Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 7, 2007
Historical Catholic book salutes men and women religious
Sisters came from Europe to teach 23 students
By BILL GLEN
A steering committee was formed and a number of stakeholders, from former trustees to parents and students, were contacted. From those information gathering sessions came a number of projects.
Former teacher Richard Wray conducted hundreds of audio and video interviews of former teachers and students for one project. There were a number of internal projects involving archive collection processes and establishing a new archive centre.
Stories and artifacts, photographs and mementos were collected for display in St Anthony Centre at 10425-84 Ave., which was designated as the district archives site.
Bounds got involved with the project to research the histories of the religious orders. He had a sense he was onto something worthwhile.
The magnitude of the contribution by the religious prompted Edmonton Catholic Schools to honour their work by producing a book titled An Act of Faith: The Religious Women and Men of Edmonton Catholic Schools.
Bounds was editor and project director for the book along with former teacher Jan Dunnigan.
"It was a good fit for me because at the time, I was working for the Missionary Oblates. Part of my work was with all of the religious orders in Canada," Bounds said.
He was connected to archivists across Canada. Bounds says he heard dozens of positive and upbeat stories about religious teaching in Catholic schools.
The 170-page book is well-researched and a pleasant read. That was by design, says Bounds.
For someone old enough to have been taught by a religious, it would be an anecdotal page-turner in a search for former school and teachers. It is also an excellent reference book about the history of Catholic education in the Edmonton area.
The plan is to have a copy in every school in the district.
Bounds says copies are also available for sale.
"There had been a book put out in the early 1980s on Catholic health care in the province that had a chapter on each religious order and the hospitals they had developed in Alberta.
"We used that as a template for how we set up the chapters in the book," Bounds said.
"We decided to go by congregation, put in something about their charism and pick up as many biographies and photographs as we could in the process."
The body of the book is divided into four main sections: Founding Orders (1888-1913), Early Arrivals (1922-1925), Boom Years (1948-1960) and Post-Vatican II (1960-present).
The book begins with a brief depiction of an expanding Western Canada and Bishop Vital Grandin's request to the FCJ for Catholic educators to serve a growing Catholic population.
It describes how three members of the order travelled thousands of kilometres from Europe - including a 10-day trek by horse and wagon from Calgary - for the sake of 23 students.
In November 1888, Grandin School was open.
An Act of Faith concludes with a cross-reference between schools and the religious orders that served them.
"The archivists from each of the orders were thrilled we were interested in this project. They were a tremendous resource," Bounds said.
Bounds and Dunnigan asked each order to provide source information, particularly about their charism and how they happened to come to Edmonton. They took a number of extracts from documents and yearbooks. Hundreds of volunteer hours were spent.
Bounds says the book is meant to be more than recognition of the past, but also illustrative of what can be moved forward and the principles that were built upon.
"We intended it as a reference book, perhaps as part of a curriculum resource specific to a particular school," he said.
Copies of the book are available through Edmonton Catholic Schools by calling Helen Scarlett at 439-7356, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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