Anne Jamieson, new executive director of the Institute for Catholic Education, leads a professional development session for teachers. Photo courtesy the Diocese of Hamilton

Classroom experience guides Catholic Education leader

  • September 12, 2020

Anne Jamieson’s devotion to her faith and heart for catechesis has taken her on a long, winding road to leadership in the Catholic education community in Ontario.  

It’s led Jamieson to the executive director role of the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) Sept. 1, moving on from the Diocese of Hamilton where for the past 12 years she was director of catechesis.

Formerly a teacher with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, where she also served on her school’s pastoral team, she says those early experiences in the classroom laid a foundation that will assist her in her new role at the Hamilton, Ont.-based ICE, working with organizations to promote and maintain publicly- funded Catholic schools reflecting the tenets of the faith.

“I often say in this job, you can take the girl out of the elementary school, but you can never take the elementary school out of the girl,” said Jamieson. “Despite all the good high-level programming we might do, so much of the encounter with Christ comes down to that encounter in hallways, in the school yard and in the classroom. There’s so much of what we hope for in Catholic education that happens at that very basic grassroots level.”

Jamieson is a recognized leader in the Ontario education community and has presented and facilitated professional development sessions across Canada in curriculum delivery for religious education and faith formation. She also co-wrote a confirmation retreat DVD and a confirmation program called Gifted by God, and authored Recipe for Faith which pays tribute to her mother and mother-in-law for the many lessons they passed on about being a woman of faith.

She is grateful for the contributions of women like her mother, who was also a teacher, and other women who paved the way for her in this new role that may have seemed impossible for women just a generation or two ago. Jamieson hopes to continue to build on their foundation and inspire another generation of women to dream big.  

“I’m always so aware of the gift that religious women have been, who did such important work in the Church and gave so much of their lives to it,” said Jamieson, who completed a Masters of Catholic Thought at the University of St. Jerome’s in 2010 and a Doctor of Ministry at Toronto’s Regis College in 2015. “In 2020, women can choose many different paths in life such as being a wife and a mother and still be able to make a professional contribution in the Church.

“If you look around North America, lots of offices for religious education, catechesis, are headed by women, so that contribution is really being valued in a new way.”

Jamieson chose an unconventional career path after completing a bachelor’s degree in English and French Language at the University of St. Michael’s College. While friends were going on to teaching careers, she felt called to public service. She worked for the Social Assistance Review Board at the Ministry of Community and Social Services for three years, working with people in great distress. This helped her recognize the profound ways education could impact a person’s life path and ability to dream a big picture for themselves.

Jamieson moved on to teaching after completing a Bachelor of Education at Western University. She first considered transitioning out of the classroom when the principal at her school called her out of class one day after seeing a posting for a co-ordinator of programming in the pastoral office at the Hamilton diocese and encouraged her to apply.

The wife and mother of four young children at the time, she didn’t feel it was the right time until she received a prompting that her faith could not ignore.

“Ten other teachers at my school printed off that same job they had seen come across on the wire and said, ‘This is the job you’ve been waiting for,’ ” said Jamieson. “I apologized greatly to the Holy Spirit for my hard-headedness and my blindness to that prompting. That turned out to be a phenomenal interview and a phenomenal opportunity.”

St. Catharines Bishop Gerard Paul Bergie, chair of the education commission with ICE, said he believes Jamieson’s gift and passion for education will continue to make a significant contribution to Catholic education in the province.

“Her role at the Institute of Catholic Education is to create a table where all the Catholic partners can come together and really talk about the strengths and also the challenges facing Catholic education,” said Bergie. “It’s about looking at ways to strengthen curriculum and really facilitating that table discussion and I know Anne is very good in that regard.

“She’s also very much a people person and is keen on collaboration and really listening to people to develop a consensus. Those will be some of her great strengths.”

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