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Archbishop’s advice to travelling students

By Kaelanne Jordan


Know what is true education, and your true identity – Archbishop Jason Gordon

The Office of Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain hosted a Mass August 6 for young adults entering or returning to school abroad and their families at The UWI Chaplaincy, St Augustine. Archbishop Jason Gordon was the main celebrant.

In his homily, the Archbishop underscored that university students will experience numerous challenges from peer pressure, struggling to believe in God and encountering atheist peers. He asserted that they can only be equipped to overcome these trials if they remember that their true identity is in Christ.

“Your deepest identity is that you are a child of God. That you are loved immensely by the Father. That His favour rests on you. And on you He breathes His Spirit and on you He gives His love.

He continued, “That’s who you are, and I don’t ever want you to forget that. Because if you remember who you are … foolishness can’t take you very far because you know who you are, God’s child.”

Cognisant that atheism poses a real challenge for the students, he suggested they read his eBook 12 Reasons to Believe in God: From the Big Bang to Mystical Experience.

Archbishop Gordon explained when one understands their identity in God, they also discover their mission.

Referring to the Gospel passage on the Transfiguration of Jesus (August 6 is the feast day), Archbishop Gordon reminded the students that as Jesus went to mission on Mount Tabor, so too the students are being called to the next step of their educational journey.

According to the Archbishop, true education is not about book knowledge and certification. True education, he said, is about becoming the best person one can possibly become.

The Archbishop spoke of many persons who have not gone to university but are “very educated” because they know who they are, who God is, choose what is right and seek opportunities to learn and read continually.

He beseeched the students that knowing they are children of God also means they ought to have a rhythm in their prayer life.

“The same way you Google and YouTube all kinds of foolishness every single day, you have to do some Googling and YouTubing in your faith formation. You have to make it important for your lives. Your parents have given you the faith you have now. Now it becomes your faith and you have to choose for yourself what that looks like.”

But to make that choice, you have to know ‘Who are you?” the Archbishop reiterated.

He opined that Jesus experienced His transfiguration for the sake of His disciples so that when faced with difficult moments, they remember who He was.

To this end, he told the students that while they too will experience difficult times, if “we know who we are then we know God is with us. And if He is with us, then who can be against us?”

Archbishop Gordon commented that while a rite of passage is very important because it prepares one for the next step of their journey, forgiveness is essential for this new chapter “so we don’t bring that rubbish into that next part of the journey.”

He then invited the students to make a list of all the persons who have impacted their lives immensely and personally thank them. He also recommended they make a list of persons they owe apologies.

Archbishop Gordon further called on the students to see their university time as an opportunity to take “adult responsibility” for their faith. He suggested they enquire of campus ministries, go to Mass on Sundays, and immerse themselves in their faith.

“Because that’s where you get voices of consciousness and voices taking you in the right direction.”

Fr Stephen Geofroy concelebrated the Mass, and newly appointed Director of Campus Ministry, Rev Hilary Bengochea assisted.