October 1, 2019
Dear Father Tabora, President of CEAP, members of the CEAP Board of Trustees, Schoolheads and faculty of CEAP member schools, friends and guests:
It is indeed a great honor and pleasure for me to receive this Pro Deo et Patria award which is the highest award given by CEAP. The names of previous awardees of this CEAP award ring in my ears and I realize what great company I am now associated with. As I acknowledge the high honor given to me, I’m filled with awareness of how unmerited this award is, for all through the years that I have dedicated my energies to supporting and promoting Catholic education I was doing my job as an essential part of my calling as a religious. That means that I did not spare myself in using the talents that God had given me and took the opportunities that He opened along the way for applying his gifts to the service of the community, Church and the country. Frankly I was sometimes surprised at the openings for service that came my way which could have come only as a gift of God.
I identify myself with the many women and men religious who answered the call to give their lives to the service of the Lord in the education of his children. Still today their response of generous self-giving without counting the cost marks the big difference in the Catholic education offered in our schools. And still today, many of our Catholic schools continue to struggle to give to their students the education that is not only high in quality but strong in the values of Christ in the service of the Church and our country. It is a struggle because Catholic schools in these times have to cope with limitations that make their continuing existence nothing short of heroic. This is specially true with the small schools in the provinces. I have at times wondered why and how these small schools manage to exist and I come up with the thought that there are parents who still value Catholic education even if they have to pay for it.
However, more parents than in the past are now sending their children to public schools perhaps because the cost of private education has gone up while the public schools have improved in their delivery of basic education. Teachers who are fresh graduates often get their first experience of teaching in private schools but when they have their license they transfer to public schools where the pay is generally higher and there are more benefits. This situation presents difficulties for private schools which cannot match the salary given by public schools. Every year the private schools train fresh graduates and every year, they lose them and this becomes a cycle which the schools find it hard to break. The frequent change of teachers affects the schools’ implementation of their mission. The situation, however, has a bright side: the young teachers bring to the public schools the training gained in the private schools including the exposure to the values and attitudes of Christ that they gained in the Catholic schools. Somehow some values and attitudes enter the public schools through the teachers who transfer from the private Catholic schools. Call it incidental but we can look at this transfer as a form of evangelization in public schools.
CEAP as the association of Catholic schools in the country provides institutional support to the mission of providing Catholic education. CEAP thus continues to respond to the desire of parents for good Catholic education by consistently pursuing its mission in the Catholic Church of evangelizing the youth.
As the national association of Catholic schools CEAP supports its member schools both the big high standard well established elite schools and the struggling mission schools in upholding their identity as Catholic schools. This has been CEAP’s identifying mark. With the adoption of the Philippine Catholic School Standards or PCSS, the small schools have gained a stronger backbone to continue their work of evangelization. The National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools (NSBECS) describes how the most mission-driven, program effective, well managed, and responsibly governed Catholic schools operate. The schools are provided with a clear model of standards of effectiveness. Credit for these initiatives goes to CEAP which thus continues to pursue the purpose of serving the Church by providing Catholic Education.
To quote Father Tabora, President of CEAP “ We are schools. But we are Catholic schools. We should not forget the Catholic education component of our second mission, which is at the heart of their being transformative. . . . “
This echoes the words of Pope Benedict XVI, ““The aim of all Christian education . . . is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a "new creation", capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him.” Pope Benedict-XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis: On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church's Life and Mission.
The Philippine Catholic Schools Standards Coordinating Council (PCSS) conducted trainings to ensure that our member schools have a good grasp of the standards as the PCSS was formally implemented this year in basic education (2017) These trainings prepared the teachers for that implementation.
We know that the training of teachers for any program is crucial to the successful implementation of that program. Not only should the school administrators value and support the program but the teachers who will actually implement the program in the classroom on a daily basis need to appreciate and accept the program and be trained to implement it. Thus CEAP has to be congratulated for taking all the necessary moves to support the program for its successful implementation. And the part of the schools is to make sure that their teachers do their job by their administration’s own system of implementation.
FR. Tabora, current CEAP President has said, “ the heart of Catholic Education as envisioned by CEAP is genuine self transformation of the people who manage our schools and the young people they serve, leading to the transformation of the local community and the national community. The final goal of CEAP is nothing less than that the young people in our schools experience transformation in Christ.”
Pope Benedict said it this way, “ a good Catholic school . . . should help all its students to become saints.”
Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to pupils, w2.vatican.va. September 17, 2010.
Transformation in Christ is the goal of Christian life and CEAP has consistently worked to keep that goal clearly in focus in its programs and services. This has been the main contribution of CEAP to the changes required for the ongoing Christian transformation of our society. As I thank the Lord for sustaining CEAP through the years I also bless him for the grace of having been part of that endeavor. God bless us all.