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November is a month to reflect and remember. We solemnly feel grief and loss, but also celebrate the love and gratitude we have for those who are no longer with us physically.  We began the month with the Feast of All Saints. This day isn’t just for the publicly named Saints in the Communion of Saints. It’s for all of us. It’s for people who walk and have walked humbly with God in their daily lives. 

At the Ottawa Catholic School Board, we honour the Saints to encourage our “saints in waiting.” We are all “saints in waiting.” We can look to the Communion of Saints and those called “Venerable” and “Blessed” as examples of how we can faithfully and authentically live our lives. 

Blessed Carlo Acutis is an excellent example to follow. This 15-year-old Italian teenager loves video games and soccer and also happens to have a tremendous devotion to the Holy Eucharist.  When facing the diagnosis of leukemia and his mortality, he exuded the joy of his faith. His example illuminates the fact that we are all called to use and share our God-given talents. Perhaps one day, Blessed Carlo Acutis may even become the Patron Saint of one of our schools. 

As we live out our faith, we take the time to learn and reflect on our journey. As “saints in waiting,” we are constantly reminded of our potential and called to share it fully with others. Our Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations establish a pathway and provide an opportunity for all students to become caring, concerned, competent, Catholic citizens.

Here are five ways we honour Patron Saints at OCSB schools to encourage our “saints in waiting”:

  1. We learn and share their stories. We are in the process of creating and installing biographical plaques of our Patron Saints, including their Feast Days. 
  2. We stimulate the senses. We represent our schools’ Patron Saints with statues, icons, paintings, stained glass windows, and lightboxes.  The visual aesthetic enhances the spiritual experience.  This encourages an Ignatian spiritual exercise and Deep Learning. 
  3. We celebrate Feast Days. We’ve prepared liturgies to celebrate the Feast Days of the Patron Saint of each of our schools.  Each liturgy includes a brief video biopic of their school’s Patron Saint.  We also share the upcoming Feast Days with a short biography through our Religious and Family Life Education Twitter feed @ocsbRE.
  4. We learn in our classrooms. Our Religious Education program explores a selection of Saints for each grade level from Kindergarten to grade 8. We use learning resources and activities that are engaging and age-appropriate, ranging from colouring pages and crafts for the earlier grades to reading comprehension and analysis for the older grades.
  5. We offer mentor texts about the Saints.  Every year we provide mentor texts for our schools and learning commons (libraries) about the Saints. This has included titles such as Sitting Like a Saint, Loyola Kids Book of Heroes, and Brotherhood of Saints.

“Whenever I have a problem, I ask the Saint (Thérèse of Lisieux) not to solve it, but to take it into her hands and to help me accept it and I almost always receive a white rose as a sign. To be saints is not a privilege for a few, but a vocation for everyone”.

Pope Francis