It was one of those cool crisp mornings we all welcome. On Jan. 26, 2015, local and assistant managers, principals, and deans from Catholic schools of every district in Belize, poured into the comfortable and attractive community room at Our Lady of Guadalupe Mercy Center. They were greeted by Barbara Flores, SCN , general manager of Catholic Public Schools, host of a two day Education and Law Symposium.
Sister Angela Shaughnessy, SCN, J.D., PhD., attorney at law and education law consultant in the United States was the symposium’s presenter. She was warmly greeted by all. She is a much loved, familiar face, who has worked with Catholic primary schools principals in Belize before. Her dynamic presentation met the hope and expectation of all present. She gifted the group not only by her expertise and knowledge of the law, but also provided all the valuable materials for the session, with support she sought, on our behalf, from her Congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and the USA National Catholic Educational Association.
The immense challenges faced by school leaders in Belize have increasingly created the need for information and guidance on the subject of education and the law. All our Catholic school leaders share the aspiration for management, administration, teachers, students and parents to work together in an environment which upholds what is right and just for all. Both days were launched, with all asking for enlightenment and wisdom, with the prayer Adsumus: We Are Here, which was prayed at Vatican Council II.
The gathering was pleased to welcome Bishop Christopher Glancy on the second day and listened appreciatively as he acknowledged the desire in the heart of all present, for justice and mercy for all in our schools. He reminded us that the biblical root of the word justice means being in right relationship and that is what we are called to do, and how we are called to live in our school communities. We are called to be in right relationship with one another and with God. The Bishop urged the Catholic education leaders to live and share the Gospel values with our students. He expressed gratitude to the principals for the work they do in this special ministry of leading Catholic schools in the tradition and with the hope of passing on our Catholic faith and provide excellent academic education.
Many important areas affecting our schools were explored during the two days, including the Catholic school and the constitution, supervision and evaluation of teachers, discipline and conduct, social media and related issues, and documentation. Questions were answered, invaluable knowledge gained, and encouragement and support shared. It was yet another historical moment for Catholic educators in the Diocese. All participants were empowered and felt motivated. New hope was planted for successfully addressing the issues all would be returning to face in the many challenges and also opportunities in their schools.
The event was also a beautiful picture of shared ministry as Catholics. Bishop Glancy’s blessing, the efforts of Sister Barbara and her staff, the generous gift of expertise of Sister Mary Angela, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Catholic education leaders making the effort to travel many miles to be present, the Sisters of Mercy providing the conference space, the Christian Herald team providing technical support, and many others, all together, made the symposium a great success.
We are grateful to the generous and loving God, for community, and for the opportunity to have gathered as one in mission. Always hold in prayer Catholic schools. May the Spirit of God always dwell fully within each school throughout the nation of Belize.