By Laura Ramphal, SJCPOS student
Last school term, the Archbishop invited five Lower Six students from St Joseph’s Convent (SJC), Port of Spain and five from Holy Name Convent to discuss any questions we had pertaining to the Catholic Church and its teachings over lunch. He did the same with Fatima College and St Mary’s College.
This school term, on September 21, returning as Upper Sixes he invited the same five SJC girls again but with a twist. This time, the Archbishop invited the CIC boys to attend the same lunch.
Before we shared a meal, the Archbishop reviewed what was discussed in the previous meetings he had with both schools. He said that both meetings were generally centred on the topics of atheism, premarital sex and puberty, and practising our faith. After chatting for a bit and then praying, we discussed new topics of interest and any new questions we had on previously discussed topics over a mouth-watering meal.
“Welcoming refugees into our nation” was the first issue to surface. Many of us stated that we need to be our brother’s keeper and take care of those who need help. We should welcome those seeking asylum in our churches, homes, schools and communities.
What people do not understand is how awful the situation is in countries such as Venezuela. They have almost nothing to eat and it has reached the point where many of their citizens are salvaging food from garbage.
His Grace stressed how important it was to help them and that it is mainly the poorer communities in our own country that are the most welcoming. We need to erase the mindset that they have come to steal our jobs or take our money, and come to the realisation that their home has succumbed to malnutrition, poverty and corruption.
We also spoke on the difference between the female body and mind and the male body and mind, and that we need to be understanding of the struggles that both genders have to go through especially as teenagers.
Actually, coming into this meeting I thought that girls had more struggles to deal with during and after puberty but then began to understand the battles boys also had to fight during that time. There was a mutual understanding between both schools on this topic.
We also spoke about our relationships with God and the Catholic Church. Naturally, students had different relationships with God as each person is different and does not think the same. However, we all recognised that prayer is a powerful thing and whenever we feel the need to speak with God we can.
This meeting with His Grace was a great opportunity to learn about our faith. Hearing the views of the Archbishop on important topics that do not often come up in the church was very important to me and the other students who attended.
I am very grateful that the Archbishop is taking his time to personally meet with school students and I do believe that this will encourage more students to learn about their faith through teachings at Holy Mass and school, and deepen their faith through prayer.