SIGNUM FIDEI Spring 2019
Isabella Aversa, DEL ‘16
By John Hunt & Isabella Aversa, DEL ‘16 Too often for our liking, life is not fair. Sad tales abound. Some of them we cause ourselves but mostly they come from the unknowable, the unforeseeable calamities that the great wide universe chooses to inflict upon us. Too many nightmare scenarios concern our own health or the health of our families. When struck by sudden debilitating strokes or lingering diseases, by the fallout of accidents at home or away, or the shock of the revelation of a dire condition, we seek safety, in hope or panic, in the talents of the caregivers in our healthcare system. But how solid, how reliable is that system? In Ontario we are blessed with healthcare that is lavishly funded but still we know of too long delays in hospital hallways for
lack of beds, harmful delays for scans and operations, and inadequate care after treatments. In recent years billions have been wasted tinkering with this or that remedy. The tinkering continues. The rush to the U.S. alternative is too costly for most. England, another possibility, is also expensive and far from home. Is there any port in the storm in any other part or the world? Questions must be asked and comparisons made between health systems looking for strengths and weaknesses, to be copied or avoided.
Apparently, in many fields of medicine, across the world, there is no universal model to use as a basis of comparison. This lack of a standard hinders ready comparisons that might facilitate better options and streamline procedures. But there many countries and too many different levels of prosperity. In many places health services are shoddy or inadequate or unreliable. However, in the area of Family Medicine, “perhaps the stem cells of healthcare systems ”, fortunately one of our DEL grads is involved in award-winning research at Laurier Health Services. Our graduate is Isabella Aversa (DEL’16) who is working on a project to create the needed template. She is one of a group of seven students at Laurier who are exploring the quality of family medicine around the world. The leader of the research-based directed studies course is Dr. Neil Arya. The first phase of the project focused on exploring what Family Medicine
means around the world. Each of the seven students spearheaded one aspect of the project. Happily, they had the helpful idea of creating a 3-D map of the world which shows variable data in one glance. The map shows the year family medicine systems were established in each country and the height of the profile tells the length of the history of Family Medicine in that country. Also, the role and meaning of such terms as “general practitioner” varies widely from country to country, so terms must be clarified. To better understand these distinctions the students interviewed family doctors around the world. The next step was to create a website to provide data to every country and world region. The eventual goal is to determine how much a model of primary care is beneficial to health systems. The hope is that within this framework family doctors can adapt and” be whatever they need to be for the community”-in other words, “of being who you need to be for the people who need you.” Success depends on many factors: terminology (to provide common descriptions), data on primary care such as immunization rates, and the value of various healthy behaviors. In this way doctors in Africa, Brazil or Poland may reap benefits from the efforts of Isabella and her team. In recognition of their work the team received two awards from the “Besrour Global Health Forum” at a very large conference of family doctors from across Canada and around the world, “despite being the youngest attendees.” Isabella is our graduate, so it our honor and pleasure to feature the influence of Del upon her career. CONTINUED PG. 3
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A Lenten Reflection from Brother Domenic
From the crisis in the Church today will emerge a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. (Joseph Ratzinger circa 1969 – the future Pope Benedict XVI) Since the Second Vatican Council which ended over fifty years ago now until our own days, a great deal has changed in the life of the Church. The shortage of priests and Religious Sisters and Brothers, the introduction of a new liturgy, and the disappearance of many Catholic customs and practices have been much in evidence during these years. Attendance at Sunday Mass is at a historic low and the sexual abuse scandals continue to plague the Church in many parts of the world. It is easy to become discouraged. However, there continue to be signs of life here and there. The pro-life movement is alive and more active than ever. Some traditional religious orders have sprung up and are receiving good vocations. The days of strange forms of
the liturgy seem to be beyond us and the interest in the traditional liturgies of the Church continue to grow, especially among young adults. These are signs that the Spirit is active in our lives and the Lord makes good on his promise that he does not leave us orphans even though the family may be smaller and less influential.
time to go to the Lord as one does a best friend.
No doubt, the Church, as Pope Benedict XVI speculated so many years ago now, is indeed getting smaller in some sense. Any time genuine reformation takes place in an organisation or group this can result in a better and stronger version of the entity. Authentic and true adherence to a group requires purification or cleansing. It also elicits a faithful response to being committed. When Jesus asked his closest disciples if they, too, were no longer able to follow him because of the exigencies of the nature of their discipleship, they had to make a decision.
• Attend Mass regularly and make a real preparation to receive the Eucharistic in a worthy manner.
