VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis named 71-year-old Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See since 2011, to be the new prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

Published in Vatican

Over the next two years Ann Hawkins hopes to use her position as the new Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association’s (OECTA) president to build relationships and protect the Catholic classroom.

Published in Catholic Education

OTTAWA - Montreal's Loyola High School has won the right to teach its students the Catholic faith from a Catholic perspective.

Published in Canada

The role of chaplaincy in Catholic education has a long history. When Catholic high schools were founded, by religious orders, it was often with great sacrifice that a community would identify a chaplain who had theological training, often a priest or professed religious. Those early communities understood the value of chaplaincy.

Published in Guest Columns

One benefit of having a large Catholic university like the University of Notre Dame is that it can allocate resources to support the Catholic community and Catholic education in a variety of ways. One such way is a program called ACE RISE, run by Fr. Ronald Nuzzi, PhD.

Published in Guest Columns

TORONTO - As he lay dying, Spiritan Father John D. Geary didn’t just listen to classical music on the stereo in his room, he conducted the invisible orchestra.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO - Ontario supporters of Catholic education should heed the lesson of Quebec before it’s too late, said a former education professor and ombudsman at McGill University in Montreal. 

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

BRAMPTON, ONT. - At Holy Name of Mary Catholic Secondary School, students want Catholic education to extend beyond religion class. 

Published in Youth Speak News

TORONTO - When Mark Siolek read an article about a bar owner purchasing confessionals from the Archdiocese of Buffalo to be used in bathrooms, his stomach turned.

Published in Catholic Education

TORONTO - There have been no surprises for Michael Pautler since taking the reins at the Institute of Catholic Education last September.

Published in Catholic Education

TORONTO - For the second consecutive year Annaleise Carr, the youngest person to successfully swim across Lake Ontario, has been honoured as an Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year.

Published in Catholic Education

LONDON, ONT. - What does it mean to be a Catholic university in this day and age?

Published in Catholic Education

[Updated at 12/10/12, 10:30 a.m.]

In a rebuke to comments made by Education Minister Lauren Broten, Cardinal Thomas Collins told a packed audience that the identity of Catholic schools must be respected and the mission of Catholic schools includes engaging in pro-life activities.

Collins made his comments to 1,700 people at the annual Cardinal's Dinner on Thursday night a day after Broten suggested that under the province's new anti-bullying legislation Catholic schools should not be teaching that abortion is wrong because "Bill-13 is about tackling misogyny."

"Taking away a woman's right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take," she said at a press conference. "I don't think there is a conflict between choosing Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman's right to choose."

Collins did not specifically mention Broten, and neither she nor Premier Dalton McGuinty attended the dinner at Toronto's Metro Convention Centre. The Ontario government was represented by Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Charles Sousa. He heard the cardinal defend the rights of Catholic education in no uncertain terms.

Collins said the Catholic identity of Catholic schools is "recognized and protected" by section 93 of the constitution and by section 1 of the Education Act.

"Both the constitution and the Education Act make it clear that the Catholic identity of the school must be respected," he said.

Then, referring to Bill-13, the government's anti-bullying legislation, he said:

"This is true when it comes to the establishment of anti-bullying groups designed to make the school a better place for all, and in Catholic schools that means following the method outlined in the document Respecting Difference, of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association. It is our mission to speak up for all those who suffer, and especially those who are voiceless, for those who are forgotten.

"It is also true when it comes to protecting the freedom of all in the school community to engage in pro-life activities in order to foster a culture of life in which the most vulnerable and voiceless among us are protected and honoured throughout their whole life on earth from the moment of conception to natural death.

"Defending the voiceless is our mission."

Collins reminded the audience that Catholic education has been an integral component of Ontario schooling since before Confederation. He said the province was blessed to have a religious and non-religious education system that "work together in co-operation to make education a treasure for which all Ontarians may truly be thankful."

"There is more beauty in the variety of a garden than in the uniform, undifferentiated, monotony of the dull flat surface of a parking lot," he said.

"The complementary variety in our educational system is an advantage for all, producing not only a healthy competition from which all benefit, but also a fruitful collaboration, and the richness of different approaches to the key issues of life.

"That diversity reflects the reality of the differences that exist in our province. The system works."

Broten, who doubles as the minister responsible for women's issues, made her comments on Oct. 10 after Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) held a press conference at Queen's Park to promote weekend rallies that will demand the province stop funding abortion through Ontario health insurance.  The CLC press conference was sponsored by three Conservative MPPs.

In posing a question to Broten, a reporter said "the Catholic school system in this province is teaching the kind of intolerant thought that we saw coming out of that (CLC) press conference. They let kids out of school to go to anti-abortion rallies. Is that appropriate?" When Broten dodges that question, a reporter again asked: "Should schools be encouraging kids to go to anti-abortion rallies?"

"In Ontario, we support Catholic education, support the teaching of love and tolerance in our schools and at the same time we support the right to chose." she replied. "I am one that supports Catholic education and has been adamantly inn support of women's right to chose for many years and I do not see a conflict in those."

