Saturday, 20 October 2012

Great Occasions

Family of Schools Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral

His Grace, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast & Father Jessimar Cavan-Tapia
of  St. Andrew Parish 
The mission statement of the Ottawa Catholic School Board states that partnerships between schools and parishes are at the core of Catholic education .  And so it was that on Wednesday, October 17 St. Andrew Parish organized a special mass at Notre Dame Cathedral for grade 5 and 6 students of five of my Barrhaven elementary schools: Monsignor Paul Baxter, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Emily, St. Luke, and St. Patrick.

The Recessional following mass at Notre Dame Cathedral
Before mass began, Father Jeff Kerslake, Episcopal Vicar, welcomed the students, their teachers and principals, and many parents to Notre Dame Cathedral.  He spoke about the history of the cathedral and its recent restoration.  The students displayed great reverence for the solemnity of the mass, and I was very impressed with how enthusiastically they participated in the responses. In his homily, Archbishop Prendergast explained to the children that the word cathedral derives from the Latin word cathedra, meaning chair, and that a cathedral is so named because the bishop's chair is located there.

Archbishop Prendergast, Father Jessimar, Trustee Alison Baizana,
Superintendent Peter Atkinson, and some of the Principals 
 Sensing the students' interest in the splendor of the cathedral, His Grace described many of the features of the cathedral, pointing out to the children that the stars on the ceiling are made of gold!

Accompanied by Barrhaven/Gloucester-South Nepean Trustee Alison Baizana, I was honoured to be at Notre Dame Cathedral for this wonderful Eucharistic celebration.  Thank you to Father Jessie and the parishioners of St. Andrew for organizing this mass.  Congratulations to the principals, teachers, and students of these schools for their participation. 

The Archbishops Annual Charity Banquet

Having begun my day on Wednesday, October 17 with Archbishop Prendergast at Notre Dame Cathedral, I also finished my day with the archbishop at his annual charity dinner.  This year, the two beneficiaries of the charity dinner were St.Patrick's Home and Centre d'accueil Roger-Seguin.  With these seniors residences in mind, His Grace spoke about respect for life, from conception to natural 

death, focusing his remarks particularly on our responsibility to care for the elderly.  A thought-provoking remark he made was his caution that how we currently treat the elderly is likely how we will be treated by others when we grow old.

Visit by Ministry of Citizenship & Immigration Deputy Minister

On October 12, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Mr. Chisanga Puta-Chekwe, visited St. Joseph Adult School in order to have a first-hand look at our very successful adult non-credit English as a Second Language program and Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program.

Mr. Puta-Chekwe speak about newcomer settlement trends 
After speaking with our Deputy Director of Education, Ms. Denise Andre, Continuing and Community Education Manager Shailja Verma, ESL Administrator Abai Coker, and myself, Mr. Puta-Chekwe spent some time observing our specialized language class for deaf students.  He was very impressed with the use of technology and the mastery of American Sign Language demonstrated by the students.

The Deputy Minister with Ms. Andre and Ms. Verma in
our Specialized Language Class for Deaf Students 
Following the classroom visit, an assembly was held at which Mr. Puta-Chekwe was able to speak with adult ESL students at St. Joseph.  A group of students also performed a song for him. 

The Deputy Minister left St. Joseph with a great impression of the adult ESL programs offered by the Ottawa Catholic School Board and the dedication of our program instructors and administrators.

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