Remembering our roots to start the school year

Nov 14, 2023 | Good News, Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Division

“Rooted in Faith” was the theme of an opening day celebration for all teachers, staff, administration and board members of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, held Sept. 1 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.

MCs for the morning celebrations were Paula Fortier, principal of École Sr. O’Brien School, and Maria Sander, vice-principal of St. Philip School, who focused on the theme of relationships in their commentary and introductions.

A tipi set up next to the Cathedral was the site of an early-morning pipe ceremony with Elder Roddy Stonne to open the day. Before the opening Mass, Elder Jon Merasty and Maurice Bear provided an Honour Song.

Mass was celebrated by Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, along with Fr. Ivan Nahachewsky of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, and a number of priests from across the diocese and eparchy.

In his homily, Bishop Hagemoen reflected upon five essential marks of Catholic education, citing a 2015 document from the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association, describing how Catholic education is:

  • Inspired by a supernatural vision
  • Founded on a Christian anthropology as revealed by God and our faith tradition
  • Animated by communion and community
  • Imbued with a Catholic world-view throughout its curriculum
  • Sustained by Gospel witness.

“The Church sees education as a process that, in light of humanity’s transcendent destiny, forms the whole child and seeks to fix his or her eyes on heaven. The specific purpose of a Catholic education is the formation of boys and girls, men and women, who will be good citizens of this world, loving God and neighbour, and enriching society with the leaven of the gospel, and who will also be citizens of the world to come, thus fulfilling their destiny to become saints,” he said.

The bishop thanked teachers, staff, administrators and board members for their leadership and witness, and dedication to the accompaniment and mentoring of young people in Catholic schools, before concluding with a prayer for the World Day of Prayer for Creation, also marked on Sept. 1.

After the homily, all those present stood to make a Renewal of Commitment, pledging to use their gifts to serve all students who attend GSCS and help them respond generously too Christ’s call to be his followers; to recognize and embrace the diversity of gifts present in schools, and to work with fellow staff members to help students realize that the love of God “is forever and for everyone.” They also pledged “with humility, gentleness and patience of faithful disciples (to) endeavour to be living examples of joy in our schools, families, and community.”

Speakers after Mass included Diane Boyko, Chair of the GSCS Board of Education; François Rivard, GSCS Director of Education, and Laurie Karwacki, Chair of the GSCS Foundation. All three brought words of welcome, affirmation and encouragement for the upcoming school year.

The opening day keynote featured speaker and author Roy Petitfils of Louisiana,  who has worked with youth and young adults for more than 20 years as minister, a teacher, school administrator, school counselor and now as a counselor in private practice. His books include What Teens Want You to Know (But Don’t Tell You; A Practical Guide to High School Campus Ministry; and God Wears Running Shoes: Spiritual Reflections for Those Ministering to Young People.

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