In his Message for this year’s World Day of the Sick, Pope Francis looks to the Cross of Christ for redemption from suffering and to Mary as Mother of the Church, a mother who looks out for all her children. The Pope’s example of practical accompaniment of the sick, the dying and the elderly is shown in his frequent visits to hospitals, seniors’ homes and in his loving attention to the sick and people with disabilities who come to his weekly audiences. Accompanying and encountering the sick are watchwords of his ministry of mercy, and an example of how Mary looks after her children. We, too, can support the sick through many different organizations and in many varied ways:
- We can work politically to ensure that our health care and social service systems will focus on not only direct medical services, but will also strive to improve the social determinants of health.
- In order to optimize infant and child healthcare and to be intentional about disease prevention as life begins, we can make political demands in their interests.
- We can also support the claims of those employed in health care and social services who are overworked or underpaid.
From the Catholic viewpoint of improving the common good, we must ask whether our national budgetary provisions for health care are sufficient? If not, are those who are more financially secure willing to pay more so that others may benefit, beyond accepting an already somewhat heavy tax burden?
We are becoming more aware of regional injustices, even at the level of not having clean water available – in Canada! In 2018! We know this need not be, so we are challenged to respond.
- Some will be called to take political and social action to improve our health systems on behalf of the sick, as above.
- Some are called to be of great practical assistance to the sick, the frail and the elderly. volunteering in hospices, in hospitals and long-term care homes.
- Some participate in athletic and other events to raise awareness for specific charities and causes, at the same time persuading other people to support those causes financially.
- Many people are involved professionally in responding to the needs of the poor, the homeless, the elderly, those with addictions and so on, and many give their time and talents in other ways – financially, personally and spiritually through donating, volunteering, praying and raising awareness through their personal witness and commitment.
At an international level, Canada contributes large amounts in government aid to many countries and organizations, and many of us do so in a smaller way, through financial support of organizations that help medically and socially.
- Instead of birthday gifts, we can ask for a well (or part of one!) to be built in a developing country; we can ‘send’ friends some goats, pigs or chickens – redirected, of course, to a family who will benefit directly from them.
- We can send medical supplies and educational materials through organizations such as Chalice, based in Nova Scotia, while many hospitals such as St. Joseph’s in Hamilton send medical teams with suitable supplies to help in countries in need, in this case, Haiti
We can be inspired by many local examples of accompanying and encountering the sick in the spirit of Pope Francis. Here are a few examples that have struck me recently:
- In the Archdiocese of Québec, teams of two are going out to visit the sick, the lonely and the vulnerable – all people who need our special care and attention, even more so in today’s world.
- I have a priest friend who started to visit the psychiatric ward of a local hospital, making himself available for conversation to anyone who would like to chat. Being ‘listened to’ is a great gift, and another form of accompanying the sick.
- I just heard recently from two sisters I know who have left their full-time careers to look after their other sister with early signs of dementia, in order to keep her at home in her own surroundings and involved in family life as long as possible.
We all know parish nurses who look after the elderly, the housebound and the sick in their local areas and who include prayer, a spiritual dimension and parish ‘talk’ in their visits, which many homebound people miss.
I am sure there are countless examples we can all give of how we accompany and encounter the sick, and Pope Francis reminds us that the prime example is Mary. She stood at the foot of the Cross, sorrowing no doubt, but she was THERE, accompanying Jesus to the end. Aware of this, it is natural that we should turn to her for encouragement in our accompanying and encountering those who need it support!
Mary, Help of the Sick, pray for us!
Moira McQueen, LLB, MDiv, PhD
Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute
SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES FOR PARISHES
Online communications have significantly shaped the way people interact with each other, and continue to influence how and where people look for information. Among various forms of online communications, social media continues to be a significant tool that could be used for the Church’s mission of evangelization.
As a Church, we have the opportunity to use social media for the twofold purpose of information and formation:
- Information – to update parishioners with Mass and reconciliation schedules, liturgies they could participate in, ministries they could help in, parish events they could join, and other information relevant to them as members of their parish community.
