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A Legacy Lady: Sister Doryne Kirby, IBVM

February 25, 2016

Catholic Education in Guelph dates back to January 12, 1854 when the first Catholic school was erected in the Royal City on “Catholic Hill”. Together Catholic clergy, religious and laity established a tradition of providing an education that embraced a high academic standard and a deep commitment to the Gospel. The arrival of the Loretto sisters in 1856 resulted in the expansion of Catholic education. The sisters were instrumental in creating the enduring gift of Catholic Education that is ours today.

This past week on February 19, Sister Doryne Kirby, a Loretto sister who taught in several schools in Ontario including Bishop Macdonell, was called home to God. It was a moving tribute at our most recent board meeting as we opened with prayer to hear each trustee recount with deep respect and affection the story of a teacher, who years later, remained etched in their hearts and minds. It struck me that this is a part of our Catholic story that we need to continue to share. The following is a compilation of memories, woven together…of a woman who clothed herself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Sister Doryne was “a great lady before her time with respect to women’s rights in our church and will be deeply missed.” Legend has it that she was a Rockette before becoming a sister. Her flair for dance, “I Love Lucy” red hair and a personality that was just as bright and fiery, along with her passionate commitment to Catholic education, lit up every room she entered. She was known to literally stand on her head for her students, one day doing a handstand at the blackboard to capture their attention.

The tradition of excellence in education was one she took very seriously. One trustee shared, “In grade 13 I took two French courses, regular French and French literature. At the end of the year when it came time for exams and exemptions, the exemption mark was 70%. I had over 90 in the regular French so no issue there. I had 75 in the French literature course but sister called me in and told me I was not being exempted and would have to write the final exam because I had not given my best effort. I was mad at the time but she was right.” And he wasn’t the only one as another of our Trustees shared a similar story of a “heart to heart” in which he was told he was capable of much more than he was showing. Both agreed that this gave them the push to always strive to meet their God-given potential.

Sister cared deeply about her students and their families. As a regular attendee at our Bishop’s Dinner for Community Needs, years after her retirement, she had an uncanny ability to remember faces and names and match them up correctly.

In addition to her work as a teacher, Sister Doryne served the Church faithfully providing spiritual direction and retreats and as a Director for Social Action, NGO representative at the United Nations, and Coordinator for the Sisters at Loretto College. Remarkably she continued her work related to social justice issues until January 20, 2016 when ill health made it necessary for her to move to the Loretto infirmary.

Sister Doryne was a steward of God’s purposes in human lives and in our history. She will always be remembered fondly as an amazing faith-filled woman, joyful in her ministry and a member of our beloved Loretto Sisters…a legacy lady!

De repos dans la paix Soeur.
Sister Doryne
Sister Doryne at the annual Bishop’s Dinner holding a picture of “Catholic Hill” and the Loretto convent presented in recognition of the Loretto sisters service to Catholic Education.

Crunchy Numbers & Resolutions

January 7, 2016

I just received the data for my blog. The information is certainly a fun way of positioning blog activity. I do appreciate that the author of the report didn’t mention the fact that I haven’t blogged in several months or worse send a message in 72 font with flashing alerts asking, “Where have you been?”. The lack of posts has been niggling at me and so I consider the crunchy numbers motivation to get back at it. Here’s what I learned:

  • A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people.
  • This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2015.
  • If it were a cable car, it would take about 43 trips to carry that many people.
  • There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 20 MB. That’s about a picture per month.
  • The busiest day of the year was February 9th with 62 views.
  • The most popular attractions in 2015: “IB Celebrating” and “Loving Life…Living Lent”
  • Where did the viewers come from? 73 countries in all with views mostly from Canada, the US and Brazil.

So now I am inspired! I’m putting a resolution out there to be more disciplined in posting Directly2U, otherwise I will seriously have to think about a new name such as “Lost in Cyberspace”.

Wishing you all many blessings for the New Year, abundant joy, good health and deep peace!


