This is an important state of mind and spirit – it is an aspiration goal worthy of every Catholic educator.

A typical pilgrimage requires challenge and sacrifice. It seems like every school year has its own set of challenges that are beset by forces outside of our control. Maybe it has always been this way. Perhaps there will always be challenges. In an effort to think about the conditions necessary for spiritual transformation I wonder if faith, hope and love can be the fertile ground for us this year.

As we journey together this year, may we be reminded that challenges, encounters and joys are unique opportunities to find God in the people, places and things around us. Furthermore, an attention to this with a life of prayer can bring us closer to God.

The notion of the transformation for the disciples, on their ‘pilgrimage’ to Emmaus, results in reframing or re-envisioning their mission. As we gather for our journey together this year – I ask for your prayers and your continued dedication to till the ground of our district to make spiritual transformation a possibility for our children, their families and ourselves. May your transformation allow you to turn away from Emmaus and return to Jerusalem.

May God bless you and may your school year come with peace and joy.

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education

Consider using these images for prayer of Visio Divina.  A brief structure for this form of prayer can be found at the CARFLEO website.

Director of Education’s End of School Year Message to the Community

As this academic year wraps up and we move full-bore into preparations for September – I wish to thank you for everything you have done in bringing hope and joy to the families in our Catholic community. We turn the page on another year for the ages – I am so proud of you.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites his disciples into a boat that comes across violent seas. The disciples are reminded that regardless of our apparent dire circumstances – God is with us. Accompaniment is never far away and with care for each other and openness to God’s presence – we can overcome great obstacles. I cannot help but think about this passage in the context of this school year. God was with us!

I wish you all a great summer. I will see many of you over the summer and the vast majority at our September 1st system-wide faith day! I hope all of you enjoy some well-deserved time with God, family and friends. Please continue to pray for our Catholic schools and for each other. Stay safe and see you in September!

Matthew 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea,
so that the boat was being swamped by waves;
but he was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.
The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education

*Photo St. Joseph, Ontario – ‘After the Storm’

Director of Education’s Triduum Message to the Community

I came across a painting by Hans Memling that illustrates the events of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.1 It is a stunning piece and a great deal to digest in one sitting. The first thing I noticed was the attire of the people in the painting. Donning their very best 15th-century attire, the figures in the various Gospel narratives come to life. While it may be impossible to set aside the time warp of haberdashery playing itself out; contemporaneously, the 15th-century audience may have been encouraged to see themselves in the painting. How do we, a 21st-century audience, see ourselves in the painting; how do we see ourselves in the Gospels of Holy Week?

The scriptures of Holy Week can be challenging for many reasons and at the same time, provide us with a path to redemption. We are confronted with concepts of darkness and light; sin and salvation; love and betrayal; violence and healing; and death and resurrection. When confronted with discomfort we might be inclined to take the easy path. We are an Easter people, it stands to reason that we may be drawn to the light side of the polarity rather than the shadow side. Can a better understanding of the shadow side enhance the transformational elements of Holy Week? Can I see myself in the soldiers AND Joseph of Arimathea; Judas Iscariot; AND Mary Magdalene; the angry mob AND the women beating their breasts? Can I see myself as both sinner and saved?  

A journey like this, through the Triduum, might also help us to confront the polarities of our time. Can we be mindful of avoiding our habit of judging people, by reducing them to their opinions (especially when they are very different from our own)? How can a spirit of encounter and accompaniment, made evident on the Road to Emmaus, help us to bridge the torrents of division in our world? Maybe Hans Memling had this in mind; the whole picture is the picture of salvation – it needs to be contemplated in part and whole. Perhaps everything we need to know about replacing hate with love is captured by deeply immersing ourselves in the spiritual experiences of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum.

