PRINCE ALBERT — On August 26, the Prince Albert Catholic School Division held their annual opening school Mass and faith formation session for teachers and staff.
In his homily, Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr. referred to the Gospel of the Samaritan, speaking of the challenging commandment of love.
“We find it is difficult loving others. It takes mercy, forgiveness and understanding. A Good Samaritan is open to all peoples. In your classroom, you will encounter wounded children who need time, attention and friendship. Some feel anger and rejection. You are the Good Samaritan for the students in your schools. Love them as they are and not how you would like them to be.”
He spoke of teachers who could be carrying doubts and hard times in their lives as well, and need to be listened to. He encouraged them to be a listening ear to help them be who they are meant to be.
“As Good Samaritans, this is how we live our faith. Give your time, an encouraging word, understanding, compassion and love.”
On behalf of their schools, principals and administrative staff received a handcrafted bowl with the word “Faith” carved on the outside, a bottle of holy water to remind staff of the commitment to live the faith, and the school theme “Faith: Live It” poster.
Deacon Harrold Salahub, religious education co-ordinator, explained, “This bowl will hold holy water, a source of grace when we need it.”
Following the eucharistic celebration at the annual faith formation session, Board of Education chair George Bolduc welcomed and thanked teachers and staff for their role in Catholic education.
“Our board is extremely proud of our school system,” said Bolduc.
Director of Education, Lorel Trumier, said actions of staff and teachers are critical to how children feel and learn. Those involved in Catholic schools are fortunate to be able to support students in a special way. Decisions made each day, she said, should relay the message of faith.
“Faith is an encounter with God, when the love of God is communicated through us in every interaction we have with the people around us. We can feel confident in our actions of charity, mercy and love that God speaks through us. Our faith is a language our children need to learn, that they cannot afford to misinterpret. Remember, you can have a tremendous impact on others around you.”
Keynote speaker was Fr. Tony Ricard, a Catholic revivalist and youth speaker from New Orleans. He lives out his ministry teaching high school, is chaplain for the New Orleans Saints football team and director of Camp Pelican for children with serious pulmonary diseases. He is an author with Two Knights Publishing, and his company, KnightTime Ministries, is involved in many youth academic opportunities.
In 2012, the documentary Father Tony presented a touching portrait of his unshakeable faith in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as he counselled storm survivors.
Ricard said teachers are often given the opportunity to have an encounter, but they often don’t have their eyes open. He told the educators that they are privileged to be in their position they are in; it’s a task not everyone is up to.
“One thing I’ve realized on the journey that we’re on is that we don’t know when Christ is going to come back again. Better to treat every child as if he or she is Christ come back again, than to end up before the judgement seat and find out we treated Jesus as if he or she was nobody.”
Part of our challenge, he said, is to be on the constant search for signs of Christ in this world.
He is chaplain of an all boy Catholic high school of 700 kids. Ricard considers himself very blessed that God has allowed him to be with God’s children. He said one can only imagine some of the stuff the kids have to deal with.
“I don’t know if you realize, but Christ could be here today and waiting for us to recognize him. Christ could be a child in your school and you just don’t know yet. My prayer for you this morning is that you open your eyes ’cause you just might see him.”