Although we know that the Apostle Peter struggled and failed frequently to follow the Lord as he desired, he, nevertheless, recognised that it was, and is, Jesus to whom we must go because it is the Lord who is the Christ and the One who has the words of eternal life. The weeks of Lent are a time, particularly for cradle Catholics, to re-commit and learn from Peter that we are to go with humility and honesty to Jesus as Saviour, Redeemer and Friend. Young people cannot be expected to go to the Lord if they do not see us going before the Lord as to a dear and loving friend. Naturally, Lent is a good time to practise some penance and abstinence for the sake of perfecting self-discipline and for diminishing the ego which is often an obstacle to being truly human. Above-all though, it is a
Despite all the difficulties and the suffering in the Church, one thing remains true: There is only one thing that stops me from loving and serving the Lord and that is my own will. I offer you the following little way of living the forty days of Lent which help me:
• Put aside time each day in personal prayer and pray with my family, friends, community. • Get over the fear or reluctance to ask Jesus to guide me in my actions at work or school. • Make an extra effort to support my parish or some charity with my talents and treasure. • Read a passage or two of Scripture each day. • Select one or two persons whom I will commit to pray for each day. • Give more time on Sunday to rest or relax with my family or friends. The soul that thirsts for God is first sorry in his heart from fear, and then from love. (St. Gregory I the Great, Dialogues c. 590)
Brother Domenic, fsc President
FAMILY MEDICINE, CONT’D Please read her story, in her own words, a summary of important service to her schools, her province, her country and health care everywhere. During my eight years at De La Salle, I learned the values of community, self-discipline, humility, and charity. These values that have been instilled in me have allowed me to continue to follow Del’s motto, “Leave to Serve.” I graduated from De La Salle in 2016 and am now in my third year of Laurier Health Sciences. Here, I continue to serve the community around me as an executive on the Laurier Supporting SickKids Hospital Club, and as the Chairwoman for my sorority’s gala, that raised $6,000 for women’s cardiac health initiatives. I sincerely believe Del’s high academic standards have allowed me to develop the skills that are helping me to succeed in my program and led me to be selected to participate in a research project that aims to improve global health. In the previous semester, I was selected for a directed studies project under the supervision of Dr. Neil Arya, a family physician and professor. I, along a team of seven other third- and fourthyear Health Science students, worked to expand the understanding of family medicine training and its role within the healthcare system in the various regions of the world. Information on family medicine training and practice from each country was collected through a literature review, and telephone interviews with family physicians in each region of the world. One of the pieces of data that was collected was the year that the first family medicine post-graduate training program was established in each country. Our team had created a visual representation of this data in the form of a three-dimensional map, that we had spent many hours working on in the Laurier Science Maker Lab. Wood layers were added to the map to repre-
sent the amount of years family medicine programs has exi s t e d in each co u n try. We had the opportunity to present Photo of 3D layered wood map displaying family medicine statistics our initial research mat and available to researchers, polifindings and map at the Family Med- cy makers and health care personnel icine Forum, Canada’s largest annual around the world. conference for family physicians, hosted by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. The physicians at the conferThe Spring 2019 Signum Fidei ence were impressed with our innovaissue is brought to you by: tive presentation of data, and excited Joseph Pupo about the future benefits of the project. Director of Alumni Affairs and We were honoured and thrilled to have Development Department won the “Delegates’ Favourite for the 2018 Best Poster Award” and be judged Nick Cipriani as “Runner-up for the 2018 Best Poster Co-ordinator of special events Award”. John Hunt This collaborative multi-year project Advancement and Development is bringing in experts from around the Associate world to map family medicine training Austin McKay DEL ‘09 and practice and understand its role Alumni and Development Associate within various settings. The data that Jessica Minervini has been collected will be added to a Communications Officer web page, where key informants will be able to add and refine information in a wiki-like process. In the future, the projIN THIS ISSUE ect aims to display how each country’s delivery of the family medicine model Family Medicine...........................PG 1 has an effect on its health systems per- Alumni Hockey Tournament........PG 4 formance. The goal of this is to benefit Spring Tournaments.....................PG 5 healthcare on a global scale by providing information on whether family Climbing Everest...........................PG 6 medicine is useful in different settings. U14 Hockey Champs ....................PG 8 It may be advantageous in some coun- TDLS: Mary Poppins ....................PG 9 tries, but not in others and the aim of this project is to find out where family Carnegie Hall, again......................PG 10 medicine can benefit. This research will Down the Centuries....................PG 13 be displayed in an easily accessible for- Rivers of Continuity.....................PG 14
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2019 Alumni Hockey Tournament: Who Took Home the Daniel Bertoia Cup? | By: Austin McKay, DEL ‘09
Team Orange, Veteran’s Division Winners
The 8th Annual Alumni Hockey Tournament in support of Skate with Daniel took place February 22-23rd. 72 Alumni ranging from the Class of 1981 to the Class of 2017 came together to have a great time and bring awareness to an important cause. Daniel Bertoia, Class of 2008, passed away at 18 with cancer and the tournament is proud to raise awareness for ‘Skate with Daniel’, a charity devoted to raising funds to support brain tu-
mour research. We were honoured to have Daniel’s brother Marco on hand to say a few words. The tournament was fun on and off the ice. Teams played one game each Friday night before coming together for food, drinks and a few laughs at the Heritage House. Saturday was a full day of competition with the Veteran’s Division Championship being won by Team Orange in a hotly contested Game 3 of the series with a 6-4 final.
The Young’un’s title went to Team White who defeated Team Green in the last game of the tournament. Tune into TSN to see some highlights (or just check out the slide show below!) De La Salle College is so grateful to have Alumni who enjoy coming back to campus and being around each other representing our school so well.
Registration for the Soccer Tournament opens on April 8. To register for the Golf Tournament, click here. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, click here.
Please enjoy some pictures from the weekend’s action and we hope to see everyone and more next year!
