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GrACE forms to promote Catholic education in Alberta

GrACE logoThe recently formed Grateful Advocates for Catholic Education (GrACE) is an Alberta-based organization that seeks to celebrate Catholic education in the province.

The Chair of GrACE, Michael Ouellette, says that the founding of a group like this has been talked about for a while, but it’s now finally being acted upon.

“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” he says. “Our mission is to tell the story of Catholic education in the province of Alberta.”

With a new campaign being run seeking a unified school board, now seemed like a perfect time to organize and promote the value of Catholic education in the province.

 “Many just don’t understand our whole goal,” says Mr. Ouellette. “Everything we do is guided by the Holy Spirit. The values of Catholic education permeate throughout every school. Our students and teachers live it out on a daily basis. Our principals care deeply about every student. Their faith makes them leaders who are actually servants.”

A big part of GrACE’s mandate is to unify the Catholic community in Alberta.

“We want each district and school board to go to their parishes and speak with one voice,” says Mr. Ouellette. “We want our whole community to be speaking the same words. It puts us all together on the same page and amplifies our message.”

Mr. Ouellette says that while they are a new organization, they are already making progress.

“We’ve got a great executive director who’s just so passionate about it, and we’re really moving in the right direction. The boards are buying into it, the superintendents are buying into it, and now our next step is getting into the parishes,” he says. “People want to tell their stories, and we want to hear them and keep spreading the word.”

He also stresses that this is not a temporary campaign, but a long-lasting endeavour.

“This is not a two-year blitz,” he says. “This is what we’re going to do from now on. Eventually, every school district will have a GrACE committee, and there will be members of the public on that committee. This is long term.”

CCSTA Executive Director Julian Hanlon agrees that these types of groups are good advocates for Catholic education.

“Having groups like this that can speak out on behalf of Catholic education are extremely valuable,” he says. “And they can clarify issues as they come up.”

He also emphasizes that separate school systems have positive benefits.

“Giving parents choice is always a good thing in education,” says Mr. Hanlon. “It also allows Catholics to be educated in a Catholic environment, as is guaranteed by our Constitution. In addition, a certain level of competition is good, because it keeps everyone on their toes and raises the bar a little bit.”

Mr. Ouellette says that anyone with questions about the value of Catholic education need just visit one of their schools to understand.

“You walk into our schools and you feel the love, the community, the respect for each other and for students. Everyone who visits says the same thing. People will choose Catholic education because they want that feeling. It permeates throughout the whole school.”

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Enlivened by the Word of God and our tradition, we promote and protect the right to Catholic education in Canada.  We speak as one.

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