OUTGOING PRINCIPAL'S MESSAGE - Mr. Mackran Singh
What images…which metaphors…what style beyond metaphor…shall I conjure to capture that first…epic moment on May 1, 1880 when Jessie Ripoll walked along the long driveway…past the gates…and entered the forty acres of mostly untamed land on 26 South Camp Road?
Every child knows that a story starts at the beginning…the very beginning…was Mother Claver’s first journey…the very beginning? What was the vision…the epiphany moment that launched Jessie Ripoll on her pilgrimage…her life’s work… her Ministry?
Rev. Ronald Thwaites, speaking at the Eucharistic Liturgy to launch the Centenary Year tells us:
“In Jamaica of 1880 despair was rampant. The Economy was, like now, in grave difficulties because of the decline of sugar. There was squalor in the yards and in the barracks. TB and Yaws… open sewers and worms were everywhere.”
It was because of this desire to nurture those ‘flowers…blushing unseen’ that fourteen years later, on May 1, 1894, the Convent of Mercy Academy opened its doors to welcome its first students – Leah and Ellen Johnson… Ethline and Ivy Hodge. How could these girls know…that from this mustard seed beginning…Alpha Academy would bloom and flourish into an Institution which for over 120 years has been offering quality Education to hundreds of thousands of young ladies in the early…defining years of their formation? How could they know?
Sr. Bernadette pays tribute to the Academy thus:
“Space does not permit one to speak of the hundreds of teachers who have served at this noble institution nor is it possible to write of the hundreds of thousands of students who have graced these halls of learning and left an enviable tradition, a legacy to those who come after. Suffice it to say that these have done Alpha proud and Alpha is happy to claim each one as her beloved daughter. That this tradition lives on in the lives of the present day student body is borne out by the fact that the Principal, his Faculty and students continue to excel in just about every field of endeavor.”
It was in recognition of this Tradition of Excellence that the then former Governor-General the Most Honourable, Howard Cooke, proclaimed “THE WEEK OF MONDAY, APRIL 25TH TO SUNDAY, MAY 1, 2005 AS ALPHA WEEK… and urged all Jamaican citizens to support generously and honour this esteemed institution which continues to be an example par excellence of the infinite and lasting value of true Christian Commitment, self-respect, service and social justice.”
During the Civic Ceremony to present the KEYS to the City of Kingston to the Sisters of Mercy, the Citation read:
“We are pleased to affirm that Alpha is an institution of the highest calibre and its management and Staff are deservedly proud of their contribution over the past one hundred and twenty five years.”
Sister Marie Chin, RSM, Area Coordinator of the Sisters of Mercy of Jamaica, speaks eloquently of the Alpha Experience:
“For one hundred years…faith filled, strong women have made a home for us. And, I must include the men who also walked with us. Together they have sought to bring us to that place of right relationship with ourselves, with God and others. An experience of Alpha is an immersion into the reality of who we truly are: spiritual beings on a human Journey or as the scripture describes us ‘earthen vessels carrying a treasure of wealth untold’
Alpha is not and will not ever be just a moment in History. It is a power that breathes beneath everything that exemplifies the empowerment of God’s Mercy in our lives and calls us to right and Just relationships, responsibilities, commitment and service. Alpha is homecoming to our value as persons.”
My dear daughters of Alpha… now that you are enlightened by this brief glimpse into the Alpha Story… now that you have met some of the long cast of legendary Characters who are the pillars of this noble tradition… I hope that you will appreciate the rich legacy which is yours. I hope that your personal history, your own unique story will make the Alpha Story even richer because you have dedicated your life to all that is good… all that is worthy of pursuit. AD VERUM ET BONUM.
What was the essence of Jessie Ripoll’s Ministry? She believed that every child was an earthen vessel bearing untold Treasure or as Fr. O’Donohue eloquently puts it:
“Deep in every life… no matter how dull and ineffectual it may seem from the outside…there is something eternal happening…This is the secret way that change and possibility conspire with growth.”
The poet Thomas Grey echoes Fr. O’Donahue:
“Full many a gem of purest ray serene.
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its fragrance in the desert air.”
Mr. Mackran Singh
2001 - 2016 (January)