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St. Peter shows solidarity with local mosque

A poster with messages from the St. Peter school community.

When members of our community are hurting, our faith calls for us to offer love and support. So, in the wake of the tragic shooting at a Quebec City mosque, the St. Peter High School community reached out to a local mosque to show them that the staff and students cared.

After speaking with Imam Mohammed Badat of Masjid Balil mosque, teachers Scott Searle and Linda Roe decided to show sympathy and compassion by making cards and posters for the members of the mosque. Linda brought the idea to her leadership class, and they leapt at the opportunity. People in their community were grieving, and the students wanted to help. The class got together after school and began making posters and writing kind messages. Word spread quickly, and, pretty soon, the whole school was taking part. The leadership class put their big poster in the chapel for other students to sign, and other classes took time to make their own cards and messages of support. The whole school came together to offer some love and kindness to those who needed it most.

Needless to say, the members of the mosque were touched by the heartwarming gesture. They invited the leadership class to visit the mosque to see their cards and posters on display, and to see the positive impact they were having. Imam Badat even told the students that he could use their kind and inspiring messages as inspiration for his weekly prayers for the rest of the year. The mosque even made cards of their own for the students, and presented the school with a commemorative plaque to show their gratitude.

"Our students were happy that they could do something to reach out to their friends and help them feel a little bit better, knowing that we all stand together as one human family."

Linda Roe

The entire St. Peter community has done a wonderful job of demonstrating the Catholic Graduate Expectations by spreading love, kindness, and compassion in their community. The OCSB family is extremely proud of St. Peter for going above and beyond to make a loving difference in their community. Take a look at some of the cards and posters in our Facebook album.

"All of us are proud to work in a faith-based environment that shows such love and solidarity with people of different religious backgrounds."

Scott Searle
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2016 United Way Campaign

This year's Ottawa Catholic School Board United Way campaign was another huge success – the Board raised $517,784.37, with $384,530.99 being directed to the Catholic Education Foundation of Ottawa. We also met our goal of 80% participation among staff – a new record for the OCSB. At the reveal event on Thursday, CEC staff heard speeches from OCSB Director of Education Denise Andre, President and CEO of United Way Ottawa Michael Allen, Co-Chairs of the OCSB Campaign Kelly McKibbin and Bill Walsh, and United Way Campaign Co-Chair Kathleen Kemp.

OCSB staff and distinguished guests from The United Way (UW) reveal the big number (from left to right): Sandra Falcomer, OCSB Campaign Reporting Coordinator; Denise Andre, OCSB Director of Education; Bill Walsh and Kelly McKibbin, OCSB Campaign Co-Chairs; Michael Allen, President and CEO of United Way Ottawa; Kathleen Kemp, UW Co-Chair; Carole Gagnon, UW VP of Resource Development; and Bridget Burgess, UW Officer, Revenue Development Community Campaign.

Over the past 10 years, OCSB employees have raised over $5.5 million for The United Way Ottawa. For the sixth year in a row, the OCSB was one of the top workplace campaigns in the City of Ottawa. The campaign is just one of the ways the OCSB works to make our community a better place for everyone. Check out our Facebook album for more photos from the event.

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Christian Community Day 2016

Guest speaker Steve Pemberton inspired everyone at CC Day!

On October 7, the OCSB celebrated another inspiring Christian Community Day at a packed Shaw Centre! A major highlight of the day was the guest speaker, Steve Pemberton. His message truly brought the Board's spiritual theme to life by explaining how God brought special people into his life at various moments to be his "Good News." Despite the hardships he endured as a child, he was able to rise above the challenges and find success – and more importantly, people he could truly call family. Needless to say, everyone was deeply moved by his powerful presentation.

Another highlight was the beautiful mass presided over by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. Director of Education Denise Andre's presentation was thoughtful and exciting. She focused on the Board's accomplishments and helped employees see how everyone at the OCSB, including custodians, play a significant role in helping our students learn in meaningful ways. Associate Director of Education, Tom D'Amico, presented the 2016 Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award to Bishop Christian Riesbeck who was unable to attend but sent his thoughts in a touching pre-recorded video.

