Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 20, 2003
School district seeks patron saint
Nominations must be made by end of month
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Once upon a time, St. Joachim was the patron saint of Edmonton Catholic Schools (ECS) district, simply because he was its namesake.
But for decades, since the district was renamed, it has had no official patron or patroness.
That is about to change on Jan. 31 when the district finds out who people think should be its patron or patroness as the district ends its three-month search.
The ECS consulted the community and launched the search late October last year.
Father Stephen Wojcichowsky, director of religious education services, wouldn't give examples of saints who have been nominated so far.
But the imagination quickly brings up possibilities such as St. Ignatius Loyola, whose Jesuit order started schools and universities in countries around the world including in Canada, St. Elizabeth Seton, who founded the first Catholic schools in the United States and whose Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (Halifax) have long been active in this archdiocese, St. Marguerite d'Youville, who has little connection with education but who founded the Grey Nuns who were the first religious women in central Alberta, or St. Augustine, among whose many writings can be found much about the nature of human learning.
"We're just very excited about it because it's another way that we can connect to who we are," Wojcichowsky told the WCR in an interview.
"You know that we're living in times that are straining Catholic education in very many ways. Certainly this is one way that we can both strengthen our identity and receive that kind of heavenly support that we require."
The nominated saints should be:
Names have been submitted by individuals, or through interest groups such as school councils, parishes and others.
- A source of inspiration to the staff and students of the wider Catholic community.
- A source of encouragement for a strong Catholic lifestyle.
- Such that students may emulate the ideals of the individual.
- Such that the implication of the name should extend beyond the immediate school district community.
A committee of trustees and administration will review all submissions and will make a recommendation to the board of trustees for approval at a regular board meeting.
Wojcichowsky stressed the saint does not have to be directly involved with education or be considered patron of youth like St. John Bosco.
"We're living in times that are straining Catholic education in very many ways."
- Fr. Stephen Wojcichowsky
"Certainly that they have some kind of connection with Catholic education or at least that the charism of the saint would inspire people, who are directly involved with Catholic education."
For example, St. Joseph is a namesake of one high school. His link to education is that he was a teacher for Jesus in his own way.
"We have saints for all of our schools just because they are prominent saints in the Catholic family of saints."
The saint does not have to be as closely tied to Catholic education at that but in some ways is connected with Catholic education or even the history of Catholic education, Wojcichowsky said.
Naming a patron or patroness for the district is something it has been talking about for a number of years.
What gave it impetus was when the district completed a project of developing special signs for all of their schools.
The signs have the image of their namesakes and a short write up about them with the concluding statement of how the charism of that particular patron or patroness can both inspire the school and give it life.
"Having that for all of our schools and sites, we said, well, we should have (the same) for our overall school district," Wojcichowsky explained.
Submission of names will still be accepted until Jan. 31. Visit www.ecs.edmonton.ab.ca/initiatives/patronsaint.html.