Educating in the faith is an essential dimension of our Holy Cross charism. From the beginning in English Canada, especially in New Brunswick (post secondary) and Southern Ontario (secondary), Holy Cross Fathers have been engaged in the ministry of Catholic education. More recently, due largely to decreasing membership our education ministry has been downsized as well. At this time we have the pastoral care of six parishes in the Niagara – Toronto region of Ontario. Being in Ontario, we enjoy the blessing (Constitutional right) of fully funded Catholic education for Ontario Catholic students. That means Catholic schools provide an education, an education of the soul in the Catholic tradition with Christ at the heart of our educational vision, for young people from Junior Kindergarten to the end of Grade 12. There is at least one school attached to each of our parishes: St. Raphael’s, Burlington 2 elementary schools one shared secondary school / St. Thomas in Waterdown, 2 elementary schools and one secondary school / St. Joseph’s and Holy Name in Toronto one elementary school each / St. Kevin’s in Welland has three elementary schools (average 375 students each) and a Catholic secondary school of 1100 students. Being attached to the parish does not mean that the parish has authority or administrative responsibility for the schools but it does mean that the parish enjoys pastoral responsibility and can help shape the faith formation program that takes place in the schools.
In the Catholic school it is the Principal and teacher who are the primary evangelizers. That is at the same time an awesome privilege and responsibility. More and more we are very aware that we are living in a postmodern, secular culture. The fundamental need is that the administrators and teaching community have the support of the pastoral staff of the parish. For the last three decades my ministry has been focused on the formation of Catholic educators through my writing and workshops and presentations given to Catholic educators in Ontario and also in Alberta and Saskatchewan, provinces that also enjoy full funding for the Catholic school. The Catholic school in a very secular culture must be a school with a difference. In the Catholic school, through personal and community witness and through curriculum, there are many different ways of transmitting the faith and sharing the story of Jesus with our students. Teachers, living out their baptismal vocation need as much encouragement and catechetical and theological support as the parish pastoral staff can give them. In our Holy Cross education ministry the starting point is that it is the Holy Spirit who is the first and primary evangelizer. It is the Holy Spirit who invites us to be in the middle of things as things are, not as we would like them to be. As the poet has it: For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business. (TS Eliot).
Please click on the link below to watch a special Mass with the people from around the world.
Father James T. Mulligan, CSC