My very dear Graduates,
Early this year, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a pastoral letter on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Catholic Education in the Philippines. Part of the opening statement presented the great contributions of various religious and consecrated men and women in the education of the young since the arrival of Legaspi and Urdaneta in 1565. Of these, the Daughters of Charity and the Congregation of the Mission were cited for their monumental contribution in pioneering Catholic Education that spread far and wide in view of the education and formation in the faith of the young and the Filipino clergy. Today, 150 years later, as we celebrate the sesquicentennial anniversary of Vincentian Transformative Presence and Service in the Philippines, the same impetus drives the Vincentian Family to continue what was begun by our Spanish missionary forebears. This was stressed and elaborated at length by the CBCP President, Archbishop Jose S. Palma, DD, when he quoted Gravissimus Educationis: “Christian Education whose aim is the formation of the human person in the pursuit of the ultimate end of the good of the societies of which, as man, he is a member, and in whose obligations, as an adult, he will share.”
It is my hope and prayer, dear young graduates, that you had imbibed untarnished Christian and Vincentian values that matter; in particular, Humility, Simplicity and Charity, and a distinct brand of authentic Catholic Education that Sacred Heart College can offer. Wistfully, your mentors – Daughters of Charity and their Mission Partners – were exemplars of deep-seated Christian values that gave importance to the service of those in various situations of poverty over the merely human drive for personal gain, recognition, while reinforcing and entertaining an obsessive compulsion to amass wealth and prestige, positions of power and grandeur that are so unlike our Vincentian heritage. Corollary to this, the CBCP pastoral letter drew light from Ex Corde Ecclesiae #56
, stating that Christian Education is not self-seeking. It is “not given for the purpose of gaining power but as an aid towards a fuller understanding of, and communion with man, events and things. Knowledge is not to be considered as a means of material prosperity and success but as a call to serve and to be responsible for others."
These attributes shone very brightly in the life of Hermana Fausta Labrador. And when it was time for her to withdraw from active service, like St. John the Baptist she divested herself of what was purely of this world and passed on the mantle of leadership to the Daughters of Charity who came in her stead. May you be reminded by the example of our Founder and our Vincentian forebears as you take stock of the future that beckons out there and as you leave behind student life at Sacred Heart College.
By way of ‘pabaon’
on the next leg of your journey, allow me to quote from Bill Hybels (2007): “Much of the published leadership literature these days has come from secular leaders in secular arenas. While we can learn a lot from people in business and athletics and government and the military and so on, we cannot forget that, ultimately, Christians – whatever arena they lead – are trying to build God’s kingdom. From time to time, leadership lessons from the secular world do not translate well into the arena of kingdom building, and as ministry leaders, we must remember that our operating values and our ultimate marching orders come from only one book – a book that is God breathed, Spirit inspired, perfect in its content, unchanging in its ability to transform lives.”
In view of your Christian-Vincentian heritage and legacy, learn from Hybel’s injunctions and make them your own. In time, dear graduates, you will take your place in society and will become leaders, managers, and stewards in choice and/or well-deserved positions of trust and great responsibility. Should this happen and when the demands of discipleship to which you are constantly being invited collide with the all too human laws of leadership, take the road less-traveled by – DISCIPLESHIP – as Scripture and your Vincentian formation dictate. Be true and obedient to Jesus Christ’s bidding, for He will never fail you in your life options and choices.
As fresh graduates, keep strong. You may never pass this way again, but rest assured that the Sacred Heart of Jesus will burn in your heart of hearts, showing the way when the path is unclear, messy or devoid of consolation and guidance. Keep true to your name; always be a CORDIAN in thought, word and deed. Spread your wings and face the wind that beckons headlong for this could consume you and threaten your wildest dreams. Just remember, the Blessed Virgin Mary shall be the wind beneath your wings as you fly and scale the heights. She can also serve as your compass in navigating a seemingly chartless and stormy future. With faith in your heart, you will make it. Live Jesus in your heart, always and forever.
Congratulations. May God be with you! Mabuhay!
Very sincerely in St. Vincent and St. Louise,
Sr. Ma. Corazon P. Manalo
Daughter of Charity