History of ICE

Our History

In 1985 against the backdrop of Bill 30, the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops decided the need to bring together the partners in Catholic education under the umbrella of the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) in the offices on St. Mary Street, in Toronto, Ontario. The vision for the Institute was articulated in the 1989 Pastoral Letter of the bishops, This Moment of Promise.

The OCCB selected Msgr. Dennis Murphy as the first Executive Director in 1985. A detailed timeline of these foundation years can be found below. Originally, the Board of Directors consisted of the President and Executive Director of each of the following partners:  the OCCB, OECTA, OSSTA, OCSOA, and CEFO. Later, in the 1990s, OCSBOA, CPCO and OAPCE joined the Board of Directors.

Between 1985-1993 the work of the Institute centred on developing Secondary Religious Education Curriculum, outlines for Catholic Leadership courses and designing a search organization assisting Catholic School Boards in hiring Directors of Education. Plans for the first province-wide Symposium for Catholic Education also unfolded during these years.

From 1993-2013, Sister Joan Cronin, gsic, served as Executive Director at ICE.  The second ‘promise’ pastoral letter, Fulfilling the Promise, shaped the vision for Catholic education at this time. These were years of great expansion in publishing, Catholic Curriculum documents, course profiles for all Secondary School subjects, Catholic Graduate Expectations, World Religions: A Canadian Catholic Perspective, were all written during these years.  Research Projects as well as Leadership course outlines were designed for implementation among Catholic School Board personnel at all levels. The tradition of province-wide symposiums to reflect on major questions and issues in Catholic Education continued. 

Michael Pautler served as the third Executive Director from 2013-2020. During these years, ICE revised the Elementary and Secondary Religious Education curriculum and coordinated the development of updated classroom resources for Family Life and Secondary Religious Education. Classroom and Board level resources were developed to encourage consistency of practice and approach as Catholic schools addressed equity, diversity and inclusive education initiatives and Indigenous Education curriculum expectations. 

In 2016, ICE relocated to the current office on Hunt Street in Hamilton, Ontario. The Catholic Graduate Expectations were refreshed, and a series of professional monographs were introduced to encourage reflective practice for Catholic educators. The largest province-wide symposium to date led to the development of a new pastoral letter from the ACBO, Renewing the Promise, which remains the guiding force for Catholic educators and the basis for their reflection on the mission and vision of Catholic education in the 21st century.

The Birth of the Institute for Catholic Education - A Timeline of the Key Moments

by Sister Joan Cronin, gsic
June 12, 1984
Premier William Davis announces Government’s intent to complete funding for Catholic schools Kindergarten to Grade 13.
October 1984
Premier William Davis retires and is replaced by Frank Miller.
Sept. 1984 – May 1985
Three Conservative Ministers of Education: Bette Stephenson, 1978 - February 1985 Keith Norton, February 1985 - May 1985 Larry Grossman, May 1985 - June 26, 1985. No legislation produced for full funding of Catholic school system.
May 1, 1985
Election produces a minority Conservative government: 52 PCs, 48 Liberals, 25 NDPs
May 28, 1985
Two year accord signed by Liberals and NDP.
June 18, 1985
Conservative minority government falls in a non-confidence vote.
June 28, 1985
Liberals and NDP form a coalition to govern and David Peterson appointed Premier.
July 4, 1985
Peterson introduces Bill 30 in Legislative Assembly. Following 1st reading – 2nd and 3rd readings postponed. Question submitted to Ontario Court of Appeal: “Is Bill 30, An Act to amend the Education Act, inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of Canada including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and if so in what particular or particulars and in what respect?”
Sept. 1, 1985
Secondary school grants for Grade 11 students enrolled in Catholic schools.
1985 – 1986
Against the background of the political and legal issues surrounding Bill 30, the Ontario Bishops set about the task of organizing the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE).
Msgr. Dennis Murphy selected by the OCCB to set up the ICE office.
October 3, 1985
First draft of a possible constitution, framework and responsibilities of an ICE Board of Directors distributed to OCCB, OECTA, OSSTA, OCSOA, and CEFO.
January 1, 1986
ICE office opens, 10 St. Mary Street, Toronto, Ontario.
February 18, 1986
Court of Appeal decision on Bill 30. Justices Zuber, Tarnopolsky, Cory assented. Chief Justice Howland and Justice Robins dissented. The opponents to Bill 30 immediately appealed to the Supreme Court.
April 1986
3rd draft of a framework for ICE.
June 25, 1986
1st meeting of Board of Directors of ICE. Present were the following: OCCB – Bishop J. L. Doyle, Bishop J. Sherlock OSSTA – J. Sherlock, E. F. Nyitrai OECTA – J. Cooney, J. F. Kavanagh, O.M.I. OCSOA – T. J. Reilly CEFO – B. E. Nelligan.
Jan. 29 – Feb. 5, 1987
Bill 30 Appeal to the Supreme Court.
June 25, 1987
Supreme Court judgment re: Bill 30 released. It stated that section 93 of the BNA Act demonstrated that its authors intended to permit the provinces to expand denominational rights and privileges beyond their 1867 status. It also concluded that the Privy Council judgment in the Tiny case was “unsound,” rendered the constitutionalized separate school protection “illusory,” and did “wholly undermine this historically important compromise.” It was unnecessary to discuss the Charter. 7 Supreme Court Justices assented, 0 Supreme Court Justices dissented.

Sources: R. T. Dixon: Be A Teacher, 1994,
Catholic Education and Politics in Ontario, 2003.