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COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Catholic schools ready for the Year of Faith

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, has declared this year (Oct 11, 2012– Nov 24, 2013) the Year of Faith. It is a time in which Catholics are invited to rediscover, and share, the joy of Jesus Christ. In Hamilton Diocese, the celebration began with an evening prayer on Oct. 11 where Bishop Crosby invited those present to reflect on their own understanding of the faith. Within the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, the Year of Faith becomes an opportunity for us, as witnesses of the faith, to recommit and inspire others by our lives. We respond to this call, as our motto suggests, by “Believing, Achieving, Serving.”
In his Apostolic Letter, the Holy Father writes: “’Faith working through love’ (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life.” Recently, we’ve experienced numerous examples of ‘faith working through love’.  A system-wide pilgrimage involving 4,000 students and staff this past October raised close to $50,000 for charities abroad. Our students and staff have also opened their hearts in support of the United Way, Terry Fox Foundation, and Bruce Trail Expedition, raising thousands of dollars for our community.
Our commitment to these and other projects is driven by our Catholic faith teachings around the preferential option for the poor and the dignity of the human person. Recently, 63 of our secondary school students and a number of staff attended the Right to Life Dinner in support of our system’s commitment to a culture of life. On November 5th, St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School was invited to host a teachers’ symposium on Holocaust Education programs. Also, this past week, Brébeuf and other schools were visited by Travis Price, co-founder of Pink Shirt Day, on his countrywide speaking tour to end bullying. To the organizers of these events, I offer my congratulations and thanks for your leadership in bringing such important messages to our schools. I’d also like to recognize Brébeuf which was awarded a Premier’s Safe Schools Award last June for its work to promote a safe and inclusive school environment. As a system, we work very hard to ensure that Catholic schools are places where students, staff, parents and visitors feel welcomed and valued.
This past October, we also celebrated the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, a Canadian saint known for her devotion to Jesus as well as for her care of the environment. Symbolically, Blessed Kateri School was awarded gold Ontario EcoSchools certification this past June for its environmental efforts. It, along with our other schools, were part of an ‘eco’ celebration this past September which celebrated the 100 percent EcoSchools certification of our schools, only the second time a school board in Ontario has achieved this distinction.
These are just a few of the ways in which our schools celebrate and give thanks for the gift of faith, a foundation that guides our students in their pursuit of academic, spiritual and co-curricular excellence.
Pat Daly is the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board trustee for Ward 7 (central Mountain). Columns from the Mountain’s trustees appear monthly on a rotating basis.
If you would like to write in this space, call editor Gord Bowes at 905-664-8800 ext. 335.

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