Superintendent's Weekly Update

Our Superintendent, Pamela Guilbault, shares words of encouragement, messages of faith, and more in her weekly message.

September 26-30

This week, Luke's Gospel is timely, as our school communities turn their efforts toward annual social justice campaigns gathering food and funds for those in need.  

As in so many other parables, Jesus reverses the usual order in telling the story of Lazarus, the poor man – the rich man remaining anonymous. As we bring our lives before God, let us allow our usual priorities to be changed as God values and cherishes what I may have come to take for granted. As we listen to the parable, let us ask for the grace to hear it afresh and ask, “where is my life like this?” This journey of accompaniment is our mission.  

As Gospel Witnesses, when we serve, we are further reminded that when the good works of our hands are coupled with the purity and joy of our hearts the rewards are eternal.    

AMEN

Message Archives

September 19-23

Today I share a reflection from the daily prayers from Franciscan media, Pause and Pray. 

Rocks and Stones:

Lord, you are my rock, the psalmist has said.
I can lean on you and you will not fail me.
I may falter sometimes because not every rock sparkles.
Some are jagged.  Any rocks I see today—in nature, in difficult people,
in my path of progress—I will respect.
Some I may move.
Some may seem like obstacles.
Help me to deal gently with pea gravel
and with Everests.

As I reflected on our vision alignment, and the division, and school level,  our theme of accompaniment resonated throughout this prayer. We rely on our Lord to carry us so that as Gospel Witnesses we can in turn accompany those around us when we are needed. 

AMEN.

September 12-16

Congratulations! Week one with students is behind us, and I am sure you have many stories of joy, hilarity and celebration as students settled into routines. I am also sure that there were some anxious moments as students and parents settled into a new school year; however, with your guidance, grace and wisdom to ease their stress, they are sure to be looking forward to all this school year has to offer. 

The Gospel message this week is a series of three parables, culminating in the parable of the Prodigal son, which is probably the most familiar of all Jesus' parables. As I reflected on these three, the message of Jesus' unconditional love was evident. Each of these illustrates a different facet of the unconditional love that we, as Gospel witnesses, are invited to share

In the parable of the lost penny, we are shown how love equalizes. One penny does not deserve less effort, and so it is with us, God's children; he loves us all the same without judgement, despite our flaws and sins. We are all worthy and divine.

In the parable of the lost sheep, we are invited to love selflessly, and unceasingly; even if the other person doesn't know or acknowledge the gift that we are giving them. Although the shepherd knew the sheep couldn't return the "favour" he loved and served anyway. This is what we are called to do, and our reward will be when we see how those whom we serve live fruitful lives. This accompaniment is not always easy, but it is true discipleship and the rewards are eternal.  

Finally, in the parable of the prodigal son, we are entrusted with a mission of accompaniment that is founded on faith. No matter what circumstances we face, we respond from a place of love that desires to serve others even if it causes us to experience  suffering. In this way, as Gospel Witnesses we live out the commandments, to love God, and love one another. 

AMEN

September 6-9

"These are the days that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice!" 

The Gospel this week sends us a message about discipleship that seems almost unattainable in today's society- give up our possessions, hate our families. We are asked to, in essence, turn toward Jesus, and give up our desire for the fleeting "things" of this world whether they are material or immaterial. This radical discipleship, perhaps, isn't so radical. It is founded on the two most important commandments Jesus gave us: to love God first, and then to love (and serve) others.

As Gospel Witnesses, our lives are enriched when we surrender all we are and all we have to Him; then we can give each day to our family, our friends and neighbours and strangers from a place of love, mercy and grace. This is the discipleship of today's Gospel. It isn't easy, but it is rewarding, and I also suggest we do see discipleship everyday in the service of our school staff, clergy, parents and community who accompany others with selflessness and joy. 

AMEN

August 29-September 1

Today's Gospel is especially fitting for us, as it reminds us about inclusivity, and humility.

Jesus asks us to consider those who are the least, the lowest,  and the forgotten, and bring them to the banquet. We can apply this to our daily lives when we think about our schools, our homes, and the activities or events we participate in- how can we ensure that we continue to give voice to all? We are asked to welcome, dignify and love our neighbours.

