by Rev. Fr. Nemesio D. Tolentin, OAR
Thank you for an inspiring welcome and for that generous and moving introduction.
Our Prior Provincial, Fr. Dionisio Selma, OAR; Fr. Julius Marcos, Vicar of the Province and REAP President; members of the School Board; distinguished guests from the Commission on Higher Education; government officials; presidents, heads and representatives of different schools, colleges and universities; my brother Recollect priests and AR sisters; lay administrators; faculty members; school personnel; students; alumni; parents; friends; sisters and brothers…
I am very grateful for your presence this afternoon, and touched and inspired by your support. Despite the heavy rain and flood, you bravely came and joined our celebration today to show your love to our dear San Sebastian College-Recoletos. Walang ulan, baha o bagyo, o anumang pagsubok ang makapipigil sa atin sa pagpapahayag ng ating pagmamahal at malasakit sa ating paaralan, at sa pagpapakita ng ating pagkakaisa at pagmamahalan. In the midst of storm or trials, we continue to celebrate the life of our school.
It is a distinct privilege to be installed as the (16th) President of San Sebastian College-Recoletos (Manila and Canlubang) and a great honor to serve once again this great institution. I am humbled by this appointment and, at the same time, grateful for the trust and confidence by the Father Provincial, his council and the members of the Board of Trustees for entrusting me to lead this institution towards the attainment of the school’s Vision-Mission and Objectives.
To be honest with you, although I have been working in the educational apostolate and have been assigned to different Recollect schools for 21 years, I was at first hesitant to accept this position because I am aware of the enormous task and great responsibility of a President. I am aware that I am not the best among the rest. I know my shortcomings and weaknesses. And also, it is my desire to serve the people as a simple religious priest and silently contribute little things for the Church and for the Recollect Order. But, as an obedient servant of God and with respect and obedience to my superior, I humbly accept this new mission entrusted to me. Following Mary’s words in response to the message of the Angel, I will also say, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say” (Luke 1:38). With faith, I go where I am sent and follow what I am tasked to do.
Moreover, I have the confidence to humbly accept this responsibility because I know I am not working alone in this mission. I am blessed to have my brother Recollect priests working along with me, religious administrators who are committed to the task of evangelization and have the sense of mission. Also, the school is blessed to have hard-working and dedicated lay administrators, faculty and staff. It is also so inspiring and encouraging that the whole Sabastinian community has expressed their full support and cooperation to the new administration.
I also humbly accept this responsibility because I love San Sebastian and I care for San Sebastian. SSC-R has been a home for me when I was assigned here for 6 years from 2006 to 2012 and my new home for this triennium. It is here that I grew in experience and have developed myself as a school administrator. It is here that I earned a degree in Master of Arts in Theology.
Although presidential installation is about transition in one office, it is more importantly about a celebration of life of our institution, for we recognize the lessons and accomplishments of our past, see where we are now and prepare what lies ahead of us. It is then a beginning of a new direction, a renewed fervor and strength, and a new hope for a better San Sebastian.
As I assume this leadership, I wish to acknowledge the accomplishments of my predecessors, the Presidents and past administrators. Fr. Cristopher Maspara, OAR has presented to us the accomplishments of the past administrators. It is then a challenge for us, new administrators, to continue the good works they have done; to implement the plans and programs they have beautifully crafted. It is a challenge for us to accomplish more for the betterment of the school and to work hard for the attainment of the school’s Vision, Mission and Objectives.
However, we also recognize that there are some challenges, issues and problems of the past that need to be addressed and be given attention. We will face them with courage and hope for these are opportunities for growth and avenues for working together as one community.
During this triennium, this new administration is committed to fulfill the tasks, duties and obligations entrusted to us, to work together to steer the school to its proper direction. We work together to enrich and develop the LIFE of SSC-R:
S – Spiritual Life. (1). Enhance the Spiritual Life of the school community. The school will continue its mission of bringing Jesus in the life of people, of sharing Jesus’ love with people. Jesus is the center of every member of the SSC-R community. The school will continue to provide quality Catholic Christian education firmly rooted in the values and teachings of Christ. This is our essential task for this is why our school exists and will continue to exist and will be always relevant in this present time. “It is the fundamental objective of the Recoletos educational apostolate and as part of the integral formation of the person to teach the Catholic faith and evangelize the members of the school community.” (Directory of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, #133).
The school will continue to respond to the mission of the Church in the task of evangelization, of spreading the Gospel of love. We are committed to nourish the faith, the spiritual and moral life of the academic community so as to produce socially responsible and morally upright individuals who can also be agents of evangelization, and graduates who are truly Sebastinians, bearers of noble standards. We are committed to form people who are principled by Love (Caritas) and guided by the values of the Gospel. We form people who show concern and love for others, people who are selfless, and willing to sacrifice their lives for others.
S – Scientia. (2) Strengthen the Academic Life of the School. The school will continue to strengthen its academic programs, to maintain its high quality standard: by keeping the curriculum aligned to the present needs, doing academic innovations and intensive supervision of instructional programs, providing excellent facilities and services, continuously developing and updating the faculty and support staff, building the research culture, and strengthening our local and international linkages and partnerships. With the preparations done by the past and present administration we continue to implement the K-12 program and create avenues for the integral formation and training of the young.
