The Advent season is filled with preparation and expectation. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, let us strive to keep Advent a season of waiting and longing, of conversion and hope, meditating often on the incredible love and humility of our God in taking on flesh of the Virgin Mary. In our shopping and baking, let us remember to purchase and prepare something for the poor. When we clean our homes, let us distribute some of our possessions to those who lack many necessities. While we are decking the halls of our homes, let us not forget to prepare a peaceful place in our hearts wherein our Savior may come to dwell.
St. Matthew Catholic Parish News – Daily Advent Reflections
During the Season of Advent, which begins today, many seek to adopt an additional spiritual practice or two. FORMED.ORG, which we make available to all parishioners, offers a variety of well-prepared resources, including a video series on the season. You can also sign up for daily reflections, emailed directly to your inbox (https://daily.formed.org/). If you haven’t done so already, sign up for an free account by searching for “St. Matthew Parish, Oakville” and following the prompts. Catholics young and old (and everywhere in between) are sure to find something nourishing.
~ Father Allen Varlaki
Follow St. Matthew Catholic Church on Social Media and keep up to date with all that is happening in our parish! There are four ways to connect to the parish:
- Website – https://www.saintmatthew.ca/
- FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/saintmtoakville
- Twitter – @saintmtoakville
- YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2Af1hB7O-VS5PB1gYvTJhA
The Christmas Angel Tree
The Christmas season is upon us once again! Our School Community is sponsoring a Christmas gift drive called “The Christmas Angel Tree”. It is a fun and easy way for families in our school to participate in the spirit of giving during this special season in our Catholic Faith.
How does it work?
Christmas trees have been placed in the front foyer paper ornaments with specific gift cards printed on them. We will be asking families to donate Gift Cards. The Gift Card donations will go towards purchasing Winter Boots & Coats for the families that we will be sponsoring through the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
If you are interested in participating, a family member may select one or more Ornaments. We ask that you then purchase the gift card and return it to the school with the original paper ornament that your child selected from the tree. All gift cards will be collected in the office.
The ornaments are now available until to November 30th.
Gift cards must be returned to the classroom by December 3rd.
Donations can also be made directly to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul via St. Matthew’s parish: https://www.ssvpsaintmatthew.org/Donate.asp.
Should you not wish for your child to participate please let your child/ren’s classroom teacher know via the agenda or email.
Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity during this holiday season!
The St. John Paul II Catholic School Council
Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) will once again be running our annual Keeping Christ in Christmas student contest! This year, the contest will be open for entries from Friday, November 5 through Friday, December 3, 2021. Students are encouraged to submit entries that highlight the theme of the contest, and express in their own creativity how we can all do our part to Keep Christ in Christmas. We welcome entries from HCDSB students of all ages and abilities! Students may submit entries electronically in the following four (4) categories:
· Visual artwork (drawing, painting, photography, collage, sculpture, 3D model, etc.)
· Original song
· Short video (maximum length is 3 minutes)
· Short story or poem (up to 250 words)
Submissions Accepted Online ONLY To minimize the distribution of paper and for the health and safety of our students, staff and school communities, we will be accepting submissions ONLINE ONLY this year. Student work can be entered into the contest through an online form available on the official contest page.
Student submissions will be reviewed separately by division group, as follows:
· Primary (K-3)
· Junior (4-6)
· Intermediate (7-8)
· Secondary (9-12)
Sixteen (16) student entries will move on to the finals! A prize will be awarded to the top student entry in each of the four division groups. For more information about the contest and submission requirements, please visit the Board’s website. Deadline for Entries: December 3, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.
Have a Question? If you have any questions about the contest, please feel free to email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on Twitter, direct message us on Instagram, or contact us through Facebook. We look forward to showcasing the creative talents of our HCDSB students.
Picture Retakes-December 1
Just a reminder that Wednesday, December 1st is picture retake day.
Upcoming Joy Days
Staff and students are invited to participate in our upcoming JOY days:
Friday December 3rd – Door Decorating and Christmas Pajama Day
Friday December 10th – Christmas Sweater Day
Friday December 17th – Dress Like an Elf Day
Coming Soon ~ Student Census 2022
In February 2022, HCDSB will be collecting identity-based student data through a board-wide Student Census. This census will help our school board better understand and support our students and their experiences in school and will help promote equitable and inclusive learning environments.
NOTE: Parents of students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 will be invited to complete the online survey on behalf of their child. For more information about the Student Census, please visit the HCDSB website: https://hcdsb.info/StudentCensus2022
Dressing for Winter Weather
With the arrival of winter like weather, we kindly request that parents ensure your child is dressed each day to play outside at recess. Students are able to be outside for all regular outside activities when it is warmer than -15 C. When temperatures range between -15C to -20C, students may remain outside for no longer than 20-minute intervals, once temperatures are colder than -20C students must remain inside ~thank you for your support with this!
