Ecolé St. Mary High School Principal Mark Phaneuf was gratified and humbled when he was recently named one of the two recipients of the 2019-2020 Catholic Education Service Award as announced by the Prince Albert Roman Catholic School Division (PARCSD). After serving with and living in the division for nearly his entire life Phaneuf feels he served as well as has been served by the people of PARCSD.
Recipients were chosen thanks their significant contributions to Catholic education, and their faith community.
“It contains my entire life and to be able to have that kind of relationship with community you just really can see an opportunity to be involved as well. So the circumstance I was placed in greatly helped create an environment where it is easy to give,” Phaneuf said.
“I have been with the School Division as a student and employee for I guess close to 40 years now. So to spend that much time with an organization and really at 55-years-old when you about it my entire life. That kind of longevity for a relationship with a community it feels really good to be recognized like that,” he explained.
He explained that he is part of his home in the community, the school, the Knights of Columbus and Sacred Heart Cathedral and he sees each part of the community as linked. Phaneuf has chaired the Sacred Heart Parish Council, been the Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus for the Cathedral and has been a parishioner for his entire life.
He has worked in the School Division even before he earned his degree. Phaneuf was a Teaching Assistant (now called an Educational Assistant) for two years while he completed his Education Degree. He has been at St. Mary for 16 years, St. Francis for eight years and St. Michael Community School for four years. Phaneuf has also been a vice principal.
An important aspect of service to Phaneuf is the connections you make in both the parish and the education community. He considers service just another aspect of an educators profession and life.
“As educators, you get to be with people and hopefully effect people and part of what I have really reflected on is how many people positively affected me. I have learned so much from my students, my staff and families. I have learned so much from the different parishioners at the Cathedral and the people that I have served on the various committees there and with the Knights of Columbus,” Phaneuf explained.
Phaneuf said that the award recognizes that people are aware of what he gives, but he receives just as much from the wonderful people in the division.
“I can’t help but think of Mother Theresa at a time like this where she talks about life is not about making these big actions of love it is about doing everyday tasks and everyday things that you do as people and it is the small tasks that make such a difference. I think about the things we do every day in our schools and our parishes.”
Examples he gave of small things included the smile you greet somebody with or the hands on the shoulder when somebody is down.
“The relationships are just so important and really that is what I think this award is about,” he said.
“It is about serving and at the same time people are serving you. That is something that gets lost in this is the other side of the relationship where when you need it you really get supported by the people just as much as you maybe energized and supported them.”
The Prince Albert Roman Catholic 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 other recipient is Louise Kirzinger who is currently teaching at Ecole St. Anne School as a Student Support Services Teacher.
For more on the award, please see Thursday’s Daily Herald.