January 8, 2020
15 YEAR LEASE SIGNED BETWEEN THE CONGREGATION OF THE RESURRECTION IN ONTARIO AND THE WATERLOO CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD
Fr. Louis Funcken C.R. - THE SCHOOL
Fr. Louis Funken came to Canada in 1863 and joined his brother Eugene Funken in St. Agatha. Both Louis and Eugene had a vision of a school which would have as its ultimate goal, “instilling in students an enthusiasm for the truth.”
Our Founding Father, Resurrectionist Fr. Louis Funken, had fire in his heart and passion in his soul when it came to the launch of St. Jerome’s 155 years ago. As a Resurrectionist, ‘he believed that education was a source of life and liberation for those who had the privilege to experience it.’ (Fr. Jim Wahl C.R.)
In Fr. Louis’s mind, ‘the pursuit of the truth in all its dimensions, the sacred and the profaned, the religious and the secular, this would be the reason for the institution’s existence, from its beginning, down to today.’ (Fr. Jim Wahl C.R.)
The college opened its doors in January 1865 in a little log cabin about a half of a kilometer from the Church in St. Agatha, rented from the Wey family. On October 9, 1866, he moved the college to a new site in Berlin (Kitchener) and there he remained as president until his death in 1890. We are told that financial problems threatened the school’s closure on many occasions. From 1871 to 1878 Fr. Louis was the only C.R. on staff and the only full-time faculty member. Louis won the esteem and love of his students and many lay people, Catholic and Protestants alike.
Our Resurrectionist Community has been involved with Education for 155 years. Our Charism Statement reminds us: We believe that God calls us to work for the resurrection of society, bringing His life and love to all: through our personal witness, through the witness of our life in community, and through our Community apostolates, primarily through parish work and teaching…”
So what is the rationale for giving the Waterloo Catholic District School Board the use of what was formerly St. Jerome’s High School for free? We begin by acknowledging that our O.K. C.R. Province is diminishing; it is important for us to leave a legacy as to our story, our history and our Charism and our Mission. A Resurrectionist Education has been the source of liberation and empowerment for students through the hands on teaching of both our C.R. Priests and Brothers. This is our history; this is our story!
Now that Resurrectionists, for the most part, are not involved in hands on teaching; it is important to respond to the Gospel and the needs that exist right before our very eyes. Pope Francis continually calls us to focus on the Poor.
The previous lease between the Congregation of the Resurrection and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board was for 25 years and it ends on July 31, 2020. St. Louis School (formerly St. Jerome’s) through their various programs supports refugees, immigrants, the poor, the jobless, the students with limited skill sets and the linguistically challenged.
The W.C.D.S.B. has no financial options in terms of continuing this educational service because the Provincial Government is pulling all funding to lease the building beyond July 31, 2020. The Ministry of St. Louis School, for all practical purposes, provides an educational service to the poorest of the poor in the KW area, empowering students to develop the necessary language ability and skills to compete in the work place. This educational opportunity is at this ideal location with easy transportation to and from this facility.
Jean Vanier says, The Poor are a Privileged Way of entering into the Heart of Jesus, the Heart of the Gospel and the Heart of the Church.
In light of our declining number of Resurrectionists, our Lay Advisory Committee (formerly known as our financial committee), has continued to encourage us to invest in our legacy as Resurrectionists. To support the W.C.D.S.B. in continuing their mission at St. Louis School is doing exactly what they have encouraged us to do. Education is a part of our ongoing Resurrectionist Ministry.
We reach out to all people through our pastoral-education ministry but especially join in solidarity with people diminished by unjust structures. (Mission Statement)
Supporting this educational opportunity within the former St. Jerome’s High School Building, heightens our legacy profile as our Resurrectionists ‘ongoing contribution to education within the KW area.’
We acknowledge that the idea for this project and plan came from three of our younger Resurrectionists: Fr. Toby Collins C.R., Fr. Joseph de Viveiros C.R. and Fr. Dan Lobsinger C.R. They envision their ministry at St. Mary’s Parish including doing outreach to this school community. Not charging the W.C.D.S.B. for rent of the building is seen as an act of Social Justice supporting the common good of all Refugees, Immigrants, some educationally challenged, the poor and people of all races, color, culture and creed.
Part of the momentum behind this decision comes from the theme, “Let’s stop building barns”. As Fr. Fred Scinto C.R. once said when he was provincial, “We are not in the business of making money. This is not what we are about”. We are not in need of the money that could be accrued if we sold the property today. The land will not decrease in value over the years. We will not be paying income tax on the land as long as it is used for Educational purposes. For all practical purposes, this lease is like saving money in the bank for a later time. Our investment as Resurrectionists will be in the poorer members of society and not in stocks and bonds. We are putting our confidence in future Provincial leadership teams as to when and if there is an appropriate time to sell the land. We used a discernment model rather than a business model in our decision making.
A bonus is that parking will be available for St. Mary’s Parish on weekends, which is very much needed.
Among the programs being offered by St. Louis School are English as a second language, core skills in literacy including computers, obtaining the equivalent of a grade 12 education, Hair Styling/ Barbering, Culinary/Cooking Skills, and Personal Support Worker. The philosophy of their educational program is to give their students a hand up or a leg up rather than a hand out. It is about empowering students to be successful in the work place and community.
Let us celebrate together this gesture of bringing about the Resurrection of Society!
Fr. Murray McDermott C.R.