Spotlight November 27

Header for SpotlightNovember 27, 2018


Board Bids Adieu to Outgoing Trustees and Thanks them for Years of Service


From left are outgoing Niagara Catholic trustees Father Paul MacNeil, Pat Vernal, Ed Niewuesteeg and Ted O’Leary. Maurice Charbonneau was absent from the meeting.

The November 27th Board Meeting was the final meeting for five Niagara Catholic trustees.

On behalf of all of Niagara Catholic, Director of Education John Crocco offered the Board’s sincerest gratitude, recognition and continued prayers to all to the five outgoing trustees and all 2014-2018 trustees for their exemplary service to Niagara Catholic and Catholic education in Ontario. Their stewardship, leadership, commitment, call to service and ministry as a Catholic trustee has been a beacon of light to Niagara Catholic, and may they continue to advocate and promote Catholic education and remain connected to Niagara Catholic. The outgoing trustees are:

Trustee and current Chair, Father Paul MacNeil – 2010-2018

Trustee and current Vice-Chair, Pat Vernal – 2014-2018

Trustee Maurice Charbonneau – 2006-2018

Trustee Ed Nieuwesteeg – 1998-2018

                                                                        Trustee Ted O’Leary – 2010-2018

Each received a lovely statue by Timothy Schmalz, a Catholic sculptor from St. Jacobs, Ontario. Precious in His Sight depicts a joyful Jesus playing with children.  

Board Approves Policies

During the final Board Meeting of the 2014-2018 term, trustees approved the

Occupational Health and Safety Policy (2016.), Employee Workplace Harassment Policy (201.7) and the Employee Workplace Violence Policy (201.11).

Proposed Joint-Use School in Wainfleet

schoolpicDuring the November 27 Board Whole meeting, trustees received a staff report which provided details about a proposed joint-use school in Wainfleet.

Niagara Catholic has been investigating the possibility of a joint-use elementary school in Wainfleet since the Niagara Catholic Long-Term Accommodation Plan (2016-2021), was approved by the Board in 2016. At that time, St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School had 111 students, and a projected enrolment of 120 students by the start of this school year. There are currently 87 students enrolled at the school, and although growth is anticipated, it is expected to be less than 70 per cent of the school’s capacity of 187 students.

With no partnership in place at this point, and no interest from community groups to lease underutilized space at St. Elizabeth Catholic, Niagara Catholic has the following options to address the declining enrolment at the school. These are:

  • Maintain the status quo
  • Pursue an Attendance Area Review with the nearest Niagara Catholic elementary schools
  • Conduct a study to investigate the reduction of the footprint of St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School to reduce capacity.
  • Conduct a Pupil Accommodation Review and consolidate St. Elizabeth with a neighbouring school, conditional upon Ministry funding. An Attendance Area Review would be required to adjust boundaries.

Niagara Catholic’s preference is to retain a Catholic elementary school presence in Wainfleet through a joint-use school. The complete report, which includes next steps, is available in Section C2 of the November 13 Committee of the Whole Agenda.

Celebrating St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School

At every monthly Board Meeting, one school is invited to share what makes them such an important part of the community with the Board of Trustees.

At the November 27 Board Meeting, the spotlight was on St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School in St. Catharines. Principal Emma Fera-Massi showed a video featuring students from the school which showcases what makes St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School so special.

As is the case across Niagara Catholic, faith is woven throughout the video, which focuses on a number of topics, including inquiry, collaboration, technology, social justice initiatives, EcoSchool activities and the school’s close connection with Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School.

The St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School concluded with remarks by Precious Martires and Aren Sayers, Grade 8 students at the school. Precious spoke about how she has felt supported and respected throughout her 10 years at St. Alfred Catholic, and empowered to be the best she could be. Aren, a Syrian refugee who came to Canada in 2015 and became a part of the St. Alfred Catholic family in 2015. He spoke about his fears of not making friends being unfounded, when  he received a warm welcome from students and staff who helped him learn English, about having the opportunity to play sports he loved at home such as soccer and volleyball, and learning new gifts and talents, such as playing the drums, guitar, recorder and ukulele. Aren said the support he received at St. Alfred Catholic has made him feel confident in moving on to high school next year.

2018’s Annual Pilgrimage Raises More than $153,000 for the Developing World

It was drizzly and cold across Niagara on October 28, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the more than 3,000 pilgrims who participated in Niagara Catholic’s 43rd Annual Pilgrimage.

They were students at Niagara Catholic eight Catholic secondary schools, and youngsters from their affiliated Catholic elementary schools. They were staff and parents, many of whom walked in Pilgrimages in during their own high school years, and they were members of the broader community, moved to participate by the spectacle of seeing thousands of young people forego a warm bed and a lazy morning the final Sunday in October every year. In all, more than $153,000 was raised for programs in Canada and in the developing world. Students from each school attended the meeting, and were recognized by the Board for their efforts for our brothers and sisters around the world.

Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School, Grimsby – Two Worlds, One Family



The Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School Pilgrimage began with a Mass in the gym led by Father Ronald Angervil and Seminarian Daniel Corso. More than 600 people participated in the Mass, and 400 students, staff and supporters walked, including 82 elementary students from the Blessed Trinity Family of Schools, walked throughout the city. In all, the Thunder Pilgrimage raised more than $22,000 for Las Pajas in the Dominican Republic, through the Dominican-Canadian Community Development Group.



