Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 7, 1999
Riechers named national trustee group's chaplain
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Catholic education is getting complicated. As the new chaplain for the Canadian Catholic School Trustees' Association (CCSTA), Pallotine Father Erik Riechers hopes to bring some simplicity to it.
"The number one issue is Catholic identity in our schools," Riechers said. "How do we keep the system truly a place where we are identified as Christians and still do the basic education programming."
The complication, Riechers says, is that there are more individuals getting involved in religious education, including parents, government, the Church and schools.
"It was so much simpler when I was in school," said the Red Deer priest. "But this is just the nature of evolution."
Riechers replaces Basilian Father Tom Mohan, who resigned from the post after 25 years.
The chaplain offers theological guidance to the board. Riechers said he will work with board members to define additional responsibilities.
The board holds an annual convention and meets three to four times during the year.
Riechers said the appointment "won't change my life. I participate in these meetings anyway."
CCSTA is the national advocacy group for Catholic education in Canada. Every Catholic school board in the country is represented in CCSTA.
Riechers, director of the Pallotine Enrichment Centre, is a familiar face in Catholic education circles. Over the past decade, he has addressed Catholic educators throughout Canada at more than 200 events.
"It is a big theme for me," he said. "It's preserving our heritage."
In 1994, the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association named him an honourary life member.
In his new post with CCSTA, Riechers hopes to work on strengthening Catholic education in Canada. With the ever-changing structure of schools over the years, Riechers said many of them are going through moral and political dilemmas about how to effectively educate their students.
Riechers said some schools are battling over funding issues and how best to raise funds due to government cutbacks.
He says school fundraisers, such as bingo and casino nights, have recently received harsh criticism from Church leaders, but have been a means of providing additional supplies and programs for the schools.
Provincial cutbacks have also forced teachers to be more resourceful and to take on additional responsibilities.
"As a school is buried with more and more functions, we begin to lose track of very basic education," he said.