Catholic board chair draws straw to retain seat


By the luck of the draw, Rev. Paul MacNeil returns as chair of Niagara Catholic District Board of Education.

After two rounds of voting by the board’s eight trustees Tuesday night, MacNeil and St. Catharines trustee Kathy Burtnik remained tied.

To break it, the two drew straws.

Burtnik, a former chair, pulled a short straw and MacNeil the winning long straw.

Later, Burtnik was elected vice-chair over Thorold/Merritton trustee Pat Vernal.

The election came during the board’s annual organizational meeting. The chair and vice-chair serve one-year terms.

For MacNeil, who represents Grimsby, Lincoln, Pelham and West Lincoln, this is his third term.

MacNeil in his remarks after the election praised the guidance in education from Canadian bishops.

“It is time to come together as one body in sharing a deep concern for the spiritual well-being of our children,” he said.

Burtnik praised the dedicated staff and said the year ahead is one of challenges and opportunities for Catholic education in Niagara.

“We have students from the age of three to probably 93 who are counting on us” to bring the gospel story of peace, love, acceptance and forgiveness, she said.

Bishop Gerard Bergie, who is honorary chair of the board, opened the meeting by reminding the trustees, administrators and principals who filled the board room they are “primarily there for the students.”

He told them “God called you to do this” and that “Jesus was first and foremost a rabbi, that is, a teacher.”

During a delay in a vice-chair vote count, the board room full of principals and administrators sang along to Santa Claus is Coming to Town played by Blessed Trinity High School music teacher Angela Maccaroni. Tuesday was the feast of St. Nicholas, the inspiration for Santa Claus.

Source: By Wayne Campbell, for Postmedia Network
Photo Credits: Bishop Gerard Bergie, chair Rev. Paul MacNeil and vice-chair Kathy Burtnik begin a new one-year term for Niagara Catholic District School Board. (Wayne Campbell/Special to Postmedia Network)