Kevin Feehan not only lives his Catholic faith, but he integrates it into his professional life as well. A lawyer living in Edmonton, Feehan has consistently given back to the Catholic education community for three decades.
His dedication to working to ensure Canadians have fair and proper access to Catholic education is why he was nominated and awarded the 2014 Justice James Higgins Award.
The CCSTA's Higgins Award is presented annually in memory of Canadian Catholic school trustee and jurist, the Hon. Justice James Higgins. It reflects recognition of an exceptional contribution to Catholic education in Canada.
Nominated by the Calgary Catholic School District, Feehan has demonstrated time and again just how much Catholic education means to him.
Coming from a family involved in Catholic education, Feehan has been rooted in the system since his early childhood. Nearly 10 years following his graduation from the University of Alberta Law School, his relationship with the Alberta Catholic education community deepened.
In 1988, The Alberta School Act was substantially re-written and the proposed amendments would have affected Catholic school rights.
The then-superintendent of Catholic education in Edmonton approached Feehan, asking for his support against the changes.
Feehan attended and spoke at a rally that cried out against the changes, which included access to a taxation base and the management and control of trustees over the schools.
Researching the amendments, Feehan told the rally just what these proposed changes meant for Catholic schools across Alberta.
"It was an important community effort in 1988 to preserve Catholic education in Alberta," he said.
The rally ignited Feehan's involvement in providing legal support to Catholic schools across the province and the nation.
He has made himself available to the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association and to individual school boards to help in legal matters that deal with the many facets of Catholic education.
"Mr. Feehan has devoted himself to the promotion of, and defence of, Catholic education," Mary Martin, chair of the Calgary Catholic School District's board of trustees, wrote in her nomination paper.
"He is deserving of the CCSTA Justice James Higgins Award not only because he understands the importance of Catholic education to families, but because he understands its role as central to the fabric of our country."
Feehan stands behind his work.
"I fundamentally believe in the principles of Catholic education. We need a system founded on the principles of the Gospel in which the messages of the Catholic Church are fully permeated in a school setting," he said. "A Catholic point of view should permeate every aspect of the system."
Married with four children and five grandchildren, Feehan looks at his family when reflecting on the future of Catholic education in both Alberta and Canada.
"Catholic education had an effect on my children's lives and I want to make sure it's vibrant and alive and well for my grandchildren and their children as well."
Feehan will accept his award at the CCSTA annual general meeting this month in Kingston, Ont.