March 8, 2021
The Most Reverend Paciano B. Aniceto, Archbishop Emeritus of San Fernando and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Holy Angel University; our Parish Priest Fr. Nolasco Fernandez; our University Chaplain Fr. Marvin Dizon and concelebrants; members of the Nepomuceno Family; students, faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees of Holy Angel University: Good morning.
Today, the eighth of March, we commemorate three important events. First, the Catholic Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint John of God. Second, the Nepomuceno Extended Family celebrate the 129th birth anniversary of Don Juan De Dios Nepomuceno who, along his wife Clara Teresa Teodora Gomez and then Parish Priest and later Arch¬bishop Pedro Paulo Santos, not only founded Holy Angel Academy, but also helped trans¬form Angeles town into a city through their unparalleled contributions to business, church, education, and social life of Angeleños. Third, the Holy Angel University Community cel¬ebrates the 88th anniversary of that time when a 14-year-old boy had the audacity to ask his father to establish a new school in Angeles for him, his friends, and his teachers.
All these events occurring during the quincentennial celebration of the introduction of Christianity in the Philippines and in the Year of Saint Joseph. While I am not able to be with you physically this morning, I am definitely with you in spirit as I deliver this message at the Shrine of Saint Joseph—Guardian of the Redeemer, which is an official pilgrimage site of the Catholic Church in America.
Eighty-eight years ago, our founders envisioned a Catholic high school where elementary graduates of Holy Family Academy could continue with their secondary education in a Catholic setting. Today, Holy Angel University serves over 15,000 students, ranging from kindergarten pupils to doctoral candidates, not only from Angeles City, but also the rest of the province, the Central Luzon region, the country, and increasingly the world. We have achieved national prominence for many of our degree programs that we have been recently ranked #6 among the top 15 universities in the Philippines and the top-ranked among the regional universities. More importantly, Holy Angel has been a place of hope for our community, the engine of the local economy, and a source of inspiration to every¬one who lives in Metro Angeles. Education is an equalizer and an opportunity or way out of poverty. Holy Angel is a beacon of light providing hope to a better life to all those who passed through its doors. Truly, an authentic instrument for countryside development—in service of the Filipino people and for the greater glory of God.
The year 2020 has reminded me and others of that immortal quote from the beginning of Charles Dickens’s historical novel A Tale of Two Cities “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” You will recall that we began last year in true celebratory fashion with the highlight of Founders’ Day being the groundbreaking of our extension campus in Ayala Alviera. Little did we know that the ninth of March last year would be the last time, at least for now, that we would be seeing our colleagues and our campus in person.
Despite the painful adjustments we had to make and the anticipatory grief about the po¬tential loss of life of our loved ones that many of us had to undergo, we are truly grateful that we are altogether celebrating the university’s milestone and truly grateful for the blessings the Lord has granted us. We fought against the interruption of the education of our students. We dove into the unfamiliar territory of online learning and were able to be the first school in Central Luzon to open last August. We continued doing good work and provided aid to the vulnerable within the university community and the health care workers in our neighboring hospitals. Such is the work of inspiration from San Juan de Dios, our saint for today. Whenever we felt the urge to serve, help, or do good, we did it immedi¬ately as Saint John of God would have done without thinking of how practical or how embarrassing it might be.
In the book God and the Pandemic, the author N.T. Wright cautions against speculating on why God allowed the coronavirus pandemic to happen or attempting to explain the reason for the pandemic. Let us look to the example of the early Church. When faced with calamities, the early Church engaged in identifying those in need and sent help to Jerusalem instead of blaming others or telling those at risk to repent of their sins. Like Jesus and the early Christians, we did our share in attending to the victims of the pandemic.
For the last 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has helped those in most need. It was the monasteries that started schools and hospitals. The Church provided care as a Church when others have run away, and this continues today. In the first centuries of the Christian era, the behavior of Christians during epidemics was decisive: they did not flee the cities like the pagans, and did not run away from other people, but motivated by faith, they visited and supported each other, prayed together, and buried the dead.
The witness that we Christians can offer to the world in this difficult moment is to be pre¬sent: it is the strongest witness possible. Therefore, at Holy Angel University, despite the coronavirus, we continued the legacy of our founders – to provide access to quality Catholic education