Publicly supported Catholic education in the province of Ontario has been a fact of political life since the year 1842. At that time, government authorities recognized that if education was to become universal, and if religion and moral teaching was to continue as an integral part of education, then parents who dissented from the religious orientation of the public school should be allowed to establish a school separate from it. This option which was originally extended to all religious denominations of the day continued to be exercised almost exclusively by Catholics through the years.
The right to separate schools was enshrined in the Confederation Agreement of 1867.
The Second Vatican Council’s “Declaration on Christian Education” describes the distinctive features of the Catholic school as it attempts to generate a sense of community in schools permeated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and love.
The declaration tries to relate all human culture to the good news of salvation so that the light of Faith will illuminate everything that the student comes to learn about the creator, about the world, about life and about the human person.
The Catholic Education Foundation of Ontario was incorporated in 1976 to foster and promote these principles of Catholic education. It undertook as its mission to encourage the establishment of Catholic schools, to provide financial assistance where Catholic education or specific programs would not be possible without it; and, in general, to oppose and to help compensate for the absence of full recognition for separate schools within the Ministry of Education specifically with respect to secondary schools and access to equitable funding.
The provision of secondary school funding and the subsequent Supreme Court endorsement of pertinent legislation did not change the mandate of the Foundation, but it does re-focus it. In the current discussions about the place of values in our society and in education, there is a need for the Catholic community to know, support and celebrate the fine work done in our schools. The entire community benefits from this, and efforts will continue to ensure that the work of Catholic schools continues for the benefit of all people.
Please read more significant events in the History of Catholic Education in Ontario.