Toronto's Cardinal Thomas Collins blesses Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne at the first-ever Roman Catholic Mass celebrated at Queen’s Park in Toronto. Photo by Michael Swan.

Collins reminds MPPs of Catholic schools' 'gift' to Ontario

By 
  • April 2, 2014

TORONTO - On the first-ever Pope John Paul II Day in Ontario, Toronto's Cardinal Thomas Collins celebrated the first-ever Roman Catholic Mass at Queen’s Park in the building’s 154-year history.

The 7:30 a.m. Mass in the legislature’s dining room was attended by politicians of all three parties along with Catholic teachers and school board trustees there to lobby them.

In his brief homily, Collins reminded his small flock Catholic schools are “a gift to all the province,” while also praising politicians for their dedication.

“This is an admirable task. It is a tremendous vocation,” he said.

Among the trustees and teachers there was talk of daily newspaper editorials over the last year which have called for an end to publicly funded Catholic schools. Nancy Kirby, Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association past president, said continued funding and support would be the number one item on the agenda as officials from the Catholic trustees' association and the Catholic teachers' union sat down with politicians.

“We do this every couple of years just to remind them,” she said.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne doesn’t think Catholics should be worried about funding for their school system.

“There’s no risk from our government in terms of the Catholic education system,” Wynne told The Catholic Register. “We’ve said all along we’re going to continue to support the education system as it exists and make it the best in the world. That’s what we’re doing.”

Collapsing the four publicly funded school systems into a single system is simply not a topic for discussion in government, said Wynne.

The premier recommended the OCSTA and Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association dedicate their lobby day to talking about ways of adapting to the demands of a globalized economy.

“We need to look at what skills young people need for the 21st century. Are our school systems and our schools providing those opportunities for kids?” she asked.

As a former education minister, Wynne was looking forward to talking with the teachers and trustees about the education system’s future.

“It’s a different world,” Wynne said. “These kids are growing up with technology that none of us had. They’re competing in a global economy that when I was growing up was not part of our consciousness. They have a whole set of challenges we have to make sure they’re ready for. That’s the discussion I want to have.”

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