Cardinal Thomas Collins speaking at the launch of the TCDSB's new pastoral plan Photo by Evan Boudreau

TCDSB launches new pastoral plan

  • May 8, 2012

TORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board's new three-year pastoral plan will focus on virtues of faith, hope and charity, one for each of the next three school years.

About 800 students, staff, parents and parish representatives from across the city were gathered inside the Montecassino Banquet Hall for the May 2 launch of Pastoral Plan: Faith, Hope and Charity. The plan aims to grow upon the areas of focus from the previous pastoral plan, word, worship and witness.

"For the year of faith (2012-2013) we are linking it to our old plan by having a symbol of the cross travel across the school system," said Geoff Grant, TCDSB superintendent of faith development. "You need visible signs of Catholicity and a three-year plan allows you to build from one year onto the others."

This plan, which takes effect in September, drew inspiration from the board's cross, heart and anchor logo — symbols of faith, hope and charity.

"A year ago when we were deciding a pastoral plan... we thought let's go to a tangible image that is in all our materials," said Grant. "We said let's start there, let's start where we are and now make it concrete and make it alive for the kids, the staff and the larger parent community and link it to the parishes."

During the five-hour Witness to Faith Symposium, a variety of techniques were used to spread the new plan's message while keeping those in attendance entertained. This included the use of multi-media, artistic performances and an array of speakers, most notably Cardinal Thomas Collins, the archbishop of Toronto, who spoke on the importance of practising these "supernatural virtues."

"A virtue is a habit that helps us to live rightly," said Collins, who was named a member of the Congregation of Catholic Education by the Pope in April. "It is a habit since as individuals actions are repeated many, many times and grow stronger and stronger with each repetition, we grow in virtue. If we live virtuously with ever greater faith, hope and charity then, with repetition of those virtuous actions, we will become stronger in the habit of virtue."

Collins, who spoke for about half an hour, broke down each of the three virtues while providing linking transitions between them as his speech moved from section to section. By doing so he helped cement the idea of building one upon the other.

The cardinal closed his address by giving his recommendation on how to bring someone into the light of faith while cautioning about getting caught up in the busyness of doing good.

"If we want to lead a person who does not yet have the gift of faith, start with practical actions of charity," said Collins. "Be sure we get beyond the mere busyness of doing good to be able to see the greatest of the virtues, the virtue of love, within the context of the faith that gives vision and the hope that gives the energy to live lives of practical love day by day."

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