The Derry-born Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Eamon Martin, has paid tribute to all those working in Catholic schools in the country.
Archbishop Martin was speaking at a Mass in Drogheda to celebrate the start of Catholic Schools’ Week.
Dr. Martin, who will take over as Primate of All Ireland when Cardinal Sean Brady retires, hailed teachers and other staff, members of Boards of Management and “all who contribute to the life of our schools in any way.”
“Together, in our Catholic schools,” he said, “we help young people to become stronger followers of Jesus, and to find a clear direction in their lives, despite all the conflicting and confusing messages that surround them.”
In his homily at St. Peter’s Church, Archbishop Martin also had a special word for parents.
“I want to acknowledge today the vital role of parents in handing on to their children the light of Christ, telling them their first stories about Jesus, teaching them to make the Sign of the Cross and gradually showing them by word and example how they can know and love God and keep His commandments. Parents are the first teachers of children in the ways of faith.”
Catholic schools, said Dr. Martin, are places where all are welcome.
“In Catholic schools, we listen to God’s word and try to follow God’s word in our lives. Our children not only learn information and skills, but in our schools they also gain true wisdom which will last them a lifetime. In Catholic schools, our young people, teachers and parents have opportunities to praise god and worship together. But, most importantly, Catholic schools are about witness. Witness means going out to make a real difference in the world by the way we live our lives. After all, that is what being a friend and follower of Jesus is all about.”
During Sunday’s Mass, Dr. Martin also took the opportunity to remark on Pope Francis’ remarkable popularity on social media.
“Apparently Pope Francis has more than ten million followers on Twitter -not bad for a 77 year old! He’s also the most talked about person on Facebook! But there’s still a way to go before he has as many Facebook friends as as Rihanna or Cristiano Ronaldo!
“Of course, Pope Francis is not on Twitter because he wants us to follow him. The Holy Father wants us to follow Jesus.
“Recently someone sent me this text: ‘Jesus doesn’t have a mobile, but I talk to Him every day; Jesus isn’t on Facebook, but I am His friend; Jesus isn’t on Twitter, but I am one of His followers’!”