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Your Eminence, Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education

 

The President of the Ateneo de Manila University, the Very Reverend Jose Ramon Villarin of the Society of Jesus

 

Distinguished members of the faculty and personnel

My brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus, especially our students,

 

Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

 

I greet all you with a warm embrace in the name of my brother bishops of the Conference, in particular, the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education.

 

Your visit in our country and the church is most auspicious. We see this as once again a ray of light emanating from the See of Peter. The visit of Pope Francis last year continues to inspire us even up to this day.

 

The year 2016 is a blessed year. It is not only the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy but a year dedicated by the Church in the Philippines as the Year of the Eucharist and the Family.

 

The Pastoral Letter issued by the Catholic Bishops to celebrate the year created a beautiful tapestry under the theme: “ON BENDED KNEES”. That as a nation and church, we need to renew our faith “on bended knees”. That “on bended knees”, we are able to ask forgiveness for our faults and offenses. That “on bended knees” we are able to adore Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. That “on bended knees” we are able to serve one another, especially the poor through our engagement in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

 

It is also a special year for Catholic Education in our country. The association of Catholic Schools known as the CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (CEAP) is celebrating its 75th year of foundation. Borne out of the heart of a bishop, the Most Reverend Michael Doherty of Manila, the CEAP has created communion and impelled schools to collective mission in our country.

 

We are on holy ground. Because we are in a school, in a university where the encounter with Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life happens everyday. It is in this place like so many other schools, colleges and universities in the country where engagement to learning and dialogue of life and faith transpires. There are more than 1200 Catholic schools, colleges and universities in our country today. They are owned and administered by dioceses and religious institutes and congregations.

 

And with pride and joy, I say with my brother bishops:

 

♣ The Catholic schools had been a sure and reliable agent of evangelization. It is in schools that systematic and programmed instruction in the faith happens.

♣ The Catholic schools had provided quality education while relying on their own resources. When government and public schools were yet wanting, catholic schools were the centers of learning in the islands.

♣ The Catholic schools had been custodians and promoters of music, arts and culture. They had been depositories of our rich tradition.

♣ The Catholic schools had been the extended arms of the church as they opened their doors to the marginalized: the handicapped, the poor, the orphans and the out-of –school youth.

♣ The Catholic schools had been a ready support to the advocacies of the church.

♣ The Catholic school had been a ready resource in times of calamities and tragedies.

 

We reaffirm the validity and the necessity of our Catholic Schools; for what will the Philippines be without Catholic Schools?

 

Moreover, let it be said that the heart of Catholic Education is Catechesis ---- the transmission of the Christian faith to the young people of our country. After all, in the spirit of the New Evangelization, the encounter with Jesus is the starting point for an effective and worthwhile Christian education in our schools. While excellence is a priority for a school, the pursuit for excellence is transformed by a commitment to make saints out of our students.

 

We have produced the “best” graduates in our schools. I hope we can form future saints ---- “beatifiable” and “canonizable” ---- men and women for others, achievers for God and country!

 

The Pastoral Letter of the bishops conference in 2012 commemorating the 400 years of Catholic Education in the country illustrates these challenges and gains of Catholic Education.

 

Your Eminence ---- my deep and humble gratitude for your visit.

Please give the Holy Father our warm greeting of love and fidelity.

Thank you and good afternoon!

 

 

MOST REVEREND, ROBERTO MALLARI, DD

Bishop of San Jose de Nueva Ecija

Chairman, ECCCE

10 March 2016

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