Notwithstanding our careful contemplation in the days to come – the journey through the next four days and the Easter Triduum culminates with joy! Jesus is Risen! For good reason, the Easter season is 50 days! May the joy of the risen Christ come to you this weekend and remain with you throughout the year. My sincere hope is that our Catholic community can reunite in our church community this weekend – that we will fill the pews and move ahead to rebuild. I also hope that joyful time with family and friends will help to round out a blessed Easter weekend. May you all have a blessed Triduum and a Happy Easter!

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education


  1. Thank you, CARFLEO for posting this to your social media feed! I encourage the faithful to spend some time with this painting!

Director of Education’s Lent Message to the Community

I am half Ukrainian. I have spent several hours trying to come up with a Lenten message for our community that attempts to make sense of the war and how this might inform a spiritual journey to Easter. I wrote a great deal but it does not suffice. In short, consider offering your prayer, fasting and almsgiving for peace in Ukraine. This is no small thing if it is done with a fullness of heart. I hope that your Lenten journey is one that brings you closer to Him and leads you to a joyful Easter.

Psalm 91
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, 
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.” 1

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education


  1. Responsorial Psalm from Mass for First Sunday of Lent.

Director of Education’s Christmas Message to the Community

Can one be helped by being somewhat overwhelmed by the strength of the Holy Family? This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us of a pregnant Mary’s 80-mile journey to her cousin, Elizabeth’s home.                      A week later, one of the Christmas Gospel narratives will remind us of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. 1

 Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country,

where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.

And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry,

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  Luke 1:39

It’s hard to comprehend the physical, psychological and spiritual strength needed to complete these journeys. Surveying these passages I always took for granted that this was part of the great story and overlooked the practical difficulty of this path leading up to the birth of Jesus. 2 These stories are both historical and metaphorical. These journeys mimic our own journeys and in particular the journey to closeness with God. This journey is not easy, it requires audacity, perseverance, patience, courage, faith, hope and love … this journey requires us to let go of comfort to give the highs and lows to God. Ultimately, our journey brings us to God and during this season we bring ourselves to Jesus Christ.

Break out together in song,

O ruins of Jerusalem!

For the Lord comforts his people,

he redeems Jerusalem.  Isaiah  52:7

I share this reflection given the sudden change in circumstances we find ourselves with the global pandemic.            The emergence and spread of the Omicron variant is yet another obstacle on the road to normalcy. It is another turn in the road we must travel. A source of comfort may be the journey of the Holy Family leading up to the birth of Christ. It can help us to understand that the horizon for what we are capable of, is wider and brighter than we know.3  It reminds us that the burden of our present can be lightened by our faith in God.

For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.

For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:2

In full appreciation of the uncertainty of these days, I wish that your Christmas is one that is marked by the fullness of joy that comes with time with family and friends. Like the Holy Family, may your family be a source of strength and comfort for you these days. I encourage you to pray with the Holy Family in mind as we journey to the Feast of the Nativity.  

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May the joy that accompanies the birth of Christ, be with you now and always!

Christmas Blessing

Jesus Christ, the Son of God,

left his heavenly home

in order to be born in a human family.

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

and watched over by Joseph of Nazareth.

We ask God to bless our family and friends,

and make us more like Christ our Saviour.  Amen 4

Peace and blessings,

Chris N. Roehrig,
Director of Education

For context, the journey to Judah from Nazareth is about the same distance between Goderich and Cambridge.

Let that sink in!

  1. Map courtesy of
  2. Image from Manitoba Coptic Festival
  3. Adapted from Blessings and Prayers – For Home and Family; CCCB Publications (2004)



    Director of Education’s Advent Message to the Community

    Ski Trips, Sacramentality and Advent

    My journey to Banff was in the March Break of 2002. It started off as many days in Huron-Perth start – in a snowstorm. It was very early in the morning and my first time visiting the London Airport. Already behind schedule because of the snow, I missed a turn amid the blowing snow and early morning darkness en route to the airport parking lot. Attempting a three-point turn, to turn around, I got stuck when my rear tires dropped into the ditch. I was so close to the airport, that when I got out of the car, I could see my plane on the tarmac … engines running … de-icing in progress. Mindful that the clock was ticking I frantically attempted to dig my car out without a shovel. At one point I was on my stomach under my car trying to sweep snow out – I almost passed out trying to free the vehicle. I was stranded on a poorly travelled side road and apart from the sound of aircraft engines humming far across the field and in the distance, it was deadly quiet. As desperation slowly set in, lights appeared in the distance heading towards my position. Alone in the dark, snow blowing and completely exhausted, a pickup truck emerged from the icy abyss, pulled up and offered to pull me out of the ditch.

