“Keep your heart open.”
In what he acknowledged is not always an easy task to do, His Excellency Bishop Crosby’s interpretation of this year’s Catholic Education Week theme, “Living as Joyful Disciples,” marked the start of a celebration of goodness and faith across the system and province.
Coordinated by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), Catholic Education Week aims to raise awareness about the unique dimension of Catholic education in Ontario. System activities to mark Catholic Education Week included a system-wide food drive for local food banks and agencies, an Intermediate Scripture Reading Event, the annual presentation of Director’s Awards for elementary students, as well as several school-based events.
Joined by close to 2000 students and staff from across the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board at Cathedral High School on May 6, Chairperson of the Board Patrick Daly expressed his gratitude for the tireless work put on behind the scenes to help make the event a success, year after year.
“It is my pleasure to bring warm words of greetings on behalf of the Board of Trustees as we come together in prayer to give thanks to God for the tremendous gift of publicly funded Catholic education.”
“We heard the theme of Catholic Education Week is ‘Living as Joyful Disciples,’ and we see that every hour of every single day when we visit one of our schools.”
On a grand scale, he noted the most recent system initiative that saw $30,000 being raised in support of “Toonies for Tuition” to help families in other provinces who cannot receive free publicly funded education.
These acts of charity and kindness are what helps define Catholic education, and more specifically this year’s theme.
“It’s not a command, living as joyful disciples,” said Crosby in his homily. “It’s a recognition of something that is happening in your lives and your schools.”
When we care for one another, when we’re generous to one another, we are “living as joyful disciples,” said Bishop Crosby. “And we can’t help but feel joy.”
The best way to be happy, and to feel happy, he added, is to be kind to someone else.
“We have to take care of one another.”
Specifically addressing the young people in the room, he reminded them of the power they have in changing people’s lives for the better by simply saying something affirming.
“To affirm another person, doesn’t make you less than that. If fact you grow in their eyes. You’ve given the other person a great gift, you’ve acknowledged the goodness and you’ve shown that you, too, are good.”
Building upon his words, Director of Education David Hansen asked those present to think of moments of joy in their own lives.
“I’ll bet it was a time of happiness, boisterous fun and I’d be willing to bet important people, like your friends and family, were present.”
“Catholic Education Week is that time of year when together we have the opportunity to stand up and celebrate all that we have been given and all that Catholic education means to us.”
Quoting St. Teresa of Calcutta, he added “A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.”
“I can’t think of one time in my life that I would describe as joyful that love wasn’t present. Quite frankly, living as joyful disciples inspires each of us to respond to others with love.”