A New School Year, A New Beginning

September 7, 2015

Welcome back to a new year and a new beginning! I am writing this on Labour Day, grateful for the roles that each of our staff play, their committed service and with profound appreciation for the dignity of all work. Thank you to all our staff who have been working tirelessly to ensure safe, warm places of welcome for learning.

The new year brings with it change. This year promises some exciting opportunities. All of us will experience the blessings of new students, staff and programs.

The new school year also offers us an opportunity to reflect upon our personal, professional and spiritual growth and to set goals. We’re proud to share with you our Board Plan for Excellence in Faith Formation, Learning and Achievement. It is our invitation that every person will see themselves as contributing to the success of this plan. Building on #HereIAm first introduced in Wellington Catholic News we will build on the guiding principles of:

• I have God-given strengths
• I am learning and leading; and
• I belong in community.

There’s a place for everyone!

I have a favourite saying, “Where do we grow from here?” This year we will undertake a strategic planning process and all stakeholders will be invited to share their thoughts and ideas so that we can continue to build a vibrant learning community and provide an authentic Catholic education for now and the future. A combination of innovation and responsible stewardship of our resources will be essential. We’ll keep you posted on the process and timelines.

Best wishes for a wonderful beginning as we boldly share our gifts, and lead and learn in community! Happy New Year! 🙂


“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.”
1 Corinthians 12: 4-6

Exploring Paths to Joy – Catholic Education Week 2015

May 3, 2015

Each year, the Catholic community of Ontario engages in a week-long celebration of the unique identity and distinctive contributions of Catholic education during Catholic Education Week. This year’s celebration is entitled, ‘Catholic Education: Exploring Paths of Joy’ and will be held for the week of May 3-8. The overall scriptural theme is taken from Luke’s gospel account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:32), “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?” We are hopeful that as the body of Christ, we, too, feel our hearts burning within us as we explore the paths of joy during this week.  The five sub-themes for Catholic Education: Exploring Paths of Joy are:

  • Monday Day 1: Walking Together and Sharing Our Stories
  • Tuesday Day 2: Opening the Scriptures
  • Wednesday Day 3: Welcoming Others to the Table
  • Thursday Day 4: Recognizing Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread
  • Friday Day 5: Proclaiming the Good News

To mark the beginning of Catholic Education Week, Monday, May 4 we will break ground for the new Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary School in Rockwood. Minister Sandals and other local dignitaries will join us to celebrate. Sacred Heart will pride itself in 21 Century technologies and shaping hearts for learning and hearts for living.

On Wednesday, May 6 each of our secondary schools will participate locally in the province-wide Mass initiative. Building on the success of last year’s province wide mass, this day will receive a new designation, the “Ontario Catholic Student Youth Day”; a special day of unity, worship, evangelization and recognition of Catholic youth. Our youth are embracing the invitation of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops as set out in This Moment of Promise.

“You are a most significant educational influence on each other.  We invite you to become active participants in the process of Catholic education. We urge you to bring your energy, enthusiasm and generosity to the task of building a Catholic community within your school and to shaping the vision of Catholic education. Your strengths and your weaknesses, your joys and your fears, your struggles and your searchings, will be welcomed in this community. Whatever your age, you are not too young to assume responsibility with and for your fellow students. You are a most significant educational influence on each other. You can help each other become disciples of Jesus Christ or you can hinder each other from becoming everything you are called to be. How you are with one another now, will significantly influence how you will be with others as adults. The future of the church and its mission of service in the world will be yours. For this, you will need courage, self-discipline and all the love you are able to give. Take up the challenge of growing into a sense of who you are as Christians, so that you can develop the talents you have been given and bring the best of yourself to the society in which you will be living.” (Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, This Moment of Promise)

There are many exciting celebrations of student learning occurring at each of our schools. Check out your school’s website, twitter account, newsletter or call the school for more details.  We hope you are able to join us.