- Formation – to help parishioners in their faith journey through curated Catholic content (videos, blogs, articles, etc.).
Also, the Church has the opportunity to use social media as a platform of influence. In a day and age where hundreds of millions of people are active online, social media can be effectively used to reach not only those in the pews, but also those who are not. Building an active, welcoming and friendly parish social media presence could foster engagement even among those who are not in the Church.
The goal of this Best Practices and Guidelines is to help parishes that are not on social media create and maintain an active and engaging social media presence. Additionally, offer tips and insights from the experiences of the Diocese of Calgary Social Media Committee. Consequently, the aim of establishing a parish social media presence is not only to share your weekly Parish bulletin, nor is it only to post Mass times. Since we share in the life and mission of the Catholic Church, our ultimate aim is to engage our parishioners (information), help them in their faith journey (formation), and to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ online (platform of influence/evangelization).
Among all other social media platforms, Facebook is the largest by number of monthly active users (1+ billion). Considering its prominence and the level of detail and information one can put, it is fair to say that you can treat your Facebook page as your secondary source of information online — next only to your official parish website. Click here for Facebook’s official Getting Started with Pages how-to guide.
How to use Facebook
- Populate your Facebook Page’s About section with all the important and relevant details about your parish (e.g. Parish’s street address, website, parish office telephone number, contact email, Mass and Reconciliation times, etc.)
- Take advantage of Facebook’s Events feature. By creating one for each of your parish events, you can share it to your followers, on which there is a feature where they can RSVP. In turn, your followers can share your event with their friends.
- Share opportunities where parishioners can volunteer in the different parish ministries.
- Share links to Catholic news.
- Follow the Facebook Pages of other Catholic organizations, ministries, parishes, and Dioceses – this makes curating Catholic content easier.
- Create a Page: some people make the mistake of creating a Facebook profile for their parish instead of a Facebook Page. The difference? A Facebook profile is for a personal user (i.e. you as an individual), while a Facebook Page is for an organization/business. As a parish, a Facebook Page is what you need. Note that a Facebook Page is different than a Facebook Group. Don't choose Group, choose Page.
- Assign roles: In your Facebook Page’s settings, you can assign other Facebook Users a role in managing your Page (Admin, moderator, editor, etc.), with each role having varied accessibilities and rights. This will make maintaining your Facebook presence easier.2
- Live Video: want to broadcast an event, live? While Facebook Live started out only for personal profiles and only from a mobile device, it is now available for Pages and from a computer. Click here for more.
Twitter is another social media platform where users can post and respond to short messages called Tweets. Tweets are limited to 140 characters and can be about virtually anything. You can post a tweet, reply to one, share a tweet you like (called a re-tweet or RT). You can also attach images, video, or links to every tweet you post. There’s a huge Catholic “population” on Twitter, collectively known by the moniker Catholic Twitter. And who exactly makes up Catholic Twitter? A lot. Priests, nuns, bishops, catholic bloggers, and yes – even Pope Francis. Don’t forget to follow him at @Pontifex! Click here for Twitter’s official getting started guide.
How to use Twitter
- The details we’ve listed above on Facebook generally applies to all of social media, Twitter included. So populate your Twitter profile with the necessary information (a short bio of who you are, your parish website, etc.)
- Twitter pioneered the use of Hashtags. Not sure what a hashtag is? Click here. You can use this to create a unique identity for your parish’s social media presence. For example, the Diocese of Calgary uses #CatholicYYC in its posts online. Our Lady of the Rockies in Canmore, Alberta, uses #OurLadyRocks. Be creative, and share it with your parishioners! Use this handy guide for creating your hashtags.
- You can share on Twitter what you also share on Facebook: links to Catholic news, curated Catholic content, your own parish news, and volunteer opportunities.
- Follow other Catholic users and see what they tweet about! As with Facebook, this also helps make curating Catholic content much easier.
- Keep it active. If Facebook has a Timeline where you can see others’ posts, Twitter has a Feed. This feed is constantly updated; so don’t hesitate to tweet multiple times a day.
