Every year since 1979, administrators from Catholic school boards across the province have gathered to take part in a REAL interchange. The acronym stands for Religious Educational Administrative Leadership.
This year, Light of Christ Catholic School Division hosted the event in the Battlefords, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
Herb Sutton, LOCCSD's director of education, said, "It's really the one time each year that Catholic administrators can get together to talk about Catholic issues and Catholic education."
As the event is hosted by a different Catholic school division every year, it is a good opportunity for the divisions to get a sense of the strategies and successes in place throughout the province.
Tours of LOCCSD's schools were offered to the approximately 100 attendees and the conference featured Bishop Albert Thévenot as banquet speaker and Father Mike Dechant as the key speaker.
The theme of Dechant's presentation was, "If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat," which was a fitting reflection of LOCCSD's focus on stewardship this year.
Dechant spoke of the need to focus on spreading God's word and love as opposed to focusing on different aspects of the many sects of Christianity.
"When we put the church first, we end up with a churchianity, not a Christianity," said Dechant of the competition between Christian groups, such as Anglican, Protestant and Catholic.
He shared a story of how his father, living in a seniors' home, started praying with the different church organizations that came to the home every week. When Dechant asked his father how he had come to view this as acceptable when previously it was frowned upon, Dechant's father replied, "If we can't pray together down here, how are we going to live together up there?"
Dechant added a key aspect of evangelizing was to understand the scripture through the eyes of different groups, such as homosexuals, feminists and First Nations.
"We're so concerned about rules, regulations and laws that we forget about people," he said.
He illustrated the need to put people first by pointing to the example of Jesus healing people on the Sabbath, which was contrary to the rules at the time.
When asked what he hoped people would remember from the presentation, Dechant replied religious educators should always ask, "How do we build the kingdom of God in and through the best of who we are as human beings," and then "just do it."