The school is truly committed to produce graduates that are academically and technologically competent leaders and professionals ready to meet the needs and demands of the local and global communities. We will strive to maintain our Accreditation status and work hard to gain Autonomous Status and Center of Development and Excellence from CHED through quality academic programs.
With these, we will be truly prepared to embrace the ASEAN integration. It will be an opportunity for us to reach out and continue our task of evangelization.
We will strengthen the academic programs of the school, to provide knowledge and skills needed by students in their journey of life. The knowledge we impart could be an important or essential component to develop the hearts of our students. As St. Augustine says, “Let knowledge be used to erect the structure of love.” We do not teach students for knowledge sake. We form the minds of students to open their hearts.
C – Community Life. (3) Invigorate the Community Life. All these could not be achieved if we do not work together as one community. I do acknowledge that we, the religious administrators, cannot by ourselves carry out the vision and mission of this school without the support and cooperation of our lay collaborators. There might be some differences and shortcomings in relationships but these should not hinder us from working together for the betterment of the school and for continuously striving to attain the school’s vision-mission and objectives.
All of us can contribute something to attain our goals: as religious and lay administrators, faculty, employees, students, alumni, parents, security guards, janitors, canteen concessionaires, friends, government agencies, neighboring schools, business partners and all those connected with us. Bilang katuwang sa misyon na ito, sana hindi po ganito ang ating itatanong: “ano ba ang ginawa ng President at Vice-Presidents para sa San Sebastian?” Kundi, ang ating itatanong: “ano ba ang nagawa ko at magagawa ko para sa ikabubuti ng San Sebastian?”
All of us are responsible for the school. All of us are responsible for each other. All of us are members of the Sebastinian community. And so, all of us are responsible for the growth and success of San Sebastian College-Recoletos. All of us have the task of bringing SSC-R to greater heights.
Let us always be one in mind and heart in building a strong and caring Sebastinian community. Let us always practice familial attitude so there is friendship, open communication and dialogue, care and concern for everyone. Let us always share and live the joy of being Sebastinians and be missionaries of the Gospel of Joy to others. But this joy can truly be felt and experienced when there is true love and when Christ is present in us and among us; so, let us be a praying community. For Christ said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt. 18:20). With Christ in our midst, there is peace, understanding, forgiveness, healing, care and concern, joy and love. When we live as one community, we live a life of love.
R – Recoletos Life. (4) Live the Recoletos Life. The mission I received is not my own. It is a mission entrusted to the Recollects by the Church. The Recollects have engaged in the Educational Apostolate for the integral formation of individuals to become responsive and value-laden members of society.
As members of the Recollect Order in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, we assure our Father Provincial and the Recollect Fathers that we will continue to carry out this mission and the task of evangelization entrusted to us by the Church, to collaborate with other Recollect Schools and to implement the programs of the Recoletos Educational Apostolate. We will faithfully live and share the ideals and values of the Recollects to our constituents and strive to produce Sebastinian Graduates that really possess the Recollect Graduate Attributes; Sebastinian graduates who bear the marks and true image of the Recollects, namely: Contemplative, Communitarian, Apostolic and Marian; Sebastinian graduates who are ready to share the Gospel of Joy and Love to others; Sebastinian graduates who can make a difference in the life of others and in the society; Sebastinian graduates who are courageous and firm to live their faith, and follow and live the values and teachings of Christ.
This is the life of SSC-R that we want to work for and accomplish: enrich the Spiritual Life; strengthen the formation of the Scientia or Academic or Intellectual Life; invigorate the Community Life; and live the Recoletos way of Life.
Before I end, I would like to acknowledge and thank my parents who shaped me to be the person that I am. They have taught me the value of hard work and sacrifice, thoughtfulness and understanding, simplicity and generosity, love and respect for others. These values will guide my efforts at SSC-R.
With the immensity of tasks that awaits, I humbly ask for your prayers. Please do pray for me. It is providential that this investiture rites and installation follow the Eucharistic celebration. It is an assurance for us that Christ will be walking along with us in our journey of life. It is Christ who gives us this mission and it is Christ who will provide us the strength to accomplish the mission and task entrusted to us. It is Christ whom I rely on and ask guidance, strength and inspiration from so that I may be able to fulfill my duties and obligations as the President of this beloved institution.
As we are about to celebrate the 75th Foundation Anniversary of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Manila this coming January 2016, let us join our hearts and minds as one Sebastinian community to move forward with a renewed courage, vigor and strength amid the challenges of the times to reach our glorious destination.
Together as a community, we will achieve the Vision-Mission and Objectives of our beloved institution. Together as a community, we will succeed. Together as one Sebastinian community, let us begin!
May the good Lord continue to bless us, our Mother Mary to protect us, and our Patron Saint, St. Sebastian to guide us and give us the courage and strength to continue our mission in life.