Young students, especially those with a scientific bent of mind, are constantly in search of evidence to believe in something. Most of them can thus be compared to a special character in the Bible named Thomas. When his companions told him that they had seen their Master Jesus alive after His death, he refused to believe and said that unless he put his finger in the side of Jesus, he would not believe. Like most of us in our ordinary daily life, for him too, “Seeing was Believing”For usually, if we can’t see something or do not have some kind of evidence, we find it difficult to believe. And that is how life normally functions for all of us, and that is why television and cinema are so popular because they show on screen things as they happen or unfold. There is, however, another side to what happens in our life and sometimes we cannot immediately see them unfold.
I would like to share with you a beautiful experience from our own school. You will remember students that about two years ago I had asked you to pray for the newborn daughter of one of our staff members- Mr. G.B. She was born with several physical problems and no one ever thought she would survive and if at all she did survive, whether she would be able to lead a normal life. Maintaining deep faith in the Invisible, Omnipresent power of God and prayer, I requested the entire school and our sisters in the convent to pray for Angel, his daughter. You will be surprised to know that today, the doctors just can’t believe the change and improvement brought about in the conditions of our little darling Angel.
We can discuss about what faith is but I am happy to narrate for you this concrete example. What this instance teaches us is that God is able to do mighty things in our life only if we place ALL our faith in Him. Our prayers to that invisible power with whatever name we may address our God, never goes unanswered. We must always remember of course, as the Bible tells us, “Our ways are not God’s ways”. This also means that God does things in His own time. He certainly does not act the way we want Him to. Some might argue about the need to pray to God since He knows all our needs even before we ask Him. That is right. God, by all means knows, what our needs are but He also wants us to express our needs to Him. For instance, Jesus Christ worked many miracles of healing the blind, the deaf and so on. But each time He asked the person in need of healing, “What do you want me to do for you?” or “Do you believe that I can do this for you?” Once He would hear the person’s need He would heal the person. And after each healing, He would tell them, “Your faith has saved you”.
Our faith, our belief propels us to achieve great and marvelous goals. As students, you and your parents could learn to place and increase your faith in God. Our belief in the power of God that abides in each one of us enables us to do mighty things. Let us then reaffirm our faith in God, which is the spiritual breakthrough in our daily lives.
Person at the helm
We are at this point of time experiencing change in all walks of life. Similarly the role of a leader is also undergoing many changes. In today’s world the 10 most important qualities the person at the helm needs to have are: 1. Listening : Traditionally, leaders have been valued for their communication and decision making skills. Servant leaders must reinforce these important skills by making a deep commitment to listening intently to others. Servant leaders seek to identify and clarify the will of a group. They seek to listen receptively to what is being said and what is not being said. Listening also emcompasses getting in touch with one’s inner voice and seeking to understand what one’s body, spirit and mind are communicating. 2. Empathy : Servant leaders strive to understand and empathise with others. People need to be accepted and recognised for their special and unique spirit. One must assume the good intentions of coworkers and not reject them as people, even when forced to reject their behavior or performance. 3. Healing : Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and others. In “The Servant as Leader”,Greenleaf writes “There is something subtle being communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between the servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something that they have. 4. Awareness : General awareness and especially self-wareness, strengthens the servant leader. Making a commitment to foster awareness can be scary - one never knows what one may discover. As Greenleaf observed, “Awareness is not a giver of solace - its just the opposite. It disturbs. They have their own inner security.” 5. Persuasion : Servant leaders rely on persuasion, rather than positional authority in making decisions. Servant- leaders seek to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of servant leadership. The servant-leader is effective at building consensus within groups. 6. Conceptualisation : Servant-leaders seek to nurture their abilities to “dream great dreams”. The ability to look at a problem (or an organization) from a conceptualising perspective means that one must think beyond day-to day realities. Servant leaders must seek a delicate balance between conceptualisation and day to day focus. 7. Foresight : Foresight is a characteristic that enables servant-leaders to understand lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision in the future. It is deeply rooted in the intuitive mind. 8. Stewardship: This happens when CEOs, staff directors, and trustees all play significant roles in holding their institutions in trust for the greater good of society. 9. Commitment to Growth of People : Servant leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers. As such, servant leaders are deeply committed to personal, professional and spiritual growth of each and every individual within the organization. 10. Building the Community : Servant leaders are aware that the shift from local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human lives has changed our perceptions and caused a feeling of loss. Servant-leaders seek to identify a means for building community among those who work within a given institution.