As we enter this week we pray for our students, that through their education they may be drawn deeper into the love of God and for parents, guardians, educators and religious, that God will bless you in your vocation and all that you do to support Catholic education.

Scatter joy!


Students of Mystery and the Crunchy Eyebrow Syndrome

March 29, 2015

Have you heard about “Students of Mystery and the Crunchy Eyebrow Syndrome”? It is not the title of a movie trailer or a new bestseller….but…. it is contagious and the results are exciting! During my school visits in recent weeks I have had the opportunity to observe and participate in several Collaborative Inquiries with staff. As school staff work together on Collaborative Inquiry for Learning, “marker students” or students who mysteriously do not seem to be achieving to their potential are monitored as part of the inquiry process. These students of mystery cause us to crunch our eyebrows and wonder…”Why are they not achieving at the level they seem capable of?” “How can I help them?” “What is the barrier to their learning?” “How can I create a breakthough?” “What instructional and assessment strategies can I use that will make a difference?”

Knowing our students is essential.  Learning For All, 2011 is full of ideas about how to get to know our students through the creation of class and student profiles. In addition there are great ideas about how to differentiate instruction in response to student strengths and needs. How to differentiate content, process, product, and environment is explored so that educators can ensure all students will be successful learners. Our knowledgeable Program Department staff also provide support to assist staff in expanding and strengthening their repertoire of instructional strategies through a team approach that is responsive to individual students’ learning needs. The evidence is showing that the journey of co-learning is positively impacting student achievement!

Palm Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week. In spite of our busyness, let’s endeavour to keep this week holy…through prayer, in how we see and experience the world around us and how we plan and spend our time. Together, let’s live these days as a time to grow in faith, and hope and love…

Joy to you this Easter!

Loving Life…Living Lent

March 19, 2015

On a cold and blustery morning we unloaded our suitcases and donation bags in darkness at Pearson for our trip to Neustros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) Peru It was -33. When we arrived in Lima, it was +33 (with the wind chill) –  Bitter cold and dark transformed to abundant sunshine and warmth.  And so began a 10 day mission trip adventure, a trip of contrasts, with 20 young adults from Bishop Macdonell High School.

These service trips are a part of the fabric and tradition of Wellington Catholic District School Board in partnership with Friends of the Orphans Canada Each of our secondary schools participates every two years. I was privileged this month to be part of this grace-filled opportunity that I had heard so much about. The journey that unfolded was made possible through the organizational efforts and support of many; both those in attendance, and through the generosity of time and donations of staff, families and our community who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. Thank you to everyone for your selfless contributions!

It was truly a Lenten journey as we laboured in the desert heat, sacrificing not being tied to electronic devices and witnessing hearts transform. Our projects consisted of laying sod, aerating and fertilizing shade trees, and painting the play structure, therapy clinic, and a delightful underwater mural in the Babies’ Casa.

Lathered daily with sunscreen and bug juice our best work was completed by early afternoon before the sun beats down full force at the equator. Our afternoons were filled connecting with the children of the orphanage; playing games, at the beach, impromptu spanish and english lessons, making friendship bracelets… They were joy-filled afternoons filled with an abundance of laughter and each day the personal connections deepened. It was a true gift to share this experience with our students, who simply put, were nothing short of amazing. Their energy is big, inspiring, and their hearts are full.

Working elbow to elbow we talked of many things including frustration with large-scale poverty and our resolve to make some kind of difference. There was certainty about some things, confusion about others. We were both worn out and invigorated.

The sun set early and the resident rooster made sure we were awake before sunrise. As the week progressed fatigue and aching body parts were juxtaposed with excitement about completing our projects. And although we began the week plotting to kidnap the rooster and transport him to a loving home elsewhere, his crow became less of annoyance and more of a morning cheer of encouragement.  Each new day was an invitation to live and serve completely outside of ourselves.

