On Tuesday 5 April the Birmingham Diocesan Education Service held its first Mass for Governors and Directors at St Chad's Cathedral.

The Mass, presided over by Archbishop Bernard Longley, celebrated and acknowledged the great voluntary work that Governors and Directors do for the mission of the Archdiocese, helping to protect and improve Catholic education.

Archbishop Bernard gave a homily on the importance of our Directors and Governors:

The one who sent me is truthful, and what I have learnt from him I declare to the world.

I am delighted to welcome you to the Cathedral today for this Mass of Thanksgiving during Lent for the Directors and Governors of our Catholic Schools. It is good to come together in this way to support and encourage each other in our prayers and our public witness – but also in recognition of the enormous contribution that you are making to Catholic education and to the mission of our Archdiocese.

We are all conscious of the challenging environment that our schools have found themselves in over the last two years, with all the restrictions and uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The prayerful presence and steady support of the school directors and governors has been needed more than ever by staff and students alike.

At the heart of your work of governance lies your own personal faith in Jesus Christ and your commitment to him and his mission entrusted to the Church. Your work is an integral part of the mission of the Archdiocese. Your contribution is most fruitful when it is based on your own attitude of faith, hope and love. As you pray and when you celebrate the sacraments you are offering a powerful witness to your faith in Christ. You also come to a deeper understanding of the growing faith of the young people and the staff that you are called to serve.

St John’s Gospel reminds us during these days of Passiontide that our Lord not only suffered the physical pain of dying on the cross – he also underwent the mental agony of rejection, having the truth that he came to share undermined and challenged. As his followers we sometimes share in his experience of rejection. We know that not everybody will accept our faith in Christ or the Gospel values that underpin the life of our Catholic schools.

But we are called to be missionary disciples who attract others to Christ and we know that many people learn about him and are drawn towards him though the life and work of the schools that you serve. The Church recognises the ways in which you draw upon your own experience and generously share your expertise within you governing body for the good of the children and young people and in support of the headteachers and staff with whom you work.

In this great work you need the Spirit of unity and truth for strength and guidance. When you reflect on your responsibilities you will also recognise how the Holy Spirit has been at work in your life. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit on many different occasions, not only for our own good and to make us personally holy, but so as to further the Church’s mission.

This Mass and your Act of Commitment to Christian Leadership offers you an opportunity to stop for a moment in the course of a busy academic year. You need this moment to renew your commitment to Christ and to the young people, the staff and the community you serve and to receive the Church’s blessing as you exercise a recognised and respected role of Christian leadership.

Through the livestream we can be joined today by others who support you and enable your work to bear fruit in the life of your school community. I thank all the clergy, headteachers, Religious Education staff and your own families who support and value your work.

Pope Francis, in a message to young people, said: When God touches the heart of a young man or woman, they become capable of doing tremendous things. The “great things” that the Almighty accomplished in the life of Mary speak also to our own journey in life, which is not a meaningless meandering, but a pilgrimage that, for all its uncertainties and sufferings, can find its fulfilment in God. You may say to me: “But Father, I have my limits, I am a sinner, what can I do?” When the Lord calls us, he doesn’t stop at what we are or what we have done. On the contrary, at the very moment that he calls us, he is looking ahead to everything we can do, all the love we are capable of giving…Jesus is calling you to leave your mark in life, your mark on history, both your own and that of so many others.

Today I thank you for encouraging and enabling your school communities to respond to this invitation from Pope Francis. I now invite all our Directors and Governors to renew your Commitment to Christian Leadership. May the Holy Spirit empower you to reflect the words of Christ: The one who sent me is truthful, and what I have learnt from him I declare to the world.

Ubi Caritas Awarded

At the Mass, Adam Hardy, who retired as Director of Education for the Diocesan Education Trust at the end of last year, received an Ubi Caritas Award from Archbishop Bernard in recognition of his extensive work in education. Previously Head teacher at Christ the King, Kingstanding, Adam has served in education for over 30 years.

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Governors and Directors Mass