Children posing in front of the newly built Pope Francis Catholic School in York Region Photo/courtesy of Sonia Gallo, YCDSB

York Region christens school after Pope Francis

  • September 8, 2016

When students attend a new school named Pope Francis, principal Anthony Arcadi hopes children will embrace the Pope’s qualities of caring, compassion and conversation.

“By learning about Pope Francis’ teachings and mission, our students will really be learning about Jesus and what He taught us about living faith-filled and service-based lives,” said Arcadi. “Our students will be taught to put into action the teachings of our Pope, in the hope that together, we make our world a better place.”

The Catholic education community of York Region is paying homage to Pope Francis by naming its newest school after the pontiff. Built on about three hectares in the growing community of Kleinburg northwest of Toronto, Pope Francis Catholic School can hold up to 621 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8.

“When we name a school after a prominent Catholic … we provide a marvellous opportunity for students and staff to open their faith,” said Carol Cotton, chair of the York Region Catholic District School Board. “We are delighted to name York Catholic’s newest school after our Holy Father.”

Cotton said students already have an interest in the Holy Father.

“His message of mercy and charity truly resonates with today’s students and our entire learning community,” she said.

“Our students are taught each day to integrate Catholic values as socially responsible global citizens — and to be true stewards of our Earth. These goals are consistent with the very message of Pope Francis.”

Arcadi is looking forward to the new assignment.

“It is a tremendous honour to be the founding principal of a school named after our Pope,” he said. “Pope Francis is universally admired for his humility, his dedicated service to the poor and vulnerable, and for his concern for the preservation of God’s greatest gift — our Earth.”

The school opened Sept. 6 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new facility means area students will no longer be bused to nearby Woodbridge.

“Kleinburg has seen a lot of development in recent years and the community continues to grow,” said Cotton. “We know that this state-of-the-art school, filled with many amenities, will benefit many families in Kleinburg. The school will provide our Catholic community a place to gather, to recreate and to build relationships.”

For young students, six classrooms are specifically designed for play-based learning. A music room, reflections room and a special education room have also been integrated into the new building. Each classroom has smartboards, “which align with the board’s focus on technology,” added Cotton.

The school also features several “environmentally friendly features,” and was designed “to provide barrier-free access.”

It becomes the third school in the Greater Toronto Area named after Pope Francis.

Ecole catholique Pape-Francois, part of the French school board, opened last September, welcoming about 200 students from Kindergarten to Grade 7. The Toronto Catholic District School Board changed the name of St. Luke’s Catholic School to Pope Francis Catholic School following an amalgamation with Senhor Santo Cristo. The school officially became Pope Francis Catholic School on June 6.

Dufferin-Peel’s Catholic school board sought to name a new school after Pope Francis, but after seeking a papal blessing the board decided to go with the name of a saint instead, as requested by the Pope.

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