Instagram is a popular photo-sharing social media platform where users can post images, video, as well as live-video. Unfortunately, content can only be posted on Instagram from a mobile device — meaning no computers.
Tips: You can link Instagram posts to automatically share in Facebook. Use this feature with discretion.
Other Social Media Platforms
There are several other social media platforms that may be useful for your parish’s needs that are not included in this guideline. Below is a list of other platforms at your disposal that you could use, and a brief description of what they are for.
- Youtube: video hosting and sharing
- Vimeo: video hosting and sharing
- Flickr: hosting and sharing images
- Pinterest: a virtual board on which users can pin and visually share interesting finds on the internet
- Google+: Google’s own social media network, useful to boost your website’s SEO (search engine optimization)
- Snapchat: a mobile-only social media platform where users can send visual (e.g. image and video) messages — hence, snap-chat.
OTHER Important Tips
- Be visual
Social media is largely visual, and having a visual element to your posts will help you get more Impressions (social media term for the number of times your post is displayed) and Engagement (likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc.). Thus instead of posting your Pastor’s Easter message on Facebook in plain text, why not create a short video?
- Keep your Identity Consistent
Keep your social media handle/username consistent on all social media platforms so people can find you easily. For example, the Diocese of Calgary’s handle on all social media accounts is @calgarydiocese.
- Be Active
If you do decide on creating multiple social media accounts on different platforms for your parish, you must commit keep it active and updated constantly. Also do not just post content – be sure to engage with your followers by replying to comments and tweets. This makes your presence personable.
- Respect Intellectual Property
Obey the law. Understand the copyrights accompanying any online content, whether they be images, music, videos, etc. Content posted online are to be treated similarly with content in other publications.
- Account Access & Credentials
Login credentials for the parish’s social media accounts such as usernames, emails, and passwords must be constantly updated. Also, this document must be accessible by the social media administrator and the Pastor, or whomever the social media administrator reports directly to. This file must be treated as highly confidential. Regarding passwords: complexity is good, but length is also important (8-10 characters).
- Privacy and Safe Environments
Do not disclose information that is to be held in confidence. Also, any individual involved in managing social media accounts must not engage in private online conversations with children. A good rule of thumb is to keep all forms of engagement public (through comments, replies to tweets), instead of Direct Messages, commonly called DM’s.
Permission to photograph children cannot be assumed, and neither is posting their pictures on social media. Photographs of children shouldn’t be posted on social media sites without the prior approval of the child’s parents or legal guardian. Also, take great care to avoid including identifying details or information with an image posted online. For a sample photo release form, see Page 6 of the Diocesan Social Media Policy.
Creating a Social Media Team
Creating and curating content for social media, as well as the overall maintenance of the parish’s social media accounts, can be challenging. Having a social media team of about 3-4 people that handles all these tasks is very valuable. There are a few things to consider when selecting the right people for this team.
Members must be carefully selected, screened, and have references and background checks obtained, just as with other parish ministries. Remember that just because someone is social media savvy does not mean that they are perfectly fit for the task. Social media admins represent the Church on every single post and comment that they write — these individuals must have good moral character, well-formed in the Catholic faith, and have the ability to think through the implications of what they are about to write. It is important that the team works closely with their parish priest and office. In addition, it would be significantly beneficial if members of the social media team have a sense of brand consistency when creating content.
Social Media Team Email
It is also worth considering creating a special email account for use by the social media team. This email account will then be the one used when creating social media accounts, instead of having to use someone else’s personal email. For example, the Calgary Diocese Social Media Committee uses a Gmail account that members use when logging in, signing up, and as backup email.
Scheduling and Creating Content
Social media administrators do not always need to be on a computer or mobile device in order to post content. Free resources, such as Facebook’s own Scheduling tool, HootSuite or the Buffer App account give social media administrators the ability to queue posts to be released on a certain date and time.
Each tool may have unique features of their own, but essentially they all allow you to schedule social media posts in advance and monitor your accounts when someone mentions you or leave a comment.