The day was interspersed with the lovely music of the talented OCSB Choir filling everyone present with joy and wonder. All in all, it was a wonderful opportunity to bring our whole community together. See the pictures from the event in our Facebook album and Storify!

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2016 Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award Winner

This year's winner of the Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award is Bishop Christian Riesbeck. An alumni of St. Pius X High School, he was born in Montreal on February 7, 1970. Over his lifetime, he's earned several degrees: a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Ottawa, a Master of Divinity from St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto, and both a master's degree and a licentiate in Canon Law from Saint Paul University in Ottawa. He also speaks English, French, Spanish, and German.

Bishop Riesbeck has selflessly served the Catholic church for over 20 years. He was ordained to the priesthood as a member of the Companions of the Cross on October 12, 1996, by the then Archbishop of Ottawa, the Most Reverend Marcel Gervais. After doing pastoral work in the Archdioceses of Ottawa and Kingston for brief periods in the late 1990s, he served as pastor of Queen of Peace parish in Houston, Texas from 1999 to 2008. After obtaining his degree in Canon Law shortly afterwards, he was appointed Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Ottawa in January 2011. Then, on January 7, 2014, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed the Reverend Christian Riesbeck, C.C., as Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa. At the time of his appointment, he was the Chancellor of the Archdiocese and the Assistant General Superior of the Companions of the Cross – a priestly society of apostolic life founded in Ottawa.

Bishop Riesbeck takes his responsibilities as a Catholic leader seriously. Before taking up his duties at Queen of Peace parish in Texas, he spent seven weeks learning Spanish so he could better serve the area's large Hispanic community. Under his committed leadership, the parish was revitalized: the number of parishioners, religious education classes, and the parish school enrolment all increased significantly.

His nominators describe him as a kind and approachable leader, and say he stands out as a young member of the Church who has chosen to dedicate himself to religious life at a time when ordinations are in decline. Despite always being very busy, he always finds a way to make time to assist with school and board activities. His kind presence is always welcomed by teachers and students, and he has been known to join student hockey games while visiting schools.

For all these reasons and more, Bishop Riesbeck is an inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with, and an exceptional role model for all graduates of the OCSB. There is no one more deserving of the 2016 Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award.

Bishop Riesbeck has chosen to split the $5000 award between St. Pius X High School and Dr. F. J. McDonald School

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OCSB Schools Raise Over $25,000 for OK Clean Water

The OCSB is celebrating another successful year of partnership with OK Clean Water, as 28 of our schools brought in an impressive $25,443.84 to support sustainable clean water projects in Kumbo, Cameroon. Both students and staff participated in a wide variety of creative fundraising efforts: walk-a-thons, read-a-thons, spirit days, coin lines, bake sales, chores at home, and many more. One group of students put together a presentation for their classmates. Some staff even volunteered to shave their heads if fundraising goals were met - let's just say their heads have been chillier than normal recently!

Currently, thanks to OK Clean Water, 43 villages have access to clean water, and more villagers are waiting in hope. In addition to providing the materials and planning for the village projects, the Cameroonian engineer, Edwin Visi, provides workshops for the villagers to ensure the sustainability of their clean water projects. An Advisory Committee has also recently been established to oversee the projects in each village and to make suggestions whenever needed.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the following schools took part in fundraising efforts for this worthy and important cause:

Dr. F.J. McDonald, Good Shepherd, Holy Family, Holy Redeemer, Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, Monsignor Paul Baxter, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Victory, St. Anne, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Brigid, St. Daniel, St. Emily, St. Francis Xavier, St. Gemma, St. George, St. Jerome, St. John the Apostle, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Luke, St. Michael (Corkery), St. Michael (Fitzroy), St. Michael (Ottawa), St. Rita, Thomas D'Arcy McGee Catholic, and Uplands Catholic.

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Immaculata students cook up encouragement

An Immaculata student working hard to prepare a healthy meal for a student in need.

Angela Bradley is the senior office administrator at Immaculata High School, and her son was recently undergoing radioactive iodine treatments for thyroid cancer. Her son needed to be on a very strict and limiting diet leading up to, during, and following his cancer treatments. No dairy, no fish, nothing processed, nothing store bought, everything from scratch, no salt and no spices. 

Looking for advice on meal options to feed her son, Angela reached out to Brandy Kozowy, Immaculata's hospitality teacher,but had no idea how much love would soon be poured out from her Immaculata family onto her son.

