PVNC team helps shape future of Catholic education in Ontario

PVNC staff group photo

A group of PVNC administrators, trustees, clergy, educators, parents and students had the opportunity to shape the future of Catholic education in Ontario during the Renewing the Promise symposium hosted by the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) on Nov 14-15 in Mississauga.

Close to 700 representatives from every sector of the Catholic educational community in Ontario came together in conversation, gathering as a community to pray, to celebrate our successes, to name and understand the challenges presented by an increasingly complex society and to identify and build consensus around the opportunities that will shape the future of Catholic education.

The PVNC team included Board Chairperson Michelle Griepsma, Director of Education Michael Nasello, Peterborough Bishop Daniel Miehm, superintendents, principals, educators, parents and students.

“I took away a great deal of hope for our future (and many pages of notes for further reflection) from the symposium,” said Griepsma. “Even though different perspectives were shared, respect for the process and respect for each other was evident.”

Participants spent two days in round table discussions identifying challenges to the system and offering solutions for the future. Through the company Thought Exchange, group input was processed in real time, allowing participants to rate ideas and build on feedback throughout the process.

“Getting together, expressing viewpoints, and listening to others from different parts of the province, in different roles was an excellent way to share. Relationships were a key point that many groups touched on,” PVNC teacher Bart Scollard said. “I would like to think that the leaders from all the Catholic groups can decide on next steps based on the discussions that took place.”

Peter Bagnall, the Board’s religious education and family life consultant, said he left the symposium inspired.

“I was deeply inspired by the process of collaborative discernment. The ongoing reminders to be attentive to how God was speaking to us through our feelings, reflections, and the variety of voices from our board and other boards were helpful in instilling feelings of unity and a shared mission in Catholic education,” he said.

Holy Cross CSS principal James Brake used the word “rewarding” to describe the experience.

“It was rewarding to be part of a group who placed such a high value on Catholic education, who were so determined to see Catholic education remain part of the vibrant culture of our province,” Brake said.

“It was really a great opportunity to gather with all partners to be part of this historical moment. The opportunity to enter into dialogue about the future of Catholic education from a diverse selection of stakeholders was valuable to me because, in the end, we will need all voices to speak to the cause.”

Student liaison Emma Montgomery said she was happy that student voice was a priority at the symposium.

“What I took away was that our voices and opinions matter and that we are involved in the process of implementing change and creating better Catholic schools and creating relationships with parish, family and school communities,” she said.