“Love one another as I have loved you”

Knowledge and skills for future life and work. Values to build good character and form good citizens. A mission to serve and care for others, especially the last, the lost and the least, and so make this world better.

“All schools do this,” said Father Adrian Danker, SJ, Principal of St Joseph’s Institution and Chairperson of the Council of Catholic Schools’ Principals, during his homily at Catholic Education Sunday (CES) Mass on Sunday, Sept 13. “So, what makes Catholic education different?”

His answer to Catholic educators: we do all this with the love of God, educating the young to be like Jesus, living lives for others by being charitable and kind, generous and caring, supportive and uplifting and, above all, by forgiving without limits. “Catholic schools educate us to forgive in God’s ways – with God’s respect for each person’s dignity and God’s care for everyone’s common good… every child encounters God through Catholic education.”

This CES, viewers who caught the Mass online could not help but encounter God through the Catholic students, teachers, parents and priests and religious from the founding congregations who came together as one Body of Christ to sing, pray and celebrate with one another and the whole Church. The love of God, and his Spirit of unity, was in the air and on the airwaves.

Blesson K Tomy, a student of Catholic Junior College, said: “It was such a wonderful sight, seeing people from Catholic schools all around Singapore singing together to celebrate Catholic Education Sunday. It showed me how the Lord has blessed our Archdiocese with schools and educators to teach students how to walk in the footsteps of the Lord as they grow, bringing them closer to him each day. I pray that more Catholic students enter into the various Catholic schools spread throughout Singapore and grow in faith with the help of the educators the same way I did, and feel his love in every part of the school.”

Concluding this truly memorable Eucharistic celebration, Fr Adrian’s final blessing was the one composed by Archbishop William Goh himself for the very first CES in 2017:

Lord Jesus, you are our Good Shepherd. Pour forth your Spirit on all Catholic educators that you have called and chosen.

Give them a mind of wisdom and discernment, a heart full of love and compassion, a face of gentleness and patience, a voice to teach and encourage and hands to comfort and lead. Guide and empower them to be good role models, to inspire and shepherd those entrusted to their care. Strengthen them in adversity to be steadfast in the Gospel values.

Bless also those in leadership roles; strengthen their faith and lead them in your footsteps of servant leadership, so that through their stewardship, those under their charge may come to know your love and salvation.

May our Catholic schools be a beacon for formation, where men and women of integrity and talent are raised, to further your loving purpose of redemption by their contributions to the world.  Amen.

CES Mass 2020 was offered up for Catholic education, that Christ might always be the Teacher that guides and leads. Here are some more wishes and hopes for Catholic education in the year to come.

According to the teaching of St Marcellin Champagnat, the founder of the Marist Brothers, to educate children, we must love them and love them all equally. Often, we lament that some children are easier to love than others. Fr Adrian’s homily reminds us that those who are harder to love are in greater need of our love.

– Mrs Woo Soo Min, Principal, Maris Stella High School

May all Catholic educators be formed in heart, united in purpose and anchored in faith so as to serve their students with humility and love.

– Sr Christina Yeo, FDCC, Canossian Daughters of Charity

I pray that, in all our Catholic schools, young hearts may blossom in the dew of the love and grace of the Lord, journeyed by souls that are desiring the Lord and to do His will.

– Friar Derrick Yap (former chaplain, St Anthony’s Primary School)

May Catholic schools continue the inspirational work of spreading Christian values through education, and share more concrete stories of conversion and how students and educators have benefitted from being in Catholic educational institutions.

– Gerard Tan, parent of Judith Audrey (Catholic Junior College)

In forgiveness we find joy, and that even though we are not worthy of mercy, especially God’s mercy, God still gives it to us so lovingly. We should be like God, loving others with a merciful and forgiving love.

– Marissa Lim (St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School)

Attending the first ever virtual CES Mass reminded me of how big a role Catholic education has played in my life as a student. It was touching to see all the schools come together as a community to make the Mass complete. Even though everyone is from different schools, we all have one thing in common – Catholic education and a love for God.

– Joanna Ong (Catholic Junior College)

Fr Adrian’s homily has inspired me to work together with our Catholic educators to ensure that the values taught in our Catholic schools, like love and forgiveness, are reflected and lived at home, and to continue the family tradition of Catholic education by enrolling my son in a Catholic Primary school!

– Gwendolene Ang, parent of David (Little Shepherd’s Schoolhouse at the Church of the Holy Trinity)

Our sincere wish is that all Catholic teachers not teaching in Catholic schools come and teach in Catholic schools and be beacons of hope and forgiveness to the children and youth. If Catholic schools are filled with people who draw strength from Christ together, Catholic teachers can do great things for the children and for each other.

– Serena and Eddie Lim, parents of Marissa (St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School)

My hope for the future is that Catholic education may rediscover its mission to focus on the education of the heart. Where Faith, Hope and Love shines in all its programmes: Faith – believing in God, self and others; Hope – discovering and recognising each child’s potential, and giving hope to the last, the lost and the least; Love – having compassion and charity for all, and developing men and women for others.

Bro Dominic Yeo-Koh, Gabrielite brother

I pray that Catholic education may help students recognise God in their studies, and in turn be beacons of hope, truth and love in their life for others.

– Friar Esmond Chua (current chaplain, St Anthony’s Primary School)

I hope that Catholic educators will seek to deepen their felt-knowledge and personal relationship with Jesus, and in him, find a priceless companion in the ups and downs of work life.

– Jacinta Teo, teacher (Catholic High School)

The virtual Mass is very well done! The pre-Mass video is informative and gives a good background to our mission schools. As educators, apart from head knowledge, we need to continue being models of that love in action that the young ones can see and emulate.

– Susan Pang, teacher (Catholic High School)

As parents of a child with special needs, we were honoured that our child was given a chance to participate in this first ever virtual CES Mass. It was a blessing for our daughter as she loves to sing, and being a part of the choir to give praise to God made it even more special. Such Masses allow young children to experience the meaning of faith. The lyrics of the opening hymn guides us in loving one another, no matter who you are and where you are from, especially in this most difficult time. We hope and pray that there will be more activities by Catholic educators that will encourage young children to engage in serving God and his people.

– Armida and Randy Paz Julaton, parents of Louise (Canossian School)