It gives me joy to address you, beloved brothers and sisters, occupying the principal seats in our secondary schools in the Archdiocese. Some of you serve in the Catholic schools, others serve in the state-owned schools. However, as Catholics, our vocation to serve is the same.
On behalf of many parents, students, the State and the Church, permit me to thank you most sincerely for your presence here today, and your readiness to go all the way with us in the reformation of the society. May your work be as rewarding as it is challenging.
2. Making A Difference:
Our revered Master and Lord, Jesus Christ, asked his disciples: if you greet those who greet you what extra mark have you made? If you give to those who give you, what is special about it?, etc. You can continue the quotation in your own words. However, what Christ is saying is, where is your uniqueness, where is your spirituality, where are your claims to goodness and deeper spirituality, if you do exactly what others do?
For forty years we have, like the children of Israel, wandered in the desert, going to the Promised Land (this analogy is courtesy of Lady Onyido). Now we can say we have reached the Promised Land, or at least about to enter it. It calls for rules; it calls for modus vivendi and modus operandi. The Israelites did the same. For instance, the Sabbath rules, the Jubilees and Sabbath Days, were all necessitated by the desire to live well in the Promised Land. Even the Ten Commandments were given with the Promised Land in view. Now, forty years after the war, what can we do as teachers to inaugurate, co-create, give birth and prepare a new generation of Igbos from Anambra background?
3. Going Down the Memory Lane:
With the benefit of hindsight, we can recall before the war, that kids who were privileged to go to secondary schools came back refined. They dressed well, they spoke with prudence, they respected their elders, they were very clean in and out. They served in their families; even those from very poor backgrounds went to the farm with their parents joyfully. Their parents looked forward to their vacation periods, while other kids admired them and longed for the time they would be opportune to join such a privileged class. By the time they finished, they were made and could qualify to be called young gentlemen and ladies. Their character and conduct were formed in the school for good. But the war came, the unfortunate school takeover occurred, and the outcome is what we are reaping: armed robbery, kidnapping, drug pushing, fraud (419), exam malpractices, cultism and general culture of recklessness and impunity. Providentially, many people are getting dissatisfied with this situation and are clamouring for a change.
4. What Can We Do?
This is why I have called you. As teachers, God has entrusted to us the delicate, noble, rewarding but very challenging duty of mentoring, formation and teaching. As principals, we are further saddled with the important duty of administration which involves, inter alia, making sure that teachers teach, making sure of what they teach, how they teach and when they teach; making sure that students learn and learn properly. We are now teacher to the teachers and the students.
Nevertheless, it falls squarely on our shoulders, to assist in giving birth to a new and better generation, if such will ever come. Therefore, with numerous opportunities at our disposal, we should so strive as to overcome the challenges and obstacles on our way with greater commitment on our part. But how can we do it? What are your suggestions? May I also ask the question: would you want to be part of this important task?
Peace be with you!
Given this day, the 26th of November, 2010
@ The Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity
Onitsha – Nigeria.
MOST REV. VALERIAN MADUKA OKEKE
Archbishop of Onitsha.