PRINCE ALBERT — On World Catholic Education Day, and the Prince Albert Catholic School Division board celebrated the occasion by announcing the 2022-2023 Catholic Education Service Award winners.
Ecole St. Mary High School French Immersion teacher Remi Joncas was one of two winners announced. Joncas has frequently nominated others for the award and wasn’t expected to be named a winner.
“It is a surprise to get the award,” he said. “Certainly I've been submitting. I’ve nominated people to (win) that award. What the award is like, is just serving the community and serving the church and being a good teacher and I know a lot of people like that.”
Joncas came to Prince Albert from New Brunswick a decade ago to teach. Catholic education is not an option in his home province.
“I was born and raised Catholic, I went to church and everything as kids growing up and faith was always something important in my family,” Joncas explained.
“When I discovered that we could work and teach in our faith and really use those principles to serve the community, (it) became very important because it’s a way of living,” he added. “It’s not just a question of political beliefs and stuff like that. It’s a way of living.”
Joncas is a French Immersion teacher at Ecole St. Mary High School and has been a long-time member of the Sacred Heart Cathedral. He is highly involved in many forms of ministries and works in the Prince Albert Diocese.
The division described him as very gracious in sharing his gifts of time and talents with the students, school and parish. He has a love for the French language, technology and the great outdoors.
Being able to use his faith in education was important to Joncas.
“It's like you're helping your neighbour,” he said. “You give so much, but you get so much back. The community is so giving…. We work with students, even parishioners at my church, everybody is so giving.”
After learning about the award, Joncas celebrated in his classroom with a morning prayer and a discussion of Catholic education.
“We did the morning prayer, and one thing is I really found, especially in hard times, is people can come together, and you feel more connected to each other,” Joncas said.
Joncas’ time as a student has helped form his views as a teacher. When he was in Grade 10, a student at his school passed away. At the time, nobody brought the class together. Joncas didn’t like how the incident was handled, and it reinforced the importance of strong connections in schools.
“That’s something that is very important, to connect with each other, especially in times of need,” he explained.
The other winner was Connie Regnier of St. John Community School.
The Board of Education established the Catholic Education Service Award in 1998 to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to Catholic education in Prince Albert. Both recipients have been nominated due to their significant contributions to Catholic Education, and their faith community.
The Board is confident that the public will agree that these faithful and dedicated individuals have positively impacted the Catholic Educational Community, the school division and the schools they have worked in.
The Prince Albert Roman Catholic Separate School Division celebrates Catholic Education Week from May 14-21. The week recognizes the richness and inclusivity of Catholic education with the theme "We are Many, We are One / L'éducation catholique: À plusieurs, nous sommes un". The Prince Albert Catholic School Division board said this annual event highlights the strength of unity in diversity within the Catholic educational community.
“Our Board is truly grateful to this year's recipients of the Prince Albert Catholic Service Awards.,” board chair Suzanne Stubbs said in a press release. “Their involvement in our schools, parishes and greater Catholic community is exemplary and we are blessed to have these individuals working with our staff and students.
“Our Catholic faith informs us that we are to live out our faith with Jesus as a model. We are proud that Connie Regnier and Remi Joncas call our school division and Catholic education community home.”
Joncas also thanked whoever nominated him and the community.
“It’s a pleasure working for the community and with the kids and with everyone,” he said. “That's what makes me do it after all. It's so rewarding just to see people happy and to help people. I think that's why it's so important to service. It's so important in Catholic faith.”
Look for a feature on Connie Regnier in a future edition of the Daily Herald.