ONE of the sweet challenges I have as a chaplain of a technical school for boys is to open new horizons to these kids who often are entangled unnecessarily and uselessly in some predicaments, most of which are actually just trivial. Together with that is the delicate task of motivating them and helping them unleash some hidden and untapped well of potentials that they have.
I know that practically all of them have good intentions to gain some degree of success for themselves and for their family in the future. Besides, many of them show good capabilities in the many aspects of human development. A good number excel in diligence, others in creativity, still others in leadership and technical aptitude, etc.
But very often, because of a host of problems and difficulties, they get stuck at a certain level. These problems and difficulties could be financial, emotional, and even psychological. In these latter aspects, one can easily detect wounds and scars.
Itâ€™s a pity because all these problems and difficulties are really not that serious or unsolvable or incurable, and yet these manage to slow them or prevent them from actualizing the many great possibilities that they have.
Itâ€™s when I win their confidence and they begin to talk to me about their personal lives that things start to happen. What I usually hear from them are what I consider as small things, but are considered big to them.
Almost invariably, I notice in them an erroneous conscience, either lax, scrupulous or perplexed. Thus, the task of clarifying things and liberating them from their errors in thoughts, words and deeds takes place. I actually see them relieved when their burdens of conscience, real and imagined, have been unloaded.
After giving them some suggestions and pieces of advice, I reassure them that things are really not that serious, that thereâ€™s a lot of hope, that the future is actually bright.
I focus more on their spiritual life which I consider as the foundation of the developments in all the other aspects of their livesâ€”personal, family, social, their studies, etc.
I see to it that their mind and heart, their thoughts, desires and intentions, are filled with love for God and for others.Â Of course, how this love is developed and lived has to be spelled out concretely, always deferring to their specific circumstances. I tell them to keep close watch on what and how they think, judge and reason out, telling them to begin and end things always with God and others.
That is why they are also taught to appreciate the importance of prayer and how to do it.
But it would not be good if all the spiritual and moral inputs remain in the theoretical and exhortatory levels. These always need to be related to their concrete circumstances. Otherwise, a dichotomy between faith and life, between theory and practice, between principle and performance is created.
These kids always need to be encouraged and to be shown ways of how they can improve and grow in their spiritual life as well as in the other aspects of their lifeâ€”in the way they study and work, for example. In fact, they need to develop a certain spirituality that would guide them in their work.
Each one has a learning curve that needs to be respected. Some move and learn faster than others. Some easily get things with good consistency, while others are very erratic and awkward, especially at the beginning.
I always encourage them to be sport in this endeavor, trying their best to reach their goals but not too serious when faced with difficulties, setbacks and failures. Of course, those who tend to chalk in more victories have to be taught how to be humble and magnanimous.
I always encourage them to begin and begin again, when they encounter some failures along the way. I prod them to make improvements in everything that they get involved in. They have to be increasingly productive, efficient and effective. In short, they have to develop a good character that will work well for them in any season.
Guiding and motivating them require a lot of patience. But what can also help is to always keep in touch with them even when they already get out of school. With the new technologies, this task has become more facilitated.
It cannot be denied that life has many more things to challenge them, especially when they are already out of school and start living and working on their own. They have to be prepared and enabled to face all these. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)