While parents of Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) students may have “big dreams” on what secondary school they would like their child/ren to attend in the new school term, Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon too has a big dream for the 19,344 students who will sit the exam Thursday, August 20.
The Archbishop shared his dream that the SEA students will make sacrifices and do “holy acts” every day at a virtual 9 a.m. Mass for the success of the students Friday, August 14, at the Living Water Community Chapel.
The Mass which was livestreamed via the CatholicTT Facebook page saw some students, teachers, principals and parents in attendance. Also present were the Catholic Education Board of Management’s (CEBM) CEO Sharon Mangroo and Vicariate Manager Sterling Jacobs.
Archbishop Gordon acknowledged while the students may have made sacrifices to prepare them for next week’s exam, those “little sacrifices”, he said, can’t compare to the “big sacrifices” of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a priest and martyr who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp in Poland during World War II. St Maximilian’s feast day is August 14.
“You think you could make the sacrifices he made?” Archbishop Gordon asked the students.
St Maximilian, the Archbishop highlighted experienced “much worse” in the concentration camp compared to what students are undergoing with COVID-19.
Not only did St Maximilian suffer in the camp but he chose to suffer even more to relieve someone’s suffering.
In so doing, St Maximilian chose sacrifice.
“Sacrifice is the very heart of growing up. Sacrifice is the very heart of becoming the person that God wants you to become. Sacrifice is at the very core of growing into the man and woman of God that God is calling on you to become. If your parents made no sacrifices for you, where would you be?” the Archbishop questioned.
Sacrifice, he continued is the secret ingredient to becoming a better person and a better country. Archbishop Gordon observed that sometimes persons see sacrifice as a bad thing.
“It’s not a bad thing. It’s a holy thing,” he said.
When one has the opportunity to make sacrifices and choose to make it when they didn’t have to, like St Maximilian, that’s a “big” holy act.
“…. That’s why we call him saint,” the Archbishop said.
He sought to clarify when parents tell their children to do something, that is not considered a sacrifice, its merely obedience. Obedience is something one needs to do, while sacrifice is something one chooses to do.
Pointing to the cross, Archbishop Gordon asserted that is the ultimate sacrifice.
At the end of the Mass, he gave this parting message for SEA students: remain calm, breathe deeply, it’s okay.
“The world will be a wonderful world on Friday morning and we will all be here still and all will be well. Let’s do the best you can do, let’s leave everything else in God’s hands,” he said.
The First Reading was delivered by student Danielle Dumas and Psalm 116 by a parent. Prayers of the Faithful were offered in Spanish and English.
The Mass included a “special” offertory with Mangroo placing an envelope on the altar of the names of all students who are due to sit Friday’s examination.