Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 3, 2006
WCR Letters to the Editor
Trustee's actions questioned
Re: "Trustee's religion threatens his job" (WCR, March 20).
We are at very crucial juncture in the story of Catholic education in Alberta: in an increasingly secularized environment the right of Catholic people in Alberta to a publicly funded school system is being challenged in many sectors.
We rely on the action of the Holy Spirit who has inspired our Catholic community in Alberta to make the sacrifices necessary to carry out Christ's call to "baptize all nations." The whole of Alberta has been blessed by this same Holy Spirit because Catholic schools have been of irreplaceable benefit to all of society: our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ has impelled us to service in the community.
The memory of this history of the working of the Spirit through Catholic parents in Albertan society is enshrined constitutionally - it is so enshrined to prevent the loss of memory that results in the distressing social dementia that is the disease of our culture forgetful of its Christian roots.
Unfortunately this binding social memory of the importance of community is being lost in the rhetoric of individual rights - the only "religious rites" tolerated today.
The sad example of Mr. Brassard is a case in point of how an individual's self-centred sense of entitlement threatens to undo the years of a community's service in the Spirit.
In other words, the title of the article is backwards, it should be, "Trustee's job threatens his religion."
There is a not insignificant number of public boards, bureaucrats and their lawyers who would love to reopen and rewrite the School Act to curtail Catholic rights. Instead of rejoicing in the spread of minority Catholic right to proclaim the Gospel in his area, this "devout" Catholic sees only the curtailment of the power of an even smaller minority - himself.
This is a cautionary tale - if Catholic education fails it will be because of the inability of Catholic people to see that receiving the selfless gift of Christ in Holy Communion means living selflessly for Christ's holy community, the Church.
There must be pain in letting go of leadership, especially after years of public service but the answer to Mr. Brassard's query, "If Christ was here today . . ." is good news for his and all of our pain.
Christ is here today, alive in the Word, welcoming us on the altar, guiding us in the community. His love is here today every time a Christian humbly prays the Gethsemane prayer, "Not what I want but what you want" (Mark 14:36). It is the prayer of Christ whose words, "well done good and faithful servant" are the hope of every Christian.
In the face of such hope and tasting such judgment in Eucharistic Flesh, must not we all be converted to say, "He must increase but I must decrease" (John 3:30)? Lent is the joy of our answer.
Fr. Stefano Penna
St. Joseph College
Catholics should renew their commitment
Your article "Trustee's religion threatens his job" (WCR, March 20) begs the question - is it necessary - is it right - at the beginning of the 21st century, to extinguish a right of an individual member of a minority faith in order to protect the institution of separate school education?
Would separate school education be at risk if individual members of the minority faith had the right to choose to be supporters of the public school system? Does the future of separate school education depend upon maintaining a captive electorate by denying freedom of choice to individual members of the minority faith?
If the limitation is not right, there is more than one way to deal with the obstacle, which may or may not be the constitution. The government could simply amend the School Act and wait to see if the amendment is challenged.
There are good grounds for doing this: Mrs. Welsh's comment about the constitution is not quite correct. The black letter law is unclear: it was a Supreme Court of Alberta decision in the mid-'70s that interpreted the constitution as she describes. That decision was never appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, so the decision is not the decision of the highest court in the land. In addition, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has come into being since that decision was handed down.
If Alberta's bishops and the ACSTA and other leaders of the Roman Catholic and Protestant communities signal to the provincial government that the time has come to allow individual members of the minority faith choice about the school system they support, the situation experienced by Mr. Brassard and many others could be resolved quickly, simply and surely.
In fact, the leaders of the Catholic community have already given such a signal. In 2001 the ACSTA, the ASBA, the PSBAA, and the provincial government agreed that individual members of the minority faith should have the right to choose to be supporters of the public school system.
According to the 2001 proposal, people not of the minority faith would not have had the right to opt into the separate school system as electors.
The Government of Alberta introduced the legislation - an amendment to the School Act - and then withdrew it at committee stage, without explanation.
Certainly, there is no evidence that the leadership of the Catholic community changed their position. But, in light of recent developments, it would be helpful for them to renew their commitment to choice for individual members of the minority faith.
(David King is the executive director of the Public School Boards' Association of Alberta.)
Applause for Archbishop Jordan Youth Day
On behalf of the students at Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School I would like to thank the organizers of the Youth Day at the Catholic Conference 2006. The 25 students from Archbishop Jordan were awed and excited by the presentation given by Jesse Manibusan. Jesse is a true witness to faith and a light to the world.
The ACSTA needs to be commended for their fine work in organizing the conference and everything associated with it.
It was great! I would also like to thank the Education Foundation of Elk Island Catholic School District for their vision and support in subsidizing the cost for students to attend. God is good. All the time.
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