Carlo Acutis was beatified at a Mass in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 10. CNS photo/courtesy Sainthood Cause of Carlo Acutis

New virtual school named for Carlo Acutis

By  Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News
  • November 11, 2020

The Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board in Ontario is naming its virtual school after Blessed Carlo Acutis (1991-2006), the teenaged Italian computer programmer beatified by Pope Francis Oct. 10 who is becoming increasingly known as “the first millennial saint.”

Attaching Acutis’ name to this new online academy for continuing, alternative, summer and virtual learning programs celebrates his background as a computer enthusiast before his death from leukemia at age 15 on Oct. 12, 2006. Acutis documented eucharistic miracles around the world and catalogued each of them on a website.

“Blessed Carlo seemed like the perfect fit for our times,” said Chris Roehrig, Huron-Perth’s director of education. “In the wake of the pandemic we have had to embark upon new learning enterprise in the virtual environment. His faithful practice, service to the vulnerable and spirit of evangelization make him a great role model for all of us.”

Roehrig says naming the online institute after Acutis is powerful for students because he was in many ways like today’s youth. Besides being a computer programmer, Acutis was an avid gamer who loved sports, soccer in particular, traits many share.

“It gives them hope and inspiration that we too can follow in the footsteps of a holy person,” said Roehring.  “Blessed Carlo can inspire the younger generation to evangelize everywhere. All things can be used to spread the Good News, the Internet is no different.”

Programs intended for the new school have been underway over the past year (summer school and virtual/remote school) but the continuing COVID-19 pandemic accelerated and expanded the scope of the plans. Once the pandemic had set in, a full-fledged online institution was established and was in need of a name.

Roehrig said the board wants “to make sure that the school maintains a strong faithful spirit. It is important for Catholics to evangelize everywhere — including the virtual world.”

This is a direct nod to Pope Francis’ reminder of our collective call to evangelize in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). He said one of the Church’s primary missions is to evangelize in the modern world, which includes a strong presence in the Internet ecosystem.

The Pope also wrote in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation following the youth synod in 2018 that Acutis knew how to spread the Gospel on the Internet.

“It is true that the digital world can expose you to the risk of self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure. But don’t forget that there are young people even there who show creativity and even genius. That was the case with Venerable Carlo Acutis,” said Pope Francis.

The school aims to provide a faith-filled Catholic education in as many avenues as possible.

“We hope to keep adding programs to meet the needs of students as they become more apparent. The spirit of the new school is to provide a preferential option for those in need,” said Roehrig. “New programs on the horizon include supervised alternative programs to keep students in schools with a bright future in mind.

“I hope that our students will be able to look at his life and say: ‘I can do that!’ as I believe that our young people can be just be like Blessed Carlo, if given the chance.”

(Ducepec, 22, is a recent Bachelor of Science graduate from the University of Toronto. Her area of study was anthropology.)

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