Published in Canada

Catholic education, the Jesuit community and the Church suffered a great loss on Sept. 26 with the passing of Fr. Carl Matthews.

"It was the significant end to an era," said Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, a Jesuit himself who'd known Fr. Matthews for 50 years. "I saw him in August and noticed how frail he was but he was quite upbeat. He always had a positive attitude."

Fr. Matthews, 80, died peacefully at Rouge Valley Hospital in Ajax, Ont. Since retiring from parish life in 2010, he had lived at the Rene Goupil Jesuit Infirmary where his health deteriorated.

"He would probably thought it quite fitting that he died on the Feast of the Canadian Martyrs; that was an important devotion for him," said Prendergast. "He went very quickly at the end. People were expecting him to hang on for another week or two but the Lord called him home on that feast day."

Fr. Matthews, ordained on June 4, 1966, played many roles within the Catholic community. He was a priest, publisher of The Catholic Register for three years and served for 14 years as a trustee and then chair of the Metropolitan Separate School Board, the precursor of the Toronto Catholic District School Board. He made his most lasting mark in education, where he was an instrumental figure in establishing full funding for Ontario Catholic schools.

"I would say that he was in love with Catholic education and was a brilliant and dogged defender of our Catholic schools and our right to full funding," said historian Michael Power, author of the 2005 biography Jesuit in the Legislative Gallery: A life of Father Carl Matthews, S.J. "He learned a lot from his father who was a school inspector, but he was essentially self taught in the matter of school finances. He engineered the clinching deal on full funding."   

Fr. Matthews' involvement in the funding debate began when Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter returned from Rome in 1979 following his elevation to cardinal by Pope John Paul II. Carter, archbishop of Toronto, pulled Fr. Matthews aside and told him that the one thing he hoped to accomplish as a cardinal was to secure full publicly funded Catholic education in Ontario.

Carter asked Fr. Matthews to draft a brief but compelling argument to present to the government on the matter.

"So he left the room and within three weeks had a 12-page memorandum written," said Power. "He never heard another thing about it until in 1984 he got a call from the Cardinal's office saying listen, the premier has phoned the Cardinal asking for another copy of that memorandum. Shortly thereafter the big announcement was made."

Prior to the 1984 announcement, the province only provided subsidies up to grade 10 for Catholic schools, leaving students in grades 11, 12 and 13 to pay tuition costs.   

Born in Kingston, Ont. Fr. Mattews attended his hometown's Regiopolis College before entering St. Stanislaus Novitiate in Guelph, Ont. in 1951. After first vows and two years of Juniorate, he went on to Regis College in Toronto. Fr. Matthews returned to his former high school and taught for two years before returning to the University of Toronto to formally study education — a life-long vocation of the late father.

Although he will be remembered for his tireless dedication to his many areas of commitment, one pastime took Fr. Matthews mind off everything else — baseball.

"He loved going to the Blue Jays (but) never treated himself to a half-decent seat," said Power, who attended many games with Fr. Matthews after they first met in the early '90s. "We always sat up in the 500 section and I'd say why are you sitting up here? I came all the way from Welland to sit up in the sky?

"So the last game we went to I had four very good tickets, courtesy of a friend of mine, so we sat behind the Blue Jays' dugout. He just marveled."

Power described Fr. Matthews as a true priest, a good man and genuinely humble human being. He drove a small car, had a modest apartment and always gave what he could to those in need.

"He did splurge for his TV, he subscribed to Rogers Sportsnet or whatever it is that carries the Blue Jays games," said Power. "For him that was almost a mortal sin, but I said listen, you like baseball, watch the games."

Fr. Matthews was a lot of things to a lot of people. To Power he was a boss, a man of God and most of all a friend.

"What I'll miss is just Carl, I don't know how else to say it," said Power. "The bond of true friendship is never broken, death cannot break that, but there is a loss. He's not here, he won't be phoning me anymore, he won't be writing me anymore. I will miss him."

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

For the second time, the provincial government has taken over one of the province's Catholic school boards.

The Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board is the latest to fall under provincial control after an external review found board staff was willing to risk a strike to balance its budget. The board's budget was short $2.2 million this year, the fifth time in the past six years it had failed to balance its books. Staff noted that a strike might help to find those savings.

The board had no contingency plan to find the savings, said Deloitte, the consultants who authored the review.

Norbert Hartmann, who oversaw the Toronto Catholic District School Board when the province took it over in 2008, has been appointed to oversee the Windsor board's financial management and administration.

Barbara Holland, chair of the Windsor board, had predicted a takeover was coming in early August. She told The Catholic Register's Evan Boudreau that it wasn't so much financial instability, but more of a retaliatory measure for the board filing for conciliation to resolve the collective bargaining difficulties it was having with its teachers (before the province introduced its Putting Students First legislation Aug. 27).

"I do feel that it is a retaliatory measure and it is retaliation because we spoke out on this issue," said Holland.

Published in Catholic Education