Archbishop calls on teachers and principals to support each other in blessed and demanding ministry
Catholic educators from across the archdiocese gathered at St. Mark the Evangelist Church Aug. 14 to see how God has called them to be instrumental in “creating simple moments that change the world.”
The annual convocation featured a School Roll Call for 2018-2019, and address by Superintendent of Catholic Schools Marti West to the teachers, principals and pastors, and a presentation by Maria Ortiz from St. James School, Archdiocesan Teacher of the Year, speaking about the importance of valuing the small, seemingly insignificant moments that can actually be monumental in someone’s life.
“Those simple moments can add up to a lifetime of change. Those small actions can grow into big dreams,” Ortiz said.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, celebrated the convocation liturgy. The archbishop smiled when he told listeners that they were there ready to celebrate Mass and prepare to start this term with God’s holy children, and what Scripture does the Lord give? “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me” (Mt).
“God is good!” he said. “Let’s see what this all means for us.”
God tells us that we should receive children in his holy name, Archbishop Gustavo explained.
“Remember to welcome your students as the Lord welcomes them and as the Lord has commanded us to welcome them,” he said. “They bring their problems, their attitudes, and sure, they can be traviesos sometimes, but they are God’s children. May we receive them as he has taught us.”
The educators were told that they should learn from them how to live humbly in the Lord. “What does this mean?” the archbishop asked. He replied, “It means that we need to trust in God, just like these children must trust in others in their lives. They have put their trust in you, their teachers and staff, trusting you to teach them, challenge them, and support them. We learn from them how to trust in God, who teaches us, challenges us, and supports us.”
Archbishop Gustavo requested that the teachers give thanks to God for their students who help them to learn. “May we ask God to help us learn this lesson well,” he emphasized. “Especially at the start of this year, may each of you entrusted with the care of these dear children, humble yourselves before the Lord again.”
Lastly, Jesus started his lesson by bringing a child right next to him. “Jesus wants you to know how close he is to your students and to you. He wants you right next to him,” said the San Antonio prelate. “He is walking with you all, loving you, and guiding you. Remember to pray to him, ask him for help, and to thank him for those blessings in your life.”
Jesus then went on to the story of the shepherd and his sheep. “It does not make much sense for a shepherd to leave 99 sheep alone and go off to rescue one silly sheep who wandered off. But this is how God works. Have often have we been this silly little sheep, my brothers and sisters?” quizzed the Missionary of the Holy Spirit. “These moments are isolating and demoralizing. Sometimes we can even despair. But when we mess up and wander off, God does not give up on us. He goes out to get us and bring us home. God goes the extra mile for us.”
The San Antonio ordinary told the teachers and administrators that this is their story. “Be like our Good Shepherd; do not be satisfied with ‘good enough,’” he stressed. “I know you do this already as educators, but be renewed in your commitment, continue to go the extra mile for these wonderful young missionary disciples.”
The archbishop concluded by saying that the word of God is sweet on our lips and in our ears, and it gives warmth to the heart. “Thanks be to God who teaches us with his sweet and eternal word,” he closed. “May this year be a blessed year. May we be united in the prayers of St. Maximilian Kolbe, and follow his example of love and sacrifice. May we be united in the prayers of our patron St. Anthony of Padua, and those of our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe.”