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Community Update: November 29, 2021

Advent Family Prayer

God of Love, Your son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us. He is a sign of your love. Help us walk in that love during the weeks of Advent, As we wait and prepare for his coming. We pray in the name of Jesus, our Saviour.

Mitten Tree- Catholic School Council Outreach Committee

Beginning on December 6th 2021, our Catholic School Council Outreach committee will be collecting ‘mittens’ to hang on our school tree. Please see attached a flyer supporting this important cause.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Saint Matthew Conference – Christmas Angel Tree Program

We ask, if you are able, to contribute towards our Christmas Angel Tree program.  We are requesting cash/cheque donations that we can use to purchase grocery and gift cards in bulk at a discount.  Cheques can be made out to Society of Saint Vincent de Paul – St Matthew.  There is also an online donation portal that you may access on our website: https://www.ssvpsaintmatthew.org/Donate.asp. Should you wish to purchase a grocery/gift card yourself, we require $25 grocery cards from Metro, Sobeys, President’s Choice and Walmart, and $10 gift cards from Shoppers Drug Mart, Dollarama and Tim Hortons. Envelopes can be dropped off in the office up until December 3, 2021, at the church office and there is also a locked drop box outside both entrances of the church that can be used as well. Please address the envelopes to SSVP – Saint Matthew.  Should anyone have questions, they can be directed to Jennifer Monte at jenmonte6@gmail.com or that of the conference: ssvpsaintmatthew@gmail.com Distribution will begin the week of December 6, 2021.

For more information please read the attached letter:

St. Matthew Catholic Parish News – DAILY ADVENT REFLECTIONS

During the Season of Advent, which begins next Sunday, 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:

PREPARE OUR HEARTS FOR JESUS

~https://hamiltondiocese.com/advent2021/

The Offices for Liturgy, Youth Ministry and Evangelization and Catechesis are pleased to bring you a weekly Advent resource that can be celebrated with family in your home. Below you will find tips, videos and a simple prayer to be prayed around your wreath each Sunday of Advent.

TIPS FOR CELEBRATING THE ADVENT LITURGIES WITH YOUR FAMILY

1. CARVE OUT TIME

Together, decide on a time for your weekly Advent prayer in the home. Advent can be a busy and difficult time for many. Try to find a time and day of the week that is predictably calm so that as many members of the family can participate as possible. A weekly family meal can make for a perfect time for prayer.

2. SET THE SCENE

Create an intentional space for prayer. If you are gathering during mealtimes, consider using your Advent wreath as a centerpiece on your dinner table. Before Advent begins, gather some simple greens and candles to create your own Advent wreath (an instructional video for this process is available in “additional resources”). Make sure the space you choose for prayer is comfortable and inviting for all children present. Have a match or lighter ready to light the candles on your wreath for each week’s prayer.

3. KEEP THE PRAYER SIMPLE WITH EASY, ACCESSIBLE LANGUAGE

Using the text provided below, prepare to lead your family through a brief time of prayer and reflection. Remind those present that we light our wreath to remember that Advent is a season of preparation, and we are called to keep our eyes and hearts open for the coming of Christ into the world. Before you begin your celebration, have your children share whom or what they would like to remember in prayer this day.

4. KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING

Advent is a beautiful season of preparation, both for our homes and for our hearts. Take time in these busy days to stop and engage in prayerful conversation on the “reason for the season”. At the supper table, in the car on the way to an Advent gathering, or before bed after a hectic day, take time to ask:

  • How can we prepare our hearts as a family to welcome Jesus on Christmas day?
  • It is a wonderful time of the year to give gifts. What gift can you offer to Jesus out of love for Him?
  • Our Advent wreath brings the light of Christ into our home. How can you shine Christ’s light to others?
  • It can be hard to wait patiently for the joy of Christmas. What is one thing we can do together as a family to help us remain focused on Jesus and His coming?

PRAYER FOR ADVENT

As you light your candle(s) for each week of Advent invite all who gather to share in this prayer:

God, Send your light into our hearts and fill us with joy,

as we prepare for the birth of your Son.

Transform our lives into images of Jesus

so that your light will shine through us.

Lord, fill the world with your peace, hope and love this Advent.

Amen.

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 yearStudent 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

~ https://www.family.cmho.org/mental-health-ready-for-the-holidays/

Gojmerac, AnnieCommunity Update: November 29, 2021