Canadian Caravan

May 14, 2018

Educators from the Archdiocese of Vancouver at Aquinas in April.

“It’s hard to believe we just crossed a continent to get here,” Kevin Street said, educator from Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School, Vancouver. Mr. Street was one of 25 staff and faculty participating in the Formation for Educators Workshop April 23-27 at Aquinas College in Nashville. The Canadian contingent came not for Nashville hockey, but for formation in the faith, although the Predators fine show was on the list of sightseeing outings during their time in Nashville. 

Deacon Henk Luyten, Principal of Archbishop Carney and future superintendent for Vancouver Catholic Schools returns this Spring for the second time with educators from his school and St. Patrick Elementary School in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia to “deepen the faith of our teachers,” said Luyten. Each visit has been transformative for their schools, as they work with the college’s Center for Evangelization & Catechesis and Center for Catholic Education. Immersion in the faith life of the Church, its worship, community, and the Dominican life of the Sisters all contributed their experience, providing context for the presentations Tuesday and Wednesday. 

A photo gallery of the educators’ experience is hosted by Archbishop Carney School here. An article reprinted courtesy of the Tennessee Register follows.

Teaching in a Catholic school is more than a job, according to Sister Elizabeth Anne, O.P., director of the Center for Catholic Education at Aquinas College in Nashville. It’s a mission.

“Never doubt the power of your mission. Never doubt that you’re an instrument in God’s hands,” Sister Elizabeth Anne told about 20 educators from the Vancouver area in British Columbia, Canada, who visited Aquinas College April 23-27 for a formation workshop.

“Everything we do in the school promotes the mission of the Church,” Sister Elizabeth Anne. “The Church’s mission is to evangelize … to announce the way of salvation.”

Photo courtesy of Archbishop Carney School

The workshop was a joint effort of the Center for Catholic Education and the Center for Evangelization and Catechesis, both at Aquinas. The workshop included talks on: “The Face of Man: Jesus,” “Praying the Mass,” “Our Participation in the Mission of the Redeemer,” “Mission of Catholic Schools/Mission of the Church,” and “Spirituality of the Catechist.”

The document “Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School” lays out the value of a Catholic education, Sister Elizabeth Anne said: “Here is where students discover the true value of the human person: loved by God, with a mission on earth and a destiny that is immortal. As a result, they learn the virtues of self-respect and self-love, and of love for others – a love that is universal. In addition, each student will develop a willingness to embrace life, and also his or her own unique vocation, as a fulfillment of God’s will.”

The goal of the workshop was to help the educators deepen their own faith so they can share it with their students, said Sister Elizabeth Anne.

Catechists – people who teach the faith – “have a specific participation in the mission of the redeemer,” said Jason Gale, director of the Catechist Formation Program at Aquinas and one of the presenters at the workshop. “Our spirituality directly affects the mission.”

The mission of catechists is to help students encounter Christ, Gale said. “It is the role of catechesis to bring people deeper and deeper into this mystery … and to find God’s will for their life,” Gale told the Vancouver educators.

For the motto on his coat of arms, Cardinal John Henry Newman used the quote “Heart speaks unto heart” from St. Francis de Sales, Gale noted. “That says something to our students if everything we say about Jesus comes from a book,” Gale said. “It should come from our hearts. “Let our hearts speak to them,” he added. “The more we keep Christ at the center of our spirituality the more we open up our students’ hearts to God.”

Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Register

“The Church in her deepest mystery is the sacrament of salvation,” Gale said. He encouraged the Vancouver educators, as a school staff, to develop what the message of salvation means for them and then use that as a guide in shaping the mission of the school and how they carry out that mission.
The group from Canada came to Nashville and Aquinas College through their connection to four Nashville Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia who teach in schools in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
A similar group had visited the Dominicans, who own Aquinas College, previously and asked to come back for a formation workshop, said Deacon Henk Luyten, the principal of Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School in a suburb of Vancouver. In September, he will start a new job as superintendent of schools for the Vancouver Archdiocese.

The group included administrators, teachers and priests from Archbishop Carney and St. Patrick Elementary School, also located in the Vancouver suburbs. “We’ve come for formation in the faith,” Deacon Luyten said. “We’ve come to learn from the Sisters of St. Cecilia, to participate in their liturgies, to enjoy the warm welcome of Nashville, and to give all the teachers and administrators and two of the priests a unique and wonderful opportunity to grow in our faith.” “We’re hoping to make this an annual thing,” he said.

The Centers for Catholic Education and Evangelization and Catechesis at Aquinas have held similar workshops for other groups and are available to do more, Sister Elizabeth Anne and Gale said.
“This kind of individualized training of diocesan groups is something we continue to offer to help them effectively bring the Gospel message to the people in conjunction with the Church as a whole,” Gale said.

Sister Elizabeth Anne and Gale have traveled to other dioceses to present similar workshops and have hosted them on Aquinas’ campus in Siena Hall, which has rooms for people to stay overnight as well as meeting rooms.

“It’s a real chance to deepen community,” Sister Elizabeth Anne said of the workshops. “Catholic schools are communities of education and communities of faith. It’s a chance to deepen that sense of mission and community.”

This article was written by Andy Telli, published by the Tennessee Register on May 4, 2018.