As Gospel witnesses, we exemplify Christ when we serve our students, staff and community in this way. Tomorrow, as we officially welcome back our teachers and students, let us give thanks for our blessings and pray for continued guidance and protection throughout the coming year. 

Amen. 

August 22-26

Welcome back everyone, 

I hope that you have slowed your pace, and enjoyed a restful and restorative summer vacation. I am sure our Lord knew that we needed the blessing of his sunshine, to flood our hearts and heal our souls from the tension, chaos and anxiety we have experienced over the past two years. As we formally open your schools, take a moment amidst the excitement and bustle of a new school year to let the Holy Spirit infuse you and fill you with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that flow so freely to us as we open ourselves to receive.

As Gospel Witnesses, our words and actions are inspired by these gifts, and bearing these as our standards, we can accompany any we meet along the way. In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the narrow door. It is paradoxical really; for the more our faith deepens, and the more we show this through service to one another the easier it is to enter through the narrow gate. 

When I reflect on Lakeland Catholic's mission and vision, and the approaching school start up, I appreciate the timeliness of this Gospel message. It reminds us that everyday we are called to intentionally model all we do on Christ while we focus on others (all in our care). When we build relationships, (open hearts), create learning opportunities (open minds), and introduce new experiences (open doors) we are truly Gospel Witnesses. 

May God bless your students, staff and their families. May God bless your school; may His presence be felt in the halls and classrooms, in the offices and on the playgrounds. Let us declare these places holy, for your deeds are holy. 

Amen.

June 27-30

It is fitting that as we close the school year, the Gospel this week invites us to reflect on discipleship. We can think back to the many times that we were asked, just as the characters in Luke's narrative, to follow Jesus, with sacrifice and service at the core of our decisions and actions. This is the discipleship that Jesus speaks of. There are so many examples of this within our division; over the past year, when staff pushed aside their own needs, and stayed late to assist other sick teachers with report cards, lesson planning or marking, or when staff  dropped off weekly food hampers to families in need, or supervised countless hours of extracurricular activities to ensure students reconnected and felt a sense of belonging. It was evidenced in the comfort given to anxious parents, exhausted staff and rambunctious students with a calming smile that hid internal weariness. 

As Gospel Witnesses, we are called to a live vocation of discipleship, and the rewards are not only eternal, but are found in the joy of those whom we serve. 

AMEN. 

June 20-24

Today's Gospel is about the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. As Gospel Witnesses we are invited in every and all circumstances, to take the gifts that we are given (no matter how meager we think they are) and place them in God's care. With His plans, and His grace those small gifts will transform not only our individual hearts and minds, but our communities for His glory. As we finish up this school year, let us reflect on the many "small gifts" that we have shared with others: our family, staff, students, community which have transformed the most challenging of school years, to a year characterized by empathy, support, dedication, and faith. As you reflect, remember, that as leaders and Gospel Witnesses, you are a transformative agent of hope.

AMEN.

June 13-17

Jesus speaks once more of the unique relationship there exists between the Father, the Son and the Spirit, the great mystery of the Trinity. Three persons, who share everything, even the divinity, so that there is only one God. Once again Jesus reminds his disciples that everything they are learning comes originally from the Father through the Son and from the Son through the Spirit. These are not three separate revelations but one message that emanates from each one successively. It is impossible to assimilate in a short period of time all that Jesus has to teach us. As our journey as Gospel Witnesses continues, the Holy Spirit gradually unfolds God’s message so that it speaks to us at appropriate times in our lives. Our capacity to take in what God has to reveal to us is expandable - when we become more open, the “Spirit of truth” will reveal more, and guide us into all the truth.

AMEN

June 6 - 10

Over the weekend, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the fire that ignites us to continue our mission despite obstacles that seem insurmountable. It is the whisper in the quiet of the morning breeze as the earth awakens to the majesty of the dawn and we are in awe of the glory of our God.

The Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of each of us, as we journey toward eternal life. Pentecost is when we are given divine gifts that, through the Christ's grace, help us to bring the holiness of God to others.

As Gospel Witnesses, we are commissioned to use these gifts, and the Holy Spirit becomes our guide, advocate and friend. AMEN.

