By Ramon Gonzalez
Catholic News Service
EDMONTON, Alberta (CNS) -- Edmonton Catholic Schools' trustees have voted to abolish gambling activities as a source of school funding.
But board chair Debbie Engel says casino revenues will still be used in Catholic schools while the board looks for alternative and sustainable options for the district, which serves the city of Edmonton with publicly funded Catholic education.
Trustees adopted the position that "no school or school community in Alberta should have to raise money through gambling activities in order to meet children's educational needs."
The board has been dealing with the issue since the fall when the Archdiocese of Edmonton implemented new policy guidelines that forbid Catholic groups to raise money through "harmful gambling activities."
The archdiocesan chancellor, Father Gregory Bittman, said the archdiocese recognizes that the school district needs time "to make fundamental changes. However, we believe that fundraising without casinos is an attainable goal."
Catholic schools in the city earn about $6 million through casino fundraising every 18 months. All but one of the 87 schools take part in the practice. They use the money to pay for school field trips, hot lunch programs, equipment and other extras.
Engel said the issue is one of social justice and educational equality. While larger schools in more affluent areas can afford to pay for extras, smaller schools cannot.
"I'm thinking there are some schools who literally wouldn't survive without casino funds," Engel said Jan. 24. "You take a school that has a population of 150 kids and you take away $80,000 every 18 months.
"They are getting the same $80,000 as a school with 800 kids. And so it's just not equitable to our board's way of thinking."
The board plans to look at a number of options, including lobbying the Alberta government for changes in how revenue is distributed, so parents do not have to work at casinos.
"We would like to lobby the provincial government to find out exactly how much money is coming into public education from casinos and allocate it evenly on a need basis throughout the province for adequate, sustainable funding for education," Engel said.
"We are not asking the government to come up with more money. We are asking the government to take the money and put it into general revenues and distribute it on an equitable basis so schools can have adequate, predictable funding," she added.
Until that happens, schools will likely continue to rely on casino revenues.
"Make no bones about it. We are not going to cut people off of casinos when we know they are relying on it," Engel said. "We are going to work on a solution before anything like that is entertained."
Engel said both Archbishop Richard Smith and the board are reluctant to set timelines for the transition "until we know where we are going with this."
Trustees plan to meet with community members and parent council members Feb. 24 to discuss "how can we as a community support the (archdiocesan gambling) policy and continue to fund our schools properly."
The board has already started a Catholic foundation that will be responsible for fundraising but Engel said she has little faith it will be as effective as gambling in raising funds.
"Do we see the foundation as the answer to replace $6 million every 18 months right now? No. And neither does the person in charge," Engel said.
"Will it eventually? That doesn't take away the problem that this is not social justice," she said. "Even if the foundation makes the money, it's still unjust the way the casino dollars are used."
BISHOPS' CONFERENCE REPORT: ‘Some Definite Purpose’
A new programme has been launched to support the Catholic Community to contribute to the legacy of the Pope’s Visit to the UK.
Called ‘Some Definite Purpose’ the programme reflects the content of Pope Benedict XVI’s speeches, homilies and addresses during his September 2010 visit to the UK. A number of events and projects have been timetabled for 2011 and beyond, with the legacy of the Holy Father’s visit categorised under six headings: ‘To know our purpose’, ‘To grow in conﬁdence’, ‘To witness to our faith’, ‘To serve others’, ‘To seek and engage in dialogue’ and ‘To point to the transcendent’.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: ‘The visit of the Holy Father was a grace-filled occasion and a source of great joy for many. He presented us with a clear task for the months and years ahead. It is hoped that the new initiative, “Some Definite Purpose” will support every member of the Catholic Community, and those who are not Catholic, to make a positive and faith-filled contribution to life in the UK. A key focus is serving those who are most in need where we live and work.’
The calendar for 2011 is:
Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis, Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: ‘This initiative will support the mission of the Church in England and Wales. It has a specific parish focus and materials will be easy to download and use. It’s so important that we all consider ways of continuing the journey of “heart speaks unto heart”, of witnessing to the joy of our faith in everyday life. I invite and encourage everyone to get involved and give generously of their time and talents.’
