School to recognize JPII’s canonization
Education: Saint to be added to education facility’s official name
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 06:00 am
An Okotoks school has added five more letter to its name — it is now Saint John Paul II Collegiate in Okotoks.
“For us it is huge,” said Mariette Moss, St. John Paul II Collegiate principal. “John Paul II was known for his evangelization and his connection to youth. That is why we named our school nine years ago after him.. We want to honour him by changing his name right away.”
Pope John Paul II held the papacy from October 1978 until his death in 2005 at the age of 84. He was canonized by Pope Francis during a ceremony in the Vatican on April 27.
A mass celebrating John Paul II’s sainthood will be held at the school on May 6, in which a wood-carving of the former pope will be unveiled.
The fact John Paul II lived within the lifespan of the junior-high-school-aged students, provides a unique learning experience at the school.
“We have talked about his message in not just religion classes but in all our classes,” Moss said. “The message that he shared about social justice comes up in social studies. He was a very active man and we talk about him in physical education.
Moss herself is thrilled about John Paul II becoming a saint.
“I am really excited because he was the pope during my childhood —he is someone I grew up with as the pope,” Moss said.
Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools assistant superintendent Michael Kilcommons was principal when the school changed its name from Holy Trinity Academy to John Paul II Collegiate nine years ago.
A certificate bearing Kilcommons’ name was blessed by John Paul II.
“Back when the school was being named a group from the school went to Rome and that included Paul Dunphy who was vice-principal at that time,” Kilcommons said. “They (Paul and his wife Janise) went to the Vatican and they got a papal blessing on Michael Kilcommons and the staff of John Paul II Collegiate. He blessed it shortly before he passed away.
“For some reason they needed a name on it, and my name was the one, I guess because I am the principal.”
The certificate hangs in the main foyer of John Paul II Collegiate. He used the same word as Moss in terms of the significance of the canonization and the school.
“It is huge,” Kilcommons said. “To be aligned with then a living saint and now an official saint, it’s a really big deal… We were blessed at the time we named our school that he was still alive. We typically look for naming our schools after saints, which are typically passed away. In this case, he had made such a difference, he is a role model forever.
“This is a great opportunity to go back and educate students who don’t know much about him… His legacy will live forever.”
Christ the Redeemer School Division trustee Ron Schreiber is also thrilled about the name change.
“It provides a greater opportunity for the school to focus on its namesake — a reason to celebrate to be the best they can be like he was,” Schreiber said.
He said there is no better role model for students.
“John Paul II was known for his concern about the youth — the youth being the future of the world,” he said.
“He implored them to live their lives as Christ would have us lead our lives and do what that entails in treating other people and doing the best we can.”
CRCS is working with Spy Design in Okotoks to have the word SAINT added John Paul II Collegiate at the front of the school.