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MASS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Mayap a bengi pu keko ngan. Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat. Good evening to you all.


The Holy Spirit is the person of God who lives with us in our time on earth and teaches us to truly know and follow God. One of the roles that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives is that of a giver of gifts. Our Second Reading, taken from First Corinthians 12, reveals the many gifts the Holy Spirit provides to believers. Each believer has at least one gift, and each person is specifically gifted for the acts of service God has prepared for him or her. These gifts allow us to work together as one community to pursue our shared mission, to meet the needs of others, and to do so for the greater glory of God. And what does “community” mean? It means working together, embracing diversity, recognizing our mutual dependence, being accountable to each other, and appreciating our unique gifts ands roles that each of us have in this body called Holy Angel University.


This marks my third week as your university president. Please allow me to share with you my best sense thus far of the strategic priorities that we should collectively pursue. My presidency will be characterized by its key theme: honoring the past and embracing the future. I am proposing that we collectively pursue four strategic priorities.


The first strategic priority is the never-ending pursuit of academic quality and organizational excellence. Through our collective efforts, Holy Angel University will become a leading educational institution in the ASEAN region as a result of superior academic programs, memorable student experiences, and opera¬tional excellence. We will strive for international accreditation of more programs, we will strengthen linkages with business and industry to provide our students with opportunities for engaged and experiential learning, and we will pursue process improvements that will enable us to make Holy Angel education more affordable.


The second priority is for Holy Angel University to become an authentic instrument for countryside development. Through our collective efforts, Holy Angel will help alleviate poverty by providing access to qual¬ity education by students from socioeconomically dis¬advantaged backgrounds. Our Founders established this university precisely for the poor and the disadvantaged – a student segment that is increasingly shifting to the state colleges and universities. A harvest cycle that is not aligned with the school calendar, the lack of pocket money, and not having enough cash to commute to school – these should not be a barrier to graduation by our students. We need to increase our ability to serve students with extreme financial need. This is a cause that, I believe, will be attractive to our alumni who we need to engage to give back to the university that has proverbially taught them “how to fish.”


The third priority is for Holy Angel University to be a great college to work for. Through our collective efforts, Holy Angel will become an employer of choice in Central Luzon and a benchmark for Philip¬pine educational institutions, especially in how we navigated the rough waters of K-12 educational reform. We are all about students – that shared purpose alone should motivate us to ensure that the university functions as one unified community.


The fourth priority is for Holy Angel University to be a recognized leader, both here and abroad, in faithful Catholic education. Through our collective efforts, we will accomplish the above strategic priorities while maintaining fidelity to the Catholic Intellec¬tual Tradition and visible commitment to Catho¬lic social teaching, engaging ourselves in issues concerning social justice, human life, and the needs of the poor. We will demonstrate that faith and reason can coexist. We will strive to be included in lists of recommended Catholic colleges and to be worthy of that recognition.


Simultaneously pursuing these four strategic priorities will be our Mount Everest. I challenge each of you – students, faculty, non-teaching staff, administrators, and alumni – to join me in this climb to Mount Everest. And I promise you that, as your president, I will be with you in that expedition and I will try my best to serve as your servant leader.


At this time, let me offer a special message to our students. The value of college education comes from the effort that you put into it. This point is made succinctly by a story about one college president who said this to new freshmen each year: “For those of you who have come here in order to get a degree, congratulations, I have good news for you. I am giving you your degree today and you can go home now. For those who came to get an education, welcome to four great years of learning at this university.” Well, I was not that college president, but I would say “Welcome to four or five great years of learning at Holy Angel University.”


College is a challenging engagement in which both the student and the professor have to take an active and risk-taking role if one is to realize its potential value. Professors need to inspire, to prod, to irritate, to create engaging environments that enable learning to take place that cannot happen simply from reading books. Good professors supply oxygen to their classrooms; they do not merely supply answers or facts. Good colleges provide lots of help to students who face challenges completing their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.


But students need to make a similar commitment to breathe this oxygen in and be enlivened by it. They owe this not only to their teachers but, more importantly, to their parents and themselves. After all, the decision to go to college is a decision to make an investment in their future, an investment of time and money. And for many students, a college education is expensive. Students have to play a major role in ensuring that it is money well spent.


Students need to apply themselves to the daunting task of using their minds, a much harder challenge than most people realize, until they actually try to do it. For many students, being required to produce critical thought in front of a class is a new sensation, often a not very pleasant one. I remember too well my feelings when I had to deliver my first speech in front of my college freshman class. It was a disaster, and I learned more that day about the requirements of good speeches than in the previous 16 years of my life.


To create what is, for most of us, that new sensation, you need a professor who provokes and a student who stops slumbering. It is the responsibility of universities to place students in environments that provide these opportunities. It is the responsibility of students to seize them. Genuine education is not a commodity, but the awakening of a human being.


And now for my final announcement, classes for the rest of this evening are suspended. Please enjoy the rest of the evening.


Date Posted: 06-30-2015