Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: only expresses my views.
11.00 a.m. Mass at St Joseph’s today will be a time of prayer and praise as we mark the return of students to their schools over the past week. For some little ones, this will have been their first experience of school. Those children starting school are setting out on a long road of education. What a great adventure, we pray!
St. Joseph’s parishioners’ daughters and sons attend a variety of schools. Some are Catholic with a religious ethos: others have a different one. All students are God’s children.
All schools have in common that they want the best for their students. A school is the partner of the Family together working to advance the students’ development and education.
A parish is a third party along with the family and the school. At the Baptism of every child, the church recognises that parents are the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith and then prays, that they be the best of teachers. The family is at the centre and heart of education of their children, academic and religious.
Even after ten years at St Joseph’s, I still marvel at the faith of families registering children for Sacramental preparation. Many CCD volunteers minister by teaching and religious formation of children, while others do all the administration needed. The ‘Gospel Group’ introduces little ones to stories of God at an early age. The post-Confirmation Group continues the journey of faith into adulthood.
In Catholic Schools, a religious ethos permeates all that happens daily. In the past, as part of a retreat team travelling to schools presenting Jesus and listening to students, I always found very rewarding. Traces were visible of Jesus’ footprints in the lives of students and are still today.
I have unbounded admiration for parents wanting a good education for their children and for teachers and school staff. As a school chaplain for many years, students taught me more than I could give to them. All students are God’s precious gifts given to be cherished and protected.
Our Reading today from Isaiah can be adapted to apply to Education:
- “Eyes shall be opened” = Student minds shall be opened to new horizons
- “Ears of deaf unsealed” = Student ears hear the message of Jesus for today
- “Lame shall leap like a deer” = no Student judged disabled
- “Tongues of dumb sing for joy” = Students praise God
- “Water gushes in the desert” = Students reach for the stars and seemingly impossible.
Everywhere, Jesus is Teacher and Master; God the one Father. (Mt 23: 8-10). Schools are holy ground, with Christ in all classrooms, playgrounds, and at sports. Today, we greet ‘Jesus of the Schools’ as He blesses another school year. We remember today children who cannot go to school due to war, famine or being refugees. May we help end their nightmare soon.