Note: I was requested by Mr. and Mrs. Louie and Tonette Climaco of the CFC St. Jude Community, Jacksonville, Florida to give some words of wisdom for many of their household members who are about to enter a new school year in the midst of the pandemic. This video was what I sent them.
However, I thought of publishing it to my Youtube channel because it also applies to all students, teachers and parents who are also about to plunge into online classes—though DepEd postponed the opening of classes. You can access the video here.
Hello to everyone of you! I am Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ, and am very happy that you requested me to share some experiences about being online since I am a teacher, and at the same time to impart on you God’s blessing since I am also a priest. So let’s begin with my sharing:
Since the pandemic has affected all of us worldwide, not withstanding its effect on the economy and education, we have been grappling with the challenges of making online classes still engaging and interesting to students of all ages.
Let me first say this: it is difficult on various levels.
Please accept this truth as you all enter into the new school year, things will be different, and with every change, we all have to adjust. But it is less difficult if we go through this together: as one.
Education is not anymore between teachers and students, but now, more is placed on the hands of the parents. Thus, keep each other in mind, not just in your prayers, but provide emotional support. And if possible, know when to ask for help. Utilise guidance counsellors in school when things are difficult, or even the counsel of your friends and community.
Do not just say, laban lang. Do not just aim for survival. But say to yourself every single day, especially at the start of the day: THRIVE! Bloom where you are planted. Bloom in the midst of difficulties.
One of my favourite images is the lotus flower which you see all over Southeast Asia. The lotus grows in murky waters. But when it blooms, it’s on the surface of the water, and it is pure, beautiful and most importantly, it looks up to where the sun is.
Keep your head and heart above every situation by facing the difficulties one at a time, as they come, without losing your gaze on the Son of God.
So repeat every single day, “Thrive.” We become what we repeatedly say we are.
Prayer and Blessing
And so we pray. We remember that we are always in the presence of God. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
We gather here today to ask God’s blessing on all of our students, teachers and parents as they begin the new academic year. Studies are hard, especially at this time of the pandemic, when all are subjected through online learning and in danger of the virus. Yet the reward is great for all who continue learning amidst the challenges. Learning leads to a knowledge of the world and of God’s work in us. May God enlighten our hearts and minds as we listen now to the word of God in the book of Sirach 6:32-37:
If you wish, you can be taught,
If you are willing to listen, you will learn;
If you give heed, you will be wise.
Frequent the company of the teachers,
Whoever is wise, stay close to them.
Reflect on the precepts of the Lord,
Let his commandments be your constant meditation;
Then the Lord will enlighten your mind,
And the wisdom you desire He will grant.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let us pray and bow for the blessing from the Lord:
Lord God, your Spirit of wisdom fills the earth and teaches us your ways.
Look upon these students, let them enjoy their learning and take delight in new discoveries.
Help them to persevere in their studies and give them the desire to learn all things well.
Look upon all teachers and parents who are also teachers. Let them strive to share their knowledge with gentle patience and endeavor always to bring the truth to eager minds.
We pray for protection from the virus and all other evils that surround us. We include also those who are present here who are frontliners. May you grant them strength, courage, and perseverance in their chosen service.
Grant that students, teachers, parents and all of us here, that we may follow Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life, forever and ever. Amen.
May almighty God bless you all, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Once again, thank you very much.