May 30 - June 3

In this week's Gospel, Jesus is cueing us up for our ministry as Gospel witnesses. Just as he did in his final day with his apostles, where he lifted his hands in a blessing and asked them to trust the Holy Spirit who He was sending to guide them; so today, He is doing the same for us, in our daily lives as modern day disciples. He wants us to trust in His words and to turn to him in prayer. He provides us with the Holy Spirit as a daily guide for inspiration, discernment, and perspective.

He also reminds us that there is divinity and the presence of God within each of us. Though He ascended to heaven, we will find the joy of his presence in the world around us. He invites us to build community, love one another, and through this, He will continue to make his home in our hearts. 

May 24-27

As we come into Catholic Education Week, I trust that you have had time to live out this year's theme spending time this weekend in restoration, renewal, and rebuilding of your spirit, relationships and those essential activities that nourish you. 

This week, in the last week of our Easter season, Jesus is reminding us to always carry God's love in our hearts. It is this blessing that will continue to carry us through any difficulties we encounter. It is this love that motivates us to serve others. It is this love that inspires us as an example to love others, and it is this love that brings us in communion to a life of eternity.

With this in mind, Jesus further tells us that we can rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us as Gospel Witnesses, as we navigate the complexities of this life into the next. AMEN. 

May 9-12

Christ reminds us this week very simply that he is the Good Shepherd. He knows us deeply, intimately, and loves us - without question. This is the reason for his Easter sacrifice, and the gift of eternal life. He reiterates that we know his voice, and no matter what our circumstances, we place our trust in Him alone. His mercy abounds. AMEN! 

Finally,  as Gospel Witnesses we are given an example as Christ the Good Shepherd, to care for one another especially those who are marginalized, oppressed, or silenced. 

 

May 2 - 6

We truly begin to see the first effects of spring as the sun warms the earth. Green shades colour dry grass, and the leaves bud on tree branches, and the ice melts on our lakes.

This week, in three simple words, Jesus invites us, as shepherd leaders, to live lives that are stepped in his example, and to "feed his sheep." Let us, as Gospel Witnesses, love one another with the love that Christ shows for us. 

 

April 25-29

Divine Mercy Sunday has a beautiful connection to our continuing Easter celebrations during this Spring season. 

Mercy is the salvation promise that Easter provides, and we are  reminded of Christ's Easter gift of mercy and redemption when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, "forgive us our trespasses (sins)." What makes the words more powerful, is our understanding that His mercy is limitless. This is the unconditional love of the Trinity. In return, Jesus asks us to, "forgive those who trespass against us." 

As Gospel Witnesses, we are called to love others unconditionally as God loves us, granting grace, being merciful, and just as the Earth renews in Spring, the Holy Spirit will renew our lives.  

April 4 - 8

As we near the end of our 40 day Lenten journey, let us remember the unconditional love waiting at the cross. He beckons us to come forward from the "desert" which encompasses the burdens we carry or the struggles we face, and turn to Him.

Through his sacrifice, our Easter promise is enlivened. As  Gospel Witnesses, this is the foundation of our Catholic Christian faith, and our hope springs eternal. Amen. 

March 28 - April 1

As we continue our Lenten journey this week, let us immerse ourselves in the understandings from the parable of the the prodigal son. It is a picture of God’s love for us as His children. We are blessed because God’s love for us does not depend on our faithfulness; it is unconditional. He loved us while we were still sinners. God is still our faithful and loving Father. 

We are also reminded that everyone is equal in His sight — sinners saved by God’s grace, and His children.

Ultimately, Jesus asks us to "love one another" (John 13:34)  with the same love that He shows us. This is our mission as Gospel Witnesses. 

March 21-25

Our Lenten journey continues as  the warmth of the sun melts the snow, and hints of spring appear, and we make our way closer to Jerusalem.

This week, the mercy of God is evident. It is as clear as the beginnings that mark the rebirth of Spring. Just like the fig tree in the Gospel of Luke, our lives, or parts of our lives  may too be dormant. We may be slumbering, going through the motions, and simply not using the fruits of the spirit which Christ gifted us in ways that serve others and better ourselves as Gospel Witnesses. However, God shared his mercy unconditionally on Good Friday on the Cross. He is God of "second chances", and through Him we have a new beginning to use the gifts we are given to share the love that He so freely gives to us. 

