Homily by Archbishop
Patrick C. Pinder
Mass for the Opening of the Academic Year 2006/2007
St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, West Street, Nassau
September 1, 2006
I Cor. 1:17-25
[Ps. 33:1-2, 4-5, 10-11]
The Ordo for our worship begins this
month with these words:
On a convenient weekday in September it is customary
to celebrate a Mass of the Holy Spirit to mark the opening of the
Thus our plan and purpose for this
morning is explained. We are gathered to invoke the guidance of the
Holy Spirit upon our efforts and endeavours during this coming academic
As we place ourselves in the context of
worship...as we dispose ourselves to the Word of Scripture...we hear words
and a parable which speak of Wisdom.
Paul to the Corinthians speaks of a
paradoxical wisdom. A wisdom of God which is such that "the
foolishness of God is wiser that human wisdom and the weakness of God is
stronger than human strength." (I Cor. 1:25) The Gospel presents a
parable where wisdom means being prepared for the unexpected, the
uncertain, even the unknown.
There is a hymn to Wisdom which is based
on the ninth chapter of the Book of Proverbs. It says:
Wisdom has built herself a house.
She has prepared a table
has brought forth her wine.
And she calls to her children
come and eat of my meat
and drink of my wine.
Come to the feast I have prepared for you.
At institutions where I studied in my
youth this hymn to Wisdom was sung on occasions such as this. The
image of the school as the Banquet of Wisdom...the image of the academic
year as a Feast of Wisdom is one which has intrigued me. I offer
that image to you for your consideration today.
Being oriented and aware of the
practical challenges before you may cause you to think of a Banquet of
Wisdom as a high and distant goal. But as you start out on this new
academic year I invite you to think of your classes, each lesson you plan,
as in some way a Banquet of Wisdom.
Now for our purposes we can think of
wisdom as a fund, a reserve of knowledge, experience and good judgment. It
is the first of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit whose guidance we
invoke today. It is a gift of not just knowing the right thing
but doing the right thing. In simple, practical, terms for you it
means seeking to produce not just good students but good citizens.
This requires a deep and constant
self-awareness on the part of each teacher. You must always be aware
that for those young hearts and minds and personalities who are placed in
your care, as your students, you are in many ways a model.
For your students you are a model of -
You model these things in a way far
deeper and far more immediate than the words or grammar of any language
could even convey.
As you begin this new academic year, as
you prepare to model so many good and important things for your students,
and if you dare to think of your teaching as a share in the Banquet of
Wisdom, I recommend to you three things:
| Be patient|
| Be persistent|
| Be a peacemaker|
Be patient, first of all, with
yourself. In the Rite of Blessing for this occasion teachers and
students are mentioned together. There is a reason for that.
The practice of teaching is also the practice of learning.
In teaching you come to learn. You
learn about yourself. About your strengths and your
weaknesses. You come to learn about what you know and what you do
not know. Over time the gap between the two will diminish but in the
process be patient with yourself as you teach and learn.
Be patient with your students.
Allow for the differing rates at which they can take in and master what
you are offering them. Be patient with your co-workers. Be
patient with the challenges offered by the resources of your
workplace. You will not have everything you need all the time.
That is a challenge!
Remember, a challenge is not only an
obstacle which demands effort, even sacrifice. A challenge is also
the catalyst for initiative, creativity, even genius. Be patient,
for in your adventure of teaching and learning, patience is a useful
Next, be persistent. You must be
convinced that the work you do is important, necessary, even vital for the
good and the future of our community and indeed our world.
In the course of your work you will
encounter more than your share of discouragement. But nothing
undermines a noble cause more than a short-term effort. The desire
to see a noble task through to a fruitful completion is as old as the
human spirit itself. May your efforts not be short term.
Despite any discouragement which comes your way, remain convinced of the
importance of your vocation as a teacher. Be persistent in your
Finally, be a peacemaker. The one
common thread which seems to run through our world and our country is
violence. War is the constant headline in world news today.
The most barbaric and degrading acts of violence are the regular headlines
in our local news these days. Where does it end? It must begin
to end with you.
You must convey to your students that
violence is unacceptable as a means to resolve conflict and
misunderstanding. You must never cease to impress, especially upon
the young men, that violence is no measure of manhood. You
must model peacemaking in word and in action...by what you say but
especially by how you behave.
So as we enter this new academic year,
we pray for the grace to be patient, to be persistent, to be peacemakers.
Wisdom has built herself a house.
But that house is built of living stones. You are those living
stones. Wisdom has prepared a banquet. You are invited to
share in that banquet.
May you share that Banquet of Wisdom
with all those whose lives you will touch and influence and mold in your
classroom this year. The wisdom of God has begun a good work in each
of you. May the grace of God bring it to a fruitful completion.
Welcome to this new Academic Year.
God bless you all.
Reprinted with permission Archdiocese