Catholic teachers from Tobago’s two primary schools gathered at St Joseph’s, Scarborough for the annual Day of Renewal on May 11. As has happened in the past, retired teachers joined the teachers and a representative from Bishop’s High school was a part of the gathering.
The day began with Morning Prayer conducted by the staff of Delaford RC School.
In his welcoming remarks, Phillip Rochford, principal of Scarborough RC reminded the teachers that the Day of Renewal is one set aside for spiritual renewal and in a time when we are “called to be Catholic”, the guidance of the Holy Spirit is needed to carry out the mandate of being Catholic.
Sr Columba Byrne HF and Antoinette Prince Trot man represented the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office. Sr Columba in her greetings asked that we look inwards in order to keep our covenant with God. It means that we must also keep our covenant with others.
Mass followed and Msgr Kenneth Spence began his homily by acknowledging the role that Sr Columba and Fr John Theodore CSSp (the feature speaker) played in his formation as a priest. He said that a lack of formation through mentorship was detrimental to a young priest and he was blessed to have them in the formation process. He expressed his gratitude to them publicly.
In his homily, father stated that the following points:
Flour and water are very basic things – almost insignificant and taken for granted.
These two seemingly insignificant items combine to make another very basic item – bread.
Jesus made Himself into that very basic item when he said, “I am the bread of life”.
The “bread” used in the Eucharist is not very attractive. There are other flour products much more attractive, pizza for example. The challenge is to look beyond what is visible to recognize Jesus.
When we can see Jesus beyond the visible, things can begin to happen.
Teachers know how to look beyond what they see.
Elaborating on this point. He said when teachers see children, they see opportunities to build. Taking the curriculum and the syllabus – our five loaves and two fish we feed and then collect the twelve baskets of scraps. When teaching is embraced as a vocation and the responsibility, burden and sacrifices that come with a vocation are embraced, teaching brings fulfilment. When we teach in Jesus’ name, our own inadequacies and insecurities are lifted. Jesus knows our humanness because he experienced it. That is why he promised, “I am with you always”. He was victorious over sin, death and hell.
It was a very inspiring homily rich with food for reflection.
Fr Theodore delivered the feature address. Several times during his short talk, he paused and thundered out the theme of this year’s renewal day: Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.
He began by asking: “What is the number one problem in Trinidad and Tobago?” Crime, of course! Crime is sin, he said and Jesus offers grace. All problems are created by sin and evil and the prophet Isaiah reminds us that Jesus is the hope of the nations. Christians then have the solutions for the problems of the world, he said.
Using statistics, Fr Theodore told his captivated and very attentive audience of the success rate of treating addicts: 1:10 are successfully treated in hospitals; 3:10 by psychologists; 5:10 by therapy and 9:10 by Christians. When Christians pray, things happen.
Father told several stories of the closure of abortion clinics, conversions and the reduction and elimination of crime hotspots in St Vincent, and several cities in North and South America. For example, when the Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles, Christians got together and prayed and there were no incidents of crime. In another city the murder rate fell from 50 to one a day when Christians prayed. Conventional weapons are no use in the battle against crime. Praying Christians is a lethal weapon. Praying people are therefore the most important people in a nation. There is a secret weapon – The Spirit Rosary – praying the Third Glorious Mystery five times. The Third Glorious Mystery is about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes people. Father spoke for about 45 minutes yet when he ended many were disappointed – they wanted to hear more.
Sr Mary Anthony HF, who has a death row prison ministry, facilitated the workshop on prayer after lunch. Among the things we were asked to do was to work with clay. Each person was given a lump of clay and each shaped what he/she wanted to become. The participants worked with the clay in silence, while music played softly in the background. Interestingly, many of the objects people made were in keeping with their prayers. Everyone shared in that part of the session.
The session ended with a prayer and the day ended with presentations and a vote of thanks by the principal of Delaford RC School. – Catherine Stewart, Principal, Delaford RC School