Today we celebrate the feast of St. Barnabas who was Paul’s companion on the first of his missionary journeys. An interesting thing about Barnabas is that his name was really Joseph, and Barnabas was just a nickname the Apostles gave him.
The name Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” We can think of Barnabas as the patron saint of encouragement; and I, for one, feel we need encouragement more than we need advice.
We can think of Barnabas as the Patron Saint of directors of education and of school principals. In our diocese Pat Tierney, the lady we had as Director of Education for twenty-five years, was a Barnabas. At her retirement the teachers were saying they were so sorry she was leaving. When I asked them why they would miss her, their answers were all similar. Some would say, “She was so affirming.” Others would say, “She was so encouraging.”
With John Lippincot, the principal of our parish school, it was the same. He’d say, “I know how tough it is for you, but you are doing fine work. Hang in there”
In a classroom the odds are twenty-five to one against the teacher who is giving her all to bring the kids along. Maybe there are times when she needs direction, but there are many many more times she needs a friendly ally.