Ontario Catholic Education Week extends beyond class

By 
  • April 27, 2009
{mosimage}Parishes across Ontario are being invited to support Catholic Education Week by getting involved with school activities, reflecting on the significant contribution made to the church and to society by Catholic education and by participating in prayer celebrations being held across the province.

The week of May 3-9 has been designated as Catholic Education Week in Ontario, but the celebration extends beyond classrooms. Parishes are being asked to include a notice in Sunday bulletins to invite parishioners to become involved.

“Catholic Education Week 2009 begins on a Sunday to highlight the school-parish-home partnership that remains the foundation of Catholic education,” reads a notice being sent to priests for inclusion in their parish bulletins. “Catholic schools exist within the broader church community and must remain strongly connected to the parishes that remain the centre of the worshipping faith community.”

The parish community is being asked to embrace this year’s theme, “Catholic Education: Good News for All.”

“It is sometimes difficult, perhaps even often difficult, to find good news in today’s world,” reads the letter. “The deepening economic crisis, the real fear of many parents that they may lose their jobs, the unsettled military conflicts across the globe make scanning the media for any good news stories a challenge. And yet into this gloom light shines.”

That light is represented by more than 600,000 students who attend approximately 1,500 Catholic schools across the province.

The purpose of the week is to encourage the  Catholic community to celebrate the distinctive contribution their schools make in the lives of students, the community and the province at large. Activities are also designed to remind us of the fundamental mission to integrate Gospel values into every aspect of school life and curriculum.

“With our parents and the parish community, our Catholic schools play an essential role in nurturing the faith of our students.”

Catholic Education Week is marked by special activities at all grade levels, including prayer celebrations and service activities, broken down into five sub-themes: Embracing hope, celebrating with joy, building community, growing in integrity and living with gratitude.

Organizers believe an important component of Catholic Education Week is to highlight the partnership that is fundamental to Catholic education: the family-school-parish triad. The parish was, is and will remain the centre of the worshipping faith community, said a letter to parish priests. “Catholic Education Week always begins on a Sunday so that the local Catholic community may have an opportunity to celebrate the ‘enduring gift’ of Catholic education within the context of the eucharistic celebration,” it said.

In addition to an insertion in the parish bulletin, priests are also being asked to involve parish schools in Sunday Eucharist celebrations as lectors, commentators, altar servers and gift bearers. As well, they are asked to consider holding special eucharistic celebrations during a weekday or evening, or celebrating Masses in parish schools.

Schools have received resource kits that include five days worth of lesson plans that are related to the overall theme and daily sub-themes of Catholic Education Week. In addition, school boards have received copies of a theme song, “Good News for All” and accompanying sheet music. Teachers are being encouraged to use the song in their classrooms and school liturgies to not only celebrate Catholic Education Week 2009, but to encourage their students that the Good News can be proclaimed through actions, words, stories, art and music. 

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