Team White, Young’un’s Division Winners
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By: John Hunt & Richie Jeremian, DEL ‘06 A mountain of a problem still remains to be solved more than two thousand years after the classical Greeks began to probe the issue: the connection, if any, between brain and mind. One is a physical organ and the other is... consciousness? Centuries and centuries later in Toronto, Richie Jeremian (DEL’06) “took an interest in the study of molecular genetics as away to understand complex human disorders, particularly mood and psychiatric disorders”- in other words the relation between brain and psyche. The possibilities generate curiosity and excitement. This is truly Shakespeare’s “undiscovered country”, the dark continents of Freud and Jung, continents that remain unmapped, because of the nebulous relationship between mind and brain. There are many Everests to be conquered here in what may be the most challenging and rewarding adventure in science, another instance of where few have gone before. Imagine salvation for the millions we hear of every day yearning for relief from depression, anxiety, stress, suicidal thoughts as well as dozens of disorders, complexes, compulsions and addictions. The mountain remains but some climbers are restive. One who probed the matter deeply still lives in his timeless art-Shakespeare himself. Lady Macbeth, a rich archetype, is a most cunning, competent villain, a voracious tigress who crumples into a helpless, distracted, psychological wreck. What happened? Her mind, consciousness, rebelled without her conscious knowledge. The author created this rich study four centuries ago, still standing alone, while too many suffer the same torments unaided in this age of science. Pardon the digression but the episode is telling. Besieged Macbeth asks the Doctor about
his “patient” who suffers from horrible nightmares and delusions (after the murders) while sleepwalking. The Doctor replies that “she is troubled with thick-coming fancies.” Besieged Macbeth, at wit’s end, admonishes the Doctor in words that strongly suggest the mysterious, unknown- what? sparks? tenuous synapses? vapors? between brain and psyche that remain an enigma to this hour. Cure her of that. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, Erase the written troubles of the brain, And with some sweet oblivious antidote Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart? The reference is pertinent in our time for troubles abound. Indeed, a troubled Lincoln, no fool, when he couldn’t sleep, walked the halls of the White House reading the great feast of speeches from “Macbeth”. No doubt they resonated. Brain and psyche- the research papers pile up, as do the casualties, sadly in increasing numbers. This is a somber scene, troubling to many. To return to our Del graduate, Richie Jeremian, whose career is proving to be a welcome force in solving complex scientific problems including the mindbrain dilemma. He is an innovative teacher at U. of T. with wide-ranging interests, curious and patient in research, a writer and leader. He is cutting a wide swath through the academic world and has written a summary of what he has been doing since he left Del. Please read this dizzying account, but please sit down first because he moves quickly through many academic domains. It is gratifying to read in his recollections that the school did propel him on his way. He remembers undervaluing Mr. Bellisario’s “singing the merits of a liberal education but found later that the ability to communicate was crucial to
being competent in the real world.” He generously offered to speak to our senior science students in April. I will be in that audience. It’s not every day you get to see an assault on Everest.
passing understanding of the natural sciences. In designing lessons, I strove to improve students’ understanding of the material by integrating class topics with current research findings and relevant examples, and framing them in the context of other disciplines. I have derived great pleasure from exerting some amount of influence in the learning process of students, particularly in courses that I took as an undergraduate. The ability to help students gain insights into the interconnected framework of biomedical science and to challenge their mode of thinking, has been extremely gratifying; it was particularly rewarding to witness students grasp material through “a-ha” moments fueled by classroom discussion, and to track their academic progress across the semester.
I graduated from Del in 2006 with an interest in biology and medicine, which led me to pursue Life Science studies at the University of Toronto. Despite being a challenging program with a demanding course load, the work ethic that was instilled in me in the years prior helped me feel more confident, and ultimately underscored my ability to work hard and succeed. As an undergrad, I took an interest in the study of molecular genetics as a way to understand complex human disorders, particularly mood and psychiatric disorders - this, in turn, impacted my decision to pursue a research-based Master’s at the U of T Faculty of Medicine. Between 2010 and 2018, I served as a research assistant at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) under the supervision of Dr. Art Petronis. As a Master’s student (2010 - 2013), I became immersed in the world of academia, was trained to run and analyse experiments, and had my very first experiences presenting my findings at conferences. For these projects, I studied the role of epigenetic modifications in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder, and published one of the first psychiatric epigenome-wide studies of suicidal behaviour. As a PhD student (2014 - 2018), I used lactose intolerance as a simple model of aging to better understand the molecular underpinning of complex disorders that cluster in families, but do not manifest until several decades of life. In doing so, I became proficient with numerous aspects of molecular genetics research including whole-genome sequencing-based techniques, animal and cell models, and analysis of large sets of data. I collaborated with doz-
Richie Jeremian, DEL ‘06
ens of highly passionate and intelligent researchers both within and outside of my lab on high-risk, high-reward projects that required extensive optimization and sometimes did not materialize. These endeavours taught me to be patient in the face of failure, and to be creative in seeking answers to challenging research questions. With support from my colleagues, I persevered and managed to author six peer-reviewed publications and presented at several international conferences. Notably, one of my abstracts was chosen for a plenary talk, which I presented to several thousand individuals at the largest international genetics conference. For this presentation, I became the first recipient of the Charles Epstein Trainee Award for Excellence in Genetics Research from the University of Toronto. My interactions with clinician-scientists, faculty, and colleagues underscored the impact of research on redefining patient care and outcomes, and emphasized the importance of translational research.
