Thursday, April 28, 2011
Most of us remember where we were when we heard the news that Pope John Paul II had died. For me it was an unassuming Saturday afternoon and as the hours after his death passed I realized how much impact the Pope had on my life. Within two days I was back at work and a rather ordinary day turned extraordinary while saying a prayer on my lunch break. The echo of Our Lord’s words “ Do not be afraid” brought me comfort as I kept telling myself
“ I have to go”
After a few phone calls, 17 hours later two friends and I were on a Lufthansa flight to Rome by way of Frankfurt. I was fortunate to have seen the Pope in BC place when I was very young where my youthful innocence told me that he had come to personally visit me. Now it was my turn to wear a pilgrim’s sandal, it was my turn to go and visit him.
Arriving in Rome we were blessed to stay with Father Rosica (from Salt Light TV) who was able to escort us into Saint Peter’s. It was a surreal experience remembering that just 24 hours earlier I was at work in downtown Vancouver. When I arrived at the kneeler 30ft away from where the Pope was laying I began to weep. I could not control my emotions; this was Christ’s representative on earth the only Pope I had ever known. I thanked God for everything good the Pope had done for the Church and the huge impact he had on my life.
The funeral for the Pontiff was still a few days away and we made the most of our time by enjoying the endless sites throughout the city. We were interviewed several times and our stories and photos appeared in many newspapers including the Vancouver Sun and Le Figaro in France.
April 8th was a bitterly cold and windy morning, @ 4:30am we crammed up the Via della Conciliazione into St. Peter’s square with our Canada flag waving high (which was easily lost in the sea of the red and white Polish flags). The Solemn Funeral Mass was memorable for many reasons. Although I don’t speak Italian this was the first time I had experienced the Universality of the Church .I was able to join mourners from dozens of different countries singing the Nicene Creed and Litany of the Saints in Latin. When the Mass was over there was an undeniable feeling that no one wanted to leave, and we didn’t. We fell asleep in the arms of St. Peter’s (Tuscan Colonnades) right on the ground.
The death of the Pope led me on my own Pilgrimage to a better understanding of Church history and teaching. I now have a stronger relationship with God and recently returned to school to work on a theology degree.
The Beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II is a joyous occasion for the Church. It helps to enforce to us that Sainthood is possible in our world today and that Saints truly walk among us.
Clayton Richard Long
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
My latest article published in the BC Catholic newspaper
Catholic Home Schooling Event
Will home schooling form children into socially inept individuals who will be unable to deal with their peers? Rather, the opposite; Julia Fogassy of Seattle, Washington can affirm to this.
As a home educator for twenty-five years and mother of nine, Mrs. Fogassy offered an overflowing fountain of knowledge about the positive effects home schooling can have on one’s children. Acting as the marquee speaker at the Catholic Home Schooling event on February 19th at Holy Family Parish in Vancouver, Mrs. Fogassy described with charity and humor both the challenges and rewards of her endeavors; instilling that nothing has to be complicated. She offered her audience advice and innovative methods in teaching, as well as tactics that she herself had found success in. One such recommendation regarded teaching a foundation, a pre-step, for young children to print the alphabet ‘…use corn meal to cover a baking sheet and have the child trace each letter. Remember, never use sugar for obvious reasons.”
As a founding member of the Northwest Catholic Family Educator Conference, Julia Fogassy’s continued dedication of bringing families the best education materials available led her to design a complete reading, writing and phonics program titled “Sound Beginnings” which is available through “Our Father’s House”.
There is a misconception that homeschooling equals four walls, isolation and piles of books. There are now several home school groups, often available through one’s local community, travel on field trips together, and gather regularly for resource exchange and interaction with other children. Traditional Learning Academy (TLA) is a private school in Coquitlam that offers families options such as these. Administrator of TLA Allan Garneau explained the differences between classic homeschooling, where the parent can choose any program they want to teach (except for treason) and distributed learning, where children follow a designed program from home. Allan stated that “ Studies have shown that they (home schooled children) not only do socialize well, they can connect with adults as well as peers” The designated learning program is becoming increasingly popular for students with special needs because of the lack of funds within public and diocesan schools. The children get the one on one time that is so important during their early formative years.
As Catholic parents we are the originators of the homeschooling movement The Church’s Magisterium has always taught, “Parents are the principle and first educators of their children.” CCC#1653
Garneau finished with “ It turns children onto learning and equips them with skills in independent study.