Brian O’Sullivan, director of Catholic education for Ontario’s Catholic trustees’ association, encourages all trustees to participate in the new course being offered by the association this January across the province. Photo by Evan Boudreau.

Trustee leadership course to focus on Catholic issues

By 
  • November 21, 2014

TORONTO - The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association has developed a 12-week course focusing on Catholic leadership for its members.

“The course is focusing on Catholic leadership and Catholic issues,” said Brian O’Sullivan, director of Catholic education for the OCSTA. “It is also about providing exposure to international Catholic issues that Ontario trustees will find very interesting.”

He cited First Nations relations, illegal immigration connected to refugees and humanitarian aid as examples of international issues which relate back to Catholic leadership.

The course, which will cost about $500 per trustee and begins in January, will for the most part be online requiring between two to three hours to complete with the exception of the last two weeks. For those weeks trustees enrolled are to attend the local partnering Catholic university for a more traditional lesson.

“The benefit is that all of the trustees who sign up for it will receive the same project all across the province,” he said. “The remaining two lessons will be face to-face with the Catholic university in order to further deepen those bonds between the Catholic school boards and the Catholic universities.”

Eight Catholic universities have come on board as a local agent to host the course and facilitate the final two classes. Among them are Saint Paul University in Ottawa, the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto and Windsor’s Assumption University.

But the course doesn’t come without some localized practical work beyond basic relationship building. Those enrolled will be required to complete a 10-hour practicum component where they investigate first hand something they feel is a pressing issue in their respective boards.

“Recognizing that each board has local and regional issues that they would like to address, we set aside two of those lessons ... for face-to-face meetings,” said O’Sullivan.

He suggested as a practicum project studying the level of engagement of Catholic students in the broader community as a result of their Catholic values learned from the triad of home, parish and school.

The course will address a variety of Catholic leadership questions such as those surrounding the historical role of Catholic education in Ontario, Catholic social teachings and navigating secular and faith-based media.

O’Sullivan estimated that eight to 10 trustees would need to sign up at each location in order for OCSTA to break even on the roughly $50,000 investment, but he’d be happy with getting as few as 50 trustees to sign up and take a loss “just to get it known.”

And while he said all 237 trustees are encouraged to enrol, it is the 52 new trustees province-wide who would likely benefit most.

“This will be perfect for them,” he said. 

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