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Fr. Nemesio Tolentin, 16th President

by Marienne Galima

At a certain point in time in an organization, leadership needs to be passed from one individual to another. The Sebastinian community witnessed the turn-over ceremony and investiture rites, a formal ceremony of conferring of the authority and symbols of the highest office of SSC-R Manila, the Office the President, to Rev. Fr. Nemesio D. Tolentin, OAR last July 8 at the Bulwagang Diego Cera.

The ceremony was started by a Eucharistic Celebration with Rev. Fr. Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR, Prior Provincial, serving as the presider assisted by OAR and some invited priests.

Rev. Fr. Julius Marcos, OAR, President of the Recoletos Educational Association of the Philippines (REAP) and Vicar Provincial of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, gave the rationale of the said event. Fr. Marcos took the opportunity to extend his gratitude to the people who were still present during the event despite the heavy rain.

The outgoing College President, Rev. Fr. Cristopher C. Maspara, OAR, shared the accomplishments of his administration for the past three years. In his speech, he recalled some points he presented during his own inauguration as President three years ago, which he called the Five Senses: Sense of Ritual, Sense of History, Sense of Community, Sense of Time and Sense of Mission.. He felt the sense of community because of the overwhelming support to the new president. As Fr. Maspara ended his accomplishment report, he asked the Sebastinian community to be united and support the new administration. He was very thankful to SSC-R Manila for all the love, support, patience and understanding accorded to the past administration. He was awarded by a plaque of appreciation given by Fr. Selma assisted by Rev. Fr. Rene Paglinawan, OAR.

After Fr. Maspara relinquished his responsibility to his successor Fr. Tolentin, the investiture rites proper was officiated by Fr. Selma. It started with the blessing of the Presidential Accoutrements followed by the Donning of Academic Gown that symbolizes the degree attained by the Father President; the presentation of the Presidential Collar that symbolizes the different programs and degrees offered by the college; the presentation and turn-over of the College Mace, which symbolizes the authority of the College President; the presentation of the Life Purpose, Vision, Mission, Institutional Objectives and Core Values of the college; the presentation of the roles and functions of the President; the presentation of the Holy Bible, the image of St. Sebastian, St. Ezekiel Moreno and the Holy Rosary; and lastly, the presentation of the 16th SSC-R Manila President.

As Fr. Tolentin delivered his inaugural speech, he said that he is very grateful and touched because of the support despite the bad weather. “Walang baha o bagyo ang makapipigil sa pagpapahayag ng pagmamahal sa San Sebastian!” Fr. Tolentin exclaimed. He felt honored to serve SSC-R Manila again. He humbly accepts the priorities and responsibilities because he truly loves SSC. Although he has been assigned in different Recollect schools for 21 years, Fr. Tolentin shared, he was hesitant at first to accept the position because he is aware of the enormous task and great responsibility of being a President. He acknowledged that he is not the best among the rest as he is aware that he is not the most intelligent person available, and that he has shortcomings and weaknesses. He further stated that he only has the desire to serve the people as a simple religious priest and silently do little things for the church and for the Recollect order; but as an obedient servant of God and with respect and obedience to his Superior, he humbly accepted this new mission entrusted to him. He also accepted the responsibility with the faith that he will not be alone in this work. He feels blessed to have his brother Recollect priests working with him. Having also already worked in San Sebastian College for 6 years, from 2006 until 2012, he also felt convinced that the Sebastinian community supports him, having already worked with the lay administrators, faculty, and staff.

Fr. Tolentin said that, although a Presidential Installation is about a transition in one office, it is more importantly about the celebration of life of the institution. He found it necessary then to recognize the accomplishments of the past, to see where the institution is now, and to prepare what lies ahead. It is also the beginning of a new hope for a better San Sebastian, he declared. Citing the accomplishments of past administrations, he said that it is a challenge to continue the good works they have done.

As he ended his speech, he expressed his gratitude to his parents, who taught him values of hard work and sacrifice, thoughtfulness and understanding, simplicity and generosity, love, kindness and respect for others. These values will guide his efforts working at SSC-R, he said. With the immensity of the tasks that await, Fr. Tolentin humbly asked the community to pray for him. He saw it as providential that the investiture rites and installation followed the Eucharistic Celebration. He said that it becomes an assurance that Christ will be working along with him in this journey. “It is Christ who gives us the strength to accomplish the mission entrusted to us.” It is in Christ that he relies for guidance, strength and inspiration so that he will be able to fulfil his duties and obligations as President and as shepherd of the Sebastinian Community.

Fr. Tolentin ended his speech, saying: “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. May our Mother Mary protect us and our patron saint, San Sebastian, guide us and give us the courage and strength to continue our mission in life. Bravo Baste!”