Cathedral of San Fernando, Pampanga - January 10, 2013
My brother priests… Our beloved Administrators, teachers and parents… our dear alumni Dearest students, the UA family, Happy Golden Jubilee to everyone! I sincerely thank God for being given a chance to take part in this joyful and grace-filled celebration.
Today we will have the unveiling of the marker in the Assumpta building to perpetuate the beginnings of UA. We are here to go back to our roots… It is good to look back always to our roots to ensure that we are in the right path. Most of the time it is our root, our beginning, that tells us of our real vision, our mission and put us back to the path prepared for us. May kasabihan tayo sa Pilipino: “Ang sino mang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroonan.”
I was told that two of our first graduates are attending our celebrations today: Atty, Manuel Punzalan (AB 66) and Ms. Belen Natividad (BSE 66). The wife of Atty. Punzalan is also here. She belongs to the first batch of commerce graduates BSC batch 67. Their presence somehow is a great help for us to help us go back to our roots and beginnings. (May I request them to please stand and let us give them a big round of applause!)
In the gospel, Jesus read from the scroll his mission from the book of Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
This jubilee is a good occasion to realize that one important gift of the University is Catholic Education. This gift first and foremost gives us a strong sense of mission. When we were writing our Archdiocesan Plan, I remember Fr. Deo telling us a story about a student who went to a construction site and interviewed the construction workers. He asked a laborer, “what are you doing?”. He answered, “Can’t you not see, I am mixing gravel, sand and cement!” He went to another and asked him the same question and he responded: We are build a beautiful Cathedral and it will be a source of faith to many people.” UA gives us the ability to go beyond what we are doing…UA as a Catholic institution reminds us that each of us has a vocation. Each one is called by God to share in His own vision for the world and for the whole humanity. Each one of us is called for a mission. Each one is expected to embrace this mission until our last breath.
Therefore we do not just study to get passing grades or higher grades. We study so that we can be formed into men and women of Catholic Character, so that we will continue to aspire always for academic excellence within and outside the school setting and develop skills which will equip us to better serve as many people as possible.
Assumptionists remember that the Spirit of God is upon you and you are God’s anointed ones. This year we are celebrating the year of faith. The challenge of the Holy Father is to grow more in the knowledge of our faith... Learn our Catholic roots... read, study and live the Bible and the Catholic Catechism... We are challenged to be bolder in proclaiming faith and be more aggressive in sharing our faith to people, especially those who are lost and are in dire need of God'love and salvation. We are challenged to be more organized in our charity to impact greater change in the lives of the poor. We have to walk our talk... We have to launch anew the New Evangelization with greater fervor and love.
Our gospel is a fitting reminder that like every faithful, every assumptionist is also called to take part in this mission of Jesus. Moreover, this is also the mission of the University of the Assumption as a Catholic educational institution. We must proclaim the Good news: bring glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives of injustice and worldly things (materialism, egoism, etc.), and sight to those blinded by power and lust. We study not just for our selfish interest, not just to please father or mother and family, we study because we want to serve God and the people that God will be entrusting to us. Each one of us called to make a difference in the lives of people, especially the poor and the marginalized. We are called to contribute in bringing about changes in our society and contribute in the birth of a culture of love amongst people.
The first reading summarizes these as: whoever loves God must also love his brother. Obviously, this love is other-centered. We must show compassion to others. We start by a recognizing one another as brothers and sisters. Let us really be a UA family or Community. Let us grow together as a community respecting and loving one another. “Mipanantabe ali mipagbante. Mipapanyaup ban maging mayan ing bie da reng aliwa at ali tala pasakitan ing bie ning balang metung.”
May the celebration of the Jubilee of the first Archdiocesan University in Asia be an occasion to renew our mission on earth: to love God and one another, especially the poor and the suffering. For it is only in true charity that we can proclaim the good news to the poor!
Let me conclude by praying with you this Jubilee Prayer:
O God of our history, You have always called young men and women to discover the gift that you have entrusted to the University of the Assumption - the gift of Christian formation, academic excellence and community service.
We renew today our covenant with You to remain steadfast in sharing these gifts to your people, especially to all who seek to be under her mantle, as we endeavor to rediscover them in the light of the challenges of our Jubilee Celebrations.
We reach out to heaven
Our heaven is the ultimate happiness brought about by seeking perfection in living in communion with You and with one another, by spending a life lived in the service for others - especially the poor.
We make things great
We promote excellence in all aspects with Jesus on the Cross as our model. We aspire for nothing but the best which entails sacrifices. Gold has to pass through fire to be polished so must we be willing to give all to bring out the best in one another.
We make way to shine
Our glory is the glory of God that shines through our responsible stewardship and servant leadership. All that we have we offer back to God so that all may look up to Christ in love.
We raise our hearts and minds to you and sing our hymn of praise with all the angels and saints and the holy men and women of faith and love as we celebrate 50 years of Catholic Education in our beloved University.
All these for the glory of the Father, through your Son Jesus and in the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of our Holy Mother Mary Assumed into Heaven. Amen.