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St Francis Boys’ College celebrates a century of education

By Lara Pickford-Gordon

“This school has produced some very fine young men over the 100 years,” Archbishop Jason Gordon said on Monday, January 23 at the St Francis Boys’ College, Belmont Circular Road, Belmont, while delivering the homily at Mass celebrating the school’s centenary.

He said 100 years of Catholic education is significant. It was started under Archbishop [John Pius Dowling] and 100 years later still exists. Archbishop said the school was a place of culture and sport.

St Francis Boys’ College was formerly called Belmont Intermediate and then Belmont Boys’ Secondary. He asked the students present if they were going to be among the fine young men which the school has produced. He asked them again until they responded resoundingly.

Archbishop Gordon said Catholic education develops the whole person: body, mind, soul, and heart. It gave emotional, academic and physical intelligence—“that’s knowing our body and all the sports programmes”. Catholic education also offered “spiritual intelligence”.

Alluding to social ills, Archbishop Gordon said the question can be asked why so many things in many sectors were going wrong today. “My answer to that is a simple answer. Everybody going after the money and if you going after the money, all that will happen is more violence will break out in the country.” He added that Greek philosopher Aristotle had this perspective 2300 years ago.

In the homily, Archbishop Gordon spoke of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and forgiveness to those who were killing Him. “The cross is the most brutal form of torture that existed from humanity, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’, Jesus took on Himself all sins.”

He said God is the Alpha and Omega and sins were forgiven yesterday, today and forever and although the students were not yet born, their sins were also nailed to the cross.

He told them to consider the physical torture which Jesus endured and reflect on the price Jesus paid for them. Archbishop Gordon asked: “What price are you willing to pay for Him?”

He enquired if they were happy with doing the things of God—prayer, Mass, morning devotion. He prompted the students to respond if they displayed a good heart, generosity of spirit and willingly gave their devotion to God.

“Very often we don’t consider deeply enough what God has done for us, that is what our First Reading (the Letter of St Paul to the Hebrews 9:15, 24-28) is asking us to consider.”

Archbishop Gordon stated people today were not as happy as 100 years ago when they did not have “two cents to rub together”. The boys then, he added, did not have brands or “zesser and no set of all them things you like to get” but were happier.

He suggested today’s society was challenged having “spiritual intelligence” and this has not been communicated to them. “I am asking you to consider what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross and consider also what do you do for Him on a daily basis. The sacrifice that He made, what sacrifice are you making on a daily basis?”

The boys were told to think of the sacrifices their parents and guardians made on a daily basis and if they were grateful. “Gratitude is always a response for God. When you meet a grateful person, they are always a happy person…if we understand that, then gratitude is one of the first things we need to have”, he said.

Archbishop Gordon urged them to start practising gratitude because ungrateful people live sad and sick lives consumed by their own wants and needs.

On the 100th anniversary of the school he appealed for the students to give Jesus the gift of a daily sacrifice and a daily gratitude.

Among the alumni of the Belmont school were Archbishop Anthony Pantin CSSp, Fr Gerard Pantin CSSp, Fr Reginald ‘Rex’ de Four CSSp, Sir Ellis Clarke, athlete Jehue Gordon, Calypsonian David Rudder and Fr Brent Alexis O Carm.

Archbishop Gordon said it was time for the school to produce another priest for the Archdiocese. He called on the students to achieve excellence as their alumni did. “I expect great things from you also”, he said with a broad smile.

Other activities will be held through the year as St Francis Boys’ commemorates 100 years of education.