Archbishop Richard Smith

Archbishop Richard Smith

September 12, 2016

EDMONTON - Catholic educators are called to teach not only with words, but with the witness of their lives, Archbishop Richard Smith told the staff of Edmonton Catholic Schools Aug. 30.

The archbishop reflected on his experiences with his Grade 4 teacher, Mrs. Bradbury, during his homily at the district's annual Mass launching the school year.

"What I remember about my teacher is not only what she taught, but I remember how I would see her Sunday after Sunday coming forth in procession to the altar to receive herself that mystery which she was trying to tell us about (in class)," the archbishop said.

After several years of holding the school opening Mass at the Winspear Centre, the district this year opted to move the event to two local churches – St. Charles on the north side of the city and Corpus Christi on the south side.

The size of the district's staff – more than 3,500 people – meant that it had outgrown the Winspear and made it necessary to split the celebration.

An overflow congregation jammed Corpus Christi Church in southeast Edmonton where Smith and Ukrainian Bishop David Motiuk were the main celebrants.

Auxiliary Bishop Gregory Bittman and Father Julian Bilyj celebrated the Mass at St. Charles Church on the city's north side.

Smith began his homily by recalling that Mrs. Bradbury insisted that all her students learn the word "transubstantiation" – the teaching that bread and wine are fully changed into the body and blood of Christ during the Mass – and stand up in class, one by one, to say it aloud.

But what struck the young, future archbishop was "not only what she taught, but how she lived." By living out what she taught she conveyed "fully and effectively" the Church's teaching.

"That brings home to me in a real way the beauty, the dignity, the awesomeness of the vocation that is yours in Catholic education – the extraordinary opportunity we each have to exercise a decisive influence on the lives that are entrusted to us."


Smith spoke of the great effort teachers undergo to qualify to teach effectively and their ongoing efforts to improve their teaching skills.

He called on them to make a comparable effort to be witnesses to their students – "living out by example that which we proclaim."

"In a world that is increasingly allergic to the Gospel," the spirit of the world can creep into one's mind and heart "and give rise to a spirit of rebellion against the teachings of Christ and of his Church."

Jesus, he said, does not call anyone to be perfect, but rather calls us to receive his mercy when we fail to be effective witnesses.