Today in my opening comments I want to speak only about faith, not innovation or creativity, not common assessments or transformation. There will be other times for that but right now… simply faith. The reason I want to focus on faith is that it is our mission… that is what makes us unique. All school divisions including us, focus on the education piece but it is our existence as a Catholic School Division that makes us different.
This year is the last year of our 3-year faith plan. We began in 2013 with David Wells introducing us to our theme of “Taking Our Place at the Table.” He invited us all to come to the table. He reminded us that we are all worthy to come to the table, God welcomes us all. Those were comforting words because all of us at some point and time in our life have left God’s table; some because we did not feel welcome and others because we felt unworthy. But David pushed us a little farther in that not only did he say come to the table, but he also asked us to look around and see who wasn’t sitting with us and then asked us to go out and invite them too. Those not at our table were our lonely, our disenfranchised, our marginalized. But they too deserve to be at the table and we, as faith filled people need to invite them, go to them and bring them to the table.
That imagery led well to last year’s faith theme of “Walking Together.” For our schools, walking together was very tangible; it was visual and all students, no matter the age could understand and appreciate this idea. We walk together, sometimes in front, or in the middle, or near the end but we do it together. It reminded us that we are a community, all welcome, all different and unique but all together. Regardless of year 2 being over, we still continue to come to the table, to be invitational to all and we gather as one community, walking together in order to provide “A Horizon of Hope.”
Our theme this year reminds us of the responsibility we have as a community, to provide hope to all around us. Delphine Goodstriker, one of our elders said yesterday, “We were given a heart so that we can give.” And it is hope that we must give to our students and their families and to each other.
Hope is not the belief that all of our problems go away. Hope comes from faith, a faith where we may never understand the hand of God but we must always trust the heart of God!
It is sad that in our world there are many who have no hope and unfortunately, many of those are our students. Paint a picture of what adulthood looks like for those children who don’t succeed in our schools? Without hope, there is little chance for any negative cycle to be broken!
Pope Francis says, “Today amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and be men and women that bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope.”
Our jobs may be to educate, but it is our calling, our vocation for everyone here, no matter your role in the division, to form. To form our students to be spiritually healthy, faith filled and hopeful! This year I ask you to be reminded of our mission; a mission that calls on each of us to make a difference in our students’ lives by providing them hope. Creating a horizon of hope is not an easy task and that is why we must do it as one community, seated at one table and walking together.
And so as I conclude my remarks, I leave you with two short verses from Romans: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Have a wonderful school year and God Bless!