Reverend James T. Mulligan C.S.C.
Father Jim Mulligan, CS.C. is a Holy Cross Father. He began his career in Catholic education as a teacher at Notre Dame College School 40 years ago. He served as a teacher, department head, faith animator, mentor, coach and chaplain.
Father Mulligan has become widely recognized for two passions. The first is Catholic Education. From the beginning he was a pioneer. When the Ministry did n not allow credits for secondary religion courses, he proposed adapting existing Ministry courses in senior social sciences and infusing them with theology and the Catholic point of view, making senior “religion credits” possible.
Father Mulligan also introduced community service as a compulsory component of a senior religion course at Notre Dame. Other Catholic schools began the practice. The Ontario Ministry of Education has since co-opted the idea. Community service is now a compulsory requirement for secondary graduation.
He was a beloved teacher, but Father Mulligan’s continuing preoccupation has been with the distinctive mission of the Catholic school and the unique vocation of the lay Catholic teacher. He organized periodic retreats or social gatherings for his teacher colleagues, during which some of the time was always dedicated to the question: “How do you think we’re doing as a Catholic school?”
Eventually, Father Mulligan earned a Doctor of Ministry degree, with a specialization in faith formation for Catholic teachers. He was asked to begin Niagara Catholic’s first faith formation program for all teachers, administrators and Board personnel.
Father Mulligan’s second passion is social justice. He introduced Catholic social teaching and social justice initiatives into the curriculum and extra-curricular life at Notre Dame. In the 1970s, Father Jim and his religion teacher colleagues led Notre Dame’s sponsorship of “Boat People” – Southeast Asian refugees. He is the founder of the annual Pilgrimage, which is now the central international justice activity at Niagara Catholic’s eight secondary schools.
Father Mulligan was one of the first to encourage teachers and students to travel to developing nations, so they could fully understand the causes of poverty and injustice and, consequently, the need there. Most importantly, he wanted them to experience the Church’s preferential option for the poor in action and their own capacity to make a difference.
Father Mulligan is widely recognized for his expertise and commitment to Catholic education. He continues to be invited to speak and conduct workshops about Catholic Education in all provinces that have Catholic schools. As the author of four books, he is currently one of Canada’s most respected writers about Catholic education. St. Mary’s University College in Calgary attributes his writing, in part, as the inspiration for their two-year Bachelor of Education Program for Catholic school teachers, the first such program in Canada. Father Mulligan has also been recognized by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, the Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario and has received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award, the highest papal honour a bishop can bestow on someone in his diocese.
Inducted: January 29, 2010