Written by: Holy Trinity Catholic High School Chaplain Chris Poulsen
Lent has always been a special time in the Catholic Calendar. While we strive to be charitable and giving of the self, as Christ was for humanity, all the time. This becomes especially important during the Lenten season. Often associated with the idea of ‘giving up’ something, be it sweets, or coffee, or bad habits, at Holy Trinity for the past few years we have taken a different approach. We have used Lent as a time to grow in charity, grow closer to Christ, and to grow closer to our fellow human beings both in the building and around the world.
For the past few years Holy Trinity has been sister schools during the Lenten season with Chugu Primary School in Meru, Kenya. During the 2019/2020 school year we made our first connection with Chugu Primary and through videos we were introduced to their students and their faculty. While the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic ended our in person schooling and drastically changed what we were able to do, we were still able to really connect with the students of Chugu Primary through our amazing students and teachers still making and sending videos of our school and Canadian life along with prayers. The Children of Chugu Primary were always so happy and excited to share their lives with us and learn about us and pray together. As the 2020/2021 school year began we, once again, connected with our sister school and this time we were really able to live our Lenten journey. While we continued to pray with our sister school, make videos, and I personally even got to participate in a zoom call with their school staff, we also were able to make a more tangible difference in their lives.
Part of the Lenten initiatives that we strive for has never been to force anyone to be charitable – but invite all on the journey towards the cross in charity, humility, and growth. Through different fun initiatives, Holy Trinity was able to send nearly $1900 to our sister school and we were able to purchase and install new chalkboards in their entire school and make much needed repairs to their buildings. Even more importantly than that we were able to connect, pray with, and really get to know each other. Even around the world we were able to share our lives, learn about theirs, and be together during Lent. The outcome of this has been incredible: Hearts softened during hard times, a lenten journey that helps us to reflect on who we are and how we can live our best lives in a way that supports our neighbours and our world, a school that walked that journey to Calvary and reflected on how it could make the world just a little bit of a better place.
Our journey with Chugu Primary has come to an end. As a school they have been supported by many amazing Canadian schools. But our 2022 Lenten Journey is only just beginning. This year we are connecting with Starehe Girls’ Centre (SGC) in Kenya. SGC is a charitable national girls’ secondary boarding school offering education to disadvantaged girls all around Kenya. Our goal, like always, is not to ‘give something up’ for Lent – but to pick up the cross with Christ, to walk the path to Calvary, and to add to our lives the love that Christ had for the world. Financially our goal is to purchase new textbooks for SGC, but we also look forward to connecting with, praying with, learning about, and sharing with the students and staff of SGC. When we can reach out and make Lent about connecting with our fellow human beings we all win. When we can make lent about breaking down walls of distance and experience and building loving connections we all win. When two schools separated by lands and oceans can come together we bring a little bit more light into the world and we all win.
At Holy Trinity Catholic High School and in Fort McMurray Catholic School Division our Lenten journey is, and always will be, about walking the path to the cross, and what is the cross? It’s love.