Christmas Message 2013

On my way to work this morning I went to the Tim Horton’s drive thru for my large black ritual and was told that the person ahead of me had bought me my coffee. This was the second occurrence this past week of having a coffee bought for me from a complete stranger and so, as I did the previous time, I kept the tradition going on for the next unsuspecting driver. Although this is not only done around this time of year, it seems to be more prevalent in the Christmas season. Even in the bustle of the season, there seems to be a warming of hearts during this preparatory time of Christ’s birth.

For many of us, Christmas is a joyous occasion. It is a time when we visit family, reconnect with friends and hopefully slow down a wee bit. For those of us in education, the holiday comes at just the right time for us to “exhale” given the speed that the first part of the year has passed. Although learning should be more akin to a marathon, slow and steady (or at least that’s how I ran them in my younger days) schooling seems to be more like a sprint with the odd hurdle thrown in for good measure. Regardless of the style of race, fatigue results, and the upcoming holiday is well deserved for the staff and students of Holy Spirit.

But Christmas may also be a sombre event for others in our midst. Some will be reminded of loved ones who will not be at our table this year; Some experience the stress of fractured families; While others live in poverty and happiness may be in just having a hot meal at Christmas. Regardless of the reasons, it is important that as a faith community, we continue to reach out, serve and support those in need at this time. We may never know the impact of a gift or donation, a hug or consoling word and we will never know how our prayers will be heard and acted upon. We may also never know who is suffering in our community and therefore our actions must always be Christ-like.

I am proud that our division continues to be Christ-like in our actions. This year, on three separate occasions, I asked Holy Spirit to open their hearts to those less fortunate. At the beginning of the year, I made a call for donations to support our neighbouring school divisions in High River. We collected books at our division wide professional learning day to assist Siksika schools in rebuilding their libraries. And most recently, I requested that  schools contribute to the relief efforts in the Philippines. Each of these endeavours, as well as many other individual school projects not mentioned, were well supported by our Holy Spirit staff with little to no fanfare. I believe this fact illustrates our humility as a Catholic school division and speaks to our understanding that taking our place at the table means “doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do!”

As we begin this last week of school before the Christmas vacation, I would ask that you continue to be thankful for the gift of the Christ child. Recognize that we live in a country where we can celebrate our Christian faith without fear or retribution. Remind one another that Christ is the reason for the season and pay homage to his birth. And finally, pray for those in our community and around the world where Christmas will not be a joyful time.

May God bless you during this Christmas season. May Christ be on your mind and in your heart and may you receive the rest and relaxation that you so richly deserve during this Christmas break. God bless and see you in 2014!

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