A thoughtful monthly reflection from our Chaplain:

This morning I read a report detailing the response of the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Borys Gudziak to the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia.After detailing the historical context of Ukraine’s history of invasions, the Archbishop went on to say that he recently prayed for Ukraine PresidentVolodymyr Zelensky to stand strong and to guide the defense of his country in a wise way and for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s conversion:”to fall on his knees and realize that he will face Almighty God at the last judgement”.


As we anticipate the coming season of Lent, perhaps we, too, can ask Almighty God to guide our Lenten journey is such a way that our hearts are cleared of the temptation to use domination and force in our own relationships, so that the purity of the Gospel message finds a place in our thoughts, words, and deeds.  


As we prepare for Lent, I would highly recommend reading and reflecting on Pope Francis’s book “Let us Dream”, where you will find an antidote to the temptation to violence within our own hearts: a respectful inner and outer dialogue with those whom we consider “other”, so that the Holy Spiritcan bring about a holy synthesis that reconciles us with one another and with God.


Let us also use our prayer, fasting and abstinence this Lent to pray for an end to the war inside and outside of our hearts that seeks to divide ratherthan unite us, so that the fullness of God’s Kingdom will find a welcome place in our hearts and in the hearts of others. 


May Christ’s Peace reign more fully in our hearts this Lent. 

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, prayer for us.

-Deacon Damien

February 28, 2022.

A few years ago, I was on a plane that was experiencing severe turbulence as it made its final descent. After making several attempts to land, the pilot made another effort and landed our plane safely on the runway. For almost 2 years, we have experienced a different kind of turbulence, the physical, emotional and spiritual turbulence caused by the COVID virus and its mutations. Like the pilot who landed the plane I was on, our Catholic faith “pilots” us through the turbulence caused by the COVID pandemic. That faith is mirrored in the words of the famous English anchorite, Julian of Norwich who, in her writings, constantly reminds us that “all is well, and all manner of things shall be well”. As we navigate this new year, may we be reminded that Jesus, our Lord and Brother continues to “pilot” us on our pilgrimage through this life. A belated Happy New Year to all Guild members!

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, prayer for us.

-Deacon Damien

January 13, 2022.

Almost 2 weeks ago I watched with joy the meeting of Pope Francis and Orthodox Primate Archbishop Ieronymous ll, a meeting that was live streamed on YouTube.  Years in the making, this historic visit captured for me, the spirit of Advent: a treasured time of hopeful expectation.  In this case, the hope that Jesus’s prayer at the Last Supper for unity within his Church will eventually come to fruition.  As we enter this last week of Advent, perhaps we can continue to pray with Christians the world over for the unity and peace that only the Lord Jesus can give to us, our families, and our world. Happy Advent and a very Merry Christmas and Joyful 2022 to all of you!

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, prayer for us.

-Deacon Damien

December 16, 2021.

November, the month set aside to pray for the loved ones who have gone before us. This month, Christians ponder the great hope of our faith: the resurrection of our bodies.

Our belief in the resurrection finds it’s expression in the communion of saints, the teaching which reminds us that “Sister Death” is not to be feared, but to be embraced with joy.

Easy to say – yes – but for Christians, death is the gateway in the fulness of life promised to us by our Lord and Brother, Jesus.

As we continue to pray for our loved ones this month, let us be mindful of the “Gospel of Joy” passed on and entrusted to us at baptism, a joy that we can pass on to our students, families, friends – to all of those we encounter each day.

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, prayer for us.

-Deacon Damien

November 19, 2021.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Our recent celebration of Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for the blessings we have received.  As Catholic teachers, Thanksgiving reminds us of the eucharistic dimension of our lives, to be grateful for our vocations and the privileged position we share to pass of the faith to those entrusted to our care.

As we navigate the COVID pandemic, let us be mindful of Pope Francis’s constant plea to not forget about another “pandemic”, the “pandemic” of indifference that permeates so much of our culture today, whose “inoculation” can be found in the practice of the virtues of generosity, acceptance and kindness towards those who feel lonely and alienated.

As we look forward to our celebration of the Eucharist on November 24, let us remain grateful for all that God has given us by reaching out to those needy who cross our paths each day.

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

-Deacon Damien

October 14, 2021.

Early this morning I watched a motorcade heralding the arrival of Pope Francis in the war-torn country of Iraq.  Pope Francis’s peace initiative has been long in the making.  It is a small but significant sign of hope to a country and a world that continues to be torn apart by indifference and sectarian strife.  Pope Francis’s initiative calls to mind St. Therese of Lisieux’s strategy for transformation, that small gestures done with great love can act as catalysts for meaningful change, both individually and globally.

