On Thursday last I was invited to offer Holy Mass for the Principals of Catholic VI Form Colleges who were gathering at Windermere for their Conference. I am grateful for the invitation extendined to me by David Frost, Principal of our own Holy Cross College.
Here is a resume of the homily I gave on that ocassion.
On this day two years ago I returned to Saint Kentigern's Parish, Fallowfield where I has served as Curate ti have a chat with Father Thomas Connolly, the then and current Parish Priest. Over our cup of tea Father Connolly told me that he had a meeting that evening for the children who were beginning the sacramental programme. He then turned to me and said ''Father, ehy do we bother? Ehy do we bother having meetings to which only half the parents turn up? Why do we bother preparing children for their First Holy Communion when we know in our heart of hearts that for many it will also be their last Holy Communion? Why do we bother, Father?''
Since I have been appointed a Parish Priest those same questions have run through my mind as well. Why do we bother. No doubt the same questions can be applied to the world of education. Why do we bother spending time with a student helping them with work or some other pastoral concenrn when its apparent to all that the student isn't that really bothered? Why do we bother trying to uphold the Catholic Ethos of our excellent Colleges when there is an ever increasing pressure to take non Catholics? Why do we bother to stand up for Catholic values in an ever increasing secular world? Why do we bother?
St Theresa, the Little Flower whom we honour to-day I think gives us the answer. It is out of love that we bother. Love for our profession, love for our students and above all our love of God.
In her autobiography Terese struggles with coming to terms with her vocation until she realises that her vocation is one of love deep in the heart of Holy Mother Church. For without love the apostles would not preach the gospel. With out love the martyrs would not go to the scaffold. Without love the priests would not offer Holy Mass or the other sacraments of the Chuech. Without love we would not spend so many long hours in the service of education. Love is why we bother.
St Therese said that she would spend her heaven doing good on earth. We too are called to spend time doing good on earth. We too are in the business of saving souls. SAving souls. Perhaps an old fahioned phrase but one I believe is still relevant to day. We who are involved in the work of education have the immense responsibilty of saving souls. We have the power to write, not on chalk boards, but on people souls, on their hearts. To win them for Christ - our of love.
St John Marie Vianney whom we also remember in this year of the priest said that on judgement day we would be asked by Le Bon Dieu - the Good God how many souls we had saved? I dont know about you but I'm not looking forward to that question. How many souls have you saved? Let us pray that through our teaching, preaching and good example we will be able to gain a whole host of souls for him.
St Theresa also said that she entered Carmel to pray for priests and those who direct souls. I hope and pray she is doing that now from her place in heaven because - Le Bon Dieu the Good God - He deserves better than us. Amen