    We have seen incredible things today.  Luke 5:26

    Truly a ‘Good Samaritan’ moment! The odds of a pickup truck with a tow-rope driving by at 5 a.m. in a snowstorm are astronomically minuscule. I remember the wisps of snow blowing across the beams from the headlights when the driver got out – all smiles. I spent some time covering the context and gravitas of the situation, which left my saviour even more amused. In stark contrast to my panic and worry, this whole operation was matter-of-fact for the driver of the pickup truck. It was no big deal … it literally took a few minutes and he was off to the business of the day. I was out of the ditch and on my way. (Several years later, on a ski trip in Western New York, my daughter and I would pay this forward and dig a poor couple’s car out of a snowbank – that story is for another day.)

    This story ends with another journey, this time up the mountain at Sunshine Village. Prior to arriving at Banff, I had skied all over Ontario and Quebec but was completely unprepared for the scale of the rocky mountains. I hesitate to attempt a description except to say that when you are at the foot of these mountains you are seeing sheer rock from your feet to the sky … there is no horizon – just rock and sky. It is shocking in its magnitude; it is sharp and strong and spans your entire view. Except for small trees and sparse vegetation, it is desolate – barren – cold. At the same time, it is ominously beautiful. 2 To ski Sunshine requires a long lift ride. I don’t remember exactly how long the gondola and lift ride to the top of Sunshine Village was but it’s very long. I was with my brother-in-law and we didn’t talk much on the way up … it was a lot to absorb and being quiet seemed to make a lot of sense. The day we ascended, it was clear … no clouds … blue sky, sun, rock and snow.

    There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars.  Luke 21:25

    The top of the mountain at Sunshine Village was the most stunning and visually overwhelming experience of my life. I will never forget what I saw that day. It felt like I was on top of the world – there was no peak in sight that was higher. The distance to the foot was so extreme that I felt like I could fall off the peak. Below my feet, only the mountain I was standing upon and beside me and below me, the peaks of every surrounding mountain. It’s times like these that adopting a sacramental sensibility of being in the world and feeling an encounter with God comes easy. That is what I was feeling.

    As they were coming down from the mountain … Matthew 17:9A

    These two journeys remind me of the path for Advent. We prepare to encounter the coming of Christ and yet we encounter Him along the journey and at the end of the journey. I think about the dark and cold of these days – the need to seek out light and to embrace the quiet. Perhaps this Advent we will be able to help someone out of a ditch or be lucky enough to have someone pull us out. Perhaps this Advent will lead to a mountaintop experience with the coming of Christ. One thing is for sure the journey is as important as the destination – the journey is the destination. May the spirit of encounter, together on our Advent journey, be with you all. Have a blessed Advent … and … stay out of the ditch. wink

    Advent Prayer

    Loving Creator, grant me the wisdom to grow in gratitude for the journey you’ve given me.

    Help me to see how you have been revealed to me, and how you reveal yourself through me with each step I walk. Amen 3

    Peace and blessings,

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education


    2. Image from – Sunshine Village Ski Resort
    3. Awaken to New Light by S. James Meyer (Living with Christ)

    Above … Jonny Bradle … who once helped more than 50 vehicles get unstuck from the snow in 2015. (USA Today)

    Thanksgiving Message from the Director of Education

    To the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board Community:

    I recently concluded my first round of school visits. It was amazing. I saw countless wonders on the journey itself; sunrises, sunsets, winding rivers, trees turning colour, crops coming off of fields, foxes, deer and an eagle!  After being holed up for so long, I was reminded about the beauty that surrounds us every day. Notwithstanding the awe of nature, I saw something even more inspiring. Everywhere in our schools. I was met with smiles, enthusiasm, joy and gratitude. In our students, staff and community – I witnessed misgivings giving way to thanksgivings. This abundance of accompaniment stood in stark contrast to the isolation of the days behind us.