In tandem with my research, the value of expanding my skill set and developing my interests outside the lab (and my comfort zone) became increasingly important. Early on in my program, I was actively involved in departmental affairs, and served as an elected member (including President) of my departmental student council, as well as Student Lead of the Curriculum Committee. I also honed my interest in teaching by serving as a Teaching Assistant and Invited Guest Lecturer for several undergraduate courses (years 1 4), including but not limited to human genetics, health & disease, histology, microbiology and epidemiology. These experiences have fostered a hidden passion for science communication and mentorship and have enabled me to become proficient in presenting and teaching in diverse academic settings. I have had the opportunity to be of service to over 1,000 university students at nearly all points of their academic careers, by using my knowledge and experiences to promote an encom-
In keeping with this theme, I also co-founded Raw Talk Podcast, a discussion-driven program that showcases the stories and contributions of faculty, students and alumni of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. Since its launch in September 2016, I have served as Show Host, Executive Producer, and Lead Audio Engineer, and co-managed a team of 18 graduate students in the production and promotion of the show’s first 45 episodes. Our guests have discussed their emerging careers as researchers, and touched upon experiences from early life and beyond that shaped their decision to pursue academia. The show has also featured conversations with patients, providing listeners with a personal perspective of living with chronic diseases such as epilepsy, depression and cancer. In co-developing this program, I relied heavily upon my communication and management skills; however, I also learned new skills, such as audio production, interviewing and journalism, and mastery of social media. Use of the podcast medium allowed our team to communicate science to a broad audience,
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and to promote a biomedical research culture at the University by incorporating diverse perspectives from budding and seasoned academics. As of today, we have attracted over 20,000 downloads from over 80 countries. With support from departmental heads as well as the Dean and Vice-Dean, the program has recently cemented itself as the flagship podcast of the Faculty of Medicine and is debuting its 56th episode at the time of writing. The personal growth and gratitude I have received from these pursuits strongly influence my decision to incorporate teaching and, more broadly, scientific advocacy into my future activities. When I look back on my experiences at Del, I am most thankful for the supportive and welcoming environment that taught me to challenge myself, cultivated a mindset of lifelong learning and fostered friendships that have endured the test of time. I am also greatly appreciative of the emphasis that was placed on shaping how students communicate (be it through written assignments, spoken pieces and presentations). I’m embarrassed to say that I distinctly remember scoffing in Mr. Bellisario’s grade 12 English class (sorry, Mr. Hunt!) as he was singing the merits of a liberal arts education - only to find that communication underscores everything I do, is crucial to being competitive in the real world, and just generally makes you a more aware human. Having recently completed my PhD, I feel more prepared than ever to take on the next chapter of my life (be it studies in medicine, a job in industry, teaching, or some combination of all of these). My education at Del is more relevant than before in shaping my identity and cementing a framework for me to sharpen my strengths, improve on my weaknesses and feel comfortable with the adventures that lie ahead.
U14 Hockey Team Captures CISAA Title By: David Byrne, DEL ‘91
Seven “Practically Perfect” reasons to see Theatre De La Salle’s Mary Poppins this April | By: Michael Luchka, DEL ‘93 and Savanna La Selva, DEL ‘19 goes through difficult times in life and Mary Poppins shows children that they can look after their parents, too. It’s not always the other way around. Parents sometimes need that spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, too.
Savanna La Selva, star of Mary Poppins U14 Boys’ Hockey Team CISAA Champs
Friday, March 1, in a tightly contested final game in front of a packed De La Salle Arena, the U14 Boys Hockey Team bested the Nichol’s School (Buffalo, New York) 8-7 to capture this year’s CISAA U14 Hockey Championship. Having defeated Appleby College 5-2 in the league semi-finals, the boys knew that their work was cut out for them when it was announced that their opponents in the finals would be the defending champion, Nichol’s School, the only team that they had lost to all season. It was no cliché to say that the outcome of the game wasn’t certain until the final buzzer sounded. The teams traded goals from the first minute of the game until the very last. The score was actually tied 6-6 entering the final minute of play before Del scored the go-ahead goal and a quick empty-netter. Nichol’s showed why they were last year’s champions and continued to fight to the very end, even scoring a late goal with less than 10 seconds on the clock.
The championship win capped off a very successful campaign for a team that was only able to manage one tie last season; this year’s squad went 6-1 through the year and finished the regular season in first place. Coaches Byrne and Lue Tam wish all of the boys in Grade 8 the best of luck in high-school, and look forward to working with the strong core of returning players next year. A big “thank you” goes out to all of the parents who survived the early morning practices and were always there to cheer us on; we couldn’t do it without you!
U14 players in action
Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s magical musical MARY POPPINS flies into De La Salle College this April, and we are supercalifragilistically excited. We spoke to Mary Poppins herself, played by the fabulous Savanna La Selva, to find out why she thinks you need to “Step in Time” and get your tickets to see this dazzling TheatreDLS production. 1. The timeless MUSIC The songs in Mary Poppins by the Sherman Brothers are some of the most beautiful and catchy tunes ever written: “A Spoonful of Sugar”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, “Feed the Birds”, “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” etc. The added bonus about this production is you also get new astonishingly good tunes like “Practically Perfect”, “Anything Can Happen”, “Being Mrs Banks”, “Brimstone and Treacle” and more. They fit beautifully into the story and sound like they should’ve been in the original film the whole time. 2. The heart-warming STORY This story tells the audience to love one another and look out for each other, especially when it comes to family and the people closest to you. Everyone
3. The multi-talented CAST Every year, our directors assemble an incredible cast of creative, talented, and dedicated students who are able to balance so many academic and extra-curricular commitments and still give their heart and soul to the production. This year’s show has the largest cast ever, and the combined energy of students in Grades 5-12 can really be felt on stage, especially in big song and dance numbers like “Jolly Holiday” and “Step in Time.” 4. The must-see MAGIC I don’t know many other shows that can give you hat-stands coming out of a carpet bag along with other magical moments. Mary Poppins will make you believe that magic is real and will leave you questioning what you just saw, in the best way. Our creative team guided by Mr. Luchka’s genius is pulling out all the stops. They’re making magic happen! 5. The show-stopping CHOREOGRAPHY The choreography in Mary Poppins, by the brilliant Melissa-Jane Shaw, is so varied in styles and keeps you entertained for the duration of the story. One of my personal favourites is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, when the letters are spelled out by everyone’s bodies. I always see audience members trying to emulate it on their way out and I love seeing them do it. And “Step in Time” brings together our best dancers for a real dance over the rooftops of London. 6. The permission to JUST BE YOU One of the things I love most about Mary Poppins is the confidence she has within herself. She doesn’t claim to
be perfect, she simply states that she’s practically perfect, recognising she has room to grow. She’s totally happy with who she is and what she stands for. In this day and age with social media, we’re constantly looking at our imperfections and comparing ourselves to others. Mary embraces her imperfections but doesn’t waste her time focusing on them. She celebrates her perfections and everyone around her loves her for it.