Denis Morris Catholic High School, St. Catharines – Love and Sacrifice



The Denis Morris Catholic High School Pilgrimage was a beautiful, reverent and happy walk of friendship and sacrifice. The Reds walked from Denis Morris through to downtown St. Catharines, where they met up with students from Holy Cross and Saint Francis Catholic Secondary Schools at Market Square of a Mass led by Bishop Bergie and a walk through downtown. More than 425 Denis Morris Pilgrims raised $11,5000 for Wells of Hope in Jalapa, Guatemala, and DM’s sister-school L’Ecole Imaculee Conception in Pilate, Haiti.


Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School – Tomorrow Starts Today



The Holy Cross Catholic High Secondary School Pilgrimage pays homage to the rich history of the Holy Cross Fathers and Sisters making education accessible to all Haitian children, by raising funds for its sister-school in Haiti. This year, students, staff and supporters raised about $11,000 in the walk, which began with a small prayer service urging participants to listen more intently to the words of the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer service was followed by a walk through north St. Catharines to Market Square for Mass with Denis Morris and Saint Francis students and staff, and a joint walk through the downtown and back to Holy Cross.


Lakeshore Catholic High School – Walk With Me



LakeshoreCatholic High School has a strong connection with the community of Portsmouth, Dominica. The “Nature Isle” of the Caribbean has been particularly hard-hit by natural disasters in the past three years. This year, approximately 100 students, teachers and community members walked to raise more than $5,000 for St. John’s Elementary School, The Grange Senior’s Home, an alternative learning centre, the Portsmouth Public Library and CARE, a donation distribution centre. Students and staff hope to travel to Dominica in February , 2019.


candlesNotre Dame College School – Spread the Light

The 43rd Annual Notre Dame College School Annual Pilgrimage focused on the mysterious and powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit, and how those gifts have given leaders such as St. Oscar Romero and St. Paul IV. The Pilgrimage began with a short service where the crosses and banners were blessed, and then more than 800 pilgrims, including students and staff from Notre Dame, its elementary family of schools, and the Board, as well as parents, outgoing trustee Ted O’Leary and Trustee-elect Paul Turner.

A candlelight service following the 14-kilometre walk included a Mass concelebrated by Pilgrimage founder Fr. Jim Mulligan c.s.c., Fr. Alison Mahoney and Fr. Don Layden. Father Gerald Cormier walked the entire Pilgrimage route, and also attended Mass.

The Notre Dame Pilgrimage raised approximately $40,000 for Development and Peace, Yancana Huasy in Lima, Peru, and the Dominican-Canadian Community Development Group.

Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School – We Are Stars

startThis year, more than 250 student “stars” shone as tiny specks of light in the darkness, shining the light of love.

Students participated in a number of events leading up to the Pilgrimage, including photo and video creations and a presentation in the chapel. By the time students returned from walking through the streets of St. Catharines as a school family and alongside students from Denis Morris and Holy Cross, and Director of Education John Crocco, who walked with Saint Francis, the Phoenix had raised more than $29,000 for Marie Immaculee School and Marie Port-du-Ciel Orphanage run by the Holy Cross Sisters in Haiti, Fogquest and the Centre for Hope in Guatemal, the Dominican-Canadian Community Development Group and various local charities.

Saint Michael Catholic High School – Hope Lives Here


As is tradition, Niagara Falls’ two Catholic High Schools came together to walk in the Pilgrimage, this year beginning at host school Saint Paul Catholic High School.

The day began with a Mass at Saint Paul led by outgoing Board Chair Father Paul MacNeil, then more than 415 Mustang Pilgrims walked the 10-kilometre route raising approximately $22,000 for Hope for Rwanda’s Children, which provides scholarships and tuition to students in the war-ravaged African nation so they can attend school.


Saint Paul Catholic High School – For We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight



Host school Saint Paul Catholic High School had more than 270 pilgrims walk the route through the streets of Niagara Falls, along with students, staff and families from Saint Michael Catholic High School. Through this dedicated effort, the Patriots raised more than $13,000 for Saint Paul’s sister-school in Haiti, Ste. Croix de Milot.



Provincial Consultation on Education Reform in Ontario

slideThe provincial government is currently seeking input from citizens about educational reform in Ontario.

In addition to giving stakeholders such as school boards the opportunity to participate, all Ontario citizens are invited to have a say. Earlier this month, Niagara Catholic sent a notice to all staff, inviting them to participate in the survey and Telephone Town Halls, accessed through the main page of the Board website.  The deadline for submissions is December 15.

Good News!

Have you checked our Good News page lately? If you’re not, you could be missing some great stories. Hop on over to see what’s new at Niagara Catholic, including our coverage of the visit of Most Reverend Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, to Niagara Catholic on November 27. While you’re online, take a moment to watch our adorable Kindergarten Open House video and a video featuring our secondary school students, who tell us why they love their school.

Follow us!

To ensure you stay connected with Niagara Catholic news and events, please be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and check our website often for updates and breaking news. It’s the best way to stay in the know.

Don’t forget!

Only our Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School Grade 8 Open House remains – it’s November 29 – but you can register in-school or online any time for our elementary and secondary schools.