As a Catholic School in the Edmund Rice Tradition, under the excellent leadership of Mr Michael Senior, I have been encouraged to teach through a lens of peace and justice for all. An essential elaboration of one of our EREA ‘Touchstones’ is to challenge ourselves to be an ethical, compassionate and spiritual instrument of our founder, our Pope and our God. In addition to this, I need to project a hope-filled future for those in my care. In one example Jesus reminded his disciples of the importance of being compassionate to others. In Matthew 25:35-36 He states ‘35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Identifying opportunities to be compassionate beyond school can be very difficult for an adolescent.
While adolescents in Catholic schools are quick to identify the dualities in life: there are rich and there are poor; there are those that have and those that go without; some have shelter while others seek comfort etc; in many cases adolescents lack the insight to see how their future self, whether it be a Barrister, Electrician, Banker, Computer Programmer or Engine Fitter, can be the hands and feet of Christ on this Earth? These dualities of life, fundamental to the essence of all recognised world religions, need to be embraced by our students and then addressed beyond their formal schooling. There is hot and cold in our world. There is happiness and sadness, life and death, and there is good and evil. Our challenge as Catholic educators is to encourage students to recognise these dualities, and acknowledge that when given a choice, one should strive to construct a response that makes our world a better place for all.
The Liberation Theology movement that emerged in Latin America may have embraced some political discourse in response to the oppressive context of the time; but it can be used as an example of a response to social duality. When the poor masses, oppressed by financial, business, government and education institutions, Liberation Theology became a vital moral response, driven by Roman Catholics to institutionalised social and political oppression. ‘Preferential Option for the Poor’ may now be a familiar expression, but its roots are firmly grounded in advocacy during this time. It took one person to recognise that creating a ‘system’ that keeps others at the margins, is not embracing the essential Gospel Values. God does not assess our assets and materialistic deeds, but our ledger of deeds of service and solidarity. Our founder Blessed Edmund Rice witnessed the dualities in his own context and sought to address the needs of the poor, uneducated children of Waterford. Pope Francis continually identifies the social dualities that intertwine our complex world. Under Mike Senior’s compassionate leadership, we maintain an ATC environment which is inclusive. Our community is diverse, and students are encouraged to contribute to making our ATC world (and in turn the global community) a better place for all.
The common thread between the Gospel Values, Edmund Rice, Liberation Theology, Pope Francis and NGS Superannuation, is that it took one person to see that they can make a difference in the world. Mike has certainly made a difference to our community. In recognition of this scholarship, perhaps it was one NGS Board Member, one executive or one accountant who realised that in generously granting $5000, that they were making a small contribution to change a social duality.
In 2020 we will witness the fruits of this generous NGS Superannuation Scholarship and we look forward to sharing more news with our community.