Each year, students, staff and parents in the Pope Francis Centre School community are recognized for their efforts to serve those in need, and truly living as examples of the Prayer of St. Francis, through the Pope Francis Centre Award.
These awards are handed out during a special Magic of Christmas Mass and celebration.
This year’s celebration took place on December 13, and Director of Education John Crocco, who will retire in 2020, was recognized for his commitment to creating a safe place where student-parents can complete their education and have their child nearby for feeding and visits – at no cost to the student.
Director Crocco said he was “truly touched and humbled” when a former Pope Francis Centre student Erin Gillis, now in her third year of nursing school at Brock University, spoke to present him with his award.
She spoke of Director Crocco’s “contagious” love of children, particularly those less fortunate, advocating for alternative programs so all students can succeed, regardless of their circumstance. Erin also credited the Director for opening the doors to a strong Indigenous education program and supported future pathways for students – apprenticeship, college, university and the world of work – equally.
But it was the Pope Francis Centre that had the most impact on Erin’s life as the young parent of a newborn.
“Most importantly,” she said, “during his tenure, he said yes to starting a young parent program, for which (her three-year-old son) Xavier and I will forever be grateful, along with so many young parents and newborn children.”
Director Crocco was presented with the award by Erin and Xavier.