Monthly Archives: June 2016

Social Justice Scholarships To Six Local Students


By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

 WELLAND – Six students from four local secondary schools are recipients of the 2016 St. Kevin Food Bank Social Justice Scholarship.

The recipients are:

Christianne Lessard, Confederation Secondary School, Welland;

Giordanna Scodellaro, E.L. Crossley Secondary School, Pelham;

Alexandra Moore, Lakeshore Catholic High School, Port Colborne;

Michaela Bodis, Lakeshore Catholic High School, Port Colborne;

Cole Liota, Notre Dame College School, Welland;

Kaitlyn Dyson, Notre Dame College School, Welland.

The $1,000 scholarships were presented to recipients at their respective graduation ceremonies this week.

In total, 12 applicants were interviewed by the committee before recipients were decided. The applicants went through two rounds of pre-determined questions asked of all the students, followed by impromptu questions decided on during the course of the interviews.

As written in one of the application documents, the social justice scholarship is of appeal to students “who envision not a perfect world but a better one.” Criteria include: Social justice leadership, commitment and involvement in the school community; social justice leadership, commitment and involvement in the local community, academic excellence in the year of application and acceptance at a university or community college.

Presenters at the grad ceremonies were: Don Cahill (Confederation); Jessica Soul (E.L. Crossley) and Mim Gibbons (Notre Dame, Lakeshore Catholic).

Main fundraiser for the social justice scholarship is Soup’s On!, the popular soup luncheon held annually on the last Friday of January at St. Kevin Church parish hall.

Church To Close Due To Attendance, Finance Woes

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St. Augustine of Canterbury Church: Last Mass scheduled for Jan. 1, 2017. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

 WELLAND – About 45 parishioners of St. Augustine of Canterbury Church attended the meeting Saturday, June 25 at which the church’s fate was announced.

One of them, Ann Simunic, said no one was shocked to hear the news but many people were saddened. Simunic has been a parishioner since St. Augustine opened in 1952.

“Before that we would walk to St. Mary’s. It was the only Catholic church back then. But that was a younger time.”

Things have come full circle. At the meeting it was recommended that St. Augustine parishioners attend St. Mary when the parish closes. Simunic says she will decide for herself where she will go. She is also considering Sts. Peter and Paul parish.

She says it’s not difficult to understand why the diocese recommended closing St. Augustine. Attendance is down. Simunic usually goes to the 5pm Saturday Mass, where she is a lay reader. She says average attendance is about 15 to 20.

“But I feel bad for the older people. In this neighbourhood they can walk to the church, but they won’t be able to walk to St. Mary’s.”

The meeting was attended by St. Catharines Diocese Bishop Gerard Bergie, Sister Margaret Kane, facilitator of a discernment process involving all of Welland’s parishes, and the pastors of St. Augustine and St. Mary, Rev. Gabriel Arulnesan and Rev. Raymond Fenech Gonzi, respectively.

Simunic says she suggested the diocese try a “floating” priest, one who would attend parishes like St. Augustine, celebrate the Sunday morning Mass and then go to another parish to do the same. It might be a way to keep the churches open, she says, but “it wasn’t considered to be a good idea.”

The June 25 meeting was not the only one to be called by the bishop. Before it took place, he met with members of the parish discernment committee at the rectory and told them of the decision, Siminuc says.

Another St. Augustine parishioner says the decision to close the parish came down to two reasons: “Attendance is down and the parish is really hurting financially.”

The parish rectory, located a short distance from the church, will be sold, says this parishioner, who declined to be named.

Times have changed, she says.

“Our church used to be packed years ago, you could hardly get a seat unless you came early. Not any more.”

Both parishioners say St. Mary pastor, Father Fenech Gonzi, was warm and welcoming in his remarks inviting them to join the “mother church”, St. Mary.

A date will be chosen for a social event to pay tribute to St. Augustine’s role in and contributions to the Welland South community  and to share memories from its 65-year history. It will be open to present and former parishioners.

The diocese-wide discernment process was started in the fall of 2014 and is on-going.

