This week myself and our senior leadership team have focused on a true understanding of our mission as an Edmund Rice school. It has been fantastic to refocus by researching back into the times of Edmund, our founder, and what his motivation was at his time in Waterford, Ireland. One of my favourite quotes from the week came from a parent of a student that Edmund Rice taught in the 1800’s where she said “Edmund was like a mother and a father to the boys.” It is in this statement where we get an insight into what Edmund was trying to achieve in his schools, particularly for those living in poverty. He was teaching much more than a curriculum – he was growing them, growing them in a way a parent would. I see huge similarities and examples of this everyday here at St Thomas’ and feel fortunate to work alongside a team of staff that understand our mission.
As an Edmund Rice school we are focused on three elements – PRESENCE, COMPASSION and LIBERATION. I think these three words are an excellent blueprint for us all to think about in greater detail.
Firstly, we have to be truly present in body and mind, fully available to connect with each other, fully available to listen to each other. The second part is compassion, an often misinterpreted word. I learnt this week to see the word compassion in another form as “to feel with”. When we are truly present with someone else and understand them we can offer a true compassion by feeling what they are feeling. The final word, liberation, comes from the culmination of being present in an unbiased way, being truly compassionate by feeling the emotions of what the other person is feeling. By connecting with another person in this spiritual way, we are more likely to be able to liberate them, whether this be through simple human connection or whether we are able to help them solve issues they may be facing. We will all have a person who will spring to mind as you read this, that really could do with some connection in their life – go forth and be that person.