Cornwall Ontario – In November 2016, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association launched the Together in Faith campaign to help spread the word about the distinctiveness of Catholic education, and to help build a strong community of support for Catholic education in Ontario.
Principal of Religious and Family Life Education, Paul Mantha, presented to the Board of Trustees an overview of the Together in Faith campaign,
“For more than 80 years, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association has safeguarded and promoted the interests of Catholic education in Ontario,” began Mr. Mantha. “OCSTA represents the needs and perspectives of Catholic school boards to the provincial, and when necessary, the federal government. An integral part of OCSTA’s mission is the support of activities and initiatives that enhance the Catholic dimension of our school system. Among them are: the production of resources and communication materials to assist boards in highlighting aspects of the Catholic dimension of our system at the local and provincial levels.”
The launch of the new Together in Faith campaign includes a dedicated website which provides an opportunity for proponents of Catholic education to demonstrate their support in a number of ways. Visitors are invited to submit their name to a growing community of advocates, and are invited to take action by writing to their member of parliament.
“OCSTA intends to use this information to demonstrate to political leaders and the people of our province that we have a diverse base of support and that challenge to remove our system will be met by a unified and immediate response,” noted Mr. Mantha.
The site also offers options to visitors to participate in spreading the word about the website, and the Together in Faith community, in schools, with friends, and in parishes.
“Lastly, we can visit the News tab to see videos and read stories submitted by members, exemplifying how Catholic schools are unique and inherently distinct in our province,” added Mr. Mantha.
“As a means of promoting our Catholic system on an ongoing basis, and demonstrating how we are distinctly different, OCSTA is inviting members to submit videos and stories about students who demonstrate inclusivity, diversity, academic excellence and faith.”
Mr. Mantha highlighted the recent story posted on the Together in Faith site about the St. Thomas Aquinas AVENGERS team, and their outstanding success in the area of environmental stewardship through the creation of a biodegradable hay bale wrap product.
In 2013, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) announced, as part of their six-point plan, their desire to see Catholic school systems, both English and French, eliminated. This still stands as a clear goal on their website.
“In order to ensure that we make the most effective use of this tool, the Religion and Family Life Department has begun to facilitate the following communications to ask the faith community to promote the Together in Faith website: letters to Archbishops, letters to all pastors, newsletter and bulletin inserts, website links, school announcements, posts cards, Catholic school councils, parent involvement committee events and Special Education Advisory Committee meetings.”
“We will work together to proclaim that our students learn best when they learn in faith, when they learn through their faith, and when they learn of their faith,” concluded Mr. Mantha.