About Cardinal Carter

To the Principal, Staff and Students of Cardinal Carter Catholic High School:

To have a school like yours called after one is a very high honour. When one approaches the end of one’s life without children, as is my case, it is encouraging to think that memory will not be entirely extinguished because there will be whole generations of young people who will recall a name even if they have not known the person. Moreover, I feel that your School will be a real memorial to what I have attempted to do for Catholic education. I pray that the Holy Spirit will always guide in those principles and that you will begin and continue to be leaders in every field because you serve God first and do not neglect your brothers and sisters of the community.

I look forward to seeing you and to blessing your School. I send you my blessing and my very warmest regards for the whole decade of 1990 and into the Third Millennium.

Warmest personal regards.
Devotedly yours,

Gerald Emmett
Archbishop of Toronto.

A Blessing from Cardinal Carter to You

A school without a spirit is nothing.
You are the living spirit.
What you are doing,
what you are achieving,
what you hope to achieve
are all part of the spirit
that God has infused into this school.
I am honoured that this school
is called after me.
I fervently pray
that you will discover the beauties of what Catholic education
is trying to teach you,
that you will become the spirit
that will change this world.
You are at the beginning of your careers,
I am at the end of mine.
May your spirit survive
and lead us all to a better world.
God Bless You.

Fond Memories of His Eminence Gerald Emmet Cardinal Carter (1912-2003)

Cardinal Carter Catholic High School had the rare distinction of having a living namesake. Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter made many visits to our school. He was here when the school was blessed and opened. We still remember his words from that occasion: “A school without a spirit is nothing. You are the living spirit.” He came again to our school on the occasion of our tenth anniversary.

In June of 2002, His Eminence attended our outdoor Eucharist in honour of the arrival of the World Youth Day Cross. He came then in failing health, having had surgery the previous day, but he was in great spirits and so happy to be among young people.
When it came time to speak, although he needed help to get to his feet, the Cardinal’s message was strong, clear and from the heart: “Life is the cross and life is often not fair. When you realize this, you can live life to the fullest.”

In October of that same year, four students and the Chaplaincy team met with Cardinal Carter at his office in Toronto. The students showed him a video of the Eucharist from the previous June. When the video was over and the lights went on, Cardinal carter had tears in his eyes. Every student was profoundly moved by his graciousness.

Gerald Emmett Carter was born in Montreal on March 11, 1912. He entered the Grand Seminary in Montreal and was ordained a priest in May 1937. He was soon appointed to work in Catholic Education. He founded, and served as president of St. Joseph Teachers’ College and was co-founder and director of the St. Thomas More Institute for Adult Education.

In December 1961, Carter was named Auxiliary Bishop of London, Ontario. He attended all the sessions of Vatican Council II, 1962-1965. On the death of Bishop Cody of London, he was appointed to succeed him in February 1964. In April 1978, Carter was named Archbishop of Toronto. Pope John Paul II named him to the College of Cardinals in June 1979. Carter suffered a serious stroke in May 1981. He resigned as Archbishop of Toronto in March 1990 at the age of 78.

Cardinal Carter wrote several books: The Catholic Public Schools of Quebec, Psychology and the Cross, The Modern Challenge of Religious Education, and a number of articles. There have been many tributes to Cardinal Carter’s service to the Church. He was the recipient of twelve honorary doctorates in Ontario. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1983.

The death of Cardinal Carter on April 6, 2003, touched everyone in the Cardinal Carter school community and across the York Catholic District School Board. A small delegation of teachers and students from our school attended his funeral. We remember and pray that students may live and enjoy what he wished for the school community in his motto, which is our school motto, Pax et Lux, Peace and Light.

Coat of Arms

His Eminence Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter, D.D. Coat of Arms
His Eminence Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter, D.D. Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms of any bishop is a standard that has great significance for him and for his people. From medieval times, artists have composed shields for dioceses and ruling bishops that they might serve as identifying marks. It is traditional that every bishop have such a standard. The charges and tinctures in the coat of arms of His Eminence G. Emmett Cardinal Carter have been chosen with a specific purpose in mind. Each has a distinct meaning and combined they form a coat of arms that has great significance.

The dominant note in this coat of arms is simplicity. At the same time, it is very rich in symbolism. For fifteen years he was chaplain of the Newman Club at McGill University and a member of the Montreal Catholic School Commission.

Consequently, the chief symbol of his arms is the Flame of Knowledge – not just the flame that enlightens the mind, but the true flame of wisdom as brought by the Holy Spirit.

Thus, the Flame Burns Around the Cross, the centre of Christian Education.

The Motto “Pax et Lux” (Peace and Light). Both these words direct us to the person of Christ through whom we go to the Father. Light is the aim of education.

The field is red – the symbol of charity, because only in this love can man be truly brought to light and peace. The arms are completed by the Star symbolizing the Blessed Mother of God who guides us to her Son.

The symbols, though few, have a number of references to the life of the Cardinal. For example, the red recalls the work of Newman clubs and the white (argent) cross on the red field reminds us of the Knights of Malta, whose Chaplain the Cardinal has been since the beginning of the restoration of the Sovereign Order in Canada. The concept of light is allied to the motto of the Teachers’ College – “Nox sicut dies lucebit” – “The night shall be as light as day.” And the motto “Pax et Lux” has the same basic origin as the motto of the Thomas More Institute.

Finally, it might be said that the Holy Father himself has given the inspiration for this shield and motto. In his bull of election and consecration he wrote the following to Bishop Carter:

“We would remind you, beloved son, that ‘charity is the fulfillment of all the law’, and may Our Lord Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother, Queen of the Apostles, make this charity ‘flame forth’ (flamescere) through your ministry as a bishop.”

Our Lord is symbolized by the Cross – Our Lady by the Star. The flame is set upon the red field of charity. Pax et Lux.

Surmounting the Coat of Arms is an ecclesiastical hat from which the cords and tassels descend. Fifteen tassels on each cord signify the coat of arms of a cardinal.