Advent Message

Advent is here; to me, Advent has many messages.  One is building a community.  Advent and Christmas allow us to get together with family and friends to strengthen our bonds.  A second message is a buildup to the celebration of the birth of Christ, the call to “make ready the way of the Lord.”  This message is the one many families tend to focus on the most—preparing for Christmas with decorations, presents, and a feast.  Another message of Advent is that we do not have to wait.  God is with us now, here in our lives.  Every day I see God at work in our learning community among our students, parents, and staff.

Please take time out of your busy Christmas season to remember the blessing we have of having Christ in our lives every day:

  • We continue to be blessed with supportive parents and a robust School Council. Please feel free to join us at any School Council meeting to provide your insights;
  • Our school continues to be blessed with terrific staff;
  • We have an incredible student population. Daily I get compliments about our students;
  • Finally, we are blessed with our learning community of Father Leonard Van Tighem School. Every day we show how we are “many hands building a better world.”  Our school is truly a special place.

This year’s faith plan focuses on being ‘Being Mindful…Being Prayerful.’  I do not think there is a better season to model this than Advent and Christmas time.  I saw this pic about keeping Christ in Christmas on social media:

christmas

This quote truly encapsulates the message of ‘Keep Christ in Christmas.’  This Advent and Christmas season feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Have a blessed Advent and Christmas season,

Greg Kostiuk

Catholic Education Sunday

This Sunday, November 2nd, we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday in Alberta.  This year the theme of Catholic Education Sunday is United in Prayer and Grateful for Catholic Education.  Here is a video from The Archbishop of Edmonton:

Also, here is an excerpt from the letter from the Bishops of Alberta and NWT:

Everyone has a role to play in Catholic education and this includes each of us.  Keep          our Catholic schools in your prayers that God may lead them in faithfulness, wisdom        and charity; get informed about the issues; and commit to the work of advocacy to            sustain their future.  We invite you to become a positive voice in this conversation.            Your involvement will support the many parents who see religion and the Catholic            faith as an integral value in the education and formation of their children.

The future of Catholic education will be supported by your prayers, involvement, and advocacy.  Just as St. Paul advised the Christian community at Colossae to, “devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2), we too, live in gratitude for our Catholic schools and are called to vigilance and prayer.

Let us work together, united in prayer and grateful for Catholic education, to continue to make Father Leonard Van Tighem School a Christ-centred learning community.  Unfortunately, I will not be at our home parish of St. Martha’s as I have been asked to deliver the Catholic Education Sunday message at St. Peter and Paul Parish.

Have a blessed weekend,

Greg Kostiuk

Our Report Card

During the last School Council, we shared our Alberta Education Accountability Report Card with parents.   Our school continues to be a very positive learning environment for our students.  This table summarizes our results:

Oct 2019 summary school.PNG

Our report was very positive.  We received an ‘Excellent’ rating in the following categories of Safe and Caring, Program of Studies, Education Quality, Drop Out Rate, Citizenship, Parental Involvement, and School Improvement.  We were slightly below in Work Preparation, but this was mainly due to the number of ‘don’t know’ responses.  Our Provincial Achievement Tests ‘Acceptable’ rating was above the provincial average, and our ‘Excellence’ rating improved dramatically.

Thank you to all the students, staff, and parents that make Father Leonard Van Tighem a wonderful place to learn.

Greg Kostiuk

Thank You

As we are ending October we want to thank everyone in our school for supporting two of our school-wide projects.  Firstly, our Thanksgiving Food Bank Drive.  Our Food Drive was an extreme success.  Here is our final total:

Food drive 2019

We had over 2000 items donated to the Interfaith Food Bank.  A big thank you to Ashley Z. from the U of L for organizing this project.

IMG-9490

Secondly, thank you for supporting our Card Fundraiser.  Our students sold just over 1000 cards and the school raised approximately $10,000 to support programs for our students.  Although we are still looking at the specifics, these funds will be going towards the following programs/projects: student clubs, co-curricular teams, student trips, school presentations, student incentives, religious retreats, and other events supporting students.

On behalf of our school, thank you for your support.

Be Mindful

popeThis summer my sister went to Italy.  It reminded me of a past trip when my wife and I visited that country.  Italy was a terrific trip filled with wonderful sites, places, foods, and people.  The highlight of our trip wasn’t actually in Italy but in the Vatican.  Spending only one day at the Vatican was not enough, but it was a memorable day that I cannot forget.  During this day I was star struck; not only did I get to hear Pope Francis, but I got to see him up-close (only 5 or 6 feet away).  This pic of the Pope was taken by me using my iPhone.  Seeing him was awesome, hearing his message was just as important.  I could try to summarize his message, but I found a much better summary by  Junno Arocho Esteves – Catholic News Service:

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—God did not choose perfect people to form his church, but rather sinners who have experienced his love and forgiveness, Pope Francis said. The Gospel of Luke’s account of Jesus forgiving the sinful woman shows how his actions went against the general mentality of his time, a way of thinking that saw a “clear separation” between the pure and impure, the pope said Aug. 9 during his weekly general audience. “There were some scribes, those who believed they were perfect,” the pope said. “And I think about so many Catholics who think they are perfect and scorn others. This is sad.” Although Jesus’ love toward the sick and the marginalized “baffles his contemporaries,” it reveals God’s heart as the place where suffering men and women can find love, compassion and healing, Pope Francis said. “How many people continue today in a wayward life because they find no one willing to look at them in a different way, with the eyes—or better yet—with the heart of God, meaning with hope,” he said. But “Jesus sees the possibility of a resurrection even in those who have made so many wrong choices.” Oftentimes, the pope continued, Christians become accustomed to having their sins forgiven and receiving God’s unconditional love while forgetting the heavy price Jesus paid by dying on the cross. By forgiving sinners, Jesus doesn’t seek to free them from a guilty conscience, but rather offers “people who have made mistakes the hope of a new life, a life marked by love,” the pope said. The church is a people formed “of sinners who have experienced the mercy and forgiveness of God,” Pope Francis said. Christians are “all poor sinners” who need God’s mercy, “which strengthens us and gives us hope.”

As part of our faith plan, we are challenged to ‘be mindful and be prayerful’ throughout the year.  Pope Francis’ words make me mindful of God’s unconditional love, mindful that I am a sinner, mindful of God’s mercy, and mindful of every present hope of a new life in Christ’s love.   As a teacher and principal of Father Leonard Van Tighem School, and as a member of the Catholic faith community of Lethbridge, I will be using Pope Francis’ message to be mindful of God’s presence.

Also, I wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving as we thank God for the many gifts we have received.

Greg Kostiuk