‘We All Are Capable Of Doing Great Things’

Class of 2016

A portion of Notre Dame’s Class of 2016 celebrating at the end of Tuesday evening’s graduation ceremony. (Supplied photo/Kevin Grand)

Valedictory Address By Raj Patel, Notre Dame College School, Class of 2016

Reverend Father, Elected Trustees, Members of the Senior Administration, Honoured Guests, parents, families, friends, Administration and Staff of Notre Dame College School, fellow graduates of 2016.

It’s been a long week graduates, and after all the countless hours of studying and stressing over exams, we have finally made it! We are officially graduates of Notre Dame College School, and for this you all deserve a round of applause.


Valedictorian Raj Patel with Notre Dame principal Ralph DeFazio. (Supplied photo/Kevin Grand)

Now before I start my speech, on behalf of the entire student body I would like to say thank you to the administration for always guiding us through the highs and lows, to the teachers for making education enjoyable and to our parents for always being there for us. Without you, none of us would have made it this far, and I certainly would not be literate enough to deliver this speech!

At this time I would also like to acknowledge the four other Valedictorian nominees: Shirley Andrews, Krista Gowan, Aidan Harold and Ryan Modafferi. Congratulations – you are all exceptionally gifted and talented students.

Looking back to grade nine, it feels like it was just yesterday that we first put on our highly fashionable ‘Dame’ uniforms. For four years our uniforms have defined us. In them we learned:  science, math, English, but most importantly, life lessons from Mr.Lavalle ( who taught us that life is just common sense and that if it makes sense, it makes sense).

Now as we are ready to take off from Notre Dame, I am not ashamed to say that I will miss the uniform – it was nice especially if you’re like me lacking a sense of fashion.

High school has offered us so many memories: There was your first class, your first locker, your first dance, your first crush….your second crush?….and then your figuring out that you were the problem!!!! Indeed we have all faced many challenges at ND, but through it all we have grown as individuals both physically and mentally.  Over the years we have gained countless friends on the field, the court, the rink, the stage, the computer lab, in our classes and in those halls ….some friendships that will truly last a lifetime.

By Grade 12, Notre Dame has quickly become our second family and it has taught us more than just math or science; it has also taught us how to live our lives. From the Pilgrimage, to the food drives,  to the multicultural assemblies, Notre Dame has shaped us into more than just educated human beings; we have become compassionate and faith-filled individuals. We have learned the true meaning of empathy and caring for others and we are better human beings for it.

In all of this, we have had a Catholic education and amazing teachers and staff, who have continuously shown that we all have the potential of doing great things. We all came to Notre Dame knowing little of what we would become, or what we would accomplish, but from these four years we are leaving knowing who we are, and that is a gift to be treasured and remembered.

William Shakespeare and Channing Tatum once said, “Be not afraid of greatness, some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

While we may not be born great or have greatness thrust upon us, we always have the opportunity of achieving greatness. As we leave this graduation ceremony, I urge you to remember that all of our social, religious and political leaders and role models have started right here , just as “average” high school students.

While we may think we are average, we must realize that the average can achieve greatness and that no matter who you are, we all are capable of doing great things. These past four years at ND have equipped us with immeasurable knowledge and experience. Whether you are heading to university, to college, to the military or into the work force, I invite you to strive to be the best version of yourself you can be, and without question, you will achieve greatness.

Good luck, Class of 2016, on your journey towards greatness.

Thank you all for your time and I wish you all from the bottom of my heart, the very, very best.

(Address delivered Tuesday, June 28 at Notre Dame’s commencement, Welland Arena.)

(Editor’s Note: I am interested in posting valedictory addresses from other Welland schools. Please contact me at:

Welland Church Is Closing

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St. Augustine Catholic Church in the city’s Welland South neighbourhood  is closing. (File photo/Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND – St. Augustine of Canterbury church in  the city’s Welland South neighbourhood will close, says a source in the community.

The church  has a history that goes back 65 years. It is located at 295 St. Augustine Ave., off St. George St.

The news was revealed in a meeting with parishioners  Saturday, June 25.