This is an eight-page pdf download.
PAPAL VISIT DVD
Celebrating Pope Benedict XVI’s historic first State Visit to the UK, the DVD tells the story of the four extraordinary days in September offering not just event highlights, but the Holy Father’s profound words and the true significance of all the components of the Visit. News release on DVD launch.
LENT RESOURCE FOR PARISHES
The Agency for Evangelisation in Westminster Diocese is offering a booklet called Faithful Pilgrim, which encourages parishioners to come together, six months on, to explore the various themes and speeches from the Papal Visit. For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for parish orders is 11 February.
Home Mission Desk
ALL AFRICA REPORT: PRESIDENT of the Senate, Senator David Mark yesterday said Nigeria would consider the request of Pope Benedict XVI to deploy an ambassador to the Vatican City, Rome.
This he said, would facilitate and improve the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the Vatican.
At the moment, Nigeria's Ambassador to Spain oversees the affairs of the mission in the Vatican.
The President of the Senate was speaking when he played host to the Apostolic Nuntio to Nigeria, Most Reverend Augustine Kasujja, in Abuja.
Senator Mark told his guest that Nigeria is a secular state where freedom of worship is upheld.
He said: "We practice freedom of worship in Nigeria. There is no extremism. We inter marry across religious lines and we live in harmony between and among religious groups. That is why Nigeria is a unique country in Africa".
He said Nigeria will continue to play a leading role in Africa, pointing out that Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan as Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is leading the efforts towards finding solution to the political impasse in Cote d' voire.
The Pope Ambassador had requested Nigeria to consider sending an envoy to the Vatican saying "Nigeria is too big not to have an Ambassador in the Vatican".Earlier, the Apostolic Nuntio, requested Nigeria to take a decisive step to find solution to the rising violence in Jos, Plateau State, saying that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI is worried about the development and wants the crisis put to an end.
Rev. Kasujja counseled that Nigeria conducts its affairs in a manner that would engender peace, progress and unity among the people.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria has the abundant human and economic potentials to lead Africa out of the economic doldrums.
In fact, the Taiwanese community is also intensely participating in the Year for the Laity, so nominated by the diocese of Hong Kong. In the prayer, thanks is given to the Father having created us and called us to be his children through the sacraments. Then the involvement of the lay faithful is remembered in the threefold mission of Christ the Priest, and their commitment to enlarge the Kingdom of God and work in the vineyard of the Lord. It then invokes an abundance of divine grace to strengthen the courage of the laity to witness to the Gospel. Finally, it recalls that “the cornerstone of charity” is what unites us. We pray for those who do not yet think that they can believe, striving towards the one Truth, in the common journey towards Heaven.
CATH NEWS REPORT: Data to be released today by the Productivity Commission suggests that public funding for each student at private schools has declined over recent years, once state government funding is taken into account, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.At the same time, public funding per student at government schools has risen over the same period, the data suggests.
The figures challenge popular perceptions and are likely to be seized upon by Catholic and independent schools as they argue their case to the federal government's review of school funding, being chaired by the businessman David Gonski.
The commission calculated that federal, state and territory government recurrent expenditure per student in government schools was $13,544 in 2008-09. This represented an average annual increase in real terms of 1.2 per cent since 2004-05.
The commission said total government expenditure per student in non-government schools was $6850 in 2008-09. This represented an average annual decrease in real terms of 1.6 per cent since 2004-05.
But Trevor Cobbold, a former Productivity Commission economist and the head of the public education advocacy group Save Our Schools, questioned the commission's figures.
''Items unrelated to the classroom largely account for the increase in government school expenditure in comparison to expenditure on private schools,'' he said. ''The user cost of capital and depreciation for government schools increased by 34 per cent between 2004-05 and 2008-09. These items are excluded from government expenditure on private schools. Without these items, government school expenditure may well have declined.''
St. Hyacintha of Mariscotti
Feast: January 30
|Zephaniah 2: 3|
|3||Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the wrath of the LORD.|