A few days ago, our Guild welcomed Fr. John Huber, a Basilian priest and Catholic school principal from Houston Texas, who animated our annual Lenten Retreat.  Fr. Huber inspired us with his own small gesture of hope, reminding us of our common baptismal call to share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of the Lord Jesus – to be witnesses of his mission to evangelize our culture by entering into the world of those entrusted to our care.

From May 2-7 of this year we will celebrate Catholic Education Week.  This is an opportunity for all of us to witness to and celebrate the gift of our Catholic faith, a way of continuing to transform our culture by “injecting” it with the “vaccine” of hope that inspires us to make God’s Kingdom come on this earth as it is in heaven.

St. John Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Deacon Damien A. Mc Gowan

March 5, 2021.

The other day a friend of mine shared with me a reflection about teachers.  It said:  “A mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher explains, a superior teacher demonstrates, a great teacher inspires.”  Inspired teaching, of course, is not confined to the classroom nor are teachers confined to those who hold a Bachelor of Education degree.  As we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord today, perhaps we can allow this feast to inspire us to give thanks for the teachers of the Teacher we call Lord – Saints Joseph and Mary – whose obedience to the angel Gabriel brought incarnated Love into our world, a love that sets us free to be heralds of His Gospel.

St. John Baptist de la Salle, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Deacon Damien A. Mc Gowan

January 12, 2021.

Dear friends,

A lot has happened since my last post in January of this year!  2020 will be seared into our collective memories for years to come – and its not over yet!

Despite the COVID 19 pandemic, we have much reason to hope for as we enter the Season of hope we call Advent.  Pandemics, like all historical crises, afford us the opportunity to renew our commitment to the One who came among us to inoculate us against the ongoing spiritual pandemic we call sin.  As we look forward to our virtual retreat with Fr. Martin on December the 8th, let us be grateful for the opportunity to celebrate

Mother Mary’s immaculate conception by saying yes – with her – and allowing Jesus to continue to be born in our hearts!

A very happy Advent and Christmas Season to you all!

Deacon Damien A. Mc Gowan

October 27, 2020.

As we savour the end of our Christmas break and head back to school, the Church’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Lord presents us with a golden opportunity to reflect on the raison d’etre of our newly formed guild: to become, like the wise men, faithful witnesses to our newborn king who has been born in our hearts. May we, like the wise men in Matthew’s Gospel account, adore our newborn King by placing our collective gifts at the service of our children and youth in 2020. Happy New Year!

Deacon Damien A. Mc Gowan

January 5, 2020.


We’re off and running! A big thank you to our executive and especially to St. Francis Xavier parish for hosting our inaugural Advent retreat on November 23.

Advent is a time of hope, a time of great expectation, when all of Creation awaits the fulfillment that comes from Christ’s final coming. In this “already but not yet” season our hearts turn towards God’s Word made flesh in Mary, our Divine Mother, the Word that begs to be born in each one of us.

This season of hope and renewal calls us to remember – and to act on – the great privilege given to us at baptism: to bring the light of God’s merciful love into our oftentimes broken and chaotic world, a merciful love that satisfies collective hunger for relationship.

As we contemplate the many blessings that God has showered on our fledgling Guild, let us allow the Holy Spirit to fill us this Advent with the kind of gratitude that enables us to reach out to others, especially to the most vulnerable in our families, schools, families and neighbourhoods.

Maranatha! Happy Advent!

Deacon Damien A. Mc Gowan

November 26, 2019.


Last month I attended a retreat that was based on the book of Exodus. The retreat was given by a Carmelite scripture scholar who, in one of his conferences, referred to the Jewish Talmud.  Before referring to the Talmud he asked an important question: “How does God respond to our prayer requests?”  After we responded, he shared with us the Talmudic view:  “God answers prayer in three ways:  ‘No’, ‘Yes’, and ‘Grow up!”  Our retreat director added. “The majority of the time, God’s answer to our prayer is ‘Grow up!’  

The Peel Catholic Teachers Guild came about because of a deep conviction to help all involved in Catholic education to “grow up” in our faith and to encourage others to do so by providing our members the opportunity to provide mutual spiritual support.  

As we grow together, let us remember that our baptismal faith invites all of us to “grow up,” to respond to the invitation of our Risen Lord and Brother, Jesus, to live – and to share – the abundant life he has shared with us.

Deacon Damien A. Mc Gowan

October 28, 2019.  Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles.