Today, Anabelle and I attended the Christmas Party of the retired teachers and staff members of Xavier School. The party was simple and pretty modest by local standards for Christmas parties. But it was fun and well attended. The food was enjoyable, complete with a lechon straight from Estrelle’s farm; the games were ordinary yet entertaining; there were no grand prizes like cars or trips but no one went home empty handed.
What touched me most about today was the support and generosity of the Xavier Alumni for their teachers. It has now become a tradition in the school that Jubilarians among the alumni do something special for teachers each year. They do this out of a deep sense of gratitude and totally voluntarily. They acknowledge the role their teachers have played in their lives, often citing instances of teachers putting them on the right track. Looking back, they realize how ‘Cher has been a presence and a good and positive influence in their formative years.
It brought back to me too bittersweet memories of my years of teaching in Xavier. This is where Anabelle and I met. We have developed many lifetime friendships here. And I have seen first hand the dedication and generosity that my fellow teachers would put into their teaching. I remember the long hours after school, and even weekends, that they’d sacrifice catching with paperwork and deadlines. I remember the love and caring that the teachers gave to the students, never expecting anything in return, but willing to spend that extra minute or even an hour with a student having difficulties. And the difficulties these teachers handled were not always academic. There were tears; there was laughter. There were questions to be answered; there were advices to be given. Sometimes in banter; other times in all earnestness. Nothing is ever too trivial to talk about with ‘Cher. And neither was there anything ‘Cher wasn’t willing to shoot the breeze with.
And the Xavier School teachers simply gave it their all. They made for excellent teachers. They make for even better lifetime friends. We still stick together till these days. I truly admire their generosity and this prayer of the First Jesuit truly is their own:
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.