Below you will find the message read at all masses this weekend celebrating Catholic Education Sunday.
Holy Spirit is a regional division that serves students in Bow Island, Coaldale, Lethbridge, Picture Butte, Pincher Creek, Taber, and surrounding communities. Today, we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday. Each year we set aside this special day to celebrate the gift of publicly funded Catholic Education here in the province of Alberta. This gift is not something that should be taken lightly, as there are now only three Canadian provinces that still fully provide publicly funded Catholic Education: Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Other provinces, because of apathy or legislation, have lost this gift and there are many within our province who would like to see only one publicly funded system. Therefore, it is essential that we recognize that Catholic education is precious, and something that must be nurtured and supported by our communities, not only today but throughout the years.
Catholic Education must fulfill two mandates: excellence in learning and spiritual growth for our students. From the learning perspective, Holy Spirit continues to be one of the most progressive and innovative systems in Alberta. Our recent provincial accountability pillar report shows that we continue to meet the standard of excellence in the categories of Safe and Caring Schools, Student Learning Opportunities, Parental Involvement and Continuous Improvement. A culture of learning permeates our schools, ensuring that students are being prepared for an ever changing world.
But, to be truly prepared, we must nourish our students spiritually. Through our three year faith plan, schools guide our students in developing their spirituality. This year’s theme, “A Horizon of Hope,” reminds us of our responsibility to exercise mercy and compassion in our communities. We were given a heart so that we can give and it is hope that we must give to our students, their families and to each other. 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.”
The words of Pope Francis remind us that we are unique in Catholic Education. It may be our jobs to educate, but it is our calling, our vocation, to form our students to be spiritually healthy, faithful, merciful and filled with hope. And so, as we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday this weekend, I would ask that you pray for the division…our students and our staff… as we unite to create a horizon of hope that inspires all to witness the goodness of God. Have a wonderful Catholic Education Sunday and God Bless!