SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CREST:
The cross and the "M" are taken from the coat of arms of Pope John Paul II. The "M" signifies the special love that the Holy Father has for Mary, the mother of Jesus, who stood at the foot of the Cross. The shell represents St. James, the baptismal patron of Archbishop Carney. Vancouver, Archbishop Carney's birthplace, is portrayed by the mountain backdrop. The sheaf of grain is taken from the Carney family coat of arms. The chalice and host represent Corpus Christi Parish, not only the parish of Archbishop Carney's birth and youth, but more latterly, the scene of his pastoral ministry. The chalice and host also remind us that the school community is a Eucharistic community, built up by the Liturgy.
HISTORY OF ARCHBISHOP CARNEY REGIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOL
Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School (ACRSS) was founded in 1994 by the Roman Catholic parishes of the northeast suburbs of Vancouver, from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam. The school was named in honour of the late Most Rev. James F. Carney, who was Archbishop of Vancouver for 21 years, from 1969 to 1990 and was a great supporter of Catholic education.
From an initial student enrollment of only 87 Grade 8 students, today ACRSS has approximately 600 students from grades 8 through 12. Most hail from the eight associated parishes, but the school also welcomes Catholics from other parishes, non-Catholics and international students, as space allows.
ACRSS had humble beginnings. In its first year, the school operated from portable classrooms on the parking lot of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Elementary School in Port Coquitlam, BC.
The first wing of the permanent school was opened in September, 1995. Phase two, a second wing of classrooms, expanded gymnasium and multi-purpose room-followed two years later. In 2013, we opened our state of the art Performing Arts Building.
Many outstanding clergy, administrators, teachers, staff, parents and community supporters have contributed to the success of ACRSS. Among the more notable are these three: the late Fr. Vermeulen, whose patience and persistence led to the archdiocese's decision to launch the school, Fr. Stanley Galvon, who oversaw construction of the permanent campus, and founding Principal, Peter Dawe, under whose leadership the school has built a reputation for spiritual, academic, athletic and artistic excellence.
As a Catholic school, a vital part of Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School's mission is to inspire students to live their Faith to the fullest. As such, the school dedicates itself to developing the spiritual, moral, physical and intellectual well-being of its young people.
FR. VERMEULEN'S LASTING GIFT TO CARNEY
BY TERRY O'NEILL
Retired Member, Public Relations subcommittee chairman
Archbishop Carney Regional Education Committee
When Fr. Christopher Vermeulen died in April 2002 at the age of 85, he was remembered by the Carney community as a warm-hearted and deeply spiritual man whose dedication to Catholic education played a pivotal role in the creation of Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School. What many staff, parents, students, and former parishioners may not have realized, however, is that Fr. Vermeulen was also a man with a vision - a vision that came to life shortly before his death.
Fr. Vermeulen's dream was to establish an educational foundation, to ensure that no one was prevented from enjoying the fruits of a Catholic high school education because of financial difficulty. Significantly, his plan was to seed the foundation with at least $50,000 of his own money. Interest from the fund would be disbursed to cover qualifying students' tuition to Carney. That was his dream. And now that dream, in the form of the Fr. Christopher Vermeulen Educational Foundation, is a reality.
Fr. Vermeulen viewed the foundation as a fitting legacy to his 53 years in the priesthood. That is because there were few aspects of his service to God more special to him than his relationship with children.
On a warm and sunny autumn afternoon several months before his death, Fr. Vermeulen met with a few visitors from Carney - two students, a parent and principal Peter Dawe -- to share with them details of his life as a priest, his commitment to education and his view of the world. Sitting at the kitchen table in the home of the Maple Ridge family with whom he was living in retirement, Fr. Vermeulen was in good spirits. He talked about his daily routine - saying mass in the morning at the dining room table and going for his walk ("Every time, I go further," he enthused.) - but mostly he described his passions: God, the Church, and Catholic education.
Fr. Vermeulen was born in the Netherlands on September 3, 1916, and was ordained on August 1, 1948. At that time, many new Dutch priests were being sent abroad. "We did ship out about 50%," he remembers. Fr. Vermeulen's first posting was in Chilliwack. He also served in North Vancouver, Powell River, Princeton, Hope and Agassiz. He smiled when he recalled an AA meeting at his church hall, attended by prisoners from a nearby Fraser Valley prison. He was called away from the meeting for a few minutes, he said, leaving the prisoners alone. "When I came back, one was missing!"
Fr. Vermeulen is best remembered by the Carney community for his time as pastor of Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Port Coquitlam, where he served from 1970 until his retirement in 1993. He recalled with affection his work at the parish, but he reserved his biggest smiles when the talk turned to children. Most memorable were the special children's masses; he said two of them, a feat that sometimes would leave him feeling a bit drained. "Then, I was tired," he recalled. "But I did enjoy it."
A highlight was construction of the elementary school at the parish in 1982. After it was built, he made sure he attended school every day to ring the bell and greet the little ones. Rain or shine, Fr. Vermeulen was there.
And then came the planning for a new high school for the area. "We have the high school now because of the trouble you gave the archbishop," Mr. Dawe quipped as Fr. Vermeulen described the persistence needed to bring the project to life. "The good Lord did work hard on it," Fr. Vermeulen responded. "Not me. I did not really do anything." Of course, the modest Fr. Vermeulen had plenty to do with the project - from site acquisition (locations in Eagle Ridge in Coquitlam and on Coast Meridian in Port Coquitlam were considered at one time) to completion - as anyone involved in the development of ACRSS in the early 1990s can attest.
His work at an end, Fr. Vermeulen said he was pleased with what he saw at Carney. And he had a simple yet uplifting message for students. "Work together for the betterment of the high school," he said. "I believe that is the most important part. Cooperation and good atmosphere, that is important."
The Fr. Christopher Vermeulen Education Foundation grew out of the late priest's commitment to Catholic education. Working with a dedicated team of volunteers who serve as directors, Fr. Vermeulen was able to see the foundation registered in Victoria and then, most importantly, approved in Ottawa (where it was registered as a charitable foundation) just two weeks before his death. That means donations to the foundation are tax-deductible.
Fr. Vermeulen launched the project while in retirement, rather than leave to ensure that his financial legacy could be put to the best possible use. "I do it now," he said last autumn, "otherwise I have to pay taxes, taxes, taxes...and I don't like that!" The foundation is not set up to actively fund-raise, but "If anyone has too much money [they] can give it," Fr. Vermeulen said with a smile.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can send their contribution to: The Fr. Christopher Vermeulen Education Foundation, c/o 23818 Zeron Ave., Maple Ridge, B.C., V2W 1E3. Interest from the fund will be used to support the tuition needs of students, from the eight feeder parishes, attending Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School in Port Coquitlam. "If I give for education for kids," Fr. Vermeulen said, "it is, for me, the same as giving to the poor."