In the year Catholic education celebrates 130 years of educating Bahamians, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy (MSSCA) student D’Ante Riche proudly stated Catholic education will be around for another 100-plus years. And it was with those words that Riche captured the junior division trophy at the Catholic schools speech competition prior to the global public health COVID-19 pandemic, and the shuttering of schools nationwide on March 16.
“How will we be able to survive if the number of our very own religious presence is slowly fading?” Riche questioned. “I’ll tell you how. The audacity of faith and hope – that’s how,” he said.
Riche and his fellow competitors spoke to the theme “Faith-Filled Past…Hopeful Future”.
“It was faith that led Archbishop Corrigan to approach Mother Ambrosia Sweeney of the Convent of Mount Saint Vincent on the Hudson. He asked her to send a group of sisters to Nassau.
“In order to accept the invitation to leave the comfort of their lives in New York to begin an educational mission, Mother Sweeny and the sisters also had to have faith coupled with hope,” said Riche. “And with that, ladies and gentlemen, they sailed abroad on the SS Santiago. They arrived in Nassau, New Providence, on October 28, 1889 and gave birth to the education of a nation on November 4, 1889. The vision of Archbishop Corrigan and the Sisters of Charity was probably what Martin Luther King Jr. felt when he said, ‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the staircase.’”
Riche said the Bahamian history books should be filled with countless names of Catholic school graduates who are professionals, and continue to make invaluable contributions to the development and advancement of The Bahamas. During his speech, he said the faith-filled Catholic education has endeavored to produce well-rounded citizens who are morally sound in action and deeds.
“Catholic education continues to lead the way by setting the trends in education in The Bahamas. If I had to list the innumerable contributions of Catholic graduates, I would be here all day,” the MSSCA student told the judges.
“We can declare a hopeful future. As we move throughout the nation with a faith-filled past as our foundation and backbone, with our hope in the Word of God, we are destined for another 100 years plus. We have made significant advances in education and our mission remains vibrant and reflected in our Christ-centered and character-driven school environment. We lead the way through innovative teaching and [cooperative] learning strategies. Therefore, our future is hopeful, and so we can attack the present with vigor and strength,” said Riche.
Riche’s schoolmate Maliah Wilchcombe was second, with St. Augustine’s College’s (SAC) Daunte Butler in third.
On the senior side, SAC’s Tiara Stubbs took top honors, with her schoolmate Alexis Godet second and Aquinas College’s Malik Knowles third.
Riche and Stubbs’ winning speeches were made prior to schools closing their doors to in-classroom learning as the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in The Bahamas, just as the academic year’s third term got underway.
Of The Bahamas’ 103 confirmed COVID-19 cases, New Providence had 81 up to yesterday. There were eight on Grand Bahama, 13 on Bimini and one on Cat Cay. There have been 11 deaths, 62 recovered cases and one hospitalized case, and yesterday there were 30 active cases; and 2,203 tests have been completed.
Catholic schools speech competition results:
D’Ante Riche, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy
Maliah Wilchcombe, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy
Daunte Butler, St. Augustine’s College
Tiara Stubbs, St. Augustine’s College
Alexis Godet, St. Augustine’s College
Malik Knowles, Aquinas College