Daily Self Screening for all students is required
All staff and students must continue to self-screen every day before attending school. Any individuals who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as identified in the screening tool, must not attend school and should follow the guidance provided in the screening tool, which may include seeking appropriate medical attention as required, and/or getting tested for COVID-19. Please note that although proof of daily screening is no longer required by parents, we ask for you continued diligence in completing the screening daily.
Human Rights and Equity Advisory Council
Our HCDSB schools are committed to creating safe, inclusive and welcoming learning environments that support student achievement and well-being in our Catholic schools. Human Rights and Equity are guiding values that are consistent both with Catholic Social Teaching, reaffirming the dignity of every individual, as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code, which safeguards students and staff from discrimination based on the protected grounds.
The Board’s Equity and Inclusive Education Steering Committee is in the process of forming a Human Rights and Equity Advisory Council (HREAC) to engage community stakeholders including parents, students and community organizations.
The purpose of the HREAC is to assist in identifying community needs and to provide advice and guidance on addressing systemic barriers and supporting historically underserved members of the 2SLGBTQ+, racialized and Black communities in the HCDSB.
Parents/guardians and students in Grades 7-12 interested in serving on the HREAC are invited to submit an application online through the HREAC Membership Application Form.
Promoting Well-Being – Ready for the Holidays
When your child is struggling with mental health challenges, the holidays are not always easy. With so many expectations about what the holidays should be like or who we should be spending our time with, it can be very difficult to make it all work.
With the support of our network of child and youth mental health experts, we have rounded up some tips and ideas to help your family this holiday season.
1. Do what works for your family
The holidays can be an especially challenging time of year for many families. Expectations of the holidays can be hard on children – and, let’s face it, it’s not ‘the happiest time’ for all of us. It’s ok to prioritize mental health over holiday commitments. When you prioritize your or your child’s mental wellness, you can focus on what works for your family. As a parent, consider the things that feel realistic for you to do and then offer those choices to kids/youth to pick from. So many of us struggle with saying no over the holidays – perhaps this year, you will feel confident about not over committing your schedule and slowing things down; and that’s ok! Also, keep in mind that having time to connect with each other is important, but so, too, is having space for everyone to have their own personal time.
2. Plan early
Routines and predictability are often beneficial (within reason) for children and youth with mental health challenges. It’s a good time to start having conversations with children about what the holidays may look like so that they know what to expect. This also allows them to be a part of the new planning process. What is important to them? Is there something new they would like to try? Planning early also gives us time to let other relatives or friends know in advance to manage their expectations, too. Also, during the winter school break, consider connecting with the parents of your children’s friend so that you can help arrange days for play dates.
3. Find a quiet place in a busy space
Find a spot during a holiday activity or party where your child (or you) can go for a break. Don’t force your child to interact with other kids or adults, instead let them have that time on their own to regroup. If your child is young, bring books or a bag of special toys. If your teenager needs to decompress with a game on their phone, that’s ok. Check in periodically to see how everyone is doing, or if some quiet time is needed.
Don’t worry about other people’s judgments. People may ask insensitive questions or make comments about your child’s behaviour. Sometimes they are trying to be rude, other times, they’re just trying to understand. Have a quick sentence or two ready that explains your child’s issues. This will help you stay calm and to keep from overreacting.
4. Managing disappointment
Sometimes, the holidays don’t work out the way we expect. And for many of us, the holidays still won’t be what they may have been before the pandemic. That will be disappointing for a lot of children (and parents!) It’s important to acknowledge that disappointment, especially for children. Give kids a safe space to share their feelings and be heard. If the pandemic is impacting your plans, it’s ok to let kids know this is hard for you, too. Reminding your kids – and yourself – that this is a temporary measure in a very unusual time may make it all feel a little less daunting. While we are all doing our part to manage the pandemic, so much of what is happening in the province – and the world – is out of our control right now. This is a good time to focus on the things that are in your control. When it comes to traditions of the holiday season, consider how you can incorporate the traditions, or at least parts of those traditions, that are most important to your family. It could be something as simple as baking or planning for a fun family movie night.
5. Supporting children through grief
The holidays can be especially hard for families who are grieving. Remembering your loved one, telling stories, and laughing about good times together are all ok to do, and can provide comfort to your child. You might work together to come up with ideas for memorializing your loved one over the holiday. Remember that it’s okay for you child/youth to feel upset as there have been a lot of different types of loss this year.
6. Take care of you
The holidays can be a stressful and anxious time for parents, too. Make sure that you are eating, sleeping and enjoying the holidays as well. Maintain healthy boundaries. Take time when you need it, don’t feel guilty saying no when you need to. Do what is best for you and your family. Consider planning a day where the family could play a game or watch a movie together. But don’t forget to have some scheduled time where kids can play games and parents or caregivers can take some time out as well.
Your kids are watching you model behaviour and your resilience is teaching them. Resilience is about bouncing back from challenges, rather than not having any challenges at all. Look back on your year. What are some of the things you and your family have done to get through this year? What is working? What doesn’t work? How have you changed as a parent? Notice what works for your family – and remember that this will look different for each family.