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Archdiocesan Teachers Day Mass celebrated at St Simon Likas

KOTA KINABALU – This year’s Archdiocesan Teacher’s Day Mass was celebrated at St Simon Likas on 14 Jun 2014.

The Archbishop has appointed the Archdiocese Education Commission (AEC) to act for him in affirming the place of our Catholic schools within our mission, to work for excellence in our schools, to discern the signs of the times and to be open to positive change and development in the work of education.

Each year the AEC would organize the Teachers’ Day event with teachers, heads of schools and board members with the aim to rally the spirit and the Christian vocation of our Catholic teachers.

2014 Teachers’ Day was celebrated with a  Thanksgiving Eucharist, which was presided by Archbishop John Wong and concelebrated with Fr Cosmas Lee and Fr Michael Modoit, spiritual advisor to the Archdiocese Education Commission, at St Simon’s Catholic Church, Likas Jun 14.  In his homily,  Fr Modoit called on the teachers and educators to discharge their task of education with sincerity, steadfastness, genuine interest and concern, and courage to teach and channel God and knowledge with truth.   Elaborating from Mt 5:37:  “All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no;  anything more than this comes from the evil one,”  he reminded them of the gravity of their obligation to the Christian vocation of a Catholic teacher once they have given their “Yes”.

A luncheon at a popular restaurant followed, which was well attended by teachers, heads of schools and board members, and were joined by Archbishop John Wong, Msgr Primus Jouil, Fr Modoit and invited guests.

This year’s celebration was a first with its presentation of awards to schools for excellence in academic and co-curricular performance for the year.  Archbishop Wong was called upon to present the awards to the receiving schools.

Worthy of note were the performance of the interior schools of the mission who have excelled in their co-curricular and sports in both the national and international levels, as well as remaining consistent in their academic achievements.  These results are testament to the commitment and hard work of the students, teachers and leadership teams at these schools.

Acknowledging the receiving schools of their achievements, Sr Rita Chew fsic, head of AEC, expressed her congratulations on behalf of the archdiocese.  She announced that this expression would take place in an award presentation, the first-ever undertaken by AEC as a symbol of appreciation and encouragement to the teachers.

Continuing her address, she drew the teachers and educators to the theme of “Shepherd of Christ” and underscored that Catholic teachers are “shepherds” to the students, and are to emulate Christ, the Good Shepherd.

This shepherd image “evokes a wise, caring, attentive agent who watches over, feeds, and protects a flock that is vulnerable, exposed, dependent, and in need of help.”  In fact His life and work must set the standard for their life and work, for all those who seek to be shepherds in their lives.

She called on the Catholic teachers to reach out to the students with a shepherd’s care, and having a moral obligation to care for the weakest and most vulnerable in society.  This is love lived out in truth and action If we are following Jesus, if our wills are aligned with his will,  then we should be engaged in a shepherd’s work.  In reflecting a shepherd’s image after Christ, Sr Rita affirmed that they would eventually point Jesus to the students.

In his turn, Archbishop Wong expressed appreciation in the teachers’ participation in the event.      He acknowledged that the teaching career has become more challenging in view of the increasing paper work required by the Education Ministry.  In spite of this, he   was confident that many still find fulfillment in their chosen career as a teacher and educator.    He reckoned that it is so when teaching becomes a vocation, a calling from God which impacts the way they teach, the way they relate with students, the way they prepare lessons, and so on.  For the Catholics there is something more than just being a teacher.  They teach with a difference because they view teaching as more than a career.

Taking the cue from the theme “Shepherd of Christ”, he encouraged them to model after Christ the Shepherd, who is Himself the greatest educator because what He teaches is life-giving and life-changing.  “What is great in Jesus is that He practices what He preaches.  He leads by example.  His teachings are not only words that come out from His mouth, but actions that He lives out,” said the bishop.  He opined that a Catholic teacher who models after Christ would be able to offer a role model to young people who are constantly searching for authencity.

Congratulating the award recipients for their exceptional achievement, he hoped that their achievement would motivate them to be models to their students and colleagues

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