Most of us here today have shared the journey that has brought us through the end of the 2020-21 school year and all that precipitated from the pandemic, through the uncertain yet somewhat more relaxed summer, to this brink, namely the opening of the 2021-22 school year. I feel the same excitement as you feel to greet our students when they return because we are looking forward to getting back on the learning track! I share in the anxieties and worries that we all have about the continuation of in-school learning, albeit in a different context. Right now, however, I am choosing to focus on something else that we share and I ask you to do the same. The contextual development through the pandemic represents an opportunity calling to each one of us. The opportunity is to recall and reaffirm our priorities, employ graciousness, kindness, compassion and gratitude and move forward confidently anyway, certain that the transformative power of GOD our Father is at work. He is in charge as we move TOGETHER on our JOURNEY!
Last year we celebrated the many facets of our faith while being transformed by the journey. We have certainly ventured far and wide in the process. Today marks the beginning of our togetherness and unity as we move forward and how very appropriate this is, given what we have experienced in the past 17 months. We have learned to be malleable and to adjust and tweak what needed to be done, but the bottom line is that we persevered in spite of the many challenges and obstacles. Most importantly, learning continued for our students, thanks to the tireless efforts of our teachers and by extension, our greater support staff. Yes there were many interruptions along the way, but had it not been for the unceasing and relentless commitment of our entire school and divisional staff, we would not have achieved the milestones that we did. We continue to create learning environments that allow each of us to live, celebrate and proclaim our faith.
Our educators, in particular, have proven that perseverance and dedication beget resilience and results. Some of the greatest learnings we experienced of late include the need to best reach ALL learners. At-Home-Learning and learning from home have paved the way to the creation of our E-Learning Program that will allow students to learn and grow in an environment different from the conventional four-walled classroom. While this platform of learning is not necessarily suited for all students, it does provide opportunities, for a variety of reasons, that these learners would not have otherwise experienced and mastered.
We are strong and adaptable people whose sights are always on our first interest – the children, whose resilience will be supported by the nourishing and cherishing staff in all positions. That is how our learners will reach their fullest potential, as so aptly noted in our vision statement. There is no question that this will be very difficult work. There will be setbacks and hurdles to cross and most definitely there will be uncertainties, frustrations and fears. However, as long as we place our trust in our loving Father and humbly ask Jesus to accompany us on our journey, we will weather this and ANY storm. We are called to be agents of change to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do.
I’d like to leave you with a poem by John Read, entitled “Inner Strength”.
It’s only through mistakes we make we learn where we went wrong. It’s only when we’re far from home we realize where we belong.
It’s only when we close our eyes our dreams seem clear and bright. It’s only in our darkest hours we truly see the light.
It’s only when we lose our way we pray to the stars above. It’s only through times of grief we learn the true meaning of love.
It’s only when all hope seems lost and our weary journey seems so far, When all the world’s against you, we learn how strong we really are.
All things are sent to try us. We must strive and give our best. I KNOW God is watching over us, and he guides us in our quest.
My hope for each of you is that you will continue to accept the ongoing challenge to be the unique person God created you to be and I pray that you will be blessed, and receive the graces and the fortitude to do His work here on Earth. I leave you with an invitation similar to what I left with our new teachers, at their orientation earlier this week.
- (I invite you to …) Take calculated risks. “If you win you will be happy, if you lose you will be wise.”
- (I invite you to …) Embrace new opportunities and challenges
- (I invite you to …) Ask great questions
- (I invite you to …) Share your talents, for as Maya Angelou once said, “I believe that every person is born with talent.”
- (I invite you to …) Make your mark on our collective work to support all learners
- (I invite you to …) Express your vulnerability. “It is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.” and finally
- (I invite you to …) Continue to be faith-filled, for we learn in Matthew 21:22, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Thank you and may the 2021-22 school year be fruitful and rewarding for each of us. GOD BLESS.