PROMOTING your Social Media Presence
Don't forget to promote your social media presence. Start engaging with your parishioners to ensure effective communication and build a loyal parishioners base.
Tips: Include social media buttons on your bulletin, website and provide accurate links to your parish social media networks. Integrate your social media information with your other Parish communications channels such as the:
- Email (in the signature)
- Bulletin Board
- Stationery - Letterhead, Business Cards
- Website & other social media presence
Compiled by the Diocesan Social Media Committee, November 2017.
ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF CALGARY
- Bishop McGrattan's Liturgical Calendar
- Diocesan Events and Registrations
- Diocesan Weekly Bulletin Insert
- Clergy Pastoral Assignment
Organizations which have applied to the Program (either by altering or modifying the problematic attestation, or submitting a paper application without checking the attention box) have begun receiving notification from Service Canada stating that their applications are deemed incomplete.
2018 LENTEN MESSAGE FROM BISHOP MCGRATTAN
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday as we gather to receive the “mark of ashes,” an exterior sign of our desire for interior change and renewal.
WORLD DAY OF THE SICK
In 2018, the 26th World Day of the Sick will be celebrated as it is every year on 11 February, the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Holy See has released the Holy Father's Message which is entitled Mater Ecclesiae: "Behold, your son... Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." (John 19:26-27).
- Download materials for the World Day of the Sick (posters, prayer cards, general intercessions, message from the Holy Father).
- Statement from Dr. Moira McQueen, Executive Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institue (CCBI).
- Letter from Bishop McGrattan re: Covenant Care and Covenant Living's Service
Friday, Feb 23, 2018 - day of prayer and fasting FOR PEACE
The Holy Father invites the whole Church to observe the Friday, Feb 23, as a day of prayer and fasting for peace in the many areas of conflict throughout the world, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. Initiatives may include: The Way of the Cross (adapted for Peace in Congo and South Sudan), Eucharistic Adoration and Prayer Service.
- You might find some resources that you can adapt at the Development and Peace website, such as their Way of the Cross, Prayers of the Faithful or Reflections: https://www.devp.org (under Resources / Together for Peace / Way of the Cross).
- More resources will be posted as soon as they are available.
- Chcek this link for Bishop's letter on Summer Jobs Program process change, updates, to do actions, and resources (letters and statements) from CCCB, other dioceses and media coverage.
SAVE THE DATE - 2019 National Conference on Evangelization & Catechesis
The CCCB Commission for Evangelization and Catechesis will be hosting a National Conference on Evangelization and Catechesis, 21-23 March 2019 in Ottawa. The theme of the conference is “He Thirsts for You”. The keynote speaker is Father Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., with Bishop Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., and Dr. Josephine Lombardi as featured speakers. The conference is open to all those working in the area of evangelization and catechesis.
- For more information, please contact CCCB Office for Evangelization and Catechesis, email@example.com
- See Poster
50th Anniversary of THE Charismatic ReneWAL in CANADA
In 2018, we are marking the 50th anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal in Canada. Over these years, this movement of the Holy Spirit has left a discernible impression on the Church. As a Church, we give thanks to the Lord for the blessings of God which Catholic charismatics have brought our dioceses and parishes.
- Read the message from the Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for the 50th Anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal in Canada.
30th anniverSARY OF THE MORGENTALER DECISION
"Exactly thirty years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that existing abortion provisions in our nation's Criminal Code violated a woman's Charter rights to the security of person and were thus unconstitutional... Over the course of the last decades, many of our fellow Christians, members of other faiths, and those of no faith at all, have worked tirelessly with members of our own communities to uphold the value of human life from the first moment of conception." ~ Bishop Lionel Gendron.
- Read the full statement by CCCB President Bishop Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., titled "The state has a legitimate interest in protecting the unborn; Statement on the 30th anniversary of the Morgentaler Decision"
World Youth Day in Panama 2019
Information on World Youth Day in Panama 2019 is available on www.wydcanada.org
- Please see Pilgrimage Package here.
- Contact your parish and/or parish youth ministry if you are interested to attend the World Youth Day. The minimum age of participants is 18 years old.