Carmel Convent in lndia: Dialogue as an instrument for social change in a multi-religious country The school has been at the service of the lower income group since 1957 when it was first started in Delhi. Free afternoon classes with Hindi as a medium of instruction are conducted in our school for underprivileged children of all classes and creeds. Carmel Convent School has about 1800 students that belong to different social and religious milieu. Given this heterogeneous background, it is imperative for us in the school to create an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance. One such step in this direction is to celebrate all festivals with equal enthusiasm.
To promote the right values among children Value Education is taught as a subject from classes I – XII. These classes encourage students to share their views on various political, social and religious issues that impact their lives and those around them. Discussions facilitate better understanding and mutual respect for each other.The students of humanities stream of classes XI and XII took part in a discussion on the topic ‘Was partition inevitable’.
It was interesting to note the divergent views expressed by the students in the course of the discussion. There were students who spoke in favour of the partition and those who opposed it. But what came to light was how young minds were influenced by the trauma of partition experiences of their elders especially grandparents. Narratives of the partition were inevitably one sided. One of the reasons why my teachers look up this topic was to assess the views of the students towards the Muslim community which forms 13.4% (Wikipedia) of the population. During the course of the discussion teachers made suitable interventions wherever necessary and helped explode some of the popular misconception regarding the Muslims. Example; that Muslims are disloyal to India if they support Pakistan during a cricket match or most terror acts are perpetrated by Muslims. During the course of the discussion, teachers enlightened the students about the history behind Partition, the Muslims who chose to remain in India (Indian Muslims) and those who migrated to Pakistan. Teachers also highlighted that Pakistan is a theocratic state as opposed to India which is a democracy with secular ideals. Such discussions encourage open mindedness which is essential in the multi-religious, multi-lingual and multiethnic country, like India.
Besides academics, the school is very actively engaged with social issues especially those pertaining to the economically backward people. In this context the school adopted Nuh village located 100 kms away from Carmel Convent School. The success of the endeavour in uplifting the village led the school to adopt another village Malab. In both the villages, the Principal, teachers and children are working towards empowering the people of the village by imparting life skills and giving them some technical training. Parents who belonged to the medical profession volunteered to conduct health check ups. It is noteworthy that several students of these villages are now attending regular schools.
At Carmel Convent school we feel dialogue is an important instrument for social change. In a multi-religious country lines of communication through dialogue and discussion should always be kept open. This helps to clear misconception and maintain harmonious relations between different communities.
Periodic Inter Faith Prayer meeting and Panel discussions are organized at the level of staff, students and parents. Religious heads of different faiths (Buddhist, Jain, Christian, Hindu, Jew) were invited to address the teachers and students which were followed by an inter-faith panel for parents. The aim of these discussions is to bring an understanding about different faiths and sensitize them to the tenets of other religions.
Two examples of students of Carmel Convent coming together to show their solidarity and support for the minorities were when a primarily Muslim dominated area in Delhi was targeted by the police and during the riots at Khandmal, Odissa where the Christian community was attacked and their homes and places of worship vandalized. The students were traumatized by these incidents. The school took the initiative to organize prayer meetings and emphasized the need for communal harmony. I must mention here that I personally went to Khandmal and contributed emotionally and financially in the rehabilitation of the affected people.
Our aim at Carmel through these inter-faith panel discussions is to respect all religions and inculcate egalitarian and secular values among students. Our mission is that when the students leave this institution, they carry and spread this message in society.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Message in Carmel Expressions 2013
“ God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” - from the Bible, John 4:24 .
I believe that sustainability always comes with its own protective armour, namely change. Here, one should not confuse change with impermanence. We are aiming at the dynamic aspect of human progress. Everyone needs to do their bit to contribute to the global good. The power center is the individual’s desire to sustain his core energy. “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither,” said, C.S. Lewis.
