February 11, 2013

I was disheartened and disappointed to read Father Leo Floyd’s letter, “New beginnings would benefit Catholic education” (WCR, Feb. 4).

He correctly identified many of the problems and issues we face today in a secularized society and in Catholic education.

But Father Floyd seems either unaware or dismissive of the work that has been done to address some of these issues, particularly in the Edmonton Catholic School District.

As district chaplain, I work in the religious education department – there are more than two of us – and, while there are still problems and still work to be done, we have made great progress.

My role is to evangelize students and staff on a district-wide basis. Through school visits, Internet work and much collaboration, I’ve been happy to participate in the New Evangelization on the ground floor and see it bear fruit.

We’ve strengthened our high school chaplaincy and just this year instituted chaplaincy in all junior high schools to provide spiritual guidance and leadership to kids at this critical age.

Also, we are collaborating with the archdiocese to enhance school involvement in sacramental preparation, piloted at St. Theresa’s, and soon to be implemented throughout the city.

These initiatives represent great strides to address many of the legitimate concerns Father Floyd raised.

The time for meetings, scholarly studies, reports, and conferences, where we talk about problems and try to come up with solutions, is past. We know the problems, and we know how to solve them.

Now we need boots on the ground – people with the charisms to make things happen in our schools – not more staff working from downtown, removed from the day-to-day lives of schools.

Formation of staff and evangelization of students – this is where we are directing our attention. While our work is cut out for us, we are slowly moving in the right direction to reap the harvest.

Fr. Michael Catfish Mireau
District Chaplain
Edmonton Catholic Schools