Living the Holy Family RCSSD #140 Theme 2023-24
Having lived out the theme of the past school year, Keep Going with God, the planning for the theme of this year, Embracing God’s Grace, started with an exploration of what would logically follow. Simply put … where did we go from there?
With our thinking refreshed on what it means to go with God – the way it looks and sounds and feels – it made perfect sense to focus on where the grace of God is most evident in life. As our students and staff had committed to going with God it seemed the time was right to take a closer look at how God’s grace provides us with the achievements and challenges we experience.
“Our Holy Family school division is known as a family that puts a tangible priority on nurturing quality relationships. This year’s theme gives me an extra special chance to give our people an even bigger HUG all year!” (Gwen Keith, Director of Education)
From sacred scripture, we learn: From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1.17). This quotation serves as a powerful reminder that it is through the loving care of our God, Our Father, that we have been granted the many grace-filled moments of our lives.
We also find in scripture: Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones, and he watches over his elect (Wisdom 3.9). We are reminded that God is always with us seeking to draw us ever closer in faith. We experience mercy and the gift of grace in our lives each and every day.
To really bring the theme, Embracing God’s Grace, to life, one must not only consider what has been learned from scripture but also what meaning the word grace holds for each of us. Is it the ‘approval or favour’ as in an aunty doting on her young relatives? Is it ‘courteous goodwill’ as in being gracious in recognizing our faults?
While these meanings and interpretations of the word grace add value to our experiences, it is the ‘free and unmerited favour of God’ which really is the truth we seek to understand in living out the theme.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in understanding God’s favour is recognizing that it is not only the positive or easy moments that matter but also the struggles and challenges. Knowing God’s grace and seeing it in our comfortable experiences is not a real difficulty at all. BUT, finding the strength to see that it is God’s grace that presents us with stumbling blocks which help us to call on our faith and to grow – and to connect with other faith-filled people – helps us to know we are still receiving God’s favour. We are still loved and cared for and valued!
Our students quite readily identify God’s favour in the talents or strengths they have – an ability or talent such as athleticism or musicality, a special relationship like with Grandma or a love of reading. They are not so quick to see it as God’s favour when the bus is late or a friend disagrees or an adult doesn’t give permission for something they really want to be free to do when there is assigned work waiting! It is all of these moments that Holy Family is embracing to help grow the very valuable character traits such as generosity (share that talent by playing on a team or be in the drama production), determination (excel in a subject or area such as literacy), perseverance (get that project done so play-time is available) or courtesy and kindness (let another go first on the playground to avoid a conflict).
The evidence of the theme will be fully and finally demonstrated in a governance report shared in June of the school year. A Students Demonstrate Catholic Values presentation is made to the Board of Trustees annually to model how the students have achieved and accomplished in the areas of:
- Social justice and mission work
- Experiencing sacraments, gospel, mass and liturgical seasons
- Building respectful and compassionate relationships
- Maintaining a sense of well-being
See the June 2023 report here. The presentation in June 2024 will be filled with examples of our students and staff ‘embracing God’s grace’.
As always, the learning based on the theme is for the adults as well. We too are on a journey of growing in faith and character. We too benefit from a look at the same traits and values in our lives.
Experiences are not limited to the classroom but exist school-wide, system-wide and calendar-wide. It is not the student days but also the faith retreats and the professional development opportunities where the theme of Embracing God’s Grace will be known by many, grown by all.
Already this year, the adults have been engaged in multiple events and activities that have provided opportunity for reflecting on the theme:
- Opening Faith Day with Terry Hershey reminding us to pause and see grace
- System Leadership Day with Hannah Beach guiding us in creating a thriving culture
- Convention Day with Ryan Hauber modelling a high quality experience with AI
- Convention Day with Beverly Fullerton illustrating the value of engaging with parents
Each presenter challenged the audience filled with educators, support staff and guests to see where God’s grace is present in their lives and how they respond to the call to share that grace.
Embracing God’s Grace gives us every opportunity to not only embrace our faith but also support one another on the journey. May the blessings be many!