Students at St. Francis of Assisi Academy, whether they are Catholic or not, are expected to be respectful and active participants in all of the school's faith activities. We are all growing on a journey of faith, and are continuously learning.
Our Catholic faith permeates everything we say and do at St. Francis of Assisi Academy, and this extends to more than the content that is taught in our Religion classes. Our faith, and modeling the love we are called to show one another, are key elements to everything we do; our teaching, our discipline process, our communication, student programming and supports, and the way we treat each other at all times. In every interaction, we continually strive to help others grow in their faith by modeling Christ’s example, and at the heart of everything we do, we aim to preserve the dignity of every one of the members of our school community.
The foundation of faith at St. Francis can be found in the school’s motto, “Pace e Bene”. Its historical roots are in the words St. Francis used to greet others. It is a tradition that we have adopted within our school community. It is more than just words, it is reminder each day to our students and staff that peace and fulfillment comes seeking God’s goodness in each other and letting this same goodness shine through in our deeds and words.
The spirit of “Pace e Bene” can be seen in a broad spectrum of activities within the St. Francis of Assisi community. This spirit is most overt in our numerous celebrations throughout the year:
- Whole School Beginning and Year-end Masses
- Grade level Masses throughout the year
- Grade 4 Bible Blessing (Fall)
- Remembrance Day Liturgy
- Annual Advent Liturgy (December)
- Shrove Tuesday
- Ash Wednesday Liturgy (Beginning of the season of Lent)
- Stations of the Cross
- Celebration of Easter
- Stations of the Light
- Living Rosary
- Eucharistic Adoration
At St. Francis “Pace e Bene” is also visible in the numerous seasonal activities and celebrations. Whether is our junior high sports teams or our annual Halloween parade, our staff and students are expected to put the dignity of others before anything else.
St. Francis of Assisi Academy works closely with St. James Parish in Okotoks to provide meaningful encounters with students and clergy. Our two parish priests, Father Troy and Father Vincent, make frequent school and class visits to support our staff and student in the continued development of their faith.
In an act that defined his faith, St. Francis turned away from his wealth and worldly possessions to lead a humble life of service. At St. Francis of Assisi Academy, our staff and students have numerous opportunities to set aside their own personal needs and wants and experience the joy of service. Throughout the year, there are whole school initiatives that invite our entire community to reach out to the less fortunate in our surrounding community and beyond:
- Fall Food Drive for the Okotoks Foodbank
- Magic of Christmas Backpack Campaign
- Winter Jacket Collection
- Mission Mexico
Furthermore, grade levels and individual classes frequently take numerous initiatives that seek to spread peace and goodness within the school and beyond its walls. Over the years, a number of clubs and student groups have also organized to provide further opportunities for service:
- Elementary “Love Club”
- Channels Plus Service Club
- Rosary Prayer Club
In his life, St. Francis discovered that prayer was more real than many of the things he had been considering more important. It is in this same spirit that we begin and end each day in prayer at St. Francis of Assisi Academy. Learning to talk to God and listen for Him through prayer is part of each day in all our classrooms.
St. Francis inspired the well know prayer Make Me a Channel of Your Peace. The words of this prayer are stenciled on the wall of our school chapel and became the foundation of a special program called “Channels of Peace”. In this program, older students in the school serve as encouragers to our younger students. These encouragers meet with younger grades to pass on what they have learned about being a “channel of peace” in the lives of others. They model and teach strategies that encourage students to feel confident in “going out of their way to be kind” to the most vulnerable in our community. Students learn the relationship between the Word of God and their own personal choices.
St. Francis staff are called to be witnesses to our faith and they are called to be practicing Catholics. In terms of our student population, we are accepting of all children who share our deep-rooted values, and we do have a number of non-Catholic students who attend the school.
The school has many visible symbols of our faith, including a Chapel space, as well as Faith Centres in every classroom, as well as symbols in our common gathering areas such as our Atrium and our Gym.
Lastly, we believe that our parents are the primary educators of our children. Parents founded our school division, parents who wanted to be able to offer their children a faith based education in our communities. We owe parents a debt of gratitude for the great lengths they went through to ensure our schools could exist.