The last Mass at St. Augustine will be celebrated on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 2017.

More to follow.

Parade Day: Just How HOT Was It?


Welland-born Environment Canada meteorologist Rob Paola. (Supplied photo)

WELLAND – Lovely day for a parade! (Maybe too hot!)

Officially, the maximum temperature Sunday in Welland was 31.0C (as recorded at the Niagara Central Dorothy Rungeling Airport, formerly Welland airport). This makes it the 2nd hottest Rose Festival  parade on record, behind only 1966.
Top 5 hottest parades: (daily maximums)
July 2 1966 …… 33.9C
June 26 2016 … 31.0C
June 12 2005 … 30.5C
June 23 2013 … 30.2C
June 17 2007 … 30.0C
(Submitted by Rob Paola, meteorologist, Environment Canada. Former Welland boy Paola has a passion for following his hometown weather, and has done so for years!)


The following table shows weather conditions for every Rose Festival parade since 1962. (Compiled by Rob Paola)

YEAR DATE HIGH (C) LOW(C)                                                 PARADE WEATHER *
1963 JUN 22 23.3 6.7  MIX OF SUN AND CLOUD
1964 JUN 27 25.6 17.8  SUNNY, WARM, IDEAL WEATHER
1965 JUL 3 24.4 17.2  heavy downpour at start of parade (22 mm) then clearing
1966 JUL 2 33.9 17.2  sunny, hottest parade on record
1967 JUN 24 28.9 16.7  sunny, clear, warm
1968 JUN 22 21.7 13.9  cloudy, cool
1969 JUL 5 26.5 19.4  mix sun and clouds, warm
1970 JUN 27 21.7 12.2  clouds and sun, cool
1971 JUN 26 23.9 15.0  clouds giving way to sun
1972 JUN 24 16.1 11.1  overcast, cool, a few sprinkles
1973 JUN 23 23.9 15.6  mix of sun and cloud
1974 JUN 24 ? 20.6 11.7  sunny with cloudy periods, cool
1975 JUN 7 18.9 11.1  clouds and sun, cool
1976 JUN 26 26.1 15.0  sunny and warm
1977 JUN 25 23.0 18.0  partly sunny after heavy morning tstorms (46 mm)
1978 JUN 24 23.5 11.0  partly cloudy and pleasant
1979 JUN 23 14.5 9.5  overcast, breezy, chilly
1980 JUN 21 23.0 10.0  sunny to cloudy, mild
1981 JUN 6 26.0 18.0  sunny, windy, warm
1982 JUN 12 22.0 11.5  mostly cloudy
1983 JUN 18 27.5 14.5  sunny and warm
1984 JUN 16 24.0 12.0  sunny, clear, ideal weather
1985 JUN 23 27.0 15.0  sunny, clear and warm   (first Sunday parade)
1986 JUN 22 28.0 13.0  sunny, warm
1987 JUN 21 26.0 16.0  mostly cloudy, hazy, warm
1988 JUN 19 29.0 11.0  sunny, hazy, hot
1989 JUN 18 24.0 12.5  partly sunny, breezy
1990 JUN 24 15.5 11.0  overcast, breezy, cool, some drizzle at times
1991 JUN 23 24.0 13.5  sunny, ideal weather
1992 JUN 21 11.0 6.0  overcast, record cold, patchy drizzle
1993 JUN 20 28.0 18.5  cloudy, hazy, humid
1994 JUN 19 29.0 20.5  mainly sunny, warm   (high of 34.5 on Sat Jun 18)
1995 JUN 18 29.0 17.0  sunny, warm
1996 JUN 23 21.5 10.0  mix sun and clouds
1997 JUN 21 28.0 18.0  partly sunny, breezy, warm
1998 JUN 20 29.0 18.5  sunny with a few clouds, warm
1999 JUN 19 25.0 10.0  partly sunny, dry, comfortable
2000 JUN 18 15.0 10.0  overcast, cool, a few showers (parade temp ~ 11c)
2001 JUN 17 26.0 15.0  sunny, warm, ideal
2002 JUN 16 18.0 12.5  overcast, cool, light rain  (2 mm)
2003 JUN 15 25.0 11.0  ideal weather, sunny, low humidity, light breeze
2004 JUN 13 27.0 15.0  some midday sprinkles otherwise overcast, humid, parade temp ~ 22C
2005 JUN 12 30.5 22.0  morning showers then hazy, hot and muggy, humidex 38C
2006 JUN 11 19.5 6.0  sunny with cloudy periods, cool
2007 JUN 17 30.0 17.0  clouds and hazy sun, hot
2008 JUN 15 27.5 15.0  sunny and warm, southwest breeze
2009 JUN 21 27.0 14.0  Partly sunny and warm
2010 JUN 13 22.0 16.5  overcast
2011 JUN 19 24.7 14.9    ** 50th anniversary parade **  ideal weather, sunny, low humidity, light breeze
2012 JUN 24 24.1 14.3  cloudy
2013 JUN 23 30.2 20.1  mainly sunny and hot, humidex 35C
2014 JUN 22 27.0 12.0  sunny and warm, light winds and low humidity
2015 JUN 21 26.2 15.7  clouds giving way to sun, warm and humid, light wind
2016 JUN 26 31.0 16.3  mainly sunny, BREEZY and hot, humidex 34C

