The following message was provided at each mass this weekend to celebrate Catholic Education Sunday 2012 in Holy Spirit Catholic Schools.
Holy Spirit is a regional division that serves students in Coaldale, Lethbridge, Picture Butte, Pincher Creek, Taber, and surrounding areas. 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.
Pope Benedict XVI has declared this year as the Year of Faith. It coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican II. During these last 50 years there has been much change in both our church and in our Catholic schools. 50 years ago only Catholic students attended our schools. Today, more and more non-Catholic families are choosing Catholic schools because of the Christian values taught and permeated throughout the day. 50 years ago, all students received their sacraments while today, less than half of our Catholic students receive the sacrament of Confirmation. 50 years ago our schools were led and supported by clergy and religious orders and today our laity are most common in our schools. But there are two things that have not changed in our Catholic schools and together they demonstrate why our division continues to be recognized as a provincial leader in Catholic education.
The first is the commitment to our Catholic faith. It is our first priority! Each day, students attend schools in Holy Spirit where Gospel values are proclaimed so that students may come to know and believe in Jesus Christ. Hearts are opened and minds are ready to learn of the gift of our Lord. The schools, along with the entire Catholic community walk with our students as they journey in their faith. We are a community of believers and it is our vocation to ensure that every child is witness to the love of Christ and the blessing of the spirit. Faith is foundational in everything that we do!
Secondly, our Catholic schools continue to demonstrate excellence in learning. Last month, our educational report card from the government was released. Holy Spirit Catholic Schools demonstrated very high or high achievement in 12 of 16 measure categories. Our schools are safe and caring; we have one of the lowest drop-out rates in the province and one of the highest high school completion rates. Alberta education recognizes us as a high performing division in the province. We are extremely proud of the work of our staff, students and parents and the results produced.
As we enter this Year of Faith, I ask that you continue to pray and support Catholic Education in Holy Spirit. We offer students the opportunity to encounter Jesus on a daily basis in our schools. We teach students to be prayerful, to be witness and to be humble in Christ. And finally, we offer students the opportunity to be cherished and achieve their potential.
Please continue to pray for our students, our staff and our Catholic schools as we journey in faith. Have a wonderful Catholic Education Sunday and God Bless!