While tilling the dusty, compacted soil on our little postage stamp of planet earth I experienced a deep awakening to the hunger for what truly feeds our heart.  We have so much more than we need…stuff, lots of stuff. This Lent was a spring cleaning of sorts…an opportunity to offer our excess to those who need it most. It’s easy to stuff the empty places of our heart with junk and filler. This trip offered a chance to give away and go without the many things we do not need. In emptying our hearts a larger space was created for what our hearts are meant to hold. This Lent I’ve been blessed with a renewed spirit and a deeper sense of gratitude.

A stirring silence fell over the bus after we said our goodbyes and left the orphanage…. Perhaps it was that we were praying our goodbyes. Each one of us left with the names of children and their stories forever etched in our hearts….Adimir, Juan Diego, Carlos, Claudio, Maria Flores… Each child we encountered giving so much more than receiving. Richness redefined…

Knowing this is just “One Step Along the Way” our shared experience and the words of Oscar Romero will continue to inspire our District in our mission work for years come:

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.”


Local Community, Local Results

February 17, 2015

Heartfelt thanks to all who participated so generously in the United Way Campaign. The results are in and in total the staff, students and families of Wellington Catholic District School Board raised $74 178. Remarkable!

Our collective efforts will better enable the priority goals of the United Way Campaign:
– All That Kids Can Be
– From Poverty to Possibility
– Strong Communities

Congratulations to Holy Rosary who received the Annual Growth Award, a 28% increase from last year; the top tree Highest Average Gift Awards – The Catholic Education Centre, Our Lady of Lourdes and Bishop Macdonell; and the $100 000 Lifetime Achievement Award to St. James

To Vince Campolongo and Brian Capovilla who championed our District’s efforts, Thank you!

Every dollar makes a difference. Today we celebrate each of you!


IB Celebrating!!

February 3, 2015

Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School has completed the final stages of accreditation and will be the first school in Guelph to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), joining a growing global community of nearly 4,000 schools in 150 countries. Students will be able to take the IB Diploma Programme starting in September 2015. The exciting news was received on the eve of Principal Holly Conway’s retirement. The timing could not have been better so that all those who invested in getting us to this point in the journey could celebrate together!

Students from both Catholic and public schools will be welcomed into the program. It fits perfectly with our commitment to delivering student focused and faith-based, inclusive education. IB is a holistic form of teaching that gives students the skills, knowledge and outlook needed to succeed in the 21st century, both here, at home and in the wider world.

Learning goes well beyond the classroom. The unique and innovative IB approach that focuses on problem solving means students and teachers are genuinely engaged with the programs. Students are able to participate in international conferences and educators work with their peers internationally to ensure that the IB remains at the cutting edge of international education.

Simply put, “IB Celebrating!” 🙂

For more information on the program, contact Principal Richard Olson, IB coordinator designate | 519.822.8502 x 101307

What Is Your Unique Gift?

January 26, 2015

“You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit, namely,
that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.”
Ephesians 3:20

Each one of us is given the privilege and responsibility of being a steward of God’s grace. Principals, support staff, Early Childhood Educators, Educational Assistants, parents, teachers, students, – everyone is called upon to use their unique gifts in enriching the lives of others. This stewardship in action involves the giving and sharing of gifts; nurturing and sharing of God’s love and life.

The New Year is a good time for reflection. In what ways are you called to be a steward of God’s grace? What is your unique gift? Celebrate it and give it away!

A Christmas Prayer

December 12, 2014

She was five, sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity,

Convinced every word was revelation.
She said;
They were so poor they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat
and they went a long way from home without getting lost.
The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady.
They had to stay in a stable with an ox and an ass
but the Three Rich Men found them because a star lighted the roof.
Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them.
Then the baby was borned. And do you know who he was?
Her quarter eyes inflated to silver dollars.

The baby was God.
Sharon's Christmas
And she jumped in the air, whirled round, dove into a sofa,
and buried her head under the cushion
which is the only proper response to
the Good News of the Incarnation.

By John Shea, The Hour of the Unexpected

Joy to you this Christmas!