Tracy McKenzie, Principal of St Francis of Assisi RC School was among the educators at the October 17 Catholic Teachers’ Day of Spiritual Renewal. She gives her perspective of the day.
The move by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office to host another Catholic Teachers’ Day of Spiritual Renewal at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, provided a much-needed opportunity for Catholic teachers to accept our vocation, come to terms with our duties and responsibilities, and become motivated to continue the journey towards nurturing our nation’s children not only academically, but spiritually.
With what initially appeared to be a low turnout, the theme, Missionary Discipleship, was introduced by Chairmen of the day’s proceedings, Rene Ramoutar and Denise Forde, Principals of Todd’s Road RC and Chaguanas RC schools respectively.
By the time facilitator Archbishop Jason Gordon took to front stage, many teachers still making their way into the hall were encouraged to seat themselves on the vacant chairs at the front. “Come all the way up front!” he coaxed. “There are empty seats here!”
His Grace even chided that those hiding at the back will not escape his questions when that time came and so, the crowd grew.
The gathering of teachers, many of whom could be identified by their staff uniforms, created a true ambience of community. This was going to be an amazing day.
In his usual instructive and interactive fashion, Archbishop Gordon took us through a well-prepared, visual presentation on the theme.
He asked us to examine the scripture, 2 Kings 5:1–17 in Lectio Divina style and invited us to choose a word from the text that stood out to us. Much discussion was generated, followed by feedback prompted by His Grace.
As he moved through the gathering, many tried to avoid eye contact, hoping not to be called on. Over the mic we heard him say jokingly, “Ent ah tell allyuh that I would be coming down in the back? Allyuh feel you would get away?… Don’t try to look away now or screw up your face!” We could not hold back the laughter.
By then, so relaxed were we that the contributions just flowed. Indeed, the Holy Spirit was in that place.
From video presentations, reflections, and a look at the Aspiration Statement which explained clearly the purpose of our Catholic schools and our role as Catholic educators, we segued into dissecting the definition of missionary discipleship.
A missionary disciple lives in an intimate relationship with Jesus through word and sacrament: we joyfully receive, live and share our faith.
The four signs of a Missionary Disciple: Prayer, Study, Generosity and Evangelisation emerged and were explained in detail, yet in a way that was so easy to comprehend.
We were challenged to ensure that at every school, the day should begin with not just prayer, but meditation for about five minutes and at the end of the day, we should practise the Examen.
How fulfilling it was to sit in that crowded hall in absolute silence and centre ourselves into deep, contemplative meditation. Every single one of us could feel it. It was the Spirit at work!
The day concluded with Holy Mass which never fails to uplift, recharge and renew all present. “To increase happiness, be more grateful and generous!”
What a fitting way to show our appreciation for God’s love in sending us His son and a perfect reminder that we should always give, no matter how little, how small, or how seemingly insignificant.
We, Catholic teachers, have renewed our commitment to God and to our profession. We are grateful and happy to know that we have the continued support of all bodies within the Archdiocese, for together we shape the minds of our young people—the ones whom our Lord Jesus Christ holds dear.
This is what is right and just. Our students deserve to be exposed to purposeful individuals heeding the call to missionary discipleship.