Student trustee Olivia Suppa. (Photo by Sheila Dabu Nonato)NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. - Being a Catholic student trustee has highlighted the gift of Catholic education for Olivia Suppa.

“Catholic education brings so much diversity to our province,” said Suppa, president of the Catholic Board Council of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association and a student trustee for almost two years. “You graduate embodying what Jesus wanted to embody.”

Suppa attends St. Jean de Brebeuf High School in Woodbridge, Ont., and took part in the recent Lighting the Way Catholic student leadership conference in Niagara Falls. Catholic schools, and being a trustee representing Catholic students, has taught her plenty.

“I learned a lot about myself, politics, (how much of an impact) a contagious idea, a contagious voice can be,” said the Grade 12 student.

Suppa said she was inspired by the Niagara Falls conference.
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School BoardTORONTO - It wasn’t an ordinary March Break trip for Maria Masucci and her sons, Christian and Michael.

Masucci, a superintendent with the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board, took Christian, 11, and four-year-old Michael to the diocese of Jacmel in Haiti, where signs of the January 2010 earthquake are still all too obvious.

Masucci says the purpose of the trip was to breathe life into her kids’ lessons of faith by helping one’s neighbour.

Christian said he made new friends who taught him how to be grateful and “not to take simple things for granted.” In between soccer games, the St. Michaels’ Choir School student sang hymns for students at Le Bon Pasteur Elementary School.

Michael chimes in that he “wants to be a bishop in Haiti” when he grows up.
Natalie Rizzo with one of the street children from Calcutta’s Loreto Day School Sealdah. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Rizzo)NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. - In the joy and resilience of the street children of Calcutta, Natalie Rizzo found her faith deepened and her passion for helping others awakened.

Rizzo, the student trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board and a student at Toronto’s Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts High School, travelled to India last year with the Loretto Sisters as part of an outreach service trip. The program was offered through the TCDSB’s “Adventure Learning Experiences.”

“It was a humbling experience to connect and share educational opportunities with the street children,” she said of her time volunteering at Calcutta’s Loreto Day School Sealdah.

“My passion for social justice was very much heightened, (along with) the idea of responsible citizenship. When I got back from India, I wanted to run for student trustee and speak on behalf of the marginalized,” Rizzo, 18, told The Catholic Register at the recent Lighting the Way student conference in Niagara Falls.

The winner is... Twelve-year old Agustin Andres Villegas is undecided if he should be an artist or an archeologist when he grows up. Meantime, we sure do dig his drawing.

Villegas’ portrait of the Resurrection is the colourful image we selected to grace the cover of The Register’s 2011 Easter edition.

It was one of 370 entries submitted to the children’s Easter drawing contest conducted by The Register and Joseph’s Inspirational Inc.

Toronto Catholic District School BoardTORONTO - Ann Perron, the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s director of education, announced her retirement on April 14.

During her tenure, Perron’s accomplishments have included the “implementation of a balanced and sustainable multi-year budget plan, a review of school board governance and the initiation of a three-year pastoral plan to ‘Nurture our Catholic Community Through Word, Worship and Witness,’ ” the TCDSB said in a statement.

Perron began her career as a teacher with the board in 1983. She taught in elementary and high schools and also worked as an elementary school principal. She has served as the provincial co-ordinator for the Institute for Catholic Education. From there, she became a superintendent with  the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario.

Perron also served as strategic advisor to the deputy minister of education in 2008. Perron returned to the Toronto board to take on the director of education role in  March 2009.

The board is seeking a new director of education for September.

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Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum, the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School’s founding scholarTORONTO - The next generation of Canadian rabbis will be able to point to the Catholic roots of their training — or at least of their school. The Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School will begin offering classes this fall in a classroom at the University of St. Michael’s College Faculty of Theology, part of the Toronto School of Theology.

Canada’s future imams will have a similar story. A master’s program in Muslim studies is taking shape at the United Church of Canada’s seminary, Emmanuel College.

The Toronto School of Theology is reconsidering its mission statement so the consortium of seven Christian theological schools can accommodate the emerging interfaith reality.

The expansion beyond the boundaries of Christian faith is “the right move at the right time,” said TST director Alan Hayes.
The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania is a well known destination for pilgrims especially at Easter time. Here, a mother with her two children are on a pilgrimage to the hill. (Photo by Eero Sorila)SIAULIA, LITHUANIA - The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania is a unique travel destination, especially at Easter time.

Three-and-a-half hours drive north from the capital Vilnus takes you to Siaulia. The pastoral scenery along the way is peacefully soothing. A little further turning left at a sign to Kryziu Kalnas, a country road will take you two kilometres to an unusual sight.

A hill, which in the past served as a military stronghold, is now a haven of peace. It strikes a musical chord of sad and happy sounds like a giant harp as the  northeast wind blows. Thousands of small crosses rub the bases of big crosses, like plucking the strings of a harp. The sad sounds are a reminder of 1831-1863 when crosses were installed in memory of those who were exiled and murdered in Siberia for opposing Russia’s Tsarist rule. These sounds continued loudly during the time of the Soviet regime, 1917-1990.

During the Soviet era, the crosses served as symbols against atheism. At the same time they spoke strongly for the sentiments of Lithuanian nationalism.
Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ AssociationTORONTO - The Catholic Board Council of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association has released a new social justice report urging Catholic students to become active in organizations promoting justice and service to marginalized groups.

“(The report) is trying to get the message across that social justice is such an integral way of making Catholic education come alive,” said Olivia Suppa, president of the Catholic Board Council.

“Let us live as Jesus wanted though nurturing the growth of Catholic leadership, and through opening our eyes and hearts to serve the victims of injustices in our communities, our country and our world,” according to the online report entitled “Social Justice: Inspiring Active Citizenship in Catholic Education.”

Members of the Catholic Board Council prepared the report over two years, with input from Catholic student trustees from across the province. The trustees call for an “active” component in the religion curriculum based “on our call to act as responsible stewards of humanity.” It also “encourages that local and global initiatives, outreach programs and positions related to social justice be included in religious education in the classroom, as well as integrated into the cultural life of the school community.”
King’s University College at the University of Western OntarioLONDON, Ont. - Sauro Camiletti has been appointed the new academic dean at King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario.

Effective July 1, the appointment follows an intense international search and a broad consultative process within the King’s community.

“It is a great privilege to serve as a leader in an academic community that is recognized for the quality of its degree programs, the teaching ability and scholarship of its faculty, its Christian values and the services it provides its students,” said Camiletti.
A broad spectrum of Canadian churches have published election guides for voters heading to the polls on May 2. Both the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities have published guides. Human beings can’t choose to be political. We’re born that way. Politics is how we act together and human beings are fundamentally social.

“The political community and public authority are based on human nature,” said the Second Vatican Council in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes). “And therefore they need belong to an order established by God. Nevertheless, the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.”

Those free decisions are supposed to bring us closer to justice, according to Pope Benedict XVI.

“Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics,” the Pope wrote in the 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est. “Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life. Its origin and its goal are found in justice.”