Anne O’Brien, director of Catholic education with the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association. Photo from OCSTA

The many become one in Christ

  • May 4, 2023

The theme for this year’s Catholic Education Week, “We are Many, We Are One,” originated from Romans 12:5.

The passage reads: “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members, one of another.”

Anne O’Brien, the director of Catholic education for the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), said there were several sources that inspired this year’s theme.

“We were thinking of how we rebuild (post-pandemic),” said O’Brien. “We thought ‘we are many, we are one’ because we are coming back together. We also have the (upcoming) Synod on Synodality … so that was a part of it.”

There was also truth and reconciliation emerging from Pope Francis’ penitential visit to Canada, last summer and “the principles of inclusion and equity… which Pope Francis wrote about in the encyclical Fratelli Tutti,” O’Brien added.

O’Brien said the rich diversity of students among the 575,000 students enrolled in the Ontario Catholic school system makes the 2023 theme fitting.

The OCSTA conceptualized a treasure trove of teaching resources, classroom activities and multimedia to impart the message of Catholic Education Week to each stakeholder group of the community.

One of the items released early to create buzz was an upbeat theme song called “We are Many, We are One,” featuring lyrics, music and instrumentation from Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board teacher Nancy Bodsworth. The chorus message of this track is “We are Many, We are One, shining brightly, like the sun, coming together, one Body in Christ, We are Many, We are One.”

Lessons were also designed for elementary and secondary students. The plans formulated for the younger age groups features a “minds on” activity, which invites the students to reflect upon and discuss a prayer, a reading or media they heard. They then engage in a reading and classroom brainstorming “action” project. The final step of the lesson, “consolidation,” empowers each student’s creative muscle. This component could feature arts and craft, outdoor fun, classroom skits and more.

The teachings for the secondary school are steeped in spiritual reflection, Scripture and prayer to speak to the students reaching adulthood. There is also a rubric with guidance to help teachers to lead their students through a one-day spiritual retreat if they so choose.

“As a former teacher myself, I can tell you that we always look forward to Catholic Education Week every year,” said O’Brien. “It really is a chance for us to come together as a community. There is a great combination of classroom and larger school activities like assemblies. It is a beautiful time for families to come into the schools. A lot of plays are performed during this time and different showcases of the arts are presented.”

Another partner in Catholic Education Week is the Archdiocese of Toronto. A special Eucharistic celebration was hosted May 3 at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica.

The “We are Many, We are One” spirit transcends beyond the borders of Ontario, said O’Brien. Over the years Catholic school boards across Canada have asked to utilize the OCSTA materials and logos.

“We say absolutely,” said O’Brien. “Whatever we can do to support you in your areas.”

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