A New Board Theological Theme Identified
The Halton Catholic District School Board is pleased to announce the launch of our new theological theme, Who Do You Say That I Am? (Mark 8:29).
The purpose of a theological theme is to provide a focus for students and staff that will guide what they learn through the curriculum, how they worship in community, and how they give witness to their faith.
The new theological theme, Who Do You Say That I Am?, will be implemented throughout our Board’s curriculum, and in our liturgical celebrations over the next three years (2013-2014; 2014-2015; 2015-2016).
An Image to Support Our Focus on Faith Theological Theme was created
The artwork showcased below, created by students and staff in Halton Catholic schools, is the culmination of many months of creative collaboration, coordinated by John Driscoll, Grade 4 teacher at Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School in Oakville. Mr. Driscoll initiated the creation of the design with his students, asking them to interpret, through their own creative expression, the meaning behind the words, ‘Who do you say that I am’. This activity was also undertaken by students from St. Luke Catholic Elementary School, St. Mark Catholic Elementary School, and St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School. The students worked together to come up with a ‘puzzle piece’ design, which would serve as the basis of the image. Each puzzle piece throughout the image features student artwork. Several puzzle pieces have been left blank throughout the image, offering an opportunity for further interpretation, and further exploration of the theme.
A Board Prayer to Support Our Theological Theme
The following prayer was written by staff in support of the new theological theme, Who Do You Say That I Am?:
Jesus, Friend and Teacher,
You ask us,
"Who do you say that I am?”
Thank you for inviting us
To know you more each day.
Quiet our minds
To hear your Word;
Open our hearts
To love you more;
For the more we know you,
The more brightly we reflect you.
You meet us in our every need,
Your love, new each day!
Guide us as we build your kingdom,
And find our home in you;
For you are the Lord,
The face of God,
And the breath of the Holy Spirit.
In the fall of 2007, the Halton Catholic District School Board launched the system Focus on Faith initiative in support of the call to build strong Catholic Learning communities.
The Focus on Faith initiative provides a contextual framework for addressing the Ministry of Education initiative of Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario Schools, K-12, for ensuring all programs within the Board explicitly espouse a Catholic philosophy of Education.
In August 2008, The Education Commission of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishop's released a document entitled, "Character Development and the Virtuous Life: A Position Paper", written by Bishop Paul Andre Desrocher. Bishop Desrocher writes: "The Character Development Initiative presents us with an opportunity: to reflect on an important aspect of the Catholic school educational project, namely to foster the full flowering of our students as mature, believing subjects and actors in the world. It invites us to identify and better articulate what it is we have always been trying to do. It gives us a framework in which to better focus our energies and evaluate our ability to attain our goals. The Character Development Initiative is thus a gift to our Catholic school systems. On one hand, we must seek to integrate this initiative in a way that is faithful to our own tradition and identity. The use of virtues - language is a first step in the process. It helps us re-acquire a valuable concept in our tradition, compels us to recognize God's role in the character development of our students, and helps us focus on specific habits that foster and protect the freedom to which we are all called."
The theological and cardinal virtues of our Catholic faith are embedded in the Unifying Catholic Themes of Focus on Faith: Human Dignity, Stewardship of Creation, Promotion of Peace, Community and the Common Good, Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Human Rights and Responsibilities, Solidarity and Dignity of Work. These Catholic Social Teachings are our virtues in action. The Halton Catholic District School Board's Focus on Faith Foundation offers our staff and students a framework that allows our faith to permeate all of the content that teachers present, exceeding a typical Virtues Education Program which is sometimes viewed as a disconnect or add-on.
We have been pleased to share the Focus on Faith initiative with many of our Catholic Education partners from across the province. Staff have made presentations for:
- Catholic Curriculum Corporation
- Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association Conference - April 2008
- When Faith Meets Pedagogy Conference 2008
- Charles Sturt University Teacher Education Program
- National Catholic Education Association Conference - March 2008
- OECTA/OCSTA Religious Education Courses for Teachers (ongoing)