The teachers and principals were from 17 Catholic kindergartens (mostly parish-based) and 35 Catholic schools, as well as from government and private schools, NIE/NTU and other tertiary institutions and the Singapore Prison School.
Also present at the celebrations were representatives from religious congregations, School Management Committees and ACCS Commissioners. Msgr Eugene Vaz and Father Michael D’Cruz, OFM concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Chia.
The day of celebration was organized by ACCS (Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools) and CTM (Catholic Teachers’ Movement).
This year marks CTM’s 50th anniversary. CTM was commissioned by Archbishop Michael Olcomendy in 1958. Archbishop Gregory Yong was its patron from 1977-2000. Archbishop Nicholas Chia is the present patron.
Archbishop Chia encouraged the Catholic educators present to take the opportunity to celebrate their friendship with Jesus, "who is our Rabbi – our teacher in life, faith and mission".
"As teachers you are called to help students realize their own giftedness as salt and light… your vocation and mission as teachers is special. It’s God-given," Archbishop Chia continued. He exhorted the teachers to instil in their students moral values of love and justice besides focusing on academic excellence.
He said, "Show them the face of God and you lead them to their rightful inheritance as sons and daughters of God."
Students from various Catholic schools took on different responsibilities to ensure Mass and fellowship went smoothly. Altar boys were from SJI International while the choir comprised students from Catholic Junior College. Ushers for parking and directions to the chapel were made up of students from Holy Innocents’ High, SJI International and
St. Gabriel’s Secondary.
"The Spiritual Wellness for Catholic Educators" programme – a programme designed to encourage Catholic educators to take time to rest, renew and reflect upon their vocation to teach – was launched by Archbishop Chia that day.
The first retreat of the programme is themed "Called to be Teacher" and will help Catholic educators recall, appreciate and celebrate their teaching vocation and ministry, which is God’s gift to them and their students. The retreat will be held at Montfort Center from 7.00pm Friday Nov 28 to 12.00pm Sunday Nov 30. The fee is $125 per person. Registration closes on Oct 28.
Other programmes will be held in 2009 and will be facilitated by all seven religious congregations that have schools here in Singapore. - by Joyce Gan