REGINA — Bob Kowalchuk’s vocation was education and he spent 40 years as a teacher and administrator; almost 36 of those years in the provincial school system, including Regina Catholic, and another five as director of education with the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council. On Nov. 12 he became director of pastoral care for the Regina archdiocese.
Kowalchuk was born in Foam Lake, Sask., and spent his early years growing up on the family farm until Grade 4.
“I took a horse to school,” he fondly remembered. “It was a one-room school.”
His life changed when the family moved to Regina, and for the next 20 years the family were “suitcase farmers,” travelling to the farm on weekends and holidays. He had an opportunity to take over the farm when it was sold but decided instead to go to the University of Saskatchewan and become a teacher, largely because of the influence of his Uncle Joe.
“He was an electrician, but he was chair of the Shamrock School Board. He told me I should become a teacher because I was a natural. I had worked with kids as a volunteer and enjoyed it, so the next thing I knew I was off to university.”
His education career included several senior positions in school and system-wide administrative positions and some human resource training as well, an experience vicar-general Rev. Lorne Crozon referred to as valuable to the director’s position when he introduced Kowalchuk to pastoral staff Nov. 4.
Kowalchuk took the position because he is always looking for new challenges.
“I am also of the Catholic faith and I have always responded to it, and this is another way of doing something I’d like to try and do. I have had so many interests and so many things I have done where I may not be able to say I’m doing it as a Catholic.”
Kowalchuk said he expects the first couple of months will be taken up listening, looking and learning about the individual ministries offered through the pastoral office, and “not make any judgments until I can make a rationally intelligent statement. I think the biggest challenge is going to be getting my head around what services they really are delivering.”
He knows of the Pastoral Plan that calls for decentralization that’s supposed to put all the work with the deaneries, and the pastoral offices are supposed to support the deaneries, but he doesn’t know to what extent that has been happening.
“The challenge will be to figure out where it is now and what needs to be done.”
He and Marie celebrated 46 years of marriage this past summer. They have two married sons and one nine-month-old granddaughter.