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HWCDSB celebrates Catholic Education Week by “Opening Doors of Mercy”

The doors of Cathedral High School were opened wide in welcome and celebration on May 2 as close to 2,000 students and staff from across the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board came together for an opening mass to kick off Catholic Education Week (May 1-6), whose theme this year was “Opening Doors of Mercy.”

The gesture mirrored the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy when Pope Francis opened the holy doors of St. Peter’s Basilica through which, he said, “anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope.”

Similarly Catholic Education Week is an opportunity for Catholic schools throughout Ontario to be witnesses of mercy, and places of reconciliation, hope and forgiveness.

Welcoming students to the day’s celebration, Catholic Education Week Co-chair Diane Ing said the mission of Catholic education is to light the fire of God’s merciful love in the heart of the world.

“As we gather today as a community of faith to celebrate Catholic Education Week, let us fervently pray that we will continue to bring the love and mercy of Christ’s Gospel to those whom we serve in Catholic education and to everyone we encounter.”

Describing mercy as “those acts of compassion to support the spiritual well-being and physical well-being of others,” Director of Education David Hansen said he can point to many acts of mercy being carried out by students and staff of the board on a daily basis.

Some are on a grand scale, like D.R.E.A.M.S. and Halloween 4 Hunger, while others are much more intimate – “simple helping hands, including others when they feel excluded, sharing a lunch, or helping in the classroom.”

He prayed that students continue to have the courage to strive for justice, love the poor and marginalized, and walk humbly with God, opening doors of mercy to those most in need.

“If we can do that, we’re going to have schools and workplaces that will be models of tolerance and welcome, and we will demonstrate for all that the students and staff of the HWCDSB are an essential voice of mercy for our city, our country, and our world.”

In words of greeting on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chairperson Pat Daly expressed his appreciation to Bishop Crosby “for his presence once again at this mass, for his complete support of Catholic education, but more than that, for being a living example of our theme, ‘Opening Doors of Mercy.’”

“No matter if you’re 8 or 80, we all need people to look up to,” he added.

Daly also expressed his thanks to the many individuals who work and serve throughout the system, and to the students “who make us proud every day.”

Lastly, he urged students and staff to take the opportunity during Catholic Education Week to reflect on the gift of publicly funded Catholic education, and to commit to being lifelong “promoters and defenders” of Catholic education. Reciting the Catholic Education Week prayer, he prayed that “God help us to open the door of mercy in our school communities; let mercy guide our living and bring us closer to the heart of the gospel; and live as Jesus with mercy that welcomes, loves, forgives and calls us to live the gospel joyfully.”

That is precisely what Pope Francis wants for us, said Bishop Crosby. “He wants people to know that no matter what, God is merciful. God’s love for us never stops. If anything, it grows and grows as we go through life.”

But more than that, in this Year of Mercy, God wants us to be merciful too, said the bishop.

“To be forgiving, kind, generous, affirming, encouraging and welcoming – these are important values because they are God-like values. Pope Francis wants us to know that love and kindness start with God and work through us.”

Noting that often people close doors of mercy out of fear, Bishop Crosby encouraged the students to put their fears aside and open the doors of their heart to mercy. “Just say a kind word. If we take steps to do as Jesus did then we will learn the joy of being welcomed, of being welcoming, of love, of learning, and living good lives.”

“Let us agree today to be a force of good in this world, that unites not divides; that affirms and encourages, not criticizes; that loves and not hates.”

“Let us agree today to open wide the doors of mercy.”

Catholic Education Week is an annual event coordinated by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA) 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 a number of school-based events.





HWCDSB celebrates Catholic Education Week by “Opening Doors of Mercy”
This year's Catholic Education Week theme is
This year's Catholic Education Week theme is "Catholic Education: Opening Doors of Mercy."

This year's Catholic Education Week commemorative plaque on the theme
This year's Catholic Education Week commemorative plaque on the theme "Opening Doors of Mercy" was designed by Cecelia Racki, a Grade 8 student at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Elementary School.

Teresa Hartnett, Director, Office for Family Ministry, Diocese of Hamilton, and Don Hall, Chaplaincy Leader at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School, were among the 2,000 attendees at the Catholic Education Week kick-off mass.
Teresa Hartnett, Director, Office for Family Ministry, Diocese of Hamilton, and Don Hall, Chaplaincy Leader at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School, were among the 2,000 attendees at the Catholic Education Week kick-off mass.

Superintendents of Education, from left to right: Morris Hucal; Sandie Pizzuti; Ivana Fortino; and Toni Kovach.
Superintendents of Education, from left to right: Morris Hucal; Sandie Pizzuti; Ivana Fortino; and Toni Kovach.

Music for the Catholic Education Week Opening Mass was provided by a combined choir made up of members of the St. Thomas More Junior Knight Magic Vocal Ensemble and Bishop Ryan Junior Xpression Vocal Ensemble under the direction of Mary Tabone.
Music for the Catholic Education Week Opening Mass was provided by a combined choir made up of members of the St. Thomas More Junior Knight Magic Vocal Ensemble and Bishop Ryan Junior Xpression Vocal Ensemble under the direction of Mary Tabone.

HWCDSB trustees, from left to right: Tony Perri; Joe Baiardo; Carolyn Cornale; and Mary Nardini.
HWCDSB trustees, from left to right: Tony Perri; Joe Baiardo; Carolyn Cornale; and Mary Nardini.

Father Tony O'Dell, co-pastor of St. Patrick's Church, joins Bishop Crosby for a Celebration of the Eucharist at Cathedral High School to kick off Catholic Education Week on May 2.
Father Tony O'Dell, co-pastor of St. Patrick's Church, joins Bishop Crosby for a Celebration of the Eucharist at Cathedral High School to kick off Catholic Education Week on May 2.

Director of Education David Hansen, second from left, and Chairperson Pat Daly, far right, join sign language interpreters from Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School who lent their services to the mass.
Director of Education David Hansen, second from left, and Chairperson Pat Daly, far right, join sign language interpreters from Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School who lent their services to the mass.

Bishop Crosby kicks of Catholic Education Week in Hamilton-Wentworth with an Opening Mass at Cathedral High School on May 2 attended by 2,000 students and staff from across the system.
Bishop Crosby kicks of Catholic Education Week in Hamilton-Wentworth with an Opening Mass at Cathedral High School on May 2 attended by 2,000 students and staff from across the system.

Bishop Crosby distributes Catholic Education Week commemorative plaques to representatives from each of the board's schools.
Bishop Crosby distributes Catholic Education Week commemorative plaques to representatives from each of the board's schools.

Bishop Crosby blesses this year's Catholic Education Week plaques which will be hung in each of the board's schools to commemorate Catholic Education Week 2016.
Bishop Crosby blesses this year's Catholic Education Week plaques which will be hung in each of the board's schools to commemorate Catholic Education Week 2016.

HWCDSB celebrates Catholic Education Week by “Opening Doors of Mercy”
HWCDSB celebrates Catholic Education Week by “Opening Doors of Mercy”
HWCDSB celebrates Catholic Education Week by “Opening Doors of Mercy”
HWCDSB celebrates Catholic Education Week by “Opening Doors of Mercy”
HWCDSB celebrates Catholic Education Week by “Opening Doors of Mercy”
HWCDSB celebrates Catholic Education Week by “Opening Doors of Mercy”