Some thoughts on the end of Forum

John, I am crushed to hear this news. Hearing diarmuid , and Teresa  and others changed my life! I was so looking forward to attending this year.

Thank you John for bringing us insightful, thought provoking theologians who respected us as adults who are deserving of so much more than the usual Sunday drivel and infantalizing treatment lay people usually receive. Thank you for all the behind the scenes work and the momentous effort it takes to get educators to come out. The forum offered an opportunity for important and progressive lay formation in our catholic tradition. I am very very sad.

I live in Toronto-east end. Please add my name to any distribution list of people in Toronto interested in furthering the issues raised in your email.

Thank you for your decades of service through the forum. It has been a spiritual lifeline for many of  us, and its legacy will continue to bear fruit.

All the best,


Good Afternoon

How very disappointed Bart and i are that you have had to cancel this years Forum.

We are latecomers to this event but have appreciated beyond words the few we were able to attend.

The experience was for us illuminating and brought hope for the way forward for our Catholic Church.

Our heartfelt thanks for your enthusiasm, energy, and commitment to bringing a broader perspective to

our Catholic journey. Bless you for all you have done these many years to feed the flock!!

Enjoy those grandkids- they are God’s richest blessings!!


Dear John,

On behalf of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, I am sorry to hear of this news. It is never an easy decision to have to cancel a program/forum – especially one tackling such diverse topics facing children, teachers and parents within Catholic schools and society.



This saddens me SO MUCH! I’m new to Forum and have been the last 3 years and they were such wonderful events. What, if I may ask, is the minimum number of attendees you look at before cancelling? Wondering if future Forum simply aims for the “small but powerful “?


Sorry to hear it John but you can certainly be proud of your legacy and the work that was accomplished under leadership.

All the best,


Hello John,

Thank you for advising me of the cancellation of the Canadian Forum on Theology and education.

I note that The Canadian Forum on Theology and Education began in the 1990s at St. Jerome’s College at the University of Waterloo, offering secondary religious education teachers some professional development. Our teachers found it helpful, especially when the revisions to the secondary curriculum were released.

Since 2000, other opportunities opened up for our teachers.  Dufferin-Peel began “hosting” a Master in Religious Education program (at first through the University of St. Paul’s in Ottawa, and more recently with the University of St. Michael’s in Toronto).  We’ve had almost 100 teachers go through these programs.  As well, teachers have availed themselves of other local opportunities through “Faith Connections” (with the Sisters of St. Joseph), the Office of Catholic Youth (for young teachers), our own after school sessions (Scripture Series), and so on.  In fact we have many teachers enrolled in the Masters courses this year.

I want to assure you that there are many and varied opportunities available to our teachers, and many teachers do take advantage of these opportunities.


On behalf of  the Board, I would like to thank you for your support in engaging our teachers in religious dialogue and wish you well.


end of an era..liked your line about “don’t know what’s going on…….


Dear John,

As a former Principal with the Toronto Catholic Board I attended the Forum in 20i6 and really enjoyed the presentations by Joan Chittister and Diarmuid O’Murchu.  I found every aspect of the forum and all that went into organizing for such  a large group most impressive.    I realize the time and effort that goes into such an endeavour and congratulate you for all  you have done over the years.   I certainly would have been interested in attending the 2019 Forum had it not been cancelled.  I have read a number of books by Ilia Delio and I feel you might have had a better response for 2019.   Such mind-opening forums are badly needed in the Church today.   With thanks for all you have done.


I am so sorry, both personally and professionally, to see Forum go. I have been ill since AGM concluded on the 12th and I was remiss in sending out additional correspondence to Niagara Secondary teachers regarding Forum, and for this, I sincerely apologize.


Thank you for the beautiful email saying good-bye to an event that you are so passionate about. I am so grateful for the moments of grace I enjoyed at Forum and I know that it was transformative in my life and in the lives of many Catholic educators.

Peace and Blessings,


Dear John, I was sorry to hear that there will be no more forums.
I am an elderly American (roaming catholic) woman who attended the forum to hear Joan and Diarmid. I found it very invigorating and met many great people there. I have no background in teaching but had been a member of my local parish for over 40 yrs. I was not able to make the next 2 forums D/T family commitments. There is a parish in Rochester, NY that you are probably familiar with- Spiritus Christi! They model the church as I believe it should be, e.g. woman priests, welcome LGBT and invite all in attendance to receive Communion. My group called ourselves Spiritus Christi Buffalo. But FAther Jim Callan (who celebrated Mass with us is no longer able to come. So we continue as a house church. All these influences have made me a better, more compassionate person. You are a seeker and I know you will continue to be. Thanks for all you’ve done to make Catholics and all better informed. If anything else “springs up” keep me posted. Thanks again,


Hi John

So sorry to hear that your organization of the Forum  is coming to an end. It has been absolutely brilliant with such wonderful and thought provoking speakers.

Many thanks for all your work on this project over the years. It is greatly appreciated. I can hardly believe that it has been on the go for 39 years!
You will now have time to relax and enjoy yourself!



