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From Here to a Just World

“:From Here to a Just World”

These are words I wrote for a plaque I gave to St. Bonaventure’s College in 2011, when I finally stepped down from this most amazing adventure of being the founding chair of this amazing school.  St. Bonaventure’s College celebrates it twentieth anniversary this year.

The story inspires in me a deep gratitude for having been given the chance to be there.  To me, it feels that together, we had the faith of a mustard seed, and moved a mountain. Wow.

Amen, O Lord, Amen.

From Here to a Just World

In October 1997, after a divisive referendum that resulted in the end of denominational education in Newfoundland and Labrador, a group of three parents and a Jesuit priest, a part of a “Contingency Committee” met quietly to talk about what to do next.

That group of four grew to over twenty, and in 1998, with the permission of the Archbishop of St. John’s and the Provincial of the Upper Canada Province of the Society of Jesus, they embarked upon the creation of a Catholic school.

Meeting secretly to protect their own children from curiosity seekers, public school supporters and the media, the “Committee for an Independent Roman Catholic School in the Jesuit Tradition” developed its mission statement, bylaws, and policy manuals, inspected potential buildings, coordinated sympathetic educators to write the curriculum and eventually organized public meetings to gauge public interest.

Even without a building, the Committee had found about two hundred children from families willing to take a chance on their dream.  When St. Bon’s School buildings became available in June 1999, the Committee organized about eighty volunteers who showed up faithfully every day of that summer.

Those volunteers scraped carpet off the hardwood floors with snow shovels, scrubbed mold from the windows with barbecue brushes, painted, cleaned, hammered and prayed that this would work.  Used books and equipment were accepted from anywhere and everywhere and indeed what was needed came.

Then teachers and staff were hired, many of them sacrificing good positions in the public system for the opportunity to work in a Catholic school at St. Bon’s.  On September 7, 1999 what was thought impossible became reality – St. Bonaventure’s College – an independent Roman Catholic School in the Jesuit Tradition opened its doors to its first 196 students.

This plaque commemorates those people who worked so hard to bring Catholic education back like a phoenix from the ashes.  Their commitment to Catholic traditions and the Gospel values of Jesus Christ, and to the Jesuit ideals of holistic educational excellence and a commitment to social justice should inspire all those who work and learn in this much blessed school.

And indeed it is blessed, for if it were not for God’s grace in the face of very formidable odds, they would not have succeeded.

We give thanks to those founding committees, to all the Directors and Governors who have served from the beginning until now, to the Jesuits, the Sisters of Mercy and the Presentation Sisters, to the Christian Brothers, to the Archdiocese of St. John’s, to everyone who helped and prayed, who taught and listened, and to the loving God Who has shone His Face upon us.