The Ruteng Diocese's Education Commission held an environmental movement to strengthen educators’ ecological spirituality and service at Nanu Parish Church, Flores, Indonesia.
Sixty teachers participated in the day's activities, which were reflected in the seminar through reflection and action and had the theme "Strengthening Teacher Spirituality."
Father Frans Nala, head of the Educational Commission of the Diocese, as the seminar's speaker, specifically encouraged teachers in his materials to view and reinterpret their teaching duties as a form of pastoral work.
"The role of the teacher in the classroom is not limited to instructing but also includes motivating, guiding, and serving as an exemplary Christian role model for the students," Father Nala said, adding, "This does not only stop at school but also in life in society."
"Schools must first form an ecosystem that is good for children, or child-friendly," so they can learn good values and character and grow in living the true Christian faith, he said. "We cannot expect children to behave well, have a noble character, and believe there is no good, comfortable, and compassionate learning environment.”
In the recollection of the theme of work ethic, Father Andy Jeramat, Chairman of the Diocese’s Liturgy Commission, invited the teachers to redefine the tasks carried out within the framework of Jesus' mission.
He emphasized the teacher's responsibility to "feed" the students at school by drawing inspiration from the parable of Jesus multiplying the bread and His command to the disciples, ‘You must feed them.’
"Eating" is meant here in a broad sense, namely everything for the life and future of students. But one cannot give what one does not have. And what we have is none other than what we received from God Himself," said Father Jeramat.
He emphasized that "for this reason, the gifts made are free. We also talk about the work ethic and the spirit of service. Because what we do is a form of participation in God's work since creation."
In the sermon at the closing eucharist of the event, the Vicar General of the Diocese, Father Gerardus Janur, revealed that teaching is a calling.
"Our task is very noble and dignified because it forms human beings. If we do it well, many people will become good. But we need to always rely on the strength of Jesus. He is the one who guides and directs us."
For this reason, teachers must "have faith and live holy lives through their work, and have concern for the preservation of nature and the integrity of creation,” said the priest.
He added, "Because of that, we are holding a tree planting action, which in the future is expected to become a joint movement in our respective schools."
One of the participants, Tarsy Tanggak, appreciated the strengthening activities of these teachers. He specifically underlined the teacher's role as a role model for students at school.
"An example is needed for our children to have good character. It requires constant self-awareness and renewal of commitment. This is an excellent opportunity to renew motivation for building a school with character.
The Chair of the Diocesan Education Commission, the Parish Priest of Nanu, the Father Vicar General of the Diocese, and representatives of the teachers continued the event by planting a symbolic tree.
Father Nala said that the tree planting demonstrates the teachers' commitment to saving Mother Earth from destruction, specifically as a form of participating in the Pastoral Year of a Prosperous, Just, and Ecologically Sustainable Economy.
He concluded that this meeting was a form of spiritual reflection and a concrete social movement to preserve the integrity of creation. - With input from Frans Nala
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