My mother teaches at a Catholic school and some time ago she attended a social gathering with my aunt and uncle. It was a group of strangers to her since it was out of state. Moreover, she felt out of place being “only a teacher” while many others had accomplished careers in a wide array of fields. I reminded her that everyone, no matter what their future career may be, must pass through fifth grade. But teachers do not only affect students for the brief time they are in their classrooms. They shape souls for eternity. That is why teaching is a lofty and indispensable vocation.
Everyone can think back and recall a certain teacher or more who had a definite impact on their life. I go back to the priest who taught me the Hebrew language. After registration for classes ended I found out that I was the only one in the class. “He will go easy on me,” I thought. With gratitude I can say that he did not let me off easy. Once in class he handed back a graded assignment saying, “I know you can do better.” It was difficult to hear at the time, but I now understand why he challenged me. That priest saw potential within me that I was not aware of. All good teachers do this.
Our patron St. Thomas Aquinas was likewise influenced by St. Albert the Great his teacher and mentor. From the age of twenty-three until he was twenty-seven, Thomas studied under Albert. The teacher had a considerable influence on his brilliant student during this important phase of his life. St. Thomas would never forget this example as he, in turn, influenced a new generation of students.
The image above depicts St. Albert teaching with St. Thomas among the gathered students.