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Teachers told to treat pupils with dignity, love

While automotive manufacturers like Toyota or Nissan are obligated to rectify defects and, in some cases, issue a refund, teachers, however, cannot “fix” students or “send them back”; they only have “one shot”.

So too, Catholic primary and secondary school teachers are challenged to make some “hard decisions” yet remain faithful to God rather than give in to trends of modernity or all things corrupt.

Similarly, like the Maccabees in the first reading 4:36–37, 52–59, Catholic educators would not “bow” or compromise their religious belief because their belief in God is something that is “not up for sale”.

Archbishop Jason Gordon made this assertion during Mass for Catholic primary and secondary school teachers at the 67th annual convention of Catholic Teachers’ Association held Friday, November 22. This year’s venue was the Church of the Assumption, Maraval. Frs Arnold Francis and Ashton Pierre CSSp concelebrated the Mass.

Referencing the recent fashion show held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Archbishop observed that we are living in a time where things that we thought would always remain sacred, are now changing before us.

He gave the analogy of when a frog is put in boiling water, the frog leaps out; when in a saucepan with tepid water, the frog stays. When the heat is increased, “degree by degree”, the frog continues bathing until it dies.

The culture, Archbishop Gordon stressed, has been “turning up the heat degree by degree, and we have not been feeling the rising temperature and we have not been recognising how far we have been drifting from the faith of our ancestors.”

Archbishop Gordon explained that the day’s two readings speak to a truth that is so powerful and profound that teachers must be willing to give their life for it.

He told teachers of “a sacred space” that is so important that they must fight to preserve it. Each human being is the temple of God’s Holy Spirit and must be treated as such “with profound dignity and incredible love”.

Archbishop Gordon emphasised the same way we desecrate our sacred spaces, is the same way we desecrate our children, the poor, the people on the margins of society. Whenever we stop giving worship to God and we start treating people on the fringes “badly”. “The two go together,” he said.

When we stop recognising the sin and the frailty of God in our lives we also start treating people badly. If we want to know where we are in the worship of God examine the love and respect we have for our children, said the Archbishop.

To this end, he called on Catholic educators to think of that child in the class, “you know exactly the one I’m talking about…and ask yourself ‘How have I been showing love to that child?’.”

Before Mass, greetings were brought by TTUTA, the Catholic Education Board of Management and the Ministry of Education. CTA President Kathleen Merhair Gransam also addressed her fellow teachers. Archbishop Gordon later gave the keynote address. —KJ