Thursday, March 17th, 2016: His Excellency the Governor General Sir Rodney Williams and Lady Sandra Williams, The Most Reverend Kenneth Oswald Richards, DD, Bishop of St. John’s, Basseterre, Brothers Wakeham, Armstrong, French and Walsh, Mrs. Rosa Greenaway, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr. Clare Browne – Director of Education, Mr. Rodolph Davis, GCH, Principal of St. Joseph’s Academy Mr. Checkson Gomes, Deputy Principal, Teachers and Staff of St. Joseph’s Academy, Graduates and Parents of the Class of 2015, Students of St. Joseph’s Academy
Ladies and Gentlemen A pleasant good afternoon to one and all.
It was on Monday of this week we were assembled here to witness the dedication of a new school block.
The work of the Constantinian Order of St. George and its benefactors – the government of Antigua and Barbuda and the St. Joseph’s Academy Alumnae – has resulted in the construction of this new edifice which will lend to the further development of the young minds that make the academy their institution of learning.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
So much of what I believe, of what I know, of what I can do, was formed right here at the St. Joseph’s Academy between 1982 and 1986 when I too was a student.
Today, my starting point in these brief remarks to you embraces the St. Joseph’s Academy’s motto – Ne Timeas. In other words, I start by saying to you: “Do not be afraid.”
In my charge to you the CXC recipients of the St. Joseph’s Academy, I call on you to stand with courage, knowing full well that this institution is second to none in building character and, preparing you properly and effectively for your journey through life.
As students of St. Joseph’s Academy, you are blessed with teachers very willing and able to guide your instruction, while imparting valuable knowledge in the various academic disciplines and subjects that you undertake.
In fact, the very diversity that abounds within this treasured institution, is itself a lesson of putting the pieces of the puzzle together in order to create a wholesome individual, capable of making substantial contributions to this nation and to humanity.
St Joseph’s Academy was a leader in promoting such extracurricular activities such as Basketball, The Glee Club, Pan and Art among others long before it became popular to do so. This philosophy of a holistic educational experience, which addressed the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of the student made SJA stand out as a beacon of progress in the field of education in Antigua and Barbuda.
There is a saying that ‘school days are the happiest days’. Looking back, it is easy to concur with this sentiment. But if I may add, the happiness of school days is not always in what we do.
Rather, the happiness and contentment is reflected in how we think, the lifelong friendships that we build, the achievements that we accomplish, and the sheer joy of unbridled laughter and fun.
Yet, in all those things, school days at the St. Joseph’s Academy provide you with ample opportunity and examples to choose from, given the characteristics on show by the principal, teachers, administrative, and auxiliary staff.
During my time at St Joseph’s Academy, teachers such as Brother Wakeham, Brother Lawlor, Brother Armstrong, Brother French, and Brother McNiven, gave yeomen service and have left an indelible mark on the students that they taught and mentored.
To Brother E. B. Wakeham and that group of men who started the St. Joseph’s Academy 58 years ago, the nation of Antigua and Barbuda owe you a debt of gratitude as you have invested and have made an indelible mark on the educational landscape of our nation.
These founding Christian brothers who made Antigua and Barbuda their home largely originated from Canada and the USA. One of the principles they taught and modeled was that of tolerance and acceptance. We must be tolerant of others while understanding that we all have multiple responsibilities. It is in that way, that you as students can concern yourselves more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame.
Very often, it is our individual talent that must combine in our group work. When we do this we allow the possibilities to inspire us, more than any obstacles that can discourage us.
Furthermore, and as some of you can attest, it is in the many extra-curricular activities like debating, games and sports, that we get to develop the art of respecting each other’s talents and note our own shortcomings. This aspect helps to build respect for self and for others; we become tolerant while working together to achieve.
It is precisely these learning experiences that show the St. Joseph’s Academy is an educational institution, which inculcates the many values that make the learning experience more enjoyable and less mundane.
The several different challenges that you must face, including your exams, are never insurmountable. They serve to prepare you for life’s never-ending tests. They also serve to reinforce that you must never be afraid, regardless of the difficulty of the tasks.
We are all familiar with the rich history of the St. Joseph’s Academy in Catholic education spanning over five decades.
The Academy has produced men who have made and continue to make significant contributions to our nation’s development.
Surely you can look around here today, and note the persons that have passed through the doors of St. Joseph’s Academy including yours truly.
Our foundations at this school, and the formative years that we spend here, helped to make our successes more possible and more meaningful for ourselves, our families, and our nation.
I would like to congratulate Young Brandon Judnarine, who is not only the top student in Antigua and Barbuda but within the entire region who answered the call and was not afraid.
He saw the challenge, and with the help of his teachers and his commitment to succeed, emerged the top student within the region gaining 22 passes in CSEC examinations.
The St. Joseph’s Academy’s history is indeed a rich and proud one.
To you the current students, I admonish you to build upon this rich tradition to succeed and aim for the highest as established by Brandon Judnarine and others before him.
I would like to share a quotation from Confucius who said: “The scholar does not consider gold and jade to be precious treasures, but loyalty and good faith.” Therefore, I encourage you to let the light of St. Joseph’s Academy always shine in your everyday lives.
Let your loyalty and responsibility to this institution and to the nation be reflected in all that you do. Never be afraid to glow, pursue everything in good faith.
Permit me to quote from the Holy Father Pope John Paul 11, from one of his writings dealing with the role of Catholic Education:
“To educate in the truth, and for genuine freedom and evangelical love, is at the very heart of the Church’s mission. In a cultural climate in which moral norms are often thought to be matters of personal preference, Catholic schools have a crucial role to play in leading the younger generation to realize that freedom consists above all in being able to respond to the demands of the truth…” end of quote.
This statement from the Holy Father highlights that Catholic Education, the education you received and are receiving from the St. Joseph’s Academy has a greater and more important mission than simply to impart scholastic knowledge. The Catholic institution therefore is designed to mould the entire person in order for you to make meaningful contributions to our society.
The Academy is a unique institution. An institution that has produced men who have made and continue to make significant contributions to our society.
It is my belief that the Academy and its teachers are committed to the development of the whole person, since in our Heavenly Father, the perfect man, all human values find their fulfilment and unity.
And within this context lies the specifically Catholic character of the St. Joseph’s Academy. A duty to cultivate human values in in accordance with the school’s mission to serve all of our students.
As graduates, you therefore have a responsibility to make your experiences at the Academy dictate how you interact and treat your fellow men in society.
To quote Pope John Paul the Second once again:
‘The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God’s love.” End of quote.
You have a responsibility to carry out this mission. A mission that must be taken seriously if we are to create a better society.
I call on you to stand with courage, knowing full well that this institution is second to none in building character and, preparing you effectively for your journey through life.
The virtues and lessons that you have been exposed to through your learning experiences at St. Joseph’s Academy, can surely last forever and work to inspire the numerous other students that will come to this school.
In closing, I wish to quote verbatim the words of our school song;
Loyal sons of Joseph hail
Our Alma Mater Dear
Font of learning home of faith
The school we all revere.
Maroon white our banner bright
Round it shall we stand
Steadfast to our colours and
To God and native land
Loyal sons of Joseph strive
To live St. Joseph’s way
Honest, pure and courageous
In all we do and say
“Ne Timeas” our motto
Fearless shall we be
Upholding the ideals of
St. Joseph’s Academy
May God continue to bless our Alma mater and may He continue to richly bless our great nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
Do not Be Afraid!