* Parade weather information is based on Welland and local area weather records from Westside Firehall weather station,  local airport data, as well as parade photos and newspaper accounts. 

Grad Celebrations At Area Secondary Schools


Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2016!

School                   Date                             Time              Venue

Confederation     Tuesday, June 28         7:30pm        Confederation

E. L. Crossley        Tuesday, June 28         6pm            Scotia Bank Convention Centre

Notre Dame          Tuesday, June 28          7pm            Welland Arena

Centennial             Wednesday, June 29    6:30pm      Centennial

Eastdale                 Wednesday, June 29    6pm            Club Castropignano

Jean Vanier           Wednesday, June 29    7pm            Jean Vanier

Lakeshore Catholic  Wednesday, June 29  7pm          Vale Centre

Port Colborne High  Wednesday, June 29  6pm          Port Colborne High

Idyllic Welland

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Nothing like a group swim on the recreational waterway to beat the heat on a hot, hot Sunday afternoon in Welland. Note the slowpoke holding up the rear…. Can’t you just hear him asking: “Are we there yet?” (Photo by Joe Barkovich. Idyllic Welland is a recurring feature on the blog.)

THIS WEEK: Meetings In Welland

Weekly Meetings
Jun.28 ’16
2:30 PM – Committee of Adjustment Meeting In-camera (Closed to the Public), under Section 239 (3.1) of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended, for the purpose of educating and training members of the Committee of Adjustment
– Room 109.
Jun.28 ’16
6:00 PM – Special Council Meeting in Committee-of-the-Whole In-camera (Closed to the Public), in the Council Ante Room, to discuss the following:

  • Under the Business Corporations Act – Welland Hydro-Electric Holding Corporation;
    – Welland Hydro-Electric Corporation Annual General Meeting – Business Updates and Appointment of Directors.
Jun.28 ’16
7:00 PM – Special Council Meeting, in Open Session, in the Council Chambers
– this meeting will recess at approximately 7:00 p.m. to convene the Annual Shareholder Meeting of Welland Hydro-Electric Holding Corporation and the General Committee Meeting. The Special Council Meeting will reconvene after the General Committee Meeting.
Jun.30 ’16
7:00 PM – Pubic Meeting re: mandate and governance structure of the Welland Recreational Canal Corporation
– Community Room.

A Beauty For Parade Viewing!

Meteorologist Rob Paola  says Sunday’s weather will be ideal for watching the Rose Festival parade.

Paola, a former Welland boy now with Environment Canada in Winnipeg, says there are no major changes with tomorrow’s forecast.

“Still looking mainly sunny, breezy and hot with afternoon temperatures near 30C, humidex values around 35. Saving grace will be a nice southwest breeze of 20-30 kmh which should make the heat more bearable. Otherwise, another hot summer day on the way for the parade! Stay cool and hydrated.”