At the time of the 1978 reunion St. Edward’s Parish History – Westport, Ontario 1978 was published to mark the parish’s 130th anniversary. (St. Edward’s Church was built in 1860, twelve years after the parish was founded.) Fr. Reed Rowell, the beloved pastor at that time, along with Fr. Edward Jackman, historian from the Archdiocese of Toronto and editor of the publication, led the Parish History Committee in the writing of the book. One point stressed in the history was the close relationship among the parish, the school and the convent. This was seen in the many connections among the three, from school events to the celebration of Mass and the sacraments, to involvement in the local community. The local pastor has always played an important role in the life of the school. The Sisters led in parish events and education. One astonishing statistic in 1978 was the fact that fifty-nine men and women from St. Edward’s Parish, plus another five from neighbouring parishes who had attended St. Edward’s Continuation School, responded to the call to religious life and the priesthood. Since 1978 another three have followed a similar path. This is a remarkable number, considering there were only 150 families in the parish at most times, perhaps twice that many families in the boom time of the previous century. The book indicates that in the Westport area were conditions that were particularly conducive to fostering vocations to religious life, the priesthood and the diaconate. That same fertile Irish-Catholic parish and school community also fostered countless strong vocations to marriage and the single life. Again, the continuing influence of the priests and sisters on the lives of so many is evident. The local pastor has played a leading role in the life of the school from the earliest days to the present. The idea of building a parish school and convent emanated from Father M.J. Stanton, the sixth pastor of St. Edward’s. Fr. Stanton worked closely with Bishop Cleary and the parishioners to make that concept a reality. Local parishioners donated labour and money to erect both the convent and school in 1885-86. Over the years the pastor has been active in the school’s financial, spiritual and academic life. Many generations recall the visit of the priest to the classroom to present report cards to students. The pastor would read aloud the reports, offering comments of praise and encouragement where warranted, words of criticism and other repercussions for those students not doing so well. In the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario’s publication, Beacons of Faith – The Story of our Schools (2004), Sister Cawley recalls such a visit by Father Michael O’Rourke to Sister St. Claire’s class. The pastor reviewed the ranking of each student in the class, average mark and conduct for each report card. The recently-arrived Sister had marked the conduct lower than normal and this caused considerable concern for the pastor and, consequently, nervous trepidation for the students! Sister St. Claire then realized that the impression of the students’ conduct was lower than she had intended. The conduct marks improved for the next report and everything moved along smoothly from there, Sr. Cawley writes. Father Louis L. DiRocco with First Communion Candidates (April 2012) 5 Father William A. Dwyer Pastor 1986-94

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