REJOICE IN GOD'S MERCY - CONFESSION AVAILABLE EVERY WEDNESDAYS IN LENT - FEB 21
The Diocese of Calgary invites you to experience the peace, love, and joy brought by participating in the sacrament of reconciliation. In addition to the regular parish schedule, the sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at parishes throughout the Diocese of Calgary all the Wednesdays of Lent from 7:30 – 8:30 pm.
EFFECTIVE CO-PARENTING: PUTTING KIDS FIRST - FEB 21
An educational 5-week program for separated and divorced parents to help raise their children through this difficult time and increase the understanding of needs of children for developing self-esteem and security. It will offer skills to help manage diverse shared parenting situations and provide strategies to improve communication, resolve conflict, and manage day-to-day issues between parenting partners. Parents are encouraged to attend separately. The next program will run 7:00pm - 9:00pm in the fall of 2017.
- For more information or registration, contact Alida Allen at 403-218-5505 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Click here for online registration
- More information about Separation and Divorce Ministry.
lenten workshop on forgiveness - feb 24
The Diocesan Office of Religious Education invites you to a Lenten Workshop on Forgiveness. Embracing forgiveness brings peace – to your life, to those around you and to your community. Are you ready to choose forgiveness as a way of life? Come hear Fr. Peter Doherty, PhD speak on the topic of forgiveness on Saturday Feb. 24 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, 120 -17 Ave SW Calgary.
- To register call the Religious Education Office at 403-218-5501 or email: email@example.com
- Register online here
PROJECT RACHEL POST ABORTION WEEKEND RETREAT - FEB 23-24
The retreat offers a journey of healing and reconciliation for women and men who are suffering from a past abortion experience. Trained certified counselors are available to accompany people on a journey toward hope and inner peace. The next retreat is scheduled for February 23 - 24, 2018.
- For more information or to register call Project Rachel at 403-218-5506 or toll free at 1-877-597-3223. You may also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
COLDEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR - FEB 24
It's our fifth birthday! Coldest Night of the Year - Calgary will turn five this February 24, 2018. We'd love to have you celebrate with us by walking or volunteering in support of Feed the Hungry (a Diocesan program) and our friends KAIROS Calgary as they work to pay down the mortgage on Bankview Apartments (affordable housing). We'll be starting from Eau Claire Market again this year, offering 2, 5 and 10 km routes so the event is accessible for all.
- For more info visit www.cnoy.org/calgary or connect with Samantha at 403-218-5531 or e-mail email@example.com.
YOUNG WOMEN VOCATION EVENTS - FEB 24
Attention: Single Young Women between 16-35! The Vocation Committee of AWR (The Assembly of Women Religious) is planning two events:
- Saturday, Feb. 24 retreat on a Lenten theme. Beginning with 9 AM Mass at Holy Trinity Parish to 4 PM.
Alzheimer workshop - March 3
Mary Mother of the Redeemer Parish in Calgary will be hosting an Alzheimer Workshop on March 3, 2018 from 9 am - 2:30 pm. This workshop will provide participants with an understanding of Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias.
- Registration fee: $25, lunch included.
- For more information and to register please visit our News and Events page at www.calgarydiocese.ca or call 403-218-5501. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
COURAGE, UNITY, FAITH: GOD SQUAD 2018 ANNUAL MEN CONFERENCE - MarCH 16 & 17
Attention Catholic Men: You are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are filled with courage and conviction. Recognize God’s calling “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), and face the challenge against the Catholic Faith, Identity and Practice. Speakers: Fr. Raymond DeSouza, Fr. Cristino Bouvette and Fr. Jerome Lavigne. Join us at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church on March 16 and 17.
- To register please visit: https://godsquad.ca/
PLANNED GIVING SESSIONS - April 5
Be inspired to make a difference! Learn how to maximize your legacy for family and charity in your will. Join our upcoming Planned Giving Seminar:
- Next sessions date:
- April 5, Catholic Pastoral Centre (120 - 17th Ave SW, Calgary). Register here.
- June 5, Holy Family Parish (1451 Strachan Road, SE, Medicine Hat). Register here.
- September 26, Catholic Pastoral Centre (120 - 17th Ave SW, Calgary). Register here.
- November 7, Catholic Pastoral Centre (120 - 17th Ave SW, Calgary). Register here.
- Contact Doreen (403) 218-5522 or email@example.com if you need more information.
YOUTH RALLY 2018: MiSSION POSSIBLE - April 21
Calling all youth ages 12 - 18 to the 2018 Youth Rally: Mission Possible! The Nun and Nunner will be there, along with Fr. Cristino Bouvette and Michael Chiasson! Guaranteed to be a fun and faith-filled event. Event will be hosted at the Catholic Central, High School East, Lethbridge.
- If you would like to attend, please register. Alternatively, you can also contact your parish priest, youth minister or Harriett at 403-218-5507.
- For more information, visit http://www.theyellowtree.ca/youth-rally.html
SPECIAL NEEDS MINISTRY AND MASS at St. Patrick's Parish
A message from St. Patrick’s Parish, Calgary: We are forming a new ministry whose mission is: “To create a loving, supportive and compassionate church community that renews and restores faith and hope to families and children living with special needs.” We recognize that for families who have children who live with special needs: physical, cognitive or emotional, bringing them to Mass may be a challenge. Our Special Needs Mass will be a place of understanding, acceptance and welcome for those who live with special needs as well as those who care for them. This Mass will give families the opportunity to celebrate God's presence in their lives together. Children and adults with special needs will be filling as many liturgy positions as possible.
- Next Special Needs Ministry Mass on Sunday 5 PM: February 25, March 25, April 22, May 27 and June 24, 2018.
- For more information, please contact Brenda-Lee-Kearney at 403-835-2749 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
RETROUVAILLE CALGARY WEEKEND RETREAT
A Lifeline for Marriages. Along life’s journey, married couples may lose their way and start to grow apart. Retrouvaille provides a ‘road map’ to help couples find their way again by teaching communication skills and providing the tools to improve their relationships.
- Next weekend retreat is March 9.
- Call for help today, 403-879-7893, coordinator@RetrouvailleCalgary.com or visit: www.helpourmarriagecalgary.com
MARRIAGE PREPARATION "FOR BETTER & FOR EVER"
“For Better & For Ever…” Marriage Preparation, accepts all couples preparing for marriage. Due to the small group setting it allows us to focus on couples in one or more of the following circumstances: living together, previously married, beginning marriage with children, couples 45+, or those who wish to have their marriage blessed in the Church.
- For more dates, registration or information, contact 403-218-5505 or e-mail the LFRC Centre.
- Register Online Here
PROJECT RACHEL POST ABORTION COUNSELLING
The ministry offers a journey of healing and reconciliation for women and men who are suffering distress from a past abortion experience. Clients will be referred to a professional counselor who specializes in dealing with the trauma associated with this experience.
- For more information call Project Rachel at 403-218-5506 or toll free at 1-877-597-3223. You may also e-mail email@example.com.
- Go to Project Rachel's Website
OUR LADY OF THE ROCKIES - DIOCESAN MARIAN SHRINE
Our Lady of the Rockies Parish in Canmore is now designated as a Diocesan Marian Shrine. This will take effect on the day of the consecration of the new church building in the spring 2019.
- See video of the announcement by Bishop McGrattan
- Visit the parish/shrine website at http://www.rockiesparish.com
CATHOLIC SPEED DATING
- For all Catholic Speed Dating event, please visit www.CatholicSpeedDating.ca or call Rose at 587-333-1099
CONSECRATION OF CANADA TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Parishes are invited to hold a parish celebration on one or more Saturdays within the anniversary year (July 1 2017 to July 1 2018).
- Prayer templates, prayer card and catechetical materials are available on the Office of Liturgy website.
