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TANJUNG ARU – In a bid to motivate the teachers and educators within the archdiocese to see their role as more than just a career on the occasion of the Archdiocesan Catholic Teachers’ Day 2016, Archbishop John Wong delivered an impassioned speech to the teachers and heads of schools during the luncheon reception at Stella Maris Church Hall on 9 July 2016.
He said that many people think that the Church is only dealing with the spiritual and religious dimension of her members… “but if you listen to Jesus’ teaching, He touches on the salvation of the whole person, thus making it implicit that His mission on earth has a clear social dimension.”
The archbishop went on, “So, as the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, continues the mission of Jesus she does not only care for the salvation of souls, but also for its total and integral human development. We are called to transform the world and to build the Kingdom of God in our midst.”
Therefore, to educate the ignorant, to form the young, to impart knowledge to children is very much a mission of the Church, said Abp Wong.
Once the teachers or educators realise that they are actually implementing the social mission of the Church, the head of the archdiocese believed that they would put “all their energy and efforts to help the younger generation to acquire as much knowledge as possible, with the aim that they will be able to stand firm in their faith to face the challenges in and around them.”
Once upon a time, non-Christian parents rushed to send their children to mission schools because they realised that mission schools were serious in their duties and responsibilities, their principals and headmasters were dedicated, teachers were zealous, and staff members were welcoming, which all presented the Church’s active contribution in their social mission to society.
Archbishop Wong desired to see the continuation of this trend in mission schools.
For that to happen, teachers must see themselves as ‘teachers with a mission,’ derived from their relationship with Jesus. “In other words, you are there in your schools as ‘disciples of Christ’ carrying out the social mission of the Church,” said the prelate.
He continued, “If you are conscious of this, then you will make a difference to the young people, because they will experience the difference in you when compared to other teachers especially when they feel the love and mercy of God through you,” referring to this year’s theme “Be the merciful teacher”.
For the occasion, the prelate also presented appointment letters to the Committee of Heads of Mission Schools, which was formed to represent all mission schools through zone leaders.
The event was marked with a Mass, presided by Archbishop John Wong and concelebrated with Msgr Primus Jouil and Fr Tony Mojiwat.
Among the 400 attendees, besides the teachers, were heads of schools, members of the BOGs, and members of the AEC headed by Sr Rita Chew.
Interestingly, Sr Rita, drawing from quotes, challenged the teachers and educators as to what kind of ‘fingerprints and heart prints’ they would leave behind in the students formed and taught by them. Surely the ones that touch hearts the most are compassion or mercy, understanding, concern, and listening! “To touch the hearts of your students and to inspire them with the Christian spirit is the greatest miracle you can perform and one God expects of you.” (Mediation 139.9)