By: Alvin Ray M. Ramos
Rev. Fr. Rafael B. Pecson, O.A.R., was officially installed as the 19th School President of San Sebastian College – Recoletos, Manila during the Investiture Rites on October 5. Present during the installation were religious and priests of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects led by Rev. Fr. Bernard C. Amparado, O.A.R., Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, Lay Administrators from the Recoletos schools in Luzon, government educational agency representatives, and the whole Sebastian community.
“We are likened to a flock of a sheep of different colors and different sizes but under one shepherd,” said Fr. Amparado in his homily, likening the office of the school president to the work of the good shepherd in the gospel.
He pointed out that as a good shepherd, the school president must have a burning love for his people and must go down from his pedestal and touch ground where his people are. He also noted that he must be selfless and willing to give himself up, easily surrendering his own interests for the sake of the community he serves. He further explained that his zeal and commitment must be steadfast, always guarding and keeping his people with his life. Most importantly, he mentioned that he must see to it that his people receive not just earthly gifts but fruits that will last.
The investiture rites was officially opened by Rev. Fr. Joseph D. Granada, O.A.R., Local Prior of San Sebastian College-Recoletos community. The confirmation of election and appointment was read by the Corporate Secretary of the Board of Trustees and Vice President for Finance, Rev. Fr. Henry H. Santiago, O.A.R. The Holy Bible was then presented by Rev. Fr. Virgilio M. Paredes, Jr., O.A.R., Vice President for Identity, Formation, and Mission, followed by the Profession of Faith by the incoming School President, Rev. Fr. Pecson.
Emblems symbolizing the Office of the President such as the presidential collar and academic cap were presented by Rev. Fr. Santiago, O.A.R., the outgoing School President, and by Rev. Fr. Anthony A. Morillo, O.A.R., Provincial Councilor of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, respectively.
The SSC-R Vision, Mission, and Goals, Roles and Functions of the President, and School By-Laws were also handed by Rev. Fr. Julius M. Marcos, O.A.R., Vice President for Administration, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Amado A. Bolilia, O.A.R., Campus Director of SSC-R Canlubang, and Rev. Fr. Sixto Ciriaco Bitangjol, O.A.R., Asst. Director for Identity, Formation, and Mission, respectively. The School Mace was entrusted to the new School President by Rev. Fr. Arnel F. Diaz, O.A.R., Director for Basic Education.
Facilitated by Fr. Amparado, Fr. Pecson official sworn into office and in solidarity with the new School President, SSC-R faculty members, academic non-teaching personnel, office personnel, maintenance, and utility personnel recited the Recollect Lay Collaborator Pledge.
“You have been vesting me with your trust, goodness, support, and even love,” Fr. Pecson shared as what he felt after a few months of assuming the office.
In his message, he described the investiture rites as a moment where he is formally robed in power of service and vested with authority, noting though that the power to know, understand, and care for SSC-R, Manila as one capital asset lies with everyone in the community.
“We are vested with the power to be who we are – the power to build the institution to become a university and the power to care for this institution. … We can use our power to literally change the face of this institution. We are the force majeure. We have the power to bring this institution even to its ultimate goodness,” he said.
Under his administration, Fr. Pecson stated that the institution’s strategic concerns and focus in the next three years will be on the attainment of the university status, from San Sebastian College – Recoletos to University of San Sebastian – Recoletos.
“It is rather a natural goal that we must make. It is our future. It is inevitable. It is a destiny that we ourselves shall have to write together in order for us to serve the Filipino Catholic Church and be the evangelizers we ought to be,” he remarked.
To achieve this, he presented the institution’s USSR Four-point Agenda: U – Upscaling and upholding the quest for internationalization through an academic formation; S – Solidifying the Recoletos Spirituality and Identity with a well-grounded spiritual/religious/mission and service formation; S – Stepping up in the field of research and corporate social responsibility anchored on the advocacies of ARCORES; and R – Reinventing the teaching and learning approaches and reshaping it according to Recoletos Pedagogy, Recoletos Education, and Recoletos Pedagogical Paradigm.
In defining what is to become a Sebastinian, he noted that it will be founded in the Recoletos way of interiority, for the Sebastinian way is more than just being schooled to become successful but being dared to have a larger vision of oneself and of the world.
“We will challenge you to dream of the greater things, to always do the greater things because we know you can do greater than others because San Sebastian is more than just a school, San Sebastian is a mission – the mission of Christ to offer our lives for others,” he said.