- For more information, please click here or Contact the Office of Liturgy at 403-218-5511 or 403-218-5524 - or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the Diocese of Calgary on Social Media:
In the hilarious television program Mr. D., the titular character expounds a basic philosophy about teaching. “Mark the smart kid’s exam first and use it as an answer key.” He explains in another episode about the mentoring of practicum students – basically, throw them into the deep end and take a day off. In his standup routine he once told a group of teachers, “I saw a seminar recently, Engaging Students in the 21st Century. It was cancelled. You can’t engage them anymore! Teachers saying, ‘I’m not going to that! That’s impossible.’”
Needless to say, Mr. D. is not actually a role model for us as teachers, though in the way of great parody, he often builds on real situations to make his humour more identifiable. While all of us no doubt prepare diligently for each class, it’s true to say that the workload for teachers is at times overwhelming. And teaching isn’t just about the material anyway. As teachers everywhere understand – it’s how you present information, and how you connect to your students, that can be the difference between failure and success. All this is compounded by the different learning needs and styles of the students themselves. Clarity for one individual can be gobbledygook to another.
For all of these reasons, I think that teaching is one of the toughest gigs on the planet. And yet the world over, masochists keep presenting themselves to take on this challenge. Why? I truly believe that most individuals turn to this remarkable profession because they want to make a difference in the lives of others. Teaching, in the context of a faith tradition, can be even harder. We live in a secular society, and the dynamic messaging of today’s technology, and the contradictory information that flows to our children, is overwhelming.
The Calgary Catholic Education Foundation (CCEF) is one organization that understands the challenge for both teachers and students. Founded in 2008, CCEF is a charitable organization that raises funds for schools in need – innovative educational experiences, technology, literacy projects, and educational environments – to ensure that no child is left behind. And once a year, on Catholic Education Sunday, the organization rallies to raise funds through parishes and the community to help support educational opportunities and initiatives that are otherwise not funded. I’m proud to say that this year our Bachelor of Education students will be playing an active role in helping to promote the Foundation’s objectives, and indeed that one of our Education students, Vanessa Bitoni, is on CCEF’s Board of Directors. Together I am sure that we will work together to ensure that this is one of the most successful years to date for CCEF.
Our job is not just to educate, but also to do this with passion, so that we can help students find theirs. Aristotle once said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” To which I think we can all say: Amen!
Sister Elizabeth Lynch has been a member of the Sisters of St. Ursula of the Chatham Union for 63 years. Growing up in what is now called the district of Cliff Bungalow, she attended Holy Angels Elementary and Junior High School and St. Mary’s Girls’ High School in Calgary. Since her profession and training to be a teacher, she has been missioned to Ridgetown, ON, Rockyford, AB, and Edmonton. She taught elementary grades over a course of 19 years and then moved into pastoral ministry in Stratford, ON, Drumheller, AB and Calgary. In Calgary she also served as a diocesan chaplain in long term care and worked with AHS in Chaplaincy at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
It was 1921 when the first Ursuline Sisters came to the Diocese at the request of Bishop McNally. Two were from the USA, one from Chatham, ON and a postulant was from Toronto. The superior was Sr. Angela Sidley. The order was independent of other Ursuline communities and was officially called Calgary Ursulines, a corporation unto themselves. They established the first English speaking novitiate in Western Canada.
The Sisters taught in St. Anne’s, Holy Angels and Sacred Heart Schools and in later years at St. Charles, St. Paul, Forest Lawn, St. Margaret’s and St. Francis High schools. They also had a music school in Calgary. In 1929, they were asked to send Sisters to Rockyford. There they taught at St. Rita’s and had boarders from the country during the week.
In 1934, the Calgary Ursulines were amalgamated with the Chatham Union of Ursulines. Young women who entered from the West travelled to Chatham for their religious formation. The Sisters in our diocese opened a convent in Drumheller in 1935 to respond to the bishop’s request for social workers in that town. They also taught music and kindergarten. For many years Ursulines gave catechism classes to students of public schools on Saturdays and did the same in various country places during the summers.
Sr. Elizabeth, the last Ursuline of Chatham in our diocese, will be leaving Calgary in mid-November. We thank Sister and all of her congregation who so generously served southern Alberta.