    This Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark turns to one of Jesus’ most famous teachings:

    It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10.17-27)

    This passage becomes an important nexus of reflection about wealth, possessions and community. 

    Truthfully, throughout much of my life, I contemplated this passage with the image of a camel and sewing needle in mind.  Of course, Jesus may have been referencing the ‘needle gate’ in Jerusalem. The ancient city of Jerusalem was a walled city that had many gates to enter. Through each gate would pass humans and animals alike. The ‘needle gate’ is a small gate (fitting for a VERY small camel).  The gate is so small that even for a person to pass – one would need to pack lightly and perhaps shed their earthly possessions.  Perhaps this Thanksgiving we can think about two questions: What can we shed to get closer to God?  What is getting in our way to become closer to God?  

    My school visits call to mind that shedding isolation and embracing a community of accompaniment brings us joy, closely resembles the Christian experience and ultimately brings us closer to God.  Being back in our schools, forced me to reflect upon what makes us rich and how we define wealth itself. Visiting our schools reminded me that we are wealthy when we are together and in-person – we are wealthy when we are elbow-to-elbow and knee-to-knee – we are wealthy when we walk a path side-by-each. I only hope that you have had the chance to share in this experience since our return.

    In closing, my prayer for all of you is that the spirit of accompaniment may come over you and your friends and family. May the spirit of a grateful heart weave its way through the days of this weekend. I am deeply thankful for all of you – the resilient, joyful, focused and prayerful community of Huron-Perth. I ask you to continue to pray for our community. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

    Peace and blessings,

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education



    The new school year is upon us! This is a time to celebrate the return of our students and staff to our schools. This year we will emphasize the spiritual theme of accompaniment, together on our journey.


    Our multi-year spiritual theme is rooted in Luke’s Gospel narrative of the Emmaus story. The Emmaus story reminds us that the journey to Emmaus (and inevitably back to Jerusalem) is instructive for our faith journey – our journey to become closer to God. This journey, that rides upon a current of accompaniment is both an interpersonal journey and a spiritual one – it gives us new eyes to see, discernment to judge and spirit to act.  


    When the disciples journey to Emmaus after the devastation of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross they are despondent and confused. The stranger whom they encounter on the road, not only embodies Christ when he opens the scriptures and breaks bread – but is the risen Christ himself. This narrative of accompaniment and encounter gives the disciples new eyes to see. Can this experience tell us anything about how we might come to see things differently? What might we see with our new eyes? Can we see the poor in our midst and can we widen our view of what poor actually means or looks like?


    Given our district’s image for our spiritual theme – one would be hard-pressed to misconstrue the idea that accompaniment is an interpersonal exercise. Indeed, we seek out each other … to listen and to be present – we seek ways to understand and reconcile. We walk a path alongside one another. More challenging in these times might be the objective of spiritual accompaniment – how do we walk with our God? How do we find ways to become closer to God? Can we improve our life of prayer and worship?  


    These are difficult times to be a Catholic in Canada. It is hard to reconcile the love of our faith and all that the institutional church has given to us with its history. The Road to Emmaus story sprung from crisis for the disciples – can we return to Jerusalem in our midst? The work of the Church is our work and so we need to find ways to walk alongside our parishes and to lift them up while we embrace truth and reconciliation. How do we see our relationship with our parishes through new eyes? How can our participation in parish life help to bring about hope and joy for the future?