The fair distribution of individual vitality requires intelligence and persistence. As the head of the institution, I get a chance to create varied platforms for my students, to realise their best. The array of cultural activities and sports programmes started this session, have seen an enthusiastic participation of the students. The ‘Mentor Programme’ specially is an effort to integrate the moral and the emotional energy of the youth. Last year, our city was gripped in the claws of human depraviity, with everyone agitated and frantic about the Delhi Gang Rape. We, adhering to the spirit of Carmel, had a 20 days camp on self- defense. It was a sincere resolution to imbibe the qualities of dignity and empowerment in the girls.
The woman being the centre of creation holds the sanctity of human exigency. Any harm to her energy circle, is a schism in humanity. Every child should be sensitised about gender issues. The education needs to begin early. The family and school ought to be at nucleus of this dynamic quandary. The self hangs onto the fine threads of human endeavour. The heart feels intensely for that, which goes wrong. It is this cry that one needs to hear and internalise to bring about the shift in cumalitive thought patterns.
From the Bible, Ephesians 3:20 -” Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Everyone in society needs to do their bit. It is moving from their inner concentric circles to the outer world. As it is rightly said,” What saves a man is to take a step.Then another step.” The various seminars that I have been to, is a manifestation that the future of humankind is woven in co-operation. The onus is on us , as educators. The young mind needs to be nurtured and encouraged towards the universal sustainable truth.
Easter Message 2013
The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing.
Good Friday is observed on the Friday before Easter Sunday. On this day Christians commemorate the passion, or suffering, and death on the cross of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Christians spend this day in fasting, prayer, repentance, and meditation on the agony and suffering of Christ on the cross.
Holy Saturday is the time to remember family and the faithful who have died as we await the Resurrection, or to honour the martyrs who have given their lives to the cause of Christ in the world. Holy Saturday is a time for reflection and waiting, a time of weeping that lasts for the night while awaiting the joy that comes at Easter.
Easter: During Holy Easter, Christians remember, experience, and celebrate their deep union with Jesus Christ.
We share in the fellowship of his sufferings and long for the power of his resurrection to be realized in our lives and in our world (Philippians 3:10).We pray for all who suffer, for unity among God’s people, for peace among nations and for the healing of God’s creation.We bear witness that in Jesus Christ, God is for us, and God is with us.
The spirit of Easter is all about Hope, Love and joyful living. Happy Easter to you and your family!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”----Romans 12:12 (Bible)
When one talks about 'growth', I am sure the person is thinking about the process which, drags out the extraneous and creates space for happiness and light. The philosophy of Apostolic Carmel, “God Alone Suffices”, has been my source of strength as, in both good and difficult times I have experienced the Lord's all sufficing presence. These past enriching years, as the principal of Carmel Delhi, has taught me the power of patience and change.
I have often seen people wonder and worry about the changing faces of the present generation. I term them my “4G”. Their thoughts and ideas can make the speed sof light seem slow in comparison. This is where my learning completed its satisfactory course. When I look back at my interactions with the student community over the years, I realize and admire the two way enlightenment which has created a unique bond. One gets a little disappointed, when these young minds compromise on discipline and values. Yet the chance for a positive change has always been sparkling within. The primary role of an educationist is to create opportunities, wherein the vulnerabilities of the young minds are effectively tuned for an elevating future. There is ample hope and desire for excellence in the youth. All they need to do is strip themselves off their negativity and plunge headlong into imaginative changes. As Bernard Shaw stated, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.”
My trip to Ellwangan—Germany, reinforced the fact that ideas and ethos work the same everywhere. The interactive sessions in Germany, were on “Unity in Diversity”. The versatility of human race though baffling, has always been able to thread the spirit of humanity together. This cannot be more comprehensible than studying the colourful diversity of our own country. This is the place where, different religions, judgments and philosophies co-exist and bloom. India nurtures amiable variations and this was further emphasized by the enthusiastic curiosity of our German counterparts. The Indo- German exchange programme 2011-2012, was truly an amalgamation of friendship and goodwill.
Divine intervention can steer every mortal endeavour towards perfection. Individual abilities need to merge seamlessly with the will of the Lord Almighty. I begin yet another year with a prayer for hard work, service and numerous probabilities for evolution. My thoughts are aptly articulated through the words of Thomas Alva Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”