Brandy Kozowy, who also happens to be a Red Seal chef, saw this as a valuable learning opportunity for her students where they could learn the basics of making healthy, organic meals that are gluten-free, dairy-free, salt-free, non-processed, with everything made from scratch.

With funding provided by Angela, Ms. Kozowy's students made a breakfast, a snack, a dinner and a special golden milk or smoothie during each class for her to bring home to her son at the end of each day. Attached to each container of food was a personalized, encouraging post-it note saying things like "You got this Bud!" "Be strong!" "You'll love this...it's my favourite!" "You're amazing!"

Ms. Kozowy has proudly remarked how engaged and focused her students have been on this project. Their sense of purpose, desire to help, and a newly-formed compassion to learn about healthy meals has made a positive impact on their school family. One of the students in Ms. Kozowy's class who plays on the football team was going to miss his cooking class due to an early dismissal for their semi-final game, but he didn't want to miss his contribution to the meal that day, so he cooked through his lunch hour and even kept the football bus waiting for him so he could finish what he was doing.

"My heart is bursting with immense gratitude not only for the wondrous food prepared for my son, but also for the genuine interest the students have put into the well being of my son"

-Angela Bradley, senior office administrator at Immaculata High School
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A meaningful Advent at St. John Paul II School

The staff and students at St. John Paul II School recognize that many people have a difficult time getting through the Christmas season, including families in their own school community. That's why they've been working hard throughout the season of Advent to make this season a meaningful time for everyone in their community through acts of kindness and mercy.

St. John Paul II School gathered for a Christmas meal to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus on Wednesday, December 16th. "We've been organizing this event for about six years now," said Office Administrator Helen Featherston. "For some of our students, this is their Christmas dinner, so it's a very special time for our community."

The school gym was decorated to the nines featuring a beautiful Nativity scene created by grade 1/2 teacher Rebecca Pereira that included a garland of stars decorated by every student in the school and a life-sized manger with strips of hay made out of construction paper.

The students kicked off the Jubilee year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis on December 8th, by demonstrating the mercy of God to others in simple and effective ways. "During the season of Advent, students were encouraged to perform acts of kindness and mercy to others and write down what they did on these strips of hay" said Pereira. "The strips of hay were meant to soften baby Jesus' bed with kindness and mercy."

With kindness and mercy in the air, the mood was set for a Christmas feast! Moments after Principal, Sean Crookshank made the announcement for students to come down to the gym, the halls were buzzing with joyful students eager to share a delicious meal with their classmates. It was a truly heart-warming event as the kindergarten students led the whole school in saying grace. Special guests and volunteers including City Councillor Tim Tierney and OCSB Director of Education Denise Andre were on hand to serve the students their Christmas meal. It was a truly wonderful event as the whole community gathered to share in the blessing of a delicious Christmas feast.

View more photos on the Ottawa Catholic School Board Facebook page.

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St. Patrick's High School student uses art to spread joy

Israel Ozonwanji is a grade 12 student from St. Patrick's High School who loves using his artistic talents to bring joy and happiness to others. He's accumulated over 50 community service hours drawing portraits of St. Patrick's Retirement Home residents. Israel has already completed three portraits and hopes to do as many as he can before he graduates.

"It has been a very rewarding experience for me," he says. "While working on these drawings, I have had the opportunity to interact with some of the seniors as they casually walk by and ask me questions about my work." The home has even asked Israel to showcase his drawings of the residents along with some of his own artwork at their upcoming gallery night.

Israel, one of many talented artists at St. Patrick's High School, is a great example of someone who lives out the Catholic Graduate Expectations. Well done, Israel!

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We Day 2015

On November 10, thousands of young people gathered at the Canadian Tire Centre to celebrate We Day. It was a day filled with inspiring speeches, lessons and stories from people within Ottawa and around the world. The event was capped off by a surprise guest appearance from Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire - their first public appearance since Trudeau was sworn into office.

The OCSB was represented by about 1,700 students from 68 different schools. Students were chosen at their schools for being involved in local and global social justice initiatives.

St. Gabriel School teacher Rola Tibshirani was even invited onstage to speak about the amazing social justice work that they do!

