Catholic school trustees are called to serve

By 
  • February 8, 2010
TORONTO - In his 25 years as a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic school trustee, Patrick J. Daly says he’s learned these key lessons: the importance of setting a good example and understanding your role as a trustee.

Daly, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board chair since 1991, was one of several speakers at a series of workshops for potential Catholic school board trustees which began on Jan. 9 and ends Feb. 13.

Sheila Connolly, director of the Institute of Theology at St. Augustine’s Seminary, said about 30 people signed up for the course. The course is being offered to help in the formation of laity for ministry in the church, she said.

Trustee elections are set for this October.

Daly said the focus of his talk was based on his own experience and the examples he’s seen from his colleagues.

“Catholic trustees represent the Catholic education community” who try to be “the best Catholic citizens we can be,” Daly said.

Political skills are important, as well as being fully informed about the issues and being able to “respectfully debate any issues,” he added.

Being a trustee also requires a “commitment to personal faith formation” and keeping up with the top issues of our faith, Daly said.

Trustees also need to understand their role in governing the system, as opposed to running it, he said.

He said some of the barriers to running for trustee could include the time commitment required outside of work hours.

“People who run for the position understand that (they) don’t do it for the money. The honorarium isn’t that significant,” he said.

The reason why he’s stayed on is “the importance of the value of Catholic education to our children, the church and the province,” he said.

Another speakers John Kostoff, director of education at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, addressed the mission of a Catholic school and the nature and purpose of Catholic education. Catholic schools are not solely defined by academic excellence but also by a Catholic vision.

“Catholic school trustees are stewards of Catholic education, not owners of Catholic education,” Kostoff said. “Their job is to shepherd it from one generation to the next generation and to improve upon it.

“Being a Catholic trustee is an extension from the baptismal commitment to take on a leadership role in the church,” he said.

Kostoff added that trustees are not “running a business.” Instead, they are “held to a higher level of expectations and recognize that Catholic education is a gift to this province which has to be maintained, taken care of and nurtured,” he said.

Meanwhile, an unlikely seminar participant was the former Toronto Catholic school board trustee Oliver Carroll. Carroll, a former chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, was found guilty of 10 conflict-of-interest charges last February and was removed from the board following the court ruling.

Carroll said he is “sorry” and has learned from past mistakes. He is attending the session because he wants to keep his options open and hopes to learn more about the role from a “corporate perspective.”

“At the end of the day, when you become a trustee, there’s no kind of training process,” Carroll added.

Carroll, who is completing his bachelor’s degree in education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, said he doesn’t know if he will choose a teaching career or make another run as a trustee.

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