March 14-18

We continue to see the ravages of war in Ukraine. We are called as Gospel witnesses to lead by example, praying for global leaders to end this conflict, for their decisions to be filled with wisdom and prudence and for protection of all human life.

We pray for an end to the suffering of those displaced, their loss, deprivation and fear. We pray for their courage and resilience. We pray for justice and we continue to pray for reconciliation and peace. 

AMEN

March 7 - 11

As we celebrate the first sunday of lent, consider the escalating international conflict, and reflect on our lives, the messages from the Book of Deuteronomy, the Psalm, and Gospel are especially relevant.

The prophet Moses describes how an entire nation praises God for their deliverance from tyranny, while the psalmist sings out a prayer for God's continued protection. We can relate to this today as we see nations at war, or face uncertainty in our lives. We may feel helpless, or unsure as to what we can do or where to turn. Yet, scripture reassures us of God's power and dominion. We see this promise realized through Jesus. I love this Gospel, because it is so relevant to our modern lives.

Jesus, in the desert, is completely vulnerable, just as we are today, He encounters evil, in the form of the same temptations that we grapple with today - to fully place our trust in God or to reject Him.

Today, let us live as Gospel Witnesses following His example, trusting with confidence in God's word and protection always. 

February 28 to March 4

This past week our world has been called to the brink of crisis in yet another way, as conflict in Europe escalates and NATO involvement increases, and as we have learned in our study of virtuous leadership, we are called with prudence and courage to join in solidarity for democratic ideals. We are also called to pray unceasingly for the citizens of Ukraine, the  safety of the soldiers fighting in the conflict, a peaceful resolution and the healing between all nations of our world. 

Novena for Peace in Ukraine

Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

You sent Your Son, the Prince of Peace, for the salvation of the world. We pray that the Peace of Christ will reign in Ukraine.

Please protect and send aid to those in Ukraine and all who are at-risk.

We pray for peace - we pray for all who are working towards it and for all who are in danger from this conflict. 

We pray for an end to violence and war - we pray for wisdom for all leaders who have a hand in this.

Lord God, please help those in most need of thy mercy.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Saint Joseph, Protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church, pray for us!

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, may your kingdom reign in Ukraine and all the world.

February 21-25

Our Gospel this week (Luke 6: 27-38) centres around love, where Jesus asks us to respond to difficult people and situations in ways that are transformative rather than fracturing.

Jesus' words  compel us to reflect on our society: the social, political and economic factors which cause divisions.

In our commitment as Christians, we are called to bring life: to serve, pray, sacrifice, and forgive others, especially those who disagree, criticise, blame or are angry with us. This is not an easy task, but as He gazes at us from the cross, the unconditional love that he shares inspires us to live out the Gospel, for the love we share will be, "a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over."

February 14-18

The beatitudes of today's Gospel also speak of this life giving spirit that comes from building our lives around the commandments and virtues of our faith. The beatitudes are a transformative teaching from Jesus that asks us to reflect on what brings us validation, gratification, and motivates us to act. 

Do we rely on God or do we rely on the world to "fill us?"

Jesus speaks of the eternal joy that nourishes us when we root our words and actions: humility, kindness, justice, service, firmly around Him. Discipline is foundational to Discipleship so it is not always easy, but is it permanent.

In the Gospel, Luke goes on to warn us that we will inevitably encounter woes in this world,  because rewards of the world: popularity, riches, power are ephemeral. As Gospel Witnesses, our faith in Christ's promise of eternity and his love for us alone provides us with our strength to exemplify the beatitudes.

Reflect

God places people and situations into your life for a reason—to teach a lesson of some kind. You may be in someone’s life right now having the same impact.

Lord, every moment is an opportunity to teach and to be taught.

Guide our lessons and actions to be rooted in you.

Open our minds to always emphasize you.

Give us the wisdom to learn from mistakes

to lead better lives—but most importantly, to live as a witness.

Amen.

February 7 to 11

The Gospel inspires us with the power of God. Peter, a fisherman, is frustrated with his weakness, his inability to fulfill his purpose. Jesus, however,  uses Peter's weaknesses as an opportunity to build his faith and glorify God.