Sacred Heart High School student Tysen Lefebvre, whose Mission to a Million charity is helping to raise $1 million for Make-A-Wish® Eastern Ontario, even got to meet Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children, Me to We and We Day with his brother Craig!

The event was a joyous occasion to celebrate the amazing work young people are already doing to help people locally and around the globe, and to look forward at how they can change the world in the future. It was truly a day of going from Me to We!

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Immaculata's 23rd Annual Terry Fox Run/Walk

On Thursday, September 24, Immaculata High School staff and students participated in their 23rd annual Terry Fox Run/Walk. Their fundraising goal was $14,000 – over $800 more than they have raised in the past few years. Last year Immaculata was recognized as the 19th highest fundraising high school in Ontario. The Immaculata community not only met their goal, but exceeded it by raising $15,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation and cancer research. That brings Immaculata's 23-year total to almost $250,000! And they even added to it later on, with the proceeds from an optional dress down day on October 14th also going to charity. Way to go Immaculata!

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2015 Child Care Festival

Two of the OCCCC's Corporation Directors and children from Holy Spirit School Age Program at the Festival

The annual Ottawa Catholic Child Care Corporation's Child Care Festival was a huge success this year. It took place at Mother Teresa High School at the end of August, and the just over 900 children that attended were about 150 more than the 2014 Festival. Staff did a wonderful job preparing and organizing the event and the day was very well received by attendees. The children donated school supplies which were passed along to the principals.

The gold, silver, and bronze awards for the Community Helper initiative, given to the centres where children have initiated and/or participated in events which benefit the community as a whole, were:

  • Gold: Jackson Trails Early Learning Centre
  • Silver: Chapman Mills School Age Program
  • Bronze: Strandherd School Age Program

The purpose of the Festival is to bring together the kindergarten and school-age children from the OCCCC's 18 programs for a day of community.

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Christian Community Day 2015

Director or Education Denise Andre addresses the crowd at Christian Community Day.

On October 9, the OCSB celebrated yet another inspiring Christian Community Day at a packed Shaw Centre. The highlight of the day was a beautiful mass presided over by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. Director of Education Denise Andre's presentation was warm, thoughtful and inclusive, focusing on the Board's accomplishments and directions as well as kicking off this year's United Way Campaign. Associate Director of Education Tom D'Amico presented the 2015 Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award to Dr. David LeBrun.

The day was interspersed with the lovely music of the talented OCSB Choir under the direction of Theresa Clarke. Soloist Deanna MacDonald-Johns' voice soared throughout the room, filling everyone present with joy and wonder.

A number of inspiring witnesses also took the stage, reflecting on the day's themes: restoration, joy, mercy, and love. Nadine Logan shared her story of finding a place where people truly cared for and about her child at the OCSB. Jimmy Ruggerio, an EA at Sacred Heart High School, spoke about his spiritual journey and the power of prayer in the life of his son Luca, who now attends St. Luke School. Carl Nicholson from the Catholic Centre for Immigration told the crowd about all the incredible work they do there. The collections from the Mass went to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the Catholic Centre for Immigration.

All in all, it was a wonderful opportunity to bring our whole community together. See the pictures from the event in our Facebook album!

Recent comment in this post
Guest — ChristianMagazine
This is good to celebrate community days and share positive thoughts top motivate people to achieve goal of life.
Monday, 04 January 2016 6:06 AM
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Sacred Heart student honoured for charitable work

Tysen with Adam Sandler.

Sacred Heart High School student Tysen Lefebvre recently received a Canadian Living Me to We Award in the Community category. The 15-year-old Tysen was honoured for his commitment to help raise $1 million for Make-A-Wish® Eastern Ontario to grant 100 wishes. To date, Tysen's Mission to a Million had earned over $375,000 for the charitable organization. The cause is close to his heart because in 2012 they granted his wish to meet his hero: Adam Sandler.

"We are incredibly proud of Tysen's mission to pay it forward and help make 100 magical wishes come true," says Tanya Desjardins, CEO, Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario. "Tysen is a true role model and an inspiration to us all. We commend he and his family for their courage, perseverance and selfless efforts to help young people realize their one true wish at a time when they need it most. Congratulations!"

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