As I said at the beginning of the Mass, I am delighted you are with us through the internet. We are gathered virtually together – children and young students, parents, grandparents and family members, school principals and teachers, SNAs and school staff and members of Boards of Management.
Normally, you’d be celebrating a Mass or some other event in school and the grandparents especially would be invited. It’s always a special moment. The children and young people who love their grandparents so much and the grandparents who are so proud of their grandchildren. And we are all so grateful to the school principals, teachers, SNAs and school staff for all they do.
This year because of the Covid that’s impossible to meet. But even though we are far away from one another, we can still care for each other. Someone suggested to me a good motto that we might take and it is this word “care”. Each letter of this word reminds us of something important.
C = Connect. A Catholic school is a community. Jesus loved connecting people. He called the 12 apostles so that could be with him and so connected with each other. It is important to keep connected even when we have to isolate. And I’m grateful for the efforts made by schools to keep in contact with the pupils. It’s important for all of us to keep connected with each other now – teachers with teachers, children/young students with each other. Because of Covid our world could be very closed in. It’s good to connect.
A = Action. Just because we are isolated doesn’t mean we can’t take actions. Jesus didn’t wait for others to love him. He was the first to love others. So too, we can think of ways of being the first to love others. For instance, children might write a letter to their grandparents to remind them of how much they are loved. Or perhaps you could interview your grandparent about when they were young, where they went to school, what games they played, do they remember their First Communion or Confirmation? But there are many other actions we might think of doing to help others at this time. Christians say they try to love one another. Love is not just sentiment, feeling. It is action. It means looking out for where there’s a need and trying to do something about it.
R = Resilience. This is a word that we don’t use very much but it is good today to use it in Catholic Schools week. Resilience means keeping going when things are difficult, when things don’t go as planned. Bouncing back when we might feel a little down. Jesus said we must persevere if we want to follow him. It has not been an easy time for anyone. Not least because of so many uncertainties. We can feel a little tired and weary. This is when we need resilience. It helps us to be resilient when we remember we’re not on our own. We are connected with others. Just think too that almost a quarter of the world’s population are of school-going age and most of them are out of school at this time. Resilience also comes when we try to live the present moment, not thinking too much about the future and if we have any regrets about the past, handing them over to God’s mercy. But for now, live today well. That way we build up resilience.
E = Exercise. We can be indoors a lot. But it is very important we take exercise. There is an ancient saying that the Roman people in the Roman Empire used to say: healthy mind in healthy body. It’s true for all of us. We need to do some form of exercise. I imagine in school you enjoyed playing games and PE and being in the yard together. Young people are better at exercise than older people so maybe the grandparents and parents today can learn from young people about the value of exercise.
So, let’s take this word “CARE” as a motto and live it together in this Covid time.