I am saddened for our loss. Thank you for all that you have done over the years.

Peace and blessings


Hi John,

You give your very best. Thanks for your years of care, concern and coordinating of the Canadian Forum on Theology and Education. It was a good run.

Elderberry Connection has cancelled our retreat this year though the plans were clicking along but registrations were not sustainable.

Blessings for you and your family.


Dear John – so sorry to hear this news.  I enjoyed the conferences I attended – even with ‘controversial’ speakers and challenging topics.  The times are a-changing but you tried to keep us informed in giving us opportunities to discuss, reflect and challenge with each other.  God bless you for your fidelity, courage and  insights.


Good afternoon,

sorry to hear that you did not have enough interest to run the Forum this year. Try us again next year. Hopefully, we will be available as we have enjoyed them in the past.


Thank you John for your dedication.   Forum is the one gathering in our church that has brought me hope.

Our board’s faith day conflicted with this year’s forum and will likely conflict every two years as they have opted to move it to the Spring p a day.

Enjoy your grandchildren.   I will see what I can do to find people to take this torch and keep it going.


Hi John,

Very disappointed that you are wrapping up Forum. I really enjoyed it over the years and thought you gathered together top-flight speakers.

Wow!!  The end of an era.  So disappointing!

Just today I met with our department head and a VP and when they suggested a priest come and speak I said we are losing our staff because we need more progressive and challenging speakers. Maybe I’ll ask Cathy if she is interested in coming to my school that PA day in April to talk.

Thank you so much for all the amazing work you have done.  I have always enjoyed it.  What an amazing list of speakers!


So many are content with the status quo.  They just ignore the church that has lost so much credibility and go to their yoga, nature and loving relationship – with no idea that is precisely the direction the Spirit is blowing for many of us in the church as well.

No worries – the Spirit of truth will continue its work.

Thanks so much for being her instrument all this time.

Enjoy the grandkids:)


Hello John!

I have read your email and I can feel the pain within.

Over the years, I have attended many forums, at first as a way to get out of class but in later years as a way to get back into class and bring along some interesting new material.

This years’ topic certainly held promise.

I remember the Forum a few years’ back—a huge event.  It’s attendence surprised even you, and it was great being part of that peak of sorts.

Like fresh food or open wine, I find that most truly good things have life spans that are too short, seeming to end just as you’re enjoying them.

Congrats on an amazing run.  I am sure the dialogue will continue and the pendulemn swing, as it always does.



Thank you for your passionate work on Forum and for making these remarkable people available to us.

All best,


Hi John
Thank you for your message, as disappointing as it is.  I want to thank
you for your vision and hard work which helped me and many others grow and
broaden our horizons.
I wish you every blessing.


A great letter.  I am sad, not so much because I won’t have the opportunity to present, as that I won’t have the opportunity to attend.  Thanks for giving us so much for so long.


Thank you John for your years of deification to informing religious educators about the leading issues in our faith.

I was only able to attend in my recent retirement years and I was always grateful for the opportunities  that the conference gave me for viewing my faith from different perspectives.

I know that this year’s conference focus was an essential one for educators dealing with our youth of today who face so many challenges relating to gender. i regret that this opportunity is lost.

i am the age now of a grandmother and no longer an agent of change but i offer sincere prayers for those who are still engaged in this monumental task including you and your family.


Dear John ~

I am so very sorry to receive this news about Forum. There are no words to give you any solace over this turn of events but please know that your efforts have made a difference to the depth and assurance of my faith and that of many others too. Personal circumstances prevented me from attending last year but I thoroughly appreciated the years when I was able to participate.

Thank you for all your efforts to minister to adults and for sharing the best contemporary theological thinking.  Oh that we could say the same about what our particular Diocese has ever offered….currently Alpha?!? Or huge screens installed in traditional Church sanctuaries detracting from the altar and crucifix in the hope that this use of “technology” will bring young people back in droves! We are in sad, sad times for the local Church and Catholic schools and Forum was always a bright spot in the year. You personally with your featured speakers consistently presented the best of what it means to be Catholic and for that I thank you sincerely. I will always remember your kind assistance with those challenging high school retreats when I was a new chaplain at Lakeshore Catholic.

Warmest regards for many healthy and happy days ahead with your loved ones. Above all, keep the faith, your kind of faith..the kind that counts and gives life!


I am sorry for your disappointment, John.

I wish you well,


Dear John,

So sorry to hear this… I attended only one Forum…2016 with Diarmiud O’Murchu and Joan Chittister… it was fabulous.

I am not a teacher… but was so grateful of what wonderful resources you provided to  us…for education and theological development…

What a loss…

Opportunites you have provided are especially needed now.

Best wishes to you, John… and thank you for all your work and efforts on the church’s behalf… and ours..

God bless you… and your family

God bless the church


Hello John,

Thanks for your efforts and accomplishments, your work has been an inspiration and encouragement for many.

Keep smiling, Joe

Bye for now….


I’m terribly sorry about the Catholic state of the union these days.