    In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis coined the expression ‘missionary disciples accompany missionary disciples’.  This phrase reminds us that our role as leaders and disciples requires us to be present to one another – to lift each other up when necessary and to walk alongside one another on our faith journey. We are not out of the woods yet – we need each other more than ever.

    In closing, I ask for your continued prayers for our Catholic community. I wish you peace and blessings in your work and for your families. I hope that your school year is filled with hope, faith, and love. I look forward to seeing you on my visits throughout the school year – it has been too long. 

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education


    St. Therese Prayer


    End of School Year Message – June 2021

    As the sun sets on another school year, I wish to express tremendous gratitude to our whole community.  We are almost there – I am so proud of you.

    The past year has been described in many colourful and mostly pejorative ways. I have some personal favourites – in an effort to keep this piece as high-brow as possible – I will say that the image involves a fire and waste disposal container. Yet, most people I speak with have thought about the things they will miss after the pandemic or things they are grateful for about these times.  They recall with fondness acts of generosity, support, compassion, empathy and ingenuity.  It speaks to the opportunity that every challenge presents and the need to simplify and focus on the people in our midst.

    I have been thinking about St. Therese of Lisieux lately.  Arguably the most important saint in modernity, I wonder what she would think of the headache of our pandemic.  She adopted ‘the little way’ which is to say that she would do all things, no matter how big or small with great love.  She adopted a simple way of being in life and in prayer on her journey to be closer to God.

    Easier said than done – it seems to me that it exemplified the path of so many of our staff and families in our community.  There are so many examples of seemingly small things that were done to help one another during the pandemic.

    “But to think of Therese of Lisieux as simply a delicate hothouse flower is to overlook the considerable resolve that lay beneath the fragile petals.”1

    Amidst her life of prayer, love and attention to the sacramentality of everyday life – was considerable challenge and suffering.  I mention this because to accept that our journey has been easy or has been fully confronted by our own little way, begets the fact that considerable hurt has been inflicted upon our community over the last 18 months.

    With great joy, it will be important for us to remember that the ‘little way’ can be a powerful antidote to division and desolation.  Much healing awaits us.  Paradoxically, the optimism and anticipation of pre-pandemic times seems palpable.  As we embrace the joy of the future, we will need to bring healing to our community.

    May we adopt a path for our journey, rooted in love and everyday interactions to restore our community.  May we all adopt the ‘little way’ as we journey alongside one another in a spirit of accompaniment.

    May our summer months be filled with joyful time with family, friends and God.  May the sacramentality of everyday life – a slow return to pre-pandemic life be evident to all of us.  With this in mind,  I cannot express how much I anticipate the ability to see you all in person soon.  I wish everyone in our community a safe and joyful summer.

    St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary


    1. My Life with the Saints, J. Martin (2006)
    St. Therese Prayer

    Catholic Education Week 2021


    I was born into the Catholic school system and never left.  My dad was a Catholic teacher and then a principal and I have memories of walking the hallways of Catholic schools for as long as I can remember.

    Understandably, it is a cornerstone to my development as a person and source of incredible comfort. Along the way I have met some of the finest people you can imagine.  Students, staff, parents and parish/diocesan partners.  Great people and great memories – people that lift you up, inspire and model Christ all day long.

    This experience is held by many, rooted in faith, and explored through academic activity.  These experiences are not only personal they are communal.  Catholic schools contribute to a just society rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ.   We go about our business making the world a better place – building God’s kingdom here on earth.

    I share my personal gratitude for the sacrifice of those that came before us – religious and lay alike – our moment of celebration has been made possible by the people on whose shoulders we stand.  May our Catholic school system continue to embrace Pentecost and our continuing mission of hope, faith and love.

    Please join me in celebrating the 2021 Catholic Education Week!

    Chris N. Roehrig,

    Director of Education & Secretary


    Director’s Easter Message 2021

    On Holy Thursday, we enter into the Easter Triduum and complete our Lenten journey. The movement of the weekend as expressed in liturgy takes us on a rollercoaster of emotion, ultimately culminating with great joy.

