The Cultural Services Centre in Red Deer on 39th Street, between Maryview School and St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School is now called the St. Benedict the Moor Centre. This building will house some personnel from Montfort Centre, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools’ (RDCRS) Central Office.
St. Benedict the Moor was the son of black slaves who were taken from Africa to San Fratello, Sicily, where they were converted to Christianity. They lived such exemplary lives and fulfilled their duties so thoroughly that their owner, in appreciation, granted freedom to their eighteen-year-old son, Benedict. He continued to work as a day labourer, generously sharing his small wages with the poor and spending his free time in caring for the sick. At the age of 21, Benedict was introduced to the influence of St. Francis of Assisi. He sold his few possessions, gave the money to the poor and joined the monastic group, later moving with them to Palermo. For many years Benedict happily worked in the kitchen as a lay brother at the Friary of St. Mary of Jesus, upon the death of his director, he was chosen as the guardian of the friary, even though he could not read or write. After serving as superior, he became a novice master but asked to be relieved of his post and returned to his former position as cook. His holiness, reputation for miracles, and his fame as a confessor brought hordes of visitors to see the obscure and humble cook. He died at the convent, was canonized in 1807, and is the patron saint of blacks in the United States. The surname "the Moor" is a misnomer originating from the Italian IL MORO (the black.) His feast day is April 4. (Roman Catholic Saints, Catholic Online)
For the past 18 years, RDCRS has rented out the facility to the City of Red Deer. During the 2019 Canada Winter Games, the City of Red Deer moved downtown to the former Central Elementary School building, which is now the Cultural Services Centre. Therefore, it left the building on 39th Street vacant.
RDCRS operates their administrative office at Montfort Centre, which was the original St. Louis de Montfort School. In 1999 when Montfort Centre opened, the division’s student population was under 4,300 students. Student enrollment for October 2019 is 10,483. During the past two decades, Montfort Centre has remained the same size and now is in need of modernization. This modernization will begin following the completion of renovation at St. Benedict the Moor Centre.
After studying other similar-sized school divisions’ administrative centres and following a thorough analysis and recommendations of RDCRS' current and future needs by Group2 Architects, these two projects are needed for RDCRS is to effectively and efficiently continue to serve its students and staff.
Both projects are anticipated to be complete by spring 2020.