When you buy pretty much anything, you can get different models or features added on. Want a faster smartphone with more storage space? Sure! For a price. Add heated seats to that car? Sure! For a price. Granite countertops in that new home? You get the picture.
When you’re building six new schools, it’s the same thing, just on a larger scale. The schools built under a P3 model (Public-Private-Partnership) come well equipped. But some things aren’t included. Playgrounds are one example. So are items that will help make our schools distinctively Catholic, such as crucifixes and altars for sacred space in which school celebrations, liturgies and Masses will be held.
Kent Gauthier, principal at the new St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic School in Stonebridge was tasked with outfitting the new sacred spaces with items such as altars, crucifixes, altar cloths and Mass kits.
“After getting an idea of cost of the various items we need, the first person I looked to was Laurie at the foundation,” said Gauthier. Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation is the charitable arm for the division that helps fund things for schools that are outside the funding mandate of the Ministry of Education. “She suggested that high schools might be able to help fill some of our needs.”
“Many times, people ask us ‘what does the GSCS Foundation do?’ Through donations, we are able to provide materials and experiences for students and staff to practice their faith in our schools. We are very excited to be part of this project!” said Laurie Karwacki, chair of Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation.
Many conversations later, staff and students at Holy Cross and St. Joseph high schools were set to make altars and crucifixes.
At Holy Cross, practical and applied arts (formerly known as industrial arts) teachers Ron Blais and King Kwan led teams of Grade 11 students to design and build wooden altars. “I asked my 15 students if they could use their God-given talents for a better cause,” Blais said. “Many skills were learned and we came up with creative solutions to problems as they arose.” Blais estimates that each student put in 45 hours of work.
Phil Rapin at St. Joseph led creation of the crucifixes. “We’re using a CNC machine to cut the corpus out of a flat metal cross,” said Rapin. Because it’s largely an automated process, only a few students were involved in project.
Gauthier said, “This is about more than saving some money or teachers and students helping out. This is about building a legacy that everyone can be proud of for many years to come.”