    Today, we reflect upon an intersection between the call to service and a call to be transformed through our encounter with the Eucharist (a sacrament of thanksgiving). This call to service has special meaning for us as we lead in our schools. We put others before ourselves. Indeed, it would be easy to say that the call to service is effortless and our reminder to give thanks is simple. Our journey through the Triduum reminds us that the blessings we receive often come with sacrifice.

    With this in mind, I offer gratitude to our staff for their service. The manner in which they have put children and families ahead of their own needs is testimony to our Christian calling. Their service is not marked by sackcloth and ashes but by joy and love. We truly are an Easter people. Our staff have provided a safe place with light and hope for families – I am so proud of our team.

    I wish everyone a blessed Triduum. May your Easter be a time that bursts with joy, brought about by Christ’s victory over death through His resurrection!

    Continue to keep our community in prayer this weekend. May God bless you and keep you – Happy Easter!

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary










    Director’s Christmas Message 2020


    When I sign off on all my emails I use the greeting with ‘peace’. I picked this habit up from a
    friend. As a person with an average vocabulary, I always thought that I had a fulsome
    understanding of the meaning ‘peace’. Peace is certainly a place of calm, rest, comfort and free
    of conflict. In the biblical sense – peace is synonymous with shalom. Shalom is the Hebrew
    word for peace. Its meaning goes beyond just a salutation or greeting it is meant in a prayerful
    sense and a blessing. In its fullest sense – “shalom” captures peace as bringing wholeness to
    something broken or in disarray. Perhaps it is in this sense of restoration and rebuilding that we
    can consider peace this Christmas during COVID 19.

    In chapter 2 of Luke’s gospel we hear the angel announce the birth and arrival of the Prince
    of Peace:

    “ Do not be afraid; I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is
    born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord … Glory to God in
    the highest heaven, and on earth peace among people!”

    Our Christmas during this pandemic may seem to lack true peace or wholeness as we try to
    piece together as many vestiges of our traditions to resemble our past holidays. Let us
    remember Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, Christ’s birth, and the angel’s
    announcement of the Messiah was also the start of a journey to wholeness and restoration.
    Christ came as a light in the darkness to save us from the brokenness between God and His

    As we move from Advent to Christmas, I wish you and your families peace – peace to find hope,
    gratitude, and joy — peace that is more whole than broken– a place of wholeness — a spiritual
    shalom. I hope that you will be able to set aside some time with your family for prayer and
    worship and that your Christmas time will bring you and your family closer to God .

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!*


    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary

    * I don’t usually make much of New Years’ but I’ll be making an exception this year!



    Isaiah 62.11-12**
    The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth:
    “Say to daughter Zion,
    See, your salvation comes:
    his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.
    “They shall be called ‘The Holy People’,
    ‘The Redeemed of the Lord’;
    and you shall be called ‘Sought Out,’
    ‘A City Not Forsaken.’”

    ** Mass at Dawn (Christmas 2020)


    Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
    left his heavenly home
    in order to be born in a human family.
    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    and watched over by Joseph of Nazareth.
    We ask God to bless our school community,
    and make us more like Christ our Saviour.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord,

    The Word of the Lord

    *** Adapted from Blessings and Prayers for Home and Family, p. 243

    Director’s Advent Message 2020 – A Great Light in the Darkness


    This year has been difficult for me in my faith life.  I find that the inability to be together in person and in close contact has left my faith experience more hollow than before.  In reading My Life With the Saints by James Martin S.J. – I learned that St. Teresa of Calcutta experienced times in her faith life that were like this.1  I wondered if it was the intensity of her challenging experiences that contributed to her times of ‘dark’ faith?  What happens to our faith life in times of adversity?

    Advent is my favourite time of the liturgical calendar and given the times, I wonder if you share in my need to hit the ‘re-set button’ on my faith life by embracing the new liturgical year and the hope, love, joy and peace that comes with weeks leading up to the Feast of the Nativity – the birth of Jesus Christ?

