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Michael Del Grande receiving the Joe Borowski award from CLC president Jeff Gunnarson with Fr. Claudio Piccinini looking on.Steve Jalsevac

TORONTO, December 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Catholic school trustee Michael Del Grande received Canada’s highest pro-life, pro-family honour this week for his courageous stand against Toronto’s Catholic school board endorsing gender ideology.

Canada’s national pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group Campaign Life Coalition gave Del Grande the Joseph P. Borowski Award at a ceremony at its headquarters Wednesday.

Del Grande has been under relentless attacks from the LGBT lobby and dissenting trustees after voting November 7 against adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) code of conduct, even though the policy passed eight votes to four.

“I’m not going to stop,” he said when accepting the award.

“I’m not going to lay down[.] … And I want to thank you. I don’t think you need to thank me. I’m just doing what I’ve always been taught in my faith, [which] is to follow the cross.”

Three Catholic priests present at the ceremony lauded Del Grande for his stand.

“God bless you, Michael,” said Monsignor Ambrose Sheehy, chaplain of the Legion of Mary for the Toronto Archdiocese.

There comes a time when “we will have to stand up and publicly profess what we believe,” said Sheehy, adding that “the noose is tightening” against those who defend Catholic morality.

“And we’re not going to give in[.] … We have the faith. We have the grace. And we’re not conquered[.] … God will have the day and God will not be mocked,” Sheehy said.

That was echoed by Passionist missionary priest Fr. Claudio Piccinini.

“How does it happen that the Catholic school board can come up with something that is not Christian? Somebody explain it to me,” he said, to laughter.

L to R: Mike Del Grande, Fr. Claudio Piccinini, and Fr. Ambrose Sheehy. Photo credit: Lianne Laurence / LifeSiteNews

“If we fight the right battle, we know that we are going to win because we’re not alone. Jesus is with us. The Holy Spirit is with us. We are talking about the Catholic Church here,” he said.

When he was parish priest at Holy Spirit, said Fr. Jim Adams, he spoke with Del Grande about Catholic education.

“I was inspired then by his example and witness to the Catholic faith. And I’m inspired now.”

“I’m getting beat up… I don’t know what to do”

Although trustees Teresa Lubinski, Garry Tanuan, and Nancy Crawford also voted against adding gender terms to the code, Del Grande has been singled out for attack, ostensibly for his hyperbolic amendment that the board add other categories of sexual identity such as bestiality and pedophilia to the code to demonstrate it’s on a “slippery slope,” and for referring to gender ideology as “evil” in a statement published in LifeSiteNews.

Unfortunately, a TCDSB report appended to the agenda the night of the vote stated that the archdiocese of Toronto supported adding the terms.

The archdiocese released its own statement four days later conceding it recognized that the terms are in the code, adding: “[W]e do not accept the view of the human person which underlies this terminology, since that view is not compatible with our faith.”

Trustee Markus de Domenico has now requested a special board meeting December 23. He wants trustees to ask Del Grande to “withdraw those statements (on LifeSiteNews), apologize and repudiate the impressions that he’s given staff, students, families and trustees,” de Domenico told the Toronto Star.

Someone also leaked to the Star a complaint the board is investigating privately in which pro-abortion student trustee Taylor Dallin alleged that Del Grande “harassed” her after a meeting last fall. The Star then reported  Toronto Mayor John Tory’s criticism of Del Grande and education minister Stephen Lecce’s opinion that an investigation might be called for.

All this was on Del Grande’s mind Tuesday night when he went to Mass and confession, he said in his acceptance remarks.

He asked God for a sign because “I’m getting beat up…I don’t know what to do.”

“I need support. I need friends here because I’m alone. I feel very alone[.] … And I said, you know I’d appreciate any … help that you can help me with, because I’m defending your faith, Lord.”

As Del Grande left the church, a woman he didn’t know approached him in the parking and said: “Thank you for protecting our children.”

“I was taken aback because I just finished praying and I was asking for signs,” he said.

Then, when he got home, Del Grande checked his messages.

“Usually when I turn on my phone, I can expect all these awful comments from people generally,” he said. “But over the last little while, I’ve had a ton of positive comments from people.”

And the message he received from a man in Kingston — site of the first Catholic diocese in Ontario — was so “inspiring” that Del Grande played it to the crowd.

The man urged Del Grande to stand fast against this “assault on Roman Catholicism” and “on people like yourself who don’t engage in groupthink,” exhorted him not to apologize, and described him as “the shining beacon.”

“So that was my second sign last night,” Del Grande said, adding that he “needed that encouragement” because the next morning, he heard that the Ontario Student Trustees Association had joined the condemnation against him.

Mike Del Grande receives the Borowski Award. Photo credit: Lianne Laurence / LifeSiteNews

It’s hard when confidential information is leaked to the media, which then “go into a feeding frenzy,” while he is obliged “under an oath (to respect) that if things are in private, I need to keep them in private,” he said. “So this is a very coercive effort to try and bring me down.”

He wrote the statement LifeSiteNews published to explain to people “where I was coming from,” Del Grande added.

“I’m not going to apologize,” he said. “Evil is here.”

Award reserved for politicians who earn it

That was echoed by Jack Fonseca, director of political operations for Campaign Life Coalition, who said the Catholic education system has been in a state of “disintegration” for “many years now” and who thanked Del Grande for standing against the “evil ideology of gender identity theory.”

Sign petition supporting Catholic trustees who opposed gender ideology

“You truly are compassionate and loving to these children because you care about their emotional well-being, their psychological well-being, their medical well-being and their spiritual well-being, which is sacrificed on the altar of political correctness,” Fonseca said.

Campaign Life president Jeff Gunnarson likewise praised Del Grande for “fearlessly and tirelessly” demonstrating that Catholic education “is truly about helping children understand that they are children of God and that their final destiny is heaven.”

The Borowski Award isn’t given out every year, emphasized Campaign Life past president Jim Hughes. “We’ve been very careful about who we give the award to because they had to earn it.”

Named for the Manitoba NDP cabinet minister who resigned over his government funding abortion and dedicated his life to pro-life advocacy, the award is intended to honor “a politician who was outstanding in his integrity and his defense of life and family in the public square,” Hughes said.

“I can’t think of any of those recipients that we’ve presented this award to over the years that’s more deserving than Michael Del Grande,” he said.

To sign the petition supporting Mike Del Grande and the trustees who stood against gender ideology, go here.