John Hunt makes a cameo
7. The supercalifragilistic staff CAMEOS It’s become a TheatreDLS tradition to invite our theatre alumni and current members of the staff and Administration to make cameo appearances in our shows. Br. Domenic has appeared in three productions. In last year’s OLIVER, a total of seven teachers and three Administrators took the stage. This year, we’ve set our sights on a living legend - our very own Mr. John Hunt. Can you imagine that? With the magic of Mary Poppins, anything can happen if you let it! Theatre De La Salle proudly presents MARY POPPINS: April 26-27, 2019, three shows only! SPIT-SPOT! GET YOUR TICKETS NOW AT www.showtix4u.com OR 1-866-967-8167 V.I.P. Packages also available! Come see the show with some “practically perfect” perks.
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Carnegie Hall, again. By: John Hunt & Ida Mahmoudi, DEL ‘12
Ida is a whirlwind. Her first appearance at Carnegie Hall was in 2012, the result of winning an individual Maestro Award (given to 3 of 900) at the Boston Heritage Music Festival, which she attended with the Del Honors Band. She was chosen because of talented dedication to join an elite group from the U.S and Canada to perform at the Famous Hall, the renowned venue that marks the pinnacle of musical achievement. The event is the “Young Adult Honors Performance Series.” Ida is a flutist and she plays and teaches piano as well- her more prominent instrument. So, six years later when she received a second request for auditions at Carnegie, she contacted Mr. Larry Shields, her Del music teacher, rented her flute and began practicing everyday at Goodman’s LLP, a Bay Street law firm. Over the summer she practiced daily to become familiar with her craft again. While entering her third and final year of law school at U. of Ottawa she spent most of September preparing for her audition. Then the news came - with great rejoicing – she was accepted into the program again. As you will read, she managed a successful blend of exuberance, anxiety and achievement. Wonderfully, she triumphed twice where most of humanity could not attempt once. Meanwhile, a McGill graduate, she balanced her passion for music with political and academic concerns in student government at the highest levels. She served at McGill as the school’s Ambassador to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the school’s ambassador to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada at her Ottawa law school. She won awards for excellence in student leadership, among them the “The McGill Women in Leadership” commendation. At Ottawa she led
many initiatives (a long list) such as the “Association for Women and the Law”. She also works as a teaching assistant to Dean Adam Dodek and research assistant to Dr. Ian Kerr, the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology. Her own summary of her odyssey is an accurate account of a student’s journey through the maze of university life and professional schools. We see all the fibers of a life being woven into a tapestry. Her tale has the doubts, hesitations, tentative decisions and decisions that we all have to make to navigate the turbulent choices that early adulthood may present, the existential choices that determine the rest of our lives. Ida’s alternatives are ours: necessity against preferences, opportunities against hesitations, fear against hope, success against failure. Her account of her alternatives and successes is an excellent dramatic rendering of a young thinkers search for meaning and direction. It reads like a short drama while at the same time is an excellent essay, so well executed that it will be given to our senior students as a model to emulate not only of beautiful writing but also of a sample of the trials that they will likely meet. Believe me, a great essay is not easy to find in these times of mass social media, confused standards and the blizzard of grade-inflated scribbling. Her sentences are forceful yet delicate. The sentence variety, refreshing. She gives life to Carnegie Hall by animating the building and its glittering history, observing uniquely that you play with Carnegie Hall, not merely at it. That is rare creative thinking. Not everyone could create that novel expression. The essay has the required classical structure: a closed circle. It ends where it begins and begins where it ends – the topic is surrounded. So, we have splendor – drama, exceptional writing, creativity and insight. But enough commentary. Read and enjoy Ida’s own very creative account.
I look back on my six years at De La Salle with a special kind of fondness, a fondness enriched by the lifelong reminders and relationships I luckily maintained long after I graduated. During my first few days at DEL, Father Testa would consistently repeat a word that, after six years, continues to define my approach to life: asceticism. I distinctly remember the long days we’d all spend as hyper-involved and eager students hoping to better ourselves and our communities. It’s also quite impossible to forget the long nights spent revising our essays to make it into Mr. Hunt’s famous essay collection, which featured his hand-picked favourites. It’s even more impossible to forget our early morning and late evening practices, for our soccer matches, volleyball semi-finals, and basketball games, while doing so. Everyone was busy with something. For every student’s diverse commitments, you would know at least one of your teachers was rooting for you, championing you, and guiding you to exceed your expectations. I will never forget the note and package I had received from Ms. Burlon after I was grappling with significant personal struggles during my last year. I would constantly seek new avenues to channel my selfdoubt and insecurity. Before her mentorship, I largely equated my worth to the volume of opportunities I could accept and pursue. She always offered refreshing perspectives that challenged the mechanical and dissociative approach I took to complete my work. On the last few lines she wrote, “Chaque réveil du soleil offer une nouvelle opportunité; chaque coucher de solei lune occasion d’en profiter d’un travail bien fait.” I still keep the note on my desk every day as a persistent reminder to pause, to think about the value of the things we choose to do, the people we choose to associate with, and kind of life we choose to live.
