The kettle of the Recoletos Educational Apostolate in the Philippines (REAP) is now heating up as it convenes its General Assembly at the Talavera House of Prayer-Recoletos, Cebu City. With the theme, “Celebrating the International Year of Educational Apostolate in the Jubilee Year of Mercy,” said gathering of religious personnel in the school apostolate opened yesterday, February 1, and will close tomorrow, February 3.
This is the first general assembly for this triennium 2015-18. And a total of thirty-one (31) OAR religious working in 8 Recoletos schools are in attendance.
Here’s the synthesis of Day 1 (February 1, 2016 – Monday):
The day opened with the Eucharistic celebration with his Most Rev. Gerardo A. Alminaza, DD, Bishop of San Carlos, as presider and homilist.
He expressed his joy on the recently concluded 51st International Eucharistic Congressand commented how timely it was that the REAP general assembly is being held today. He said that today’s assembly is an opportunity for them for discernment of God’s way on the role of Catholic Schools in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
USJ-R President, Rev. Fr. Cristopher C. Maspara, OAR, gave the welcome address whostressed on the vital role of the schools on the “formation of the young” which is a serious mandate for all.
Rev. Fr. Cristituto A. Palomar, OAR, president of San Sebastian College-Recoletos,Cavite gave the rationale of the REAP assembly which is conducted annually among religious administrators of the Recollect schools. He then presented the objectives of the assembly for this year.
Introduction of Participants and Keynote Speaker
The director of CSNT-R, Rev. Fr. Sixto M. Bitangjol, OAR, took care of introducing the delegates of the assembly while the VP-Academics of UNO-R, Rev. Fr. Albert A. Pellazar, OAR, introduced the keynote speaker, Bishop Alminaza.
According to Bishop Alminaza, the CBCP and IEC gatherings had much to offer on his talk regarding the “Role of Catholic Schools in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.” He explained the gaze on the logo of the Year of Mercy – Jesus and the man sharing one eye. This means that God communicates himself in such a way that man is able to see as He sees.
He emphasized, too, that it is not on the “newness of the contents” but the freshness of our approaches.” Their concern must therefore be more on the HOW than the WHAT.
The inputs of the IEC shared by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo and Cardinal Antonio Taglewere correlated on the school’s role by giving importance on the following:
- Family. In general, many Filipinos continue to show how they value the family and it is through the family that the value of the sacraments is increased.
- Youth. If we neglect the youth, it is a death sentence; if we take care of our youth, we are the richest and become truly blessed.
- Poor. We encounter the poor through charity. How then is Catholic education addressing the issue on poverty?
- Dangers. Pope Francis has expressed his concern for these three (3) dangers that we are facing:
- Environmental Injustice
- Economic Injustice
- Destruction of Families
- Catholic schools are challenged on how they can eradicate or minimize these dangers. Bishop Alminaza verbalized the need to educate people so that they are able to see the bigger picture; they should think more of others. The question is “How can one be happy while others are sad?”
- Cultural Intelligence through cultural empathy. Schools must produce graduates who are dialoguing or encountering various cultures.
- Sense of transcendence is disappearing. There is a need to examine the curriculum so that transcendental values are incorporated in it.
- Risk-taking is allowing people to commit mistakes; people are expected to take calculated risks.
- We should deepen the 7 corporal works of mercy and the 7 spiritual works of mercy.
How are the faculty, staff and students being challenged to put into practice within the school and outside as well these works of mercy?
He concluded his talk by presenting the HEART SOLIDARITY STATEMENT spearheaded by the Commission on Social and Ecological Concerns-Recoletos last November 6-7, 2015 and how the Recollects can respond to the challenge of becoming one of the leading Catholic institutions in the country responding to this challenge.
Philippine Education Reform Agenda
The resource person, Mr. Karol Mark Yee, Deputy Program Manager of the CHED K to 12 Transition Program, Project Management Unit, gave a comprehensive report on what CHED has been doing so far.
These inputs were noted:
1. Two transitions to be considered:
– Faculty and staff affected
– What we teach and how we teach college programs
2. For displaced personnel, DepEd, DOLE, and CHED have these programs:
– Displaced HEI personnel will be given priority for hiring in SHS
– DOLE will give income support for permanent staff by giving them pay equivalent for 6 months while probationary staff are given 3 months
– CHED will provide scholarship grants for graduate studies; instruction, research and sectoral engagement grants; and innovation grants for institutions.
3. CHED has released CMO 3 (Guidelines on Graduate Education Scholarships for Faculty and Staff Development) and CMO 4 (Guidelines for Graduate Education Delivery for Faculty and Staff Development).
Open forum followed and the body raised several questions for clarification.
After the Holy Rosary at 2:00 p.m., the participants once again gathered at the session hall for another discussion of equally important concerns.
Prior Provincial’s Message
The Prior Provincial, Rev. Fr. Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR, expressed his gratitude to the Recoletos community for the contribution to the success of the recently concluded International Eucharistic Congress. He also expressed his gratitude to the forefathers for the consecrated life. Moreover, Fr. Selma reminded the brothers to see if “we still have the same passion of our forefathers”. Several other reminders include, going back to the basics of community life, to be faithful to God, to be faithful to the mission and to the charism of St. Augustine. He also posed several questions for reflection.
Corazon Solidario in Recollect Schools
Bro. Jaazeal Jakosalem, OAR gave a talk on “Corazon Solidario” in Recollect Schools which according to him is an institutional challenge from the Generalate. The talk stimulated the curiosity of the assembly especially on the aspect of research – whether or not research is still part the social action. Still another interesting point raised was on the READS aspect – whether or not a certain percentage be allocated for READS based on the total population of the school – which according to Rev. Fr. Emilio Jaruda, OAR the number of READS should be based on needs and whether or not to allow another member in the family to enjoy the same privilege granted to after graduation. In conclusion, Fr. Celiz asked about the relationship of Corazon Solidaria to the school.
Educational Apostolate in Sierra Leone, Africa
After the health break at 4:00 p.m., Rev. Fr. Edgar P. Tubio, OAR gave a status report on the Province’s Educational Apostolate in Sierra Leone. He shared some of his insights/discoveries such as the formation of REAP it being in the Philippines (does this mean that there would also be a similar apostolate in the Taiwan or in Africa for example?).
Educational Plan of the Order or Proyecto Educativo Institucional
The Educational Plan of the Order of the Proyecto Educativo Institucional was extensively presented by Rev. Fr. William C. Villaflor, OAR. He said that the presentation was the output of the committee during its meeting in Salamanca, Spain in 2014. He noted on the Religious connection to teaching, which is very evident in other parts of the world where the religious are not the offices but rather into teaching.
REAP President’s Report
Rev. Fr. Julius M. Marcos, OAR, REAP president, gave a summary of the activities held during the first year of the triennium.
He gave emphasis on the two (2) gifts received by the Province:
1. EPO (Educational Plan of the Order because this is one of the aspirations of those working in the educational apostolate since this serves as guide/direction. The EPO was officially released in February 2015 in three languages – Spanish, English, and Portuguese.
2. IYEA (International Year of the Educational Apostolate) was launched on August 28, 2015 and will end on August 28, 2016.
He further gave the launching dates of the IYEA in the different Recollect schools as well as the launching of the RGA (Recollect Graduate Attributes).
REAP Financial Report
The Provincial Procurator, Rev. Fr. Henry H. Santiago, OAR, distributed copies of his financial report to the members of the assembly. Data especially on trust fund and retirement fund were noted.
A community prayer of the Angelus concluded the first day session just before dinner at 7:30 p.m.