It’s tough being an intelligent Catholic with such closed Bishops

misusing their power. How dare they tell adult women not to attend

a conference.

Thank you for trying to bring about transformation and conversion of the church.



PLEASE USE YOUR POWERS TO HAVE ANOTHER EVENT.  I don’t know how I could help you.  I will be retired when in happens next year, so perhaps I COULD.

PLEASE DON’T let it stop, please don’t do it.


Dear John,

Greetings from Chatham.

Upon receiving your news and update, what stands out are the questions you are posing. Thank you for this.

We are in complex times when many valuable, long term projects are coming to an end and this does raise questions for sure. These times also seem to demand that we live and move forward without knowing all the answers…never easy.

I wish you many good years ahead and am grateful for all you have dedicated to opening up conversation to deepen the educational process.




Just wanted to say thanks for all your work over the years on Forum and I too feel sad that it has been closed down.  It was all of those things that you say in your e-mail for various people over the years.  I enjoyed, learned and was challenged by the ones that I was able to attend.

Having gone thru the life cycle of several similar activities like Forum in my own career, sometimes it is just time!  It’s not any consolation, I know.  And out of the fertile soil that you have helped to cultivate seeds germinate in all kinds of places we may not be aware of.

Enjoy your grandparent time and I am sure there is still lots that you are doing to help us all “keep the faith”.


Hi John,

I want to say thank you for allowing me to be a part of High School Forum for over 35 years.


Your support, honesty, and friendship will be treasured for many years to come.

It has been a pleasure.


Hi John,

I am very disappointed to hear that the Forum has been cancelled. I know I had registered for this Forum.


I am as disappointed as you that you have had to cancel the Forum.  I personally do not have the energy that I had before I turned 86.  But I am concerned that you did not receive the support of those still  of “teaching’ our expanded Catholic School System across Ontario.  Lety us all continue to pray for our Separate School System.

Thanks for your efforts and accomplishments, your work has been an inspiration and encouragement for many.



Thanks for all that you have done, John.  I’m sorry to hear this.


John, I am saddened for you and want to thank you for your years of dedicated service to this important issue of religious education within the Catholic school system.  As an M.R.E. graduate, I can fully appreciate the breadth of knowledge and the diversity of opinions the Forum offered.  As with all deaths, there is hope and this is my prayer for you.

With the peace of Christ,


Hi John,

Thanks for the lengthy explanation, and for legitimizing and relativizing Catholic education.  I am most disappointed that this has been cancelled, and am flabbergasted that there was not enough interest in such a timely topic.


Dear JOhn … I do not know you very well and do not live in the TO area, however attended a Forum and was delighted that you were able to get the speakers who were excellent and who presented an evolving view of our Christian and catholic faith in the midst of today’s evolving world …  you have worked diligently trying to obtain and provide opportunites that would not have been available  otherwise …

My sincerest thanks to you and all of your helpers …


Dear John,

In so many ways, this is sad news.  But for you, I hope many hours free of headaches and more time for family, friends, and whatever brings you joy.

My best wishes and gratitude for your blessing on so many.


Hello John..This must be very disappointing  for you but do take satisfaction in knowing that you have done a great service to so many teachers , their students,  and seeking folks like me, over the years. The  insights, encouragement, and even joy,  those forums sparked  will be passed on and on. You have earned  a rest….enjoy!  Betty

Hello John..This must be very disappointing  for you but do take satisfaction in knowing that you have done a great service to so many teachers , their students,  and seeking folks like me, over the years. The  insights, encouragement, and even joy,  those forums sparked  will be passed on and on. You have earned  a rest….enjoy!  Betty

Thanks for a great run, John. You have out-done yourself. The only Irish guy from England who in Canada raised the bar of faith so high that even bishops couldn’t understand it. I have enjoyed your excellent workshop choices throughout your double billing. And now, Grandpa, put your feet up, have a beer or two and don’t cling to Jesus, but rather follow Mary Magdalene to Galilee or France or wherever she went proclaiming that “Christ lives”. Muchas Gracias amigo (cf. John 15:12-17). Dw (Don) Dietrich. P.S. Look at your grand children and say: unless you become like a little child you shall not enter the kin-dom.

John; you have done great things over the years….you should be proud. Hopefully someone else will pick up the torch and rekindle the spirit of being open minded, caring and seeking the Holy Spirit to guide them in doing great things. Congratulations on your many successful years.

Good morning John

I very much enjoy Teresa last year and I was looking forward to the gathering this year.  My best conversations were around the meals and nutrition breaks which only reinforces the notion that the kitchen is the heart and soul of a family.

I am not able to attend this year as I will be on my Camino walk while you are gathered.  I will keep you and the gathering in my prayers as I journey to Santiago de Compestelo.

Can I make this offer, i am willing to sponsor an individual to attend this year’s gathering if there finances are an impediment to there attendance. It would be an anonymous

Thanks for all your efforts with CFOTAE John. You have helped to ‘feed” many people over the years, and you have a right to look back at your legacy and be delighted.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blue Captcha Image