Mr. Larry Shields was - and continues to be - family. I was the principal flutist in Mr. Shield’s bands since entering high school. After our performance at the Boston Heritage Music Festival, where I was fortunate enough to receive one of three Maestro awards, I received an automatic nomination to audition for a performance at Carnegie Hall. I received the nomination at a critical period in my life: I was deciding which disciplines to pursue when applying to universities. Should I apply to the social sciences and go to law school, or fully commit to the arts? He proved that my passions were never mutually exclusive; the decision to pursue one interest would not condemn the other. I remember our endless conversations around everyone’s innate ability to accommodate their passions, and those conversations have informed my quite bizarre and broad career path, my refusal to specialize into one discipline. But, after my first Carnegie Hall performance, I began feeling more and more distant from my musical passions, and was ashamed of myself for not making enough time for them. I would visit Mr. Shields at the Music Hall whenever I was home. He would always ask how music was doing, and I would not have much to contribute. During my time at McGill, I shifted my focus to composition instead of performance in order to make time for student advocacy. I spent most of my time improving student institutions, specifically with the political science department. I was genuinely interested in improving student life and happiness. But, somehow, Carnegie Hall continued to define and pave the way for new experiences. By some stroke of luck, Professor Kryzstof Pelc, who I had interviewed as part of a Professor of the Month Series had looked me up and noticed I had performance experience. I remember during our interview, we discussed his fascination with
Ida Mahmoudi, DEL ‘16, at Carnegie Hall
Turkish rugs and culture. One week later, he had cryptically asked to Skype about “something”. I initially thought I’d made a mistake during our interview. I accepted the call, noticing Turkish rugs peppered in the background. Surprisingly, he began by asking if I was a performer, signaling that he had noted my Carnegie Hall experience. I said yes. He then asked “So you’re comfortable performing in front of a large crowd?” I chucked nervously, and said yes. Then, he said, “So you’ll have no problem thanking the UN Secretary General after his keynote speech at the university next week.” I froze. Within a week, I had to develop the closing remarks following His Excellency UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s keynote speech at McGill University. I immediately met with Susan Aberman, Principal Fortier’s Chief of Staff, to discuss the expectations for the event. Then, Professor Pelc and I went over the speech. On keynote day, I waited anxiously in the Leacock Building for our esteemed guest to arrive. I distinctly remember shaking former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s hand, meeting his wife, and greeting the Prin-
cipal and the UN Special Envoys. Then, I noticed I was seated right next to Principal Fortier, sitting right across from His Excellency and his wife, during a meeting to improve youth participation in student activism and academic institutions. My heart was thumping the entire time, during the meeting, during the speech, and long after my closing remarks. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and somehow Carnegie Hall helped me get there. I decided that after completing my undergraduate degree, I would reengage with the arts. And then I applied to law school. Law school brings its own challenges. Traditionally, first year is usually defined by amassing as many interesting opportunities as possible and accentuating your interests through your resume, in anticipation for the infamous recruiting season. My first year was defined by an unexpected turn of events. Within a few months, in response to the unfortunate political climate, churches and mosques in the greater Ottawa region were being vandalized and anti-LGBTQ propaganda was being disseminated to different
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neighbourhoods. One of our professors noted that the Faculty – students, professors, and staff – was unsettled, and some felt rightfully unsafe. So, a formidable group of women from different equity-seeking groups organized our Faculty’s now-annual Diversity Night. This event began as a political response to these threats to self-determination; we hoped to promote the safety and awareness of our culturally and intellectually diverse students. We were delighted that the event brought our Faculty together in solidarity and was widely attended. A few of our professors also musically performed, followed by speeches from our equity-seeking groups. A few months later, I was asked by the Greenberg Chair of Women and the Legal Profession and Professor (now Dean) Adam Dodek to offer the closing remarks for the Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. She was providing the keynote remarks for the Constitutional 150 Conference, and the organizers requested a student to represent the Faculty of Law. Meeting the Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, a devoted and formidable force in our current political climate was exceptionally grounding. We are lucky enough to know and watch a legislative representative who, in person, is the kindest, most sincere human being, one who cares deeply about the people, the Canadians, she fights for on a daily basis. After offering my remarks, I noticed the Minister was crying … so I could have very well offered an embarrassingly awful speech, or a speech that brought her to happy tears. Her staff had asked me to send the remarks, we hugged, and I walked away with the same feeling of stupefied excitement as the year before. Ironically, in second year, most of my firm interviews focused on my one performance at Carnegie Hall and those two speeches, the lessons I applied to my relationships, both professional and
personal, and how my musical training would offer creative solutions to legal problems. So, every interview, I would relive these performances and explored the void that permeated the years following that one day in February, 2012. After the interviewing process, I luckily secured a position at my top choice. I found an amazing firm that respects both of those passions. My mentors – associates, professional development, partners – all encouraged me to integrate both instead of stifling one over the other. To this day I am incredibly grateful that they were so accommodating. A few days into working at Goodmans LLP, by some stroke of luck, I received an email from the Series I performed with in 2012. They were reaching out to alumni of the High School Honors Performance Series because they had kickstarted a new ensemble for young adults, and encouraged me to audition. I panicked: I hadn’t picked up my flute in six years. Immediately, I contacted Mr. Shields, picked up a flute, and began practicing during the busiest few months of my life. I would participate in firm engagements and complete my work by day, and practice every evening with the hopes that my tone and sound would come back. Mr. Shields was there every step of the way. Luckily, at least to the Series, it did. I submitted my audition a few weeks into my third year of law school, and received my acceptance letter on Halloween. I was elated. I would be performing at Carnegie Hall for a second time, and some force of nature had offered me a new opportunity to reinvest myself into music. What I didn’t realize was how intensive this new opportunity would be. Among the three pieces in our repertoire, we were tasked with mastering Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 Finale. For someone warming back up after six years, while balancing my law school commitments, I was exhausted by the sheer prospect of it all.
