“The role of the Catholic educator is not to get pay; it is a vocation,” said Mennen Walker-Briggs, Director of Primary and Secondary Division, Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) at an orientation session for “new hire” teachers for Catholic schools.
Walker-Briggs said teaching is “an honourable profession anointed by God”. She supported this point highlighting 1 Corinthians 12: 27 – 31; Daniel 12:3; Romans 12:6 – 8, telling the young teachers, “It is here in the Word of God, this [teaching] is serious business.”
The orientation programme was held August 30 at the conference room of the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI) Belmont Circular Road. Different vicariate managers discussed: ‘Catholic Ethos – Expectation of a Catholic Teacher’; ‘Assembly’, ‘Dress Code’, ‘Respect’, ‘Relationships’. The law and legal aspects of education were also discussed.
Walker-Briggs’ early instruction to the teachers was to remember the three ‘P’s’ – politeness, professionalism, punctuality. “If you know your school is 100 miles away; get up on time,” she said. Her presentation dealt with the ‘Seven Basic Duties of Catholics’: to worship every Sunday, the Day of the Lord and days of obligation; to receive the Sacraments of the Eucharist regularly as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation; to grow in the knowledge of the Catholic faith and its teachings; to observe the marriage laws of the Church, and bringing up one’s children in a Christian family home; to support one’s parish community stewardship activities; to do penance and works of charity especially during Lent; and to support the missionary work of the universal Church.
She advised the teachers to download the Bible on their smart phones so it can be accessible and to always carry their rosary beads and recite the Rosary daily. “We need to know our Catholic faith and its teachings. We cannot go to a Catholic school and not know the faith. Children today are going to ask you questions,” Walker-Briggs said.
She notified the teachers that assessments by principals at the end of each term can impact on whether they continued teaching at a Catholic school. “We can say to the ministry that ‘yes or no’ based on moral and religious grounds this teacher is not practising the faith and fit to be in our school.” Walker-Briggs also drew attention to the Teacher in a Catholic School in The Archdiocese of Port of Spain adopted from the pastoral letter On Catholic Education in territories of the Antilles Episcopal Conference. Copies of the document were distributed.
Reynold Phillip, Quality Assurance Officer, Eastern I, advised, “you cannot not be practising and pass on to the children, that does not make sense…you have to live it and practice Catholicism in what you do”. He told the teachers they have been given an opportunity to make a difference.
Brief opening remarks were given by Sharon Mangroo, Chief Executive Officer CEBM. She said in some cases children spent more time with teachers than their own parents: “Very often what ‘Miss’ or ‘Sir’ say is important”. Referring to the country’s “history of violence” she urged teachers to “treat the children with gentleness”. – LPG