    In contemplating St. Teresa of Calcutta’s mission – I wonder if turning to the spirit of encounter and accompaniment through service may help to form a bridge that will provide me with an opportunity to a prayer life that will provide consolation and a closer relationship with God?  What can I do to serve someone in need?  Can an opportunity for encounter and accompaniment be in my school, my home or my neighbourhood?  Perhaps these opportunities for encounter and accompaniment can be the great light in the darkness.  Like the star over Bethlehem, it can lead us to the presence of Christ in our lives.   Perhaps pressing the ‘reset button’ is hidden in plain sight.

    In closing, I truly wish you all a blessed Advent – Come, Lord Jesus.  May you and your family be safe and healthy.  I hope that your Season of Advent will lead to a joyous Christmas experience!

    Please continue to pray for the community of the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.


    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary

    1 My Life With the Saints; J. Martin S. J. (an excellent read and a fantastic idea for a Christmas
       present) P. 171



    The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
    those who lived in a land of deep darkness –
    on them light has shined.
    You have multiplied the nation,
    you have increased its joy;
    they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest.
    For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
    authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named Wonderful Counsellor,
    Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9.2b-3, 6.)




    God of light and hope,
    look upon us in love,
    and fill us with the Spirit of Jesus
    that we may love you and serve you in your kingdom.
    Protect us during this week
    and keep us watchful in prayer
    as we await the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
    who is the light of the world,
    and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
    one God, for ever and ever.
    Amen. 2

    2 Blessings and Prayers – For Home and Family (also an excellent Christmas         idea) P. 214

    Director’s Thanksgiving Message 2020


    This year’s spiritual theme of encounter in the context of our journey together lends itself well to the intent of a holiday of Thanksgiving. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we find ourselves preoccupied with the current reality, in our case the circumstances brought forth by the pandemic. This preoccupation is deserved and probably healthy to some degree. Our ability to keep our fidelity to a series of restrictive protocols will save lives. In these times, we must also remember to turn towards and listen to God’s Word for guidance and consolation as Jesus modeled on his journey with the disciples. We are challenged to ask ourselves, how do we listen for God’s Word despite our circumstance? The First Reading (Isaiah 25.6- 10a) in this Sunday’s Eucharistic Celebration provides us with such inspiration. We are that we can rely on the good works of God! 

    Our preoccupations can also get in the way of our ability to be grateful, yet they also can give way to careful reflection. Reflecting upon the last six months, I have been inspired by the achievements of our community.  We have been able to innovate and create in ways that were unimaginable! Perhaps our most important accomplishment is the quantity and quality of presence and support that we have given to each other.  Every day provides an opportunity to lift each other up and help to make the load lighter. I have seen this in action during these times unlike any other. 

    Today, I give thanks for the gifts you have given each other and our Catholic community in the spirit of our ministry of service to God. May all of you have a blessed and restful Thanksgiving weekend. 

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary


    Blessed are you, Lord our God, Creator of heaven and earth and Father 

    of our Lord Jesus Christ; we praise you for your glory and thank you for your goodness  to us. We praise you for your generous gifts and for bringing fruitful results to our labours. As we rejoice in your kindness, we pray also for those who are in need. Open our hearts to them and teach us to be as generous to others as you are to us. Gracious 

    and bounteous God, help us all to follow Jesus our Lord and so bear eternal fruit for you. Blessed are you, Lord our God, for ever and ever. 


    * Blessings and Prayers for Home and Family (CCCB 2004) 

    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 (

    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.

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary

    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


    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 (

    Director’s Easter Message 2020

    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!

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary

    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 Lenten Message 2020 – 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.


    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary

    Director’s 2019 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 N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary


    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. **

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary

    * From infographic provided by the Archdiocese of Toronto.

    ** John 1:9

    Director’s Message – Road to Emmaus

    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 (  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.

    Chris N. Roehrig,
    Director of Education & Secretary