But I was also excited. I practiced after every class and every meeting at law school, reviewing arduous and annoying scales, maturing my sound, and preparing for my 2019 performance as a principal second flutist. One of my closest friends from the 2012 Series was my second chair, and encouraged me whenever I fell into a state of selfdoubt, underlying an annoying perfectionism. During my January term, one month before the performance, I was selected to complete a research assistantship at UC Berkeley. My supervisor, Professor Deirdre Mulligan, was overwhelmingly supportive and helped me find ways to practice in California. Then, it was time to travel to New York. Walking onto the Perelman Stage is an experience that can only be characterized by a typhoon of emotion. There are no words to describe it … only wide, teary eyes and mouths hanging wide open. Waking onto the Stage, for the second time, after six years, could only be described by immense feelings of nostalgia, happiness, and most importantly, accountability. Performing an iconic piece from Tchaikovsky, who once conducted on that very stage, was an enormous responsibility, one that transcended any obligation I’ve had before. Any wave of emotion had to be channelled into controlled and tempered sounds, which resonated, vibrated, and echoed around the one Hall that actually augments the performers’ music. You’re not playing at Carnegie Hall; you’re playing with Carnegie Hall. All of these experiences blossomed from one day in the De La Salle Music Hall, with one of my favourite musical performers and educators. It’s safe to say I will never forget the debt I owe to De La Salle for instilling not only a deep commitment to community, but also my appreciation for the hilariously unexpected opportunities flowing from that one word repeated to us during my first few days: asceticism.
Down the Centuries By: John Hunt & Stephanie Tannis, DEL ‘14 “O tempora, O mores” In mighty Caesar’s day, during one of the periods of Roman turbulence, Cicero, one of the leaders of the period, complained about the miseries and abuses rampant in Rome using the expression “O tempora, O mores.” The lament persisted through the years until Rome vanished, overwhelmed by barbarians. The phrase has many translations, one of which renders it as “Alas, alas, what wretched times and customs.” Since the Roman Empire is no more and since there is “nothing new under the sun” we find ourselves at the center of the world, more or less, facing the same problems, more or less. Thanks to technology, our miseries are multiplied endlessly, but the list has been shortened here to spare the weary reader. Now we have to contend with stress, anxiety, the rat race, epidemics of drugs, crime, intractable diseases, family dilemmas, poverty and proliferating pathologies. Cicero would be astounded that our lauded progress has compounded the evils so successfully. However, down the centuries since Rome, things could have been worse if it were not for the lives and dedication of priests, sisters and brothers who have lavished the quiet helpful tendering of goodness, healing, education and consolation in this valley of turmoil and tears. Yes, down the centuries since Rome, redeeming Christian virtues flowed out from cloisters of contemplation, meditation, worship, reflection, prayer and song, of healing words and benevolent charity. The intimations of eternity bestowed by the religious orders preserves civility, enhancing or saving lives in need of hope or reassurance. These shining examples of elevated thought and virtue, of heavenly import, have bestowed a redeeming uplift upon
Stephanie Tannis, DEL ‘14, far left
so many souls in villages, towns and cities everywhere. If we live in dark times, these pious wonders bring light. If we live in oppression, they bring relief. If we live in cruelty, they bring humanity. Such a beacon is one of our own – Stephanie Tannis DEL’14 who is contemplating a vocation with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. Please read her description of the appeal of the sisters. You will see that in our secular age the life of a sister is hopeful, helpful and humane. We need the help. Cicero had no such resource. What drew me to the Dominican Sisters was a sudden attraction to their order after seeing a video of them on the internet. I was initially interested in an order in Italy but since it was too difficult to find a time to visit, I started looking around again. The Dominican Sisters had a pull on my heart that I decided to follow and so after an interview with the Vocation Directress, I attended the January vocation retreat where God really surprised me with everything I had been actively looking for in an order, and more. For one, the sisters are all teachers with some nurses. Everyone gets trained in teaching, a profession I felt called to during my discernment.
The community life was also very attractive. Even though there was lots of monastic silence, the sisters were so warm to one another during recreation and talking times. Prayer three times a day, and choir was something I didn’t know I wanted until I visited. As well, every liturgy was made even more beautiful by the musical and vocal talents of the sisters. Since the patron saint is Saint Cecilia, music is celebrated, and every Thursday night there was choir practice with the whole novitiate. The mission of the sisters is firstly, to contemplate and then give others the fruits of their contemplation. This flows out into the world through their teaching ministry and historically their nursing ministry beginning with nursing of yellow fever victims during the 1860s and 1870s. Currently, there still are nurses and a doctor among the sisters but no new ones are being trained that I know of. They serve all over America, Sydney, and Vancouver as teachers at all levels (Grade 1 to university), campus ministers, and parish coordinators/parish support overseas in Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands, running retreats, teaching catechism classes, etc.
