Discipleship and Leadership Seminar
November 24, 2021
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November 24, 2021

Educators must help students fulfil potential, live their vocation

69th annual CTA Convention

Catholic schools and teachers can help turn around the culture of disrespect and mediocrity in the society, by raising a generation who put God first in their lives and doing the right thing even it means giving up their lives.

“That’s the seed you have to sow as teachers. That is the culture we have to build in our Catholic schools so that our young people boys and girls have a high ideal to aspire towards and will raise themselves to that ideal through the grace of God,” Archbishop Jason Gordon said.

He gave this message while delivering the homily at Mass for the 69th Annual Convention of the Catholic Teachers’ Association, November 17 at Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church, Maraval.

The convention was held at the Our Lady of Lourdes RC School and streamed on the CTA’s Facebook page. The Convention’s theme was The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you; Do not be afraid do not be discouraged, Deuteronomy 31:8.

In his feature address, Archbishop Gordon outlined the mandate for Catholic teachers as they responded to the present challenges and prepared children for the future.

He said the Catholic principal who is a missionary disciple is someone “who is consciously following Jesus Christ…. bringing other people to follow Christ too. That means you’re living in a way that tells people your life is for Christ”.

Educators had to work with parents and guardians, the primary educators of the child to “offer an education in sync with their moral values”.  Schools have to help every child achieve their full potential as children of God and citizens because “a great Catholic is a great citizen”.

Archbishop Gordon said planning education was not for a three- or five-year cycle but for 30 years. “We started in 2019 and we’re planning for 2049”.  As technology moved in “major leaps” over time, he said “between now and 2049, that child in your classroom should give birth to themselves over and over again each time society dramatically changes, they should have the internal capacity evolving with society in their vocation and living their vocation.”

He explained the Catholic DNA using the image of a steelpan. The notes on the periphery were: study, fellowship, Eucharist, and prayer. He said every Catholic should have devotion to each of these.

Another note on the pan is IHD—integral human development. To do this every dimension of the child must be educated— intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual levels. At the centre of the pan is vocation.

While the academic part of education is “vital and critical”, Archbishop Gordon said the child must have the right disposition and giving themselves over to God. This becomes their way of life even after they’ve left the Catholic school.

CTA President, Kathleen Merhair-Gransam said faith has been essential for motivating Catholic educators during the pandemic. “It is this faith which has been carrying all Catholic teachers throughout this pandemic hence our theme for this year’s Convention”.

She said Catholic schools as education institutions of the Church pursue the evangelising mission of the Church “as its unique essential goal, Catholic teachers are encouraged to participate in the mission by appearing as witnesses to the faith and helping students to develop catholic beliefs and values”.  Merhair-Gransam said Catholic teachers must strive to touch their students in a positive manner and the love of Jesus will open them up to the beauty and potential in every person. “We do so with a shared vision of humanity that respects and values each person equally”.

Merhair-Gransam, who demits office at the CTA’s AGM in March 2022, said she was humbled to have represented teachers and honoured to meet with them at conventions and other occasions.

Greetings were given by Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly; Spiritual Director, CTA, Fr Arnold Francis; Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Education Board of Management, Sharon Mangroo, and President of the T&T Unified Teachers’ Association, Antonia De Freitas.

— By Lara Pickford-Gordon