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Oct 01

Chris Smeaton

From the Desk of the Superintendent- October 2017

October 1st…it is hard to believe that we’ve already galloped through September and I’m shocked because 30 years ago, Donna and I welcomed our first child, Jordan into the world. Time does seem to fly by and so I start this blog post with my reminder from our opening of ensuring to keep our priorities in order; faith, family and then the job. Some who may not know me, might assume that I don’t have high work expectations of myself or our staff, but the contrary is actually true. I’m a firm believer that if one don’t emphasize faith and family in one’s life, one will seldom get the most out of one’s work.

Our increased call to prayer in year two of our faith plan helps set the stage for our first priority; so does regular attendance at mass or other Christian services. It is not always easy to commit time to faith. There is always another task to complete or an activity to attend. And if you’ve fallen out of the good habit of church attendance or daily prayer and reflection, it is sometimes very difficult to bring it back. But one of the beauties of being in Catholic Education is that we are a faith-based organization where support without judgment is always present. Help keep faith alive not only for yourself and the students in our schools but for the adults too!

On September 25th, we hosted our first ever Catholic Education Roundtable. Our PD Centre was packed with over 100 participants including five of our parish priests and one deacon. While most school staffs are familiar with the attack on Catholic Education, many in our parishes are not as well informed. While it is expected that attacks come from outside the system, it is very disheartening when they come from within our Catholic community. I was able to provide some background on Catholic Education for those in attendance  and then had table groups discuss the following three questions.

  1. Why is Catholic Education worth defending?
  2. How might you as an individual or as part of an organization outwardly demonstrate more support for Catholic Education?  
  3. What are some ways to welcome families back to the church and to Catholic Education?

From the comments I’ve heard, it was a very powerful and engaging evening and I would like to thank all who were in attendance. We are currently reviewing the feedback received from the evening and will share a summary with our new Board of Trustees, Bishop McGrattan and our community. Look for more details in the coming weeks!

Municipal elections are right around the corner. That means that our September Board meeting was the last for this current board. I would like to thank this current board for their leadership and support. They have governed well and have ensured that Holy Spirit Catholic School Division continued to grow, to innovate and to support staff and students during their term. I would also like to say a special thanks to trustee Terry O’Donnell who is not seeking re-election. Terry was on the board when I first came to Holy Spirit and so I know his commitment firsthand to his community of Picture Butte and to the entire school division. He has served both as Chair and Vice Chair. His storytelling and great sense of humour will certainly be missed around the board table. Thanks Terry for your years of service.

Four trustees have been acclaimed in our rural communities but there will be an election in Ward 2 (Lethbridge and area) with seven candidates running for five positions. Candidate profiles can be found here.

While we continue to tear down one school, St. Patrick’s in Taber for modernization, we were able to celebrate the re-dedication of St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek. On September 29th, the Feast of St. Michael, a large contingent from both inside and outside of the community gathered for the blessing. Many thanks to the architectural firm FWBA Architects for envisioning a space that truly encompasses our Catholic faith and supports the needs of our current and future students and to Ward Bros. Construction Ltd for their work as the general contractor. Tremendous accolades need to also be extended to our Plant Operations Coordinator Mike Herauf and his team for the many hours of work behind the scenes. Finally, I want to acknowledge the staff and students of St. Michael’s School. A phased modernization, especially when you need to operate out of two separate campuses during the life of the project is not easy. Yet, the staff and students accepted this inconvenience, rolled with the punches and made the best of it. Congratulations and welcome to your new home!

Just around the corner is the Thanksgiving long weekend. While we can be grateful for many things in our lives, especially living here in Canada, we also know that many near and far suffer greatly. As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, I would ask that your prayers be filled with gratitude but also be offered to those most in need. Many in our classrooms, our schools next door and the world throughout need our prayers. Please be generous and keep all those in need in your prayers.

Have a wonderful month of October and God Bless!

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