Teachers, family and friends gathered to celebrate Teachers’ Day Mass led by Msgr Ambrose Vaz on Sept 12.Teachers, family and friends gathered to celebrate Teachers’ Day Mass led by Msgr Ambrose Vaz on Sept 12.

Close to 200 Catholic educators, school staff, family, and friends gathered to commemorate Teachers’ Day at a specially organised Mass held on Sept 12.

Organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS), the Eucharistic celebration took place at Catholic High School, and was celebrated by Msgr Ambrose Vaz, Fr Edward Seah and Fr Adrian Danker.

In his homily, Msgr Vaz reaffirmed the identity and mission of Catholic educators as he drew parallels to the gospel, in which Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

Msgr Vaz explained that there is often a popular opinion of the identity of the Messiah, who is seen as “a powerful figure; in terms of earthly, political, even military power”, as compared to the identity of the Messiah according to God.

He elaborated, “The disciples had got the terminology right, that Jesus is the Messiah.

“But Jesus went on to teach them what this truly meant. The Messiah would be like the Son of Man, a title that would describe obedience to God, such obedience that would even require one to submit to suffering, and to ultimately be put to death.”

There is also a similar popular opinion of the identity of teachers, “where the teacher is one that simply imparts knowledge and dispatches information”, as compared to the identity of teachers according to God, “as seen in Jesus, the teacher”, said Msgr Vaz.

“A teacher does much more than impart knowledge, much more than dispatch information. The understanding of the identity of a teacher, as seen in Jesus, is to communicate, to pass on, an experience of God.”

Msgr Vaz also highlighted that this seemingly tall order is in fact very possible if teachers choose to “walk in the presence of the Lord”. This was also the theme of this year’s Teacher’s Day Mass.

“This is what the teacher is ultimately all about. The teacher shares from his or her ordinary experience, of what it is to walk in the presence of the Lord, and to remind others to experience the same joy,” explained Msgr Vaz.

He expressed gratitude to Catholic educators for their service and ministry to God’s children. “On behalf of the Church, the archdiocese, we really thank all our teachers for being that example of God’s love in the dedication of their lives, in the way that you not only instruct your students, but essentially... teach them the joy of being called by God to be His children,” he said.

The Mass was followed by a reception. Teachers relished the opportuniity to get to know one another as there were educators who “don’t know many Catholic teachers, beacuse I don’t teach in a Catholic school,” shared Mr Edward Toh, English and Art teacher at East Spring Primary School, “The homily really spoke to me; to recognise Jesus also as a teacher for us.”

Fr Edward Seah, Interim Executive Director of ACCS, expressed his happiness that the event helped encourage and edify Catholic educators in Singapore.

Revealing the reason for choosing this year’s theme, Fr Seah said “We chose the one that we felt is the most edifying. The theme, ‘Walking in the Presence of the Lord’, helps to remind educators that they are not walking alone. God is always with them, especially so when they are doing His work.”

By SJ Teo

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