Q: Archbishop J, why so many schools during the holidays?
The long primary and secondary school holidays are a great opportunity for learning. I know this sounds contradictory. Think of it. What are the teachers and students and parents doing during this time?
It is a great opportunity for learning the faith and the skills that are integral to living as a disciple. That is why there are so many schools during the long July-August holidays.
Looking at the Church now after three years and seven months as Archbishop, several things are becoming clearer to me.
Our people need opportunities to grow in faith. Opportunities to reflect on the teaching of the Apostles, to learn the skills of fellowship, to plumb the depths of the mystery of the Eucharist and to learn a rhythm of prayer that is sustaining for a disciple (Acts 2:42). This is the Catholic ecosystem that is articulated so well in the Acts of the Apostles.
If we are going to move the Church in Trinidad and Tobago to missionary discipleship, then we will need to reconsider our formation strategy. If the faith is vital to life, then we all need to commit to ongoing formation and growth in our faith every year.
Every adult Catholic needs to have a plan to grow their faith every year. Professionally, we know that we need to participate in workshops and seminars to stay current in our field.
If we know this professionally, why don’t we understand this in terms of faith? There are many adults who have not had any formal formation since Confirmation or Marriage preparation. If the faith is important, then ongoing formation is vital to our faith. That is the opportunity that the various schools offer to our Archdiocese.
Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of God. This is the wisdom of St Jerome. He is absolutely right. It is through scripture that we gain insight into God. Our faith is not a rationalistic faith derived from pure reason.
Although we can work out the truth of the existence of God from pure reason, we need revelation to begin to understand this God and the attributes of God. Through the study of scripture, we begin to understand the slow nature of revelation which unfolds ever so slowly but which has moved the human step by step towards the full revelation in Jesus Christ.
It is through study of scripture that we understand the successive covenants that God made with us humans. Only here do we begin to understand the beauty and joy of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.
Through study of the Bible, we understand that true happiness consists in living the Beatitudes. Or the fact that the whole of scripture is an intense revelation of extreme love.
If you have not studied scripture before or want to deepen your understanding of scripture, contact the Bible Institute, and sign up for a course with them (firstname.lastname@example.org).
School of Evangelization
Before Jesus went up into Heaven in the Ascension, He mandated the apostles: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15–16). Evangelisation is the life blood of the Church; it is her reason to exist.
The document A Pastoral Approach to Culture says: “For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new.”
The classic text on evangelisation, by Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi says: “We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all peoples constitutes the essential mission of the Church.”
A Catholic who does not believe that evangelisation is vital to the Church, is very deficient in their understanding of the faith. The School of Evangelization gives the understanding of the Church and then the soft skills of evangelisation from engagement to disciple formation (email@example.com).
School of Liturgy
The most often quoted phrase of Vatican II is: “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the whole Christian Life”. As source, everything flows from it, as summit it is that to which we all aspire. It is both our source of nourishment (source), and our aspiration (summit).
It is through the liturgy of the Church that we are given the opportunity to advance on the journey to holiness. Pope Francis says: “Liturgy is the first ‘teacher’ of catechism.” It is where we first learn theology, where we learn discipleship and where we learn to be children of God.
This year the focus at the School of Liturgy is Liturgy & the Family, exploring the role of liturgy in the family. Deeply connected here are the cultural expressions of liturgy in the family and the connection with spirituality.
The Mass ends with a mission to the world, including the family. That mission is taken back home to the ‘domestic Church’ to live, to love and to share the faith.
Since 1977 Liturgy School has been forming Catholics every year. This has been a main component of educating our people on the faith and also raising the beauty and elegance of liturgy in every parish (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Caribbean School of Catholic Communications (CSCC) has been operating since 1995. Its goal is to assist the Church to integrate the digital technology into the life of the Church. This is done with both a Caribbean cultural preference and also a Catholic cultural preference.
The school has trained many participants from the AEC region over the years. It seeks to integrate communications into our spirituality and pastoral life.
The theme this year is Sync or Swim — a play on the digital or analogue way for the Church to move forward. The students are immersed into the theology and spirituality of communications. They are then asked to do a project using digital tools to communicate a message (email@example.com).
All the schools contribute greatly to the ongoing formation of God’s people in the Archdiocese each year. They should be on your calendar for next year.
Many of them will have lectures available after the school that you can participate in.
Ongoing formation is vital to live our faith in the 21st century. The four schools in the Archdiocese contribute greatly to the vitality of our Church.
Select a course on Catholic life from these schools or the internet and participate before this year ends.