Homily for the Mass for the 90th Foundation Anniversary

Date Posted: February 21, 2022 at 11:14 AM


When in 1932, George Lucas Adamson together with his cousins Alexander and George Athos Adamson, established the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry, the Greek chemists wanted to contribute to the industrialization of the country which was just starting at the time. The mantra "great practical knowledge in the shortest time" was inscribed in the curriculum of the school which became the pioneer in the Filipino industrial education. Courses in mining, metallurgical, civil, industrial, and chemical engineering began in 1936. That year, 1936, Adamson also set up the only ROTC Chemical Warfare Service Unit in the country.  The College of Business Administration was established in 1939. And in 1941 when Adamson became a university, the Colleges of Architecture and Law were set up. That practically completed the combined academic and technical education that Adamson University offered. And then the Second World War came that interrupted the operations of the university. After the war,  George Lucas Adamson offered his services to the government. He served as one of the Board of Directors of various government and private organizations focusing in education, science and technology, mining, pharmacology, and agriculture. He also organized the Philippine Chamber of Technology, a group of architects, engineers, chemists, and other technologists promoting technological advancement in the country.

I refer to our beginnings to stress the fact that the educational mission of Adamson University is tied up to the development of the country. That mission was in a great measure fulfilled because of the founders' grit. Grit is described as firmness of mind and spirit when a person makes an undertaking. Grit exhibits itself as an unyielding courage in the face of hardships and doubts. Grit implies the readiness to find alternative ways when hurdles present themselves.

It is good for everyone to know that the Vincentian priests and brothers who are with you here in Adamson believe in Providence. In 1964, the Adamson family invited the Vincentians to take over the ownership and administration of the University. Since the Vincentians arrived in 1862 the only work that they did was the training of the local Filipino clergy for the priesthood. Practically all the major seminaries in the country were entrusted to the Vincentians. In 1962, when we celebrated the first 100 years, the Vincentians had trained over 80 % of all the Filipino diocesan priests and  bishops. In 1964, however, only three  major seminaries were left in our hands : the major seminaries of Jaro, Naga and Cebu. Ten years later we left the seminaries of Jaro and Naga. It was Rufino Cardinal Santos of Manila who pointed out the changing landscape : the Vincentians were being invited to move from the training of priests to the education of the youth. The fact that the bulk of the students of Adamson do not come from the rich brackets of society has allowed us to remain true to our original mission of forming the socially disadvantaged, no longer for pure evangelization but to offer the poor a way to move  economically and socially out of poverty, i.e., through education.

The first reading, from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, tells us what the Holy Spirit does: he comes to our aid. For example, when we do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

The Holy Spirit acts at other times as well. When the Vincentians started leaving the training of priests in seminaries, the question popped out: what next do we do?  The move from the training of the native clergy for the priesthood to engagement in the education of the youth for the development of the country is a very concrete example of the Holy Spirit pointing the direction for our future in the face of question or doubt. This is the finger of the Holy Spirit, pointing the direction to the future, not only for the Vincentian priests and brothers but to our partner administrators, teachers and staff as well.

The Holy Spirit gives us this confirming grace. We hope that we are committed to this educational mission with the same grit as the Adamsons'. Faithfulness to the mission will not erase obstacles. The hurdles to be overcome, however, will evoke from us the attitude of faith and courage, by which we affirm: if God is for us, who can be against us? The example of grit and determination of the Adamsons tell us that everything works good for those who are faithful to the mission.

The gospel we just heard from St Matthew presents Jesus sending the apostles out on mission. After assuring them that the Father has given him all the powers, he now passes them on to the apostles, motioning them to go to all parts of the world and preach the gospel.

The first time that Jesus told the disciples that he would make them fishers of men, they expressed happiness and surprise, but filled with fear and they hugged close to the shore. Jesus told them to put out rather to the deep, yes, far from the shore but where there is plenty of fish waiting to be caught.  A trait of grit, we have seen, is the unyielding courage in the face of hardships and doubts. Jesus told the apostles to go forth with the same courage because he will be with them always, until the end of the age.

Four years ago, Pope Francis issued an apostolic exhortation, that is a letter of encouragement to all Christians in the world. The intent of the letter is to say that doing good and being holy is a vocation of everyone, not only of priests, and of the religious Brothers and nuns. The world we live in needs not only mercy and compassion, but the joy and encouragement given by persons who give their lives in service. The title of the exhortation is Gaudete et exultate = Rejoice and be glad. Pope Francis asked all Christians not be afraid, not to be held back by fear and timidity, but to do good, be holy and leave a mark in the world. He asks all Christians to go forth and serve with the same courage that the Holy Spirit stirred up in the apostles.

What the Holy Spirit stirred up in the apostles Pope Francis described as "parrhesia," = meaning boldness. When the apostles felt crippled by fear and danger, they prayed for parrhesia, for boldness. And this they were given, and they marched into the world and spoke the good news with boldness.

In the exercise of our educational mission, we, pretty much like the apostles, may be  tempted to flee to a safe haven. Fleeing to a safe haven has many names, according to Pope Francis: individualism, living in our own little safe world, rejection of new ideas and approaches, nostalgia of how things in the past seemed better, hiding behind rules and regulations.

The times we live in call for boldness. The pandemic has shown us that we can no longer rely on the familiar and easy way of doing things. We had to find alternative ways of assuring the continuity of our mission to offer quality education. We have to take serious look at the situation of our students not once, not twice but repeatedly to assure that they comply with learning objectives but not at the price of physical and mental health.

Pope Francis calls on us to embark on our mission with boldness because it is God who impels us to set out anew, to constantly discover new ways of teaching and learning. It is God who dares us to go to the fringes, there where the brothers and sisters, our students and teachers struggle to make a sense of what they are doing.

God calls us not to give in to complacency nor, as Pope Francis says, "make our Christian life a museum of memories." God calls us rather to take a step forward and pull our resources together, so that administrators and staff, teachers and students experience the care of the God who journeys with us in fulfilling our educational mission.

Let us ask the Lord to confirm us in this grace.

 

- Fr. Marcelo V. Manimtim, CM