I want to provide you with my opening address from this morning but before I do, I just want to reflect briefly on the day. Maybe I’m a little bias because I’m the superintendent, but I thought today was phenomenal. Fr. Cristino hit it out of the park with his keynote and the simple message of how to ensure we pray: (1) Schedule it, (2) Make a plan, (3) Be realistic and (4) Be consistent. But what was even more impressive to me was his willingness to answer tough questions about morality, controversial issues and spirituality. Some may not have agreed with his Catholic responses but all should admire his willingness to be upfront and open about our faith. In the world of being politically correct it was refreshing just to hear the raw voice!
I attended both of his sessions but I know that throughout the day, we had tremendous presentations from our own staff and others. I’m so very proud of all our staff who were willing to present on various topics. It is never easy to present to your peers and even more taxing when it is about something as personal as faith. Well done and thank you to all who presented.
Finally, what an honor to have our new Bishop of Calgary lead our Eucharistic Celebration. I had the chance to visit with him during lunch and into the afternoon and if my first impressions are correct, Bishop McGrattan is truly a gift for our school division. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better, working with him and forging a strong relationship. We were very blessed that only two weeks into the job, he is in our school division. Big thanks to Fr. Kevin!
And now my opening address.
Good morning! Before I begin, I want to first thank all who have been involved in today. Joann and the Division Religious Education Committee and of course Becky in the background, have put together a fabulous day of faith development. Regardless of where any of us are on our own faith journey, today has something for everyone to be able to nurture and grow in one’s faith.
I would like to say that my opening comments are my own but the truth is, like a good teacher, I borrow or steal others’ thoughts or practices and that is what I’ve done today. Credit goes to the book, “Being Catholic” from the course Catholicism which many of us are currently studying and our own Fr. Kevin.
Let me start with this passage from “Being Catholic.”
Christians are not distinguishable from others either by nationality, language, or custom. They don’t inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect. With regard to dress, food, and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in.” pg 153
If someone was to walk in to this gymnasium right now, beyond the symbols of our faith, they would not see anything different. We dress similar, look similar; we are a microcosm of the world, a multicultural community.
But we are different or should be different in our values, our priorities and our actions. As Catholics, as Christians, our values differ from many of those out there in this secular world. We are counter-cultural, just as Jesus was some 2000 years ago. And if we are true to our values, our priorities, our faith, then we should just be a little out of step with the rest of the world. Not easy to be out of step but our faith calls us to be that way.
Unfortunately we can’t just be out of step in our words or in the silence of our homes. We need to live it outwardly and role model it in our community, to our students, and to each other. Living it, does not mean judging or condemning the person who has been seduced by this secular world but rather correcting the action. As Father Kevin said last night, we never have the right to judge but we always have a duty to correct.
Correction is difficult especially in the faith area because we often don’t really know what the Church teaches. And that is why our faith plan, “Rooted in Christ” where we follow Jesus in the weekly Gospels and days like today where we really dig in to our faith, allows us better ability to correct and not judge.
Today, people are more concerned with how they look as opposed to how they pray. They measure success with how much you get instead of how much you give. And they like rules as long as they don’t infringe on their own rights. Being people of faith, we understand it is not easy to be different. Yet, if we are not different in our words and our actions then we risk becoming numb to the indifferences in our world, to accepting the Godlessness and ultimately being consumed by secular values.
I pray that today will continue to form your faith as you journey in Holy Spirit Catholic Schools. Thank you and God Bless!