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Catholic Education

Within our Catholic schools we are called through religious and family life instruction, as well as through a distinctively Catholic curriculum in all areas of learning, to form young people with a dynamic, personal faith, which will empower them to liberate and transform the culture with the life-giving message of the gospel.

The following statement proclaimed by the Ontario Catholic Bishops in 1989, describes the vocation to which we are called within Catholic schools:

* In a world which ignores the human thirst for God,
we are called to share the living waters of our faith.

* In a time when there is little reverence for the image of God in the human person,
we are summoned to care for human life with an ultimate respect.

* In a culture where communication is increasingly commercialized,
we are invited to prayer and to worship.

* In a world marked by poverty, oppression and war,
we are commanded to work for justice and peace.

* In a society marked by personality cults,
we are called to bear witness to Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord,
and to reverence him in the poor, the lowly, and the marginalized.

* In a time which often seems to be without goals or ennobling aspirations,
we are challenged to declare ours and to dedicate our lives to their achievement.

* In an age which seems more fearful of the future,
we are directed to give an account of the hope that is within us. (1 Peter 3.15)

Taken from "This Moment of Promise"
A Pastoral Letter on Catholic Education in Ontario
Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops1989

Catholic educators recognize that parents are the primary educators of their children in the areas of faith and morality. Faith formation begins very early in a child’s life through the experiences and life lessons that are taught at home, as well as through the local parish faith community. As educators within Catholic schools, we have the privilege of supporting and complementing this formation through daily religious education classes designed to develop the child’s understanding of our Catholic faith, and provide experiences of prayer and celebration which foster a growing awareness of God’s loving presence and action in our lives.

In an Apostolic Letter about Catechesis, Pope John Paul II expresses the essence of all religious instruction within our Catholic schools:

At the heart of our catechesis we find, in essence, a Person,
the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son of the Father....
full of grace and truth", who suffered and died for us
and who now, after rising is living with us forever....
We must therefore say that in catechesis it is Christ,
the Incarnate Word and Son of God, who is taught
- everything else is taught with reference to him
- and it is Christ alone who teaches...."

Catechesi Tradendae (5-6)
Pope John Paul II 1979

All of our religion programs, therefore, centre ultimately, on the person of Jesus, who is for us, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14.6)

"The glory of God is man and woman fully alive"

St. Irenaeus

We and our children need to know that God does not simply tolerate us, but God LOVES us with a love that wills us to have "life to the full" (John 10.10). To live in this way, is to have a healthy, Christ-like attitude towards life, with proper attitudes towards sexuality and mature personal relationships.

Family Life takes very seriously the words of Pope John Paul II, that love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human person.

The Family Life Education addresses, along with Religious Education, those areas that matter most in a young person’s life. The "Fully Alive" Family Life Program of the Ontario Bishops, explores these topics through five themes:

Theme One: Created and Loved By God
The opening theme of each program focuses on the person, who is created out of love in the image and likeness of God and destined for eternal life. Fully Alive treats this Christian belief about our origin and destiny as the foundation of the program. The dignity and meaning of each human life is addressed in this theme.

Theme Two: Living in Relationship
In Theme 2, the relational nature of the human person, a reflection of God, the supreme model of relationship, is presented. It is within the family that each person learns the first lessons about love, generosity, trust, commitment, and loyalty. These lessons are fundamental not only for future relationships but for a sense of personal identity and self-worth. As well as th experience of family, the meaning, importance, and joys of friendship are presented in this theme.

Theme Three: Created Sexual: Male and Female
Theme 3 begins from the conviction that sexuality is a fundamental component of personality. This means that our sexuality – who we are as men and women - is not simply our genitals and their functions. It is a part of our whole identity as children of God. In this theme, the goodness of our sexuality is presented in its procreative and relational dimensions.

Theme Four: Growing in Commitment
In this theme, God’s call to faithfulness is explored. To be human is to act freely - to make decisions, choices, and promises. The most significant human actions are those that involve relationships with others and with god. Learning to be faithful, trustworthy, dependable, and committed is a life-long challenge that begins in childhood.

Theme Five: Living in the World
The final theme of fully Alive turns to the human society in which each person is born, lives, and works. Earthly existence is not our ultimate end, but it is through living in the world that we realize the intentions of our Creator. This theme stresses the goodness of the world and examines the meaning of human activity and its consequences for human society. The many influences of human society on the individual are also explored.

Catholic schools are respectful of the initiatives of the Ministry of Education and the implementation of learning expectations and programs designed to provide quality education for all students in Ontario.

Catholic schools are privileged to deliver these programs in light of the message of the Gospel. All curriculum can be illuminated first by the Religion and Family Life Education programs and secondly, through the integration of the themes of Catholic Social Teaching. For example, two schools, one from the public system and the other from the Catholic system implement a program of recycling and composting within the school, and as well, decide to work together to clean up a nearby stream. The students from both schools see this activity within the context of the protection of the environment and good citizenship. The Catholic student should also understand this work as their participation in God’s act of creation and their mission to be good stewards of God’s creation.

