New STM College plan celebrated with online launch and liturgy event

Deacon Harry Lafond, the fist STM Scholar in Indigenous Education, speaks during the online launch of the plan for St. Thomas More College. (Video image courtesy of STM)

Plan seen as roadmap to future success and includes five priority areas

By Paul Sinkewicz, St. Thomas More College

[Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission from the St. Thomas More College website: LINK]

A major milestone for St. Thomas More College was achieved Jan. 18 under the trying circumstances of the pandemic, with the liturgical launch of the St. Thomas More College Plan 2025.

Work on the new five-year plan began in spring of 2019 with assistance from Academica Group and leadership of the College-formed Steering Committee. There was participation and collaboration with numerous STM stakeholder groups for input, culminating in the completed plan this past fall.

“Of course, we wish we could be gathered together in the college chapel, as we normally would for Mass and ceremonies,” said Dr. Carl Still, president of STM College. “But even though COVID-19 restrictions continue, we are going forward with our new college plan, and though we have to be connected technologically to make this happen, we are no less connected spiritually.”

The theme of the plan is “Community in Partnership Rooted in Spirit.” Dr. Still noted that theme could be seen in the online event through the College’s partnership with Indigenous peoples as part of its effort to achieve its priority of authentic Indigenization.

The ceremony included two traditions with the Liturgy of the Word paired with a smudging and blessing ceremony overseen by Elders Patricia and AJ Felix, members of STM’s Indigenous Advisory Circle.

Dr. Still made special mention of Deacon Harry Lafond, the first STM Scholar in Indigenous Education, who will be leading the work of the priority devoted to Authentic Indigenization.

“In the plan itself we say that we will integrate Indigenous ceremony into College processes and celebrations,” said Dr. Still. “So, in other words, we are already following the plan in this very liturgy to launch and bless the plan.”

The event was hosted by Celeste Woloschuk of STM Campus Ministry, and included comments from Dr. Still, Dr. Gertrude Rompré, Director of Mission and Ministry, and Deacon Lafond. Also participating in the ceremony were Dr. Jenn Briere, Dr. Michael Cichon, Gail Morrison, and Michael MacLean.

The recent challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic prove the value of having a five-year plan, according to the introduction Dr. Still included in the plan.

“The shifting landscape in which we find ourselves makes future planning difficult, but all the more imperative: we need a roadmap to the future that is clear enough to guide decision-making, but flexible enough to respond to unexpected developments, like the global pandemic of 2020. A plan is also a statement to our extended STM community and the wider society of where we aspire to go in the next five years and why we hope they will support us in getting there.”

“As we move toward the end of our 2015-2020 plan, we have considerable momentum in the five priority areas of Catholic mission and identity, student experience, research and discovery, sustainability, and Indigenous engagement.”