Dear Students, Parents and Colleagues:
A few updates. I want to thank Father Michael Eades of the Oratory, who celebrated Holy Mass for the school community for the Feast of St. John Baptist de La Salle, Patron of Teachers. The Oratorian Fathers have served us over the last few years. Their parishes and seminary are located in Parkdale. The Feast Day of their Founder, St. Philip Neri, the Apostle of Rome, occurs on May 26th. We extend our best wishes to them and our prayers for their good work in the Archdiocese.
As well, I want to acknowledge the continued good and important work of one of our former parents and the Founder of Megan's Walk, an organisation that supports research into childhood brain tumours. Denise Bebenek, currently a member of the Board of Directors of the College, founded this organisation many years ago and has made a tremendous contribution to raising awareness and funds for this important cause. I know many of you in the school community have been very involved and interested in this venture which is such a logical extension of our own mission dedicated to the welfare of young people. You are encouraged to consider making a donation or contributing in some other way to this organisation. The pandemic has prevented some of the regular activities of Megan's Walk, so the need to help out these days is more important than ever.
Our Founder’s Days of Giving was quite a success. Thank you to all those who have contributed this year. We exceeded our goal of $75 000 with a final total of $76 300. As I mentioned in the previous edition of the newsletter, these funds will be used to support bursaries and scholarships to deserving and qualified youth from the Black community in the GTA. I will be working with the Administration and Admissions Department to expand these opportunities for the 2022 – 2023 academic year. The key to creating true racial equality and tolerance is quality education, and it is essential to do what we can in this regard as a school community. If you know of any child whose family cannot afford the benefits of an independent Catholic school who is keen on trying a challenging academic program, please invite the family to consider applying to the College this coming September. I will be providing more details on the expansion of our bursaries and scholarship program before the beginning of the next school year.
The College continues to monitor closely the attempts by the so-called Friends of the De La Salle Arena, a lobby group that has submitted to Heritage Preservation a nomination to have the arena building designated a heritage building. In a letter to our local councillor, this group has described the building as a magnificent example of architecture. It is a nice building and well-maintained, but it is not one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In any event, we will be utilising the existing external structure of the building and the current internal structure. This effort is intended to be one of the significant advantages of using the Arena for our programming. It should speed up finally delivering a new gymnasium and many other amenities. The group, claiming to be friends, adds insult to injury by further stating that the school already has a gymnasium, so it does not need another. Regardless of one's view on the future use of the facility, I find this comment highly objectionable.
When the facility was built in 1967, it was done for the good of the student body of the time, an all-boys’ school with very few sports. When I think back to my time as a student, we had a limited number of sports and co-curricular activities, and if you did not play hockey or football, you really had little else to do. Today we need to do what is best for today's students. Although there is not much that can be done to prevent the nomination from going forward, it is necessary to oppose any attempt to impose unnecessary limitations on what can be done to the interior of this school facility intended primarily for our own students.
I thank the many parents who have written to the councillor's office to date. If you have the time and the inclination, it would be helpful to make it clear to the councillor we will vigorously oppose the validity of the nomination and its ultimate objectives, which is to make it difficult for us to renovate the building to its fullest extent. This facility has huge possibilities given its size.
Due to previous heritage designations, we cannot build on the grass oval on the upper campus, not that we would, or any permanent structures on the playing field. The current sports court area (presently being refurbished) has limited flexibility for expansion due to setbacks from the escarpment, a protected conservation zone, and our neighbours. The decision to focus on the distinct advantages on the arena facility has not taken place without serious thought and planning. Let us keep this matter in our prayers.
Permit me to offer a little prayer for your reflection as we recall the importance of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles on Pentecost.
Prayer of Repentance and Strength
We ask forgiveness for those times we have ignored the Word of God; for our cowardice in confronting the culture of death; for not keeping the Lord's Day holy even during the pandemic; for turning a deaf ear to the cries of the poor; for too often turning away from the widow and orphan, preferring the sleek and the rich; for failing to conduct our affairs with justice and fairness; for the courage to do an honest day's work; for the times when we have used privileges and entitlements to the detriment of others; for our silence regarding human trafficking, the ravages of pornography, and other social evils; for failing to ensure that our young are taught the beauty of faith and family life; for relying on ourselves too much and not the transformative power of the Holy Spirit; and for not always giving God our very best. Amen.
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom – pray for us.
Live Jesus, in our hearts. Forever.
Brother Domenic, fsc