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There is also an emphasis on the dignity of the human person in all the work they do, informed by St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Here is an excerpt from the website “As Dominican Sisters, we live the motto “to contemplate and to give to others the fruits of our contemplation.” We contemplate Truth—Veritas—and we share that
same truth—veritas. The driving truth behind our work in the field of education is the principle of the dignity of the human person, the cornerstone of authentic education.
Rivers of Continuity
lead to Rome?” Why was it called the “Eternal City” for so many centuries? We know that for a thousand years the founding myths, the tales of heroes, the legends of famous generals and consuls were passed on to each generation of youth as if it all happened yesterday. To persevere, to suffer if need be, to be faithful to the original passion is necessary to inspire each generation. Only in this way can cultures have continuity.
By: John Hunt
Memories can still linger. Recall that in history, or what’s left of it these days, notable nations, institutions, cultures and even empires that have had staying power and cohesion were held together over time by shared beliefs, common values, compelling tales and heroic epics. Such survival (numerous cultures have vanished) requires that special attention is given to tradition and continuity, not passively but energetically, with vigour and force. This path to continuity is an open secret available to all who choose to peek into the histories of those societies that proved more durable than most, or, more durable than they should have been. Why should Rome prosper and endure rather than any of the dozens of other villages in the area? Why, eventually, did “all roads
Prof. George Alexandrowicz
Offering the message of life in a culture of death is of critical importance if our apostolate of education is to be effective. We preach a message of reverence
Longevity itself has value if the passing years add stability and prosperity, and even polish and helpful advancements, If so, we may call this a civilization. On the other side, how many cultures, large and small , have come and gone, without adding to the accumulation of human progress even one book, one symphony, one Parthenon, one ballet or one parliament? Polished civility requires a golden continuity building on a promising beginning. In the lottery of existence, without guarantees of any kind, we can expect some cultures to thrive and some to fail, fail to generate any improvement that others might rush to borrow or emulate, an improvement that would add to humanity’s store of progress, ease and enjoyment. Such an addition, by “rare good fortune” (Plato) is a gift to the world. Such a scenario has been alive at Lasallian schools for centuries since the Founder drew upon the accumulated morality and wisdom of Christian ages to inspire learning and training in his schools in France since the late Seventeenth century. From 1680 until today,
for human life at all stages, encompassing principles that are both personal and theological. Rooted in this understanding of the human person, we seek to teach and live these fundamental principles. The content we teach and the love with which we approach each of our students are necessarily integrated, in ways both big and small.”
Dr. Tamas Barcsay
academics, a spiritual focus and an engaging, vibrant school community attract a steady stream of young aspirants to our heritage, to our river of continuity.
“that the three boys came from one geographical area, Central Europe. George came from Poland, Tom from Hungary and Stan from Slovakia (in-between). It is also remarkable that we studied at some of the oldest and most famous universities in the world.” George went to Harvard (1636-the oldest English-speaking North American University.) Tom chose Oxford (the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the second oldest in continuous operation.) Stan settled on Paris (1200-considered the second oldest university in Europe). George saw seven years at U of T for law school and a Masters in French, two years at Harvard and finally a post at Queen’s University. Tom, born in Budapest, raised in Toronto, finished U. of T. and went to Oxford for his Doctorate in history, becoming Prof. Emeritus at Ryerson. He was also Senior Assoc. Member of St. Antony’s College Oxford and Chairman of the Atlantic Council of Canada. Stan became Professor and Chairman of the Department of International Studies at York University, teaching there since 1970. He is a prolific writer on the history of Slovakia, creating countless articles, lectures, books and papers for publication, radio and television. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he has received many awards
and medals from every corner of Europe and Canada. It must be noted also that George and Stan served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during their studies. Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, famously told us that you can’t step in the same river twice, but it is mostly the same river. Consider then our three scholars drinking in the great traditions so visible and alive in those ancient universities they chose, literally entering cathedrals and other sacred spaces that blossomed both across Europe and across the centuries. We are historical creatures after all who have learned the unique value of our Western heritage and the Western Canon reflecting as they do our inimitable arts. Our three professors are like vessels containing a wealth of this knowledge to pass on to three generations of students, connecting their lives to the most significant parts of our heritage. Their careers have nurtured a stability we always need, and need to hand over to the future. We hope Del enhanced, at the beginning, their natural tenacity and sense of commitment. As George recalls, he found a welcoming environment here, nurturing a healthy social development in a confident personality. He also remembers his academic courses were suffused with a
Dr. Stanislav J. Kirschbaum
moral hue giving a solid foundation to their education. That, you must be assured, continues. So the river of continuity flows along. The example of our three young grads lives on in their lives and work, to be emulated by their proteges who will also add to the grand narrative. This narrative holds the culture together, preserving our heritage and continuing to nurture the growth of our envied civilization. The great river continues.
This preface merely serves to highlight and celebrate the outstanding careers of three grads from 1959. The stories read like fables (The Brothers Grimm?) telling of three young people arising out of the medley of Eastern Europe, from three different countries, eventually meeting at De La Salle in Toronto, Canada, where the adventure begins to soar, revealing talents destined to benefit the larger Canadian society. Our three grads are: Prof. George Alexandrowicz of Queen’s University Dr. Tamas Barcsay of Ryerson University Dr. Stanislav J. Kirschbaum of York University It is interesting, notes Dr. Kirschbaum,
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