|St Mary’s College principal Fr Ronald Mendes CSSp escorts President George Maxwell Richards to Centenary Hall as some of the college scouts salute the Commander-in-Chief.|
|The students of St Mary’s sing the college song. Photos: Raymond Syms|
Speaking on the theme “Ethics, Morals and Values”, the President warned that if the right values were not taught at home, “it becomes difficult for a person to break out of the mould of all the negative behaviour that accompanies reaching for the wrong goals, with the wrong motives: money for the sake of power; power for the sake of influence and control; and a comfortable life without hard work and diligence”.
President Richards was invited to speak to the student body and staff as part of a series of year-long activities to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Holy Ghost Fathers to Trinidad & Tobago and the establishment of the college.
President Richards briefly traced the history of the college and touched on elements of college life, including the football rivalry with his alma mater, Queen’s Royal College, and the achievements of the St Mary’s scouts. He said the values instilled in students came “partly and significantly from the religious aspect of life at St Mary’s… Ethics, morals and values were taught not only by precept to be recited but also by example to be lived”.
He added that the challenge came after the student has left the school environment and has entered a world which promoted the idea that right was relative. “I believe that it comes down to responsibility” in using the free will that has been God-given, he remarked.
“We either yield to enticements of various sorts, including money, prestige and popularity, where nefarious intent can abound, or we take the long and sometimes lonely road towards achieving noble objectives that have, at their heart, being the best that we can be, while uplifting other members of the human family,” he said.
The President commented on the importance of laws, saying no country could function without them, but added that the threat of sanction should not be what inspired people to do the right thing.
“Doing right should be the norm,” President Richards said, “even when no one is watching. This way of life is nurtured by a consciousness of ethics, morals and values which are part of a set. And, while I have no doubt that since the fall human beings have not lived in a perfect world, it seems to me that, more than ever, these three pillars are under heavy siege.”
He lamented increasing reports of corruption, the disintegration of family life and the rise in human trafficking, saying “as far as some people are concerned, human life itself seems to have little value, except as a commodity to be traded.”
President Richards said the home, school, media, religious bodies, service organisations and role models all had a part to play in setting the right values, but the individual was responsible “for receiving or rejecting the guidance, admonition, correction, counsel and sanction given by parents and others in authority over them”.
He concluded his speech, saying, “Ethics, morals and values are informed by how we see life and our own purpose. Preoccupation with self can lead to decisions which sometimes call for dishonourable behaviour. On the other hand, taking a broader view and seeing oneself as part of a community inspires us to live with the wellbeing of a wider constituency in mind.”
Principal Fr Ronald Mendes welcomed the President, while vice principal Nigel Joseph gave the vote of thanks. Master of ceremonies Enrico Rajah, dean of Form Six, joked that he was “disappointed” that the President had attended QRC and invited him to St Mary’s upcoming all-inclusive Carnival fete.
Rajah led students in singing the college song before the President departed.
– Raymond Syms