Catholic Curriculum and the Catholic Graduate Expectations

Catholic Education is a holistic education designed to form students – mind, body, heart and soul. Catholic education, therefore, understands the human search for knowledge as both an academic and spiritual quest. It invites students to respond in the cultural context in which they live, in the light of our faith.

This integrated, two-fold dimension of Catholic curriculum, therefore incorporates not only the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the world of work but also the fundamental values, attitudes, and actions that characterize a person of faith. This understanding is expressed clearly through the vision of the learner described in the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations.

Catholic curriculum contributes to the formation of a learner who is:

A discerning believer formed in the Catholic faith community who celebrates the signs and sacred mystery of God’s presence through word, sacrament, prayer, forgiveness, reflection, and moral living.

An effective communicator, who speaks, writes, and listens honestly and sensitively, responding critically in light of gospel values.

A reflective, creative and holistic thinker who solves problems and makes responsible decisions with an informed moral conscience for the common good

A self-directed, responsible, lifelong learner who develops and demonstrates their God-given potential.

A collaborative contributor who finds meaning, dignity, and vocation in work, which respects the rights of all and contributes to the common good.

A caring family member who attends to family, school, parish, and the wider community.

A Responsible Citizen who acts morally, seeks and grants forgiveness, and promotes the sacredness of all life.

Each of our secondary schools has a full-time School Chaplain:

Mary Skiba
St. Mary's High School
Owen Sound

Deb Legace
Sacred Heart High School
[email protected]
Follow the links below to the new Sacramental Guidelines and an introductory video from Bishop Crosby.
Introductory Video ~ Bishop Crosby

Diocese of Hamilton SACRAMENTAL GUIDELINES for The Initiation of Children:


The graduate is expected to be:  

A Discerning Believer Formed in the Catholic Faith Community discerning believer

• I believe that it is important for me to share God’s story with others through how I live

• I believe that God journeys with me through life, sustaining me through all things, especially when I might falter or fail

• I’m a believer. I will live my life like Jesus  

An Effective Communicator effective communicator

• I believe that what I say and how I say it matters

• I believe that the Gospels have important lessons for how I speak and listen to others

• I have a voice 

A Reflective, Creative and Holistic Thinker holistic thinker

• I believe that the contributions I have to make to society, big or small, do make a difference

• I believe that why I do things is just as important as what I do

• I believe that what I learn in school helps me to become a better person. It teaches me the skills, values and insights to build a more just and compassionate society 

A Self-Directed, Responsible, Lifelong Learner lifelong learner

• I believe that it is important for me to remain flexible in how I learn and in the goals I set for myself

• I believe that when I exercise responsible leadership I can set a positive example for others

• I believe that it is important for me to live a healthy and balanced life

A Collaborative Contributor collaborative contributor

• I believe that I have a responsibility to develop my own gifts for the benefit of others

• I believe that it is important to set goals in life and work towards them for the good of all

• I believe that God has given each of us unique gifts and calls each of us to use them for the benefit of others and God’s greater glory 

A Caring Family Member caring family member

• I believe that through prayer our family stays connected to God and each other

• I believe that school, because it’s like a second home, is a place for me to show how much I care for my fellow students

• I believe that the family, in all its shapes and sizes, is where we learn best to serve others and understand we can contribute to a better world 

A Responsible Citizen responsible citizen

• I believe that I am called to be a witness to my students and staff, not only by what I say, but by how I try to live my life, demonstrating a commitment to social justice and respect for all persons

• I believe that I am accountable for my actions and that I can learn from my mistakes, and when I fall short, I’m still a good person

• I believe that our Catholic faith grounds us in our efforts to serve, morally and effectively, for the greater good 

  “When we graduate a student,

        we don’t ask ‘what did you learn,’

              but ‘who did you become?’”

                                       Sister Clare Fitzgerald

The Catholic faith is not only part of our curriculum within Catholic schools.  It is a way of life and being which we strive to make real and tangible, in every aspect of our shared life.  Several years ago, in consultation with our parent community, deanery, staff and students, we identified ten key virtues reflecting the qualities of character which we desire to see alive in all persons who comprise our Catholic educational communities.  Although all of these virtues, and others as well, are integral to our life throughout the year, we have chosen to focus on, and practice in a particular way, one virtue each month.
Virtues of Deep Caring
In addition, the many local and international charity and social justice causes supported by staff and students in our schools, reflect a truly Catholic Culture of Caring.  Just a few of the many organizations supported by our schools are: the Holy Childhood Association, Development and Peace, Friends of the Orphans Canada, Habitat for Humanity, the local Food Banks, and Free the Children.