As leaders, parents, staff, community members, and students, we are all similar to Peter. We have flaws and weaknesses that can divide and isolate us or bring us together on our knees.  Jesus saw past the flaws, into the potential of every person He encountered. As Gospel witnesses, we are called to do the same. We glorify God when we look with love beyond our own, and others shortcomings, to share grace, extend mercy and bring hope and celebrate joy. 

“There is within each one of us a potential for goodness beyond our imagining; for giving which seeks no reward; for listening without judgment; for loving unconditionally.”

– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

January 31 to February 4

When we read the Gospel of Mark, it is easy for us to place ourselves in the boat with the disciples as the storm rages around us. 

Let us consider the storms of life in 2022: illness, economic and financial uncertainty, isolation, loss, family separation, political and ideological conflict, anxiety, burnout, racism, and multiple other divisive elements that rage. However, Jesus stands before ALL these  storms, championing us, with his firm:

"Peace, Be still, and all is calm."

What a reminder for us today. What we can control is limited, but for God, the Alpha and Omega, nothing is impossible. As Gospel Witnesses, let us share this message with our staff, students, families, and community, that our Lord will calm the storms of life and bring peace. We need faith, not fear. 

Consider this: 

"I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time."

-Pope Francis

January 24 to 28

Scripture this weekend deeply resounded with me. Particularly, St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians caused me to reflect on our role as Catholic leaders in the current time. I read through the scripture multiple times placing myself in the space (as best as I could) of: 

  • students
  • administrators
  • teachers 
  • support staff 
  • Indigenous families
  • English Language Learner families
  • individuals struggling with differing COVID ideologies, 
  • families facing financial difficulties 
  • individuals battling illnesses or grief
  • families who are blessed with abundance

We all belong. We belong to the school community, the division, and the Body of Christ. Our unity depends on each member at Lakeland Catholic to feel like they belong, know that they are part of the community where they have been called, and that their contributions are unique and matter. As leaders, it is up to us to create spaces and opportunities for this to happen. We are together in the Body of Christ.

May God bless you this week.

Amen. 

January 10 to 17

I hope you have all had an opportunity to disconnect for at least a few hours, and nourish your heart, spirit, mind and body with non-job related activity, as last week proved to be filled with much hustle and bustle to prepare for the student's return.

We heard how the past week was filled with gratitude for the gift of time, as well as the currents of anxiety regarding uncertainty around what our staff may be facing in the uncertainties of the upcoming weeks. As I reflected on our current context, today's Gospel, and baptism, Fr. Rene's words were deeply impactful as more than ever, we are longing for hope. Baptism and the living water of everlasting life gives us this hope. Today's Gospel reminds us that we are Children of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, gifted with unconditional love, and we are never alone, in any circumstance. 

This gives us hope. 

Amen. 

January 3 to 7

May you be blessed on the Feast of the Holy Epiphany. As we look into the new year, especially during this time where we long for new beginnings, more pandemic, more restrictions,  and uncertainty seems to be a script that continues to replay, but the Epiphany offers us hope. The magi followed a star, and despite their uncertainty in the journey, they held fast in the faith that they would one day meet the Messiah, and all their struggles would be overcome. We too must keep this faith. Today, now, in our daily walk, we  may encounter so many personal and professional challenges; but when we rely on our faith, our family and our colleagues, we can and will overcome any adversity.  This is like the Magi: they traveled in community, they relied on their faith, and they humbly accepted their journey, knowing that at the destination they would be rewarded. 

I share with you this Feast of Holy Epiphany prayer (from Concord Pastor)

 

O Magi,

were you confused?


Did you wonder 

if you'd taken a left for a right

or misjudged the bright star's GPS?


Was it all a big mistake?

Could this really be the street? 

the place? 

the door?

 

The light spills into night, and beckons, calls:     

"This way! Come this way!

Let go your thoughts of

what should be or might have been, and

open up to what is here,    

to where he is and dwells, he

whose light and presence warm    

this chilled and darkened night!"   

 

Teach us wisdom, Lord:

open our eyes to your star above

and our hearts to your glowing presence

living within us, around us

and just across the street,

lighting the paths we walk each day, 

lifting us up, out of our darkness 

and to your radiant, holy face... 

 

Protect us in the dark of night,

shine bright upon us while we sleep

that awake, we might keep watch with you

and asleep, rest in your peace... 

Amen.