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Witness to Faith Cross
A Celebration of Our Catholic Faith
Students from 15 secondary schools across the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) carried the Witness to Faith Cross across the top of the city from Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School (1760 Martin Grove Road) to the Catholic Education Centre (80 Sheppard Avenue East) on Thursday, May 30th. Elementary students from across the Board lined the route as they shared in this final journey.
TCDSB embarked on a Journey of Faith in September 2011, with the blessing of the Witness to Faith Cross, which travelled to each and every school across the system throughout two school years, as well as various special events throughout that two-year period.
“The journey has been a tangible and visual reminder of our Catholic faith, and provided countless opportunities to celebrate in prayer and reflection at schools and special events throughout the two year pilgrimage,” says Director of Education Bruce Rodrigues. “The Witness to Faith Cross has served as yet another way to strengthen the faith life of our schools and to raise the public profile of Catholic education in Toronto.”
The Witness to Faith Cross was created by students and staff from Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School in time for our Year of Witness, the third year in the Board’s three-year pastoral plan focusing on Word, Worship and Witness. The travels of the cross bridged the transition from one pastoral plan to another, as in September 2012 the Board began its celebration of the Year of Faith, the first in our three-year plan focusing on the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
“Toronto Catholic schools have a proud history of inspiring students through curriculum that is rooted in Gospel values and informed by the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations, helping them to realize their potential and to know what it means to be a discerning believer,” says Chair Ann Andrachuk. “TCDSB schools witness their faith through the many acts of compassion and caring within their local school communities, their neighbourhoods and around the world. The focus on Faith, Hope and Charity supports the goals of the Board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan with its focus on Living our Catholic Values and Student Achievement and Well-Being.”
TCDSB was pleased to share the end of this two-year journey with His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Collins at the closing liturgy on June 3rd at the Catholic Education Centre. Students, parents, staff, trustees and special guests were on hand for the special celebration, which included a retrospective of the travels of the cross.
Cardinal Collins referred to the cross as “the lens of Christ; allowing us to see what is there.” He also told the gathering that “love that is rooted in faith can transform the world.”
We are pleased to share with you two videos that were produced for the occasion:
See some highlights from the final walk across the top of the city from Father Henry Carr to the Catholic Education Centre, as well as the closing liturgy with Cardinal Thomas Collins below:

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How the two year-journey began
The Toronto Catholic District School Board ushered in the 2011-2012 school year with a celebration to launch “The Year of Witness”, the third year of the Board’s three-year pastoral plan focusing on Word, Worship and Witness. 
For the year of Witness, the students at Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School created a travelling cross, which has been travelling across the school system throughout the year, with each school having an opportunity to spend a day with the cross.
The journey of the cross resumed on September 13th when the Witness to Faith Cross was handed over to Senator O'Connor College School to launch the Year of Faith. This wasthe first stop on the Cross' journey around the school system during the 2012-2013 school year.
Director of Education Bruce Rodrigues, passed the Witness Cross to a group from Senator O'Connor College School as the cross begins year two of its journey. With him are left to right: Tom O’Brien (O’Connor Chaplain), CSAC parent Desmond Alvares, students Brianna Thordarson and Brian Dicdican, and Principal Sue Baker.
Schools submitted photographs from their day with the cross, including pictures from their prayer services and Masses which have been documented on this website.
The Board hopes that these moments with the travelling cross will provide an opportunity for our students, staff and families to reflect on what it means to bear witness to our Catholic faith. Faith development is integral to every part of Catholic education, as students are called to respect the dignity of all human persons in a caring community. Our journey with the Year of Witness cross brought this message to our young people in a very tangible way.
Last September it was the team from St. Brendan Catholic School (below) who accepted the cross on its first day of the Journey. On hand were Chair Ann Andrachuk, Superintendent Geoffrey Grant and head of Religion and Family Anne Marum. 

The entire school system is invited to deepen our understanding of the ministries of Word, Worship and Witness as a means of nurturing our local Catholic communities by building on the existing Virtue of the Month initiative and the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations. During the first year, we considered creative and intentional ways for the word of God in sacred scripture to have a place of prominence in the life of the faith community. Last year, we provided an opportunity to highlight the liturgical life of the local community. During the year ahead we will be focusing on the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church through outreach initiatives. And the journey will not end here, as we will embark on a new three-year pastoral plan for 2012-2013 that will build on the experiences that we have shared as a Catholic community.
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