Treasure expanding horizons

Laudo, laudas, laudat, laudamus, laudatis, laudant. Conjugating Latin verbs struck fear in my heart.

Laudo, laudas, laudat, laudamus, laudatis, laudant. Conjugating Latin verbs struck fear in my heart. Every Monday Mister Kister, my first-year high school Latin teacher, would go methodically up and down the rows of desks in the classroom having us conjugate the verbs we had supposedly mastered over the weekend.

To add to our anxiety, he had us place our demerit cards on the upper right hand corner of our desks. Make a mistake on a verb tense when it came to our turn and he would lift our card. Five marks on that card meant a “jug,” or an after-school detention.

Many years on, Dr. Daniel Kister S.J. now holds the title of emeritus professor of comparative literature at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea. Did conjugating Latin verbs help him get there? What impact did that linguistic drilling have on me?

I would like to think that the pedagogical design of the courses half a century ago had at its core the same goal as a good education does now: to open the mind of the student and take us places we never had dreamed of going. Granted the ways of pushing, prodding and encouraging have changed, but the goal hopefully is the same. Latin verbs no longer challenge today’s Yukon students but French, Spanish, German and Tutchone ones do, as well as difficult English ones for our newly arrived immigrant students.

David Wells, the director of religious education for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth, England, mirrored this approach to education when he spoke to Catholic school teachers and the public last week here in Whitehorse. In a talk at Vanier Catholic Secondary last Saturday entitled Faith: Authenticity in Challenging Times, Wells noted the tendency in most of us to find our intellectual or theological comfort zone and stay right there. Our entrenchment could and often does create tension in our relationships and community.

David Wells urged us to keep the big picture, the long view first in our mind. He gently pushed his listeners to “never allow yourselves to become narrow.

“Good theology expands our horizons” he argued. By extension, a good philosophy of life should do so as well for those not motivated by a religious persuasion.

Wells quoted from John O’Donohue’s book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom to reinforce this theme. Excuse my poor note taking, which has left a bit to be desired, but roughly in part the O’Donohue passage went “to a controlling eye, everything is a threat, to a cautious eye, everything is a risk, to a demanding eye, everything is a disappointment but to a grateful eye, everything is a blessing.”

How do we maintain that wider, grateful perspective on life in the face of the depressing array of challenges today?

Professor Kister, my old Latin teacher, among other things is now known for his translations of a Korean poet Chong Chi-yong, who wrote in the second quarter of the last century before being ‘disappeared’ into North Korea. Chong Chi-yong’s poems, Professor Kister writes, “express attitudes which Koreans have long treasured as their own: a loving closeness to nature and to other human beings; an appreciation of truths implicit in the heart’s unquenchable longing…”

What do we treasure? How do we show it?


by Chong Chi-yong

A lonely soul

All day long

Calls to the sea –

Over the sea


Comes walking.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read