The College of Our Lady of Fatima celebrated its 75th anniversary of establishment with Holy Mass last Friday. Chief celebrant and Fatima old boy, Archbishop Jason Gordon said the challenge for the college and all Catholic schools is “how we hand the faith to this generation in a way that is credible to allow each one to hear God’s Call, to discern that Call and courage to live that Call”.
The Mass was held outdoors with a stage mounted on the school’s carpark with seating in the quadrangle for invited guests, religious, parents, former students and current students representing the various forms.
Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris, Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt and Bishop Robert Llanos of the Diocese of St John’s-Basseterre (Antigua & Barbuda), another Fatima old boy, were the main celebrants.
Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju and Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans) Fr John Fogerty, visiting from Rome, Italy were among the concelebrating clergy, which included several former Fatima students. The Spiritans started the school.
Preaching the homily, the Archbishop said that day was the feast of St Anthony, an Abbot who founded the monastic order which helped rebuild Europe when it was in disarray. The first reading was on the call of Samuel. Both the reading and the saint remind us “of vocation, of Call”, stated the Archbishop.
The role of the Catholic school, he continued, was not “to babysit children” but form disciples, and Fatima College was there “to help young men to hear and live their vocation….That is the way a society, a nation will prosper. And the land will experience an abundance of grace, abundance of giftedness….”
Recalling the school’s history, he said it was then-archbishop Count Finbar Ryan who saw the need for more schools and invited the Spiritans to start another school for young men. The Congregation had already opened St Mary’s College in 1863. “Count Ryan saw, asked for it and because of that we are here today to celebrated 75 years of Fatima College,” remarked the Archbishop, inviting former students to stand for applause.
Some picong passed at this point. “I hear someone say Fatima was born out of CIC (St Mary’s). This is one time when the child became better than the mother!” Archbishop Gordon quipped to chuckles from the congregation.
Speaking to the current student body, he said they were “a select and privileged group of young men who have come to a school that understands tradition and formation”. But, he continued, they were attending in a time of “incredible transition”, when education today “will not be like this in the next 25 years because of the acceleration of technology”. This acceleration though, is creating a void in “human spirit…in spirituality…in knowing God and living for God and living your vocation”.
Archbishop Gordon thanked God for those who had the courage to hear the Call to start this school, who “dreamt of it, and made it a reality”. “Thank God for every student who has come through those gates and what it meant for their life”, and for the many principals and teachers, “who gave their life for generations of boys at the college”.
He prayed for future teachers and principals, hoping that all live their vocation fully. When this happens, he ended, “our land will become an incredible place, our church will be an incredible church, and our world will be a better home for all God’s people.”
“As we celebrate 75 years, let us thank God for all the many blessings He has given…for all the many ways that we have been blessed by Fatima College and by Our Lady of Fatima, patron of the school.”
The school choir and musicians led the singing for the liturgy. At the end, they led students, past and present, in a boisterous rendition of the school song, ‘Strive on’.