[Address: 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Davao Association of Catholic Schools [DACS])
It is with a sense of deep humility that I stand before you today as the President-designate of Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS). I would much rather that we continue to have been blessed with the warm, dynamic and generous leadership of Fr. Danny Montana , RCJ, who for me in discharging my duties as Chair of the National Advocacy Committee of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and in assuming my own responsibilities here as President of the Ateneo de Davao has been a mentor, confidant and friend. With his being made available for mission within the Congregation of the Rogationists of the Sacred Heart beyond the Rogationist Academy-Davao, I take his place in DACs beginning December 1, 2012 in discharge of my duty as the association’s vice president. I do so with a sense of deep humility, feeling unprepared to lead the region – the respected region XI of CEAP – that is arguably its most active, most organized and most matured. I do so, however, encouraged by Fr. Danny himself, by Mr. Jimmy-loe de la Vega, its Executive Director, by other members of the DACS Board, by our Archbishop Romulo Valles, DD, and by trusted friends in the CEAP organization. I do so also invoking the memory and guidance of the great Mo. Assumpta David, RVM, who contributed so much to the DACS that we know today.
We commence today the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of DACS in the Church’s Year of Faith. Fifty years ago, 12 schools constituted themselves for the first time into the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS): the Assumption College, the Ateneo de Davao Colleges, Holy Cross Academy (Digos), Holy Cross of Babak, Holy Cross of Calinan, Holy Cross of Malalag, Immaculate Conception College, Our Lady of Fatima Academiy, St. Michael’s School of Dadada, St. Peter’s High School, and Stella Maris Academy. Its first President was Fr. Francis Bowler, S.J., and its first Vice President, Sr. Maria Isabel Purificacion, RVM, of Immaculate Conception College.
Today DACS has grown from its original 12 schools to its fifty-eight members today, grouped into the diocesan clusters of Digos, Davao, Tagum, and Mati. It works to promote collaboration, community and transformation – collaboration, rather than institutional isolation; community in our Catholic communion, rather than mere pragmatic association, and transformation of human society, culture and ourselves, as demanded by our shared obedience to the transforming Reign of God in our lives, rather than abstract preservation of the status quo.
With the rest of the CEAP, therefore, but specially conscious of our being in Mindanao, we commit our educational energies and resources to a renewal of Faith – as a vibrant, intimate relationship with the Father, through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Today, we affirm that that commitment in faith to growth in faith is impossible without a parallel commitment to Justice and Peace, Engaged Citizenship, Environmental Integrity, Poverty Alleviation, and Youth Empowerment (JEEPGY). Today, Justice and Peace demands involvement in judicial reform and in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro; Engaged Citizenship means getting involved in free and honest elections and monitoring the performance of those we elect; Environmental Integrity means education for environmental responsibility as climate change sets in and in standing up for the environment both among large- and small scale miners, ; Poverty Alleviation means creating wealth through entrepreneurship and its equitable distribution; Youth Empowerment means the formation of leadership among the youth based not on private interest but the common good.
As we celebrate 50 years of graced existence, we commit ourselves anew to this type of faith-impelled, transformative Catholic education, acutely conscious of the challenges that are brought on our Catholic schools through the current K-12 reform, complicated by CHED’’s insistence today on Outcomes and Typology Based Quality Assurance. We are ready to engage government in the interests of Catholic Education.
In all this, conscious of our educational mandate proceeding ex corde ecclesiae, we beg for the guidance and support of our episcopal pastors, His Grace Most Rev. Romulo Valles, Archbishop of Davao, His Excellency Most Rev. Guillermo Afable, Bishop of Digos, His Excellency Most Rev. Wilfredo Manlapaz , Bishop of Tagum, and His Excellency Most Rev. Patricio Alo, Bishop of Mati. We beg for the understanding and support of all the People of God as well as of all women and men of good will. In this Year of Faith, with all those who labor in Catholic parishes, in Catholic Basic Christian Communities, in Catholic hospitals, orphanages and homes for the aged, in Catholic mandated organizations, and with Catholics in government, non-government groups and civil society, may Catholic education contribute essentially to a renewal of faith – a faith that does justice, a justice that brings peace, a relationship with God that transforms diverse cultures and invites religions to worship God in truth and in compassion.