On December 9, 2019, the administrators of Jesuit schools in the Philippines congregated in the Loft, Arete on the Ateneo de Manila campus for a very special JBEC meeting. Their special speaker for the day was no other than Fr. Jose Alberto Mesa SJ, the Society of Jesus’ Secretary for Secondary and Pre-secondary Education. Fr. Mesa spent the day with them sharing his thoughts on the new Jesuit education document, “Jesuit Schools: A Living Tradition” and on the notion of leadership in Jesuit schools.
Over 90 administrators were gathered in Manila to meet with and listen to Fr. Mesa. During his talk, Fr. Mesa encouraged the educators to “walk the talk” and to avoid allowing our schools to turn into museums instead of innovative educational institutions.
Prior to the meeting, Fr. Mesa visited Ateneo de Davao University from December 4 to 7, accompanied by Fr. Johnny Go SJ, Education Secretary for Asia Pacific. There, he had the opportunity to meet with the university President, Fr. Joel Tabora SJ, the Grade School Headmaster, Pop Libron, Junior High School, Fr. Mike Pineda SJ, as well as administrators from all three Basic Education units of Ateneo de Davao University.
Aside from conversations with faculty and students, Fr. Mesa also presided at the joint Eucharistic Celebration of the Grade School and Junior High School. It was the school community’s anticipated celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and the Mass was attended by over 4,000 students and faculty.
The next day Fr. Mesa took a barge to see the university’s St. Ignatius’ Spirituality Center in Samal Island, where many students and faculty go for their retreats and recollections. Fr. Vic Baltazar SJ, Director of SISC, treated him to a sumptuous outdoor Korean barbecue for lunch. He even had the opportunity to take a dip in a nearby beach resort for a short break from his obligations.
On December 10, the day after the meeting with School Heads and Principals belonging to the Jesuit Basic Education Commission, Fr. Mesa took the long trip to Xavier School Nuvali, where he had the firsthand experience of conversing with faculty, students, and administrators. On the way back to Manila, Fr. Mesa mentioned to Fr. Go that he was impressed by the dedication of the faculty to the school’s mission of Jesuit education, which, for him, could only be the fruit of a sustained school-wide Ignatian staff formation program.
Fr. Mesa spent the entire day of the 11th visiting the basic education units of Ateneo de Manila, getting to know the schools through conversations with students, teachers, and administrators. He also paid a courtesy call to University President, Fr. Jett Villarin SJ, before capping his day with a visit to the office of Asia-Pacific Conference President, Fr. Tony Moreno SJ, who accompanied him to join the scholastics of Arrupe International Residence for the Eucharist and for a farewell dinner.
It was Fr. Mesa’s very first visit to the Philippines, and the schedule was packed with activities! For the Philippine Jesuit educators, his visit provided them a great opportunity to see and hear firsthand the Society of Jesus’ concerns about our mission in education. They were reminded that their mission was not restricted to serving in their respective schools in the Philippines, but contributing to–and collaborating with–a wider network of Jesuit schools all around the world.
Special thanks to everyone, who made Fr. Mesa’s visit so pleasant and productive, most especially to Fr. Ari Dy SJ, Chair of the Jesuit Basic Education Commission, and his assistant, Mr. Jude Liao.
As Fr. Mesa bade us farewell, he had the following to say about his visit to our schools in the country:
“I’m impressed by the quality of educators–both the lay and the Jesuits–that I encountered in my visit to the schools in the Philippines. I see a lot of commitment and creativity, as well as awareness of the challenges we need to face. I’m also very excited to know that we can count on a strong partner for our global network in our schools here!”
Thanks to Brian Coballes, Paul Daza, and the JBEC Congress 2019 Documentation Team for the video and the photos.
Source: The article was originally published on jcapedu.org