[General Membership Meeting. SMX Convention Center, Pasay. October 1, 2018]
The President’s Report on the many activities of CEAP over the past year are contained in the printed publication, “Annual Report 2018: Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.” It mentions advocacy work we have done in support of Catholic and Private Education with the COCOPEA, with the PASUC, with legislators and government officials. It mentions the strides we have taken in the implementation of the PCSS for Basic Education as well as the admirable work ongoing in crafting a PCSS-for Higher Education. It mentions the work on our various commissions, our efforts towards the reconstruction of war-torn Marawi, as well as the much-lauded CEAP-sponsored Madaris Volunteer Program – which is now not only in Maguindanao but also in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi. It mentions many efforts at strengthening our education service in our schools and recognizing heroism in this service, especially in our smaller school. It mention the new-crafted JEEPGY Manual 2018. Much has been done. But since we gather this year on the theme: Sanctificatio: from Brokenness to Blessedness and you are part of CEAP, I ask you to participate now in completing this report through what might be a communal yet personal examen. Last year, when we convened on the theme on the theme of our schools as a Communio of Communities, we recognized the many graces of that conventions and posed the following questions. Recalling them now may help us appreciate more how CEAP succeeded or failed in the past year:
As a grace of the 2017 National Convention, we asked, yes or no, do we commit ourselves anew to building and sustaining the Catholic Communio in our schools, our regions, our national CEAP, our national community, but now especially in Mindanao?
As a grace of the 2017 National Convention, we asked, yes or no, do we commit ourselves to be guided by the Philippine Catholic School Standards in Basic Education and help in the formulation of the PCSS for Higher Education?
As a grace of the 2017 National Convention, we asked, yes or no, do we commit ourselves in all our vulnerability to a culture of peace in all our schools, to religious freedom, and to a deepening of our faith in dialogue with other faiths?
As a grace of the 2017 National Convention, we asked, yes or no, do we commit ourselves to work against war, to work against violent extremism, to work against discrimination and exclusion, and all forms of social injustice?
As a grace of the 2017 National Convention, we asked, yes or no, do we commit ourselves to contribute to the rebuilding of Marawi, but more urgently, to rebuilding the broken relations we have with Muslim Mindanao? Do we commit ourselves in all our vulnerability – also in using the Mindanao Sulu Multi-Strand Timeline – to healing our memories of conflict, hatred, killing, and death and to asking for forgiveness?
As a grace of the 2017 National Convention, we asked, yes or no, do we commit ourselves to volunteering for or supporting volunteers for service in the name of peace, education, compassion and reconciliation?
As a grace of the 2017 National Convention, may I ask you, yes or no, do we commit ourselves before our God of Life to a culture of life, to the protection of life from all violations of life be this from international terrorism, international drug cartels, the misuse of police power by the State, our even through the misuse of power in our fraternities through hazing?
As a grace of the 2017 National Convention, we asked, yes or no, do we commit ourselves anew to support our Communio, but to support especially our 900 small and struggling schools through effective advocacy with our legislators and government officials, effective networking with our educational partners, but also through support of our new Kapatirang Kamagong.
Considering how we have acted personally or in our own schools and regions on these commitments, completes the report for the past year, and leads us to the theme of our National Convention this year: Sanctificatio: From brokenness to blessedness.
We come together to consider Pope Francis’ invitation to holiness The invitation is issued to us as leaders of our schools as we experience the brokenness of our global society, torn apart by inequality, exclusion, war and the dramatic restructuring of global alliances; the brokenness of our national society torn apart by deep political divisions and attacks on truth, human rights, democratic institutions, and, in the face of persistent poverty and corruption, strongman leadership; the brokenness of our Philippine educational system where the existence of private education is now compromised by policies and practices favoring public education; the brokenness of many of our families due to broken vows and broken promises; the brokenness of our spirit because of the palpability of evil in our experience, the evil of State violence, the violence in our streets, the violence against the poor due to inflation induced by taxation, and violence done against children.
With so much darkness, Pope Francis’ message is almost jarring: Gaudete et exsultate!: rejoice and exult! His message is not to trivialize the evil in the brokenness, but to recall to us our ultimate dependence not on our own power but on the power of God in moving from brokenness to wholeness. His message for us as educators is to get in touch anew with our God-given mission, and to find hope in uniting our efforts at sustaining our schools and improving our service with the power of God, the source of our mission.
Working in the power of God does not mean doing nothing against the brokenness, but in the power of God precisely being willing to fight for our schools. We must fight for our schools because of the humanistic education they deliver that is the right of all human beings; we must fight for our schools because of the Christian education they deliver that is the right of all Catholics. We must fight the tendency of politicians to develop public education by crowding out, smothering, and strangling private education. We must fight for the fair and complete implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (RA 10934). We must fight the pernicious lie – or the reckless hope – that the country can afford free quality education for all. In CEAP, we must close ranks to develop a politically-relevant democratic constituency that can influence politicians to support our schools in the service of the common good. Finally, recalling our history of Catholic education in the Philippines, we must move away from thinking that the State will solve all of our problems, and even pay for our salaries and bills. Relying on God and on one-another we must return to our original spirit of God-inspired, prayer driven and apostolically-motivated entrepreneurship and self-reliance. Relying on ourselves we can and will respond to the challenges in our world of artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, robotics and 3D printing. But we can and must also respond to the challenges in our world of disbelief, unbridled consumption, pernicious global production machines, violent extremism and strongman politics.
Thank you all for being here. Thank you for being CEAP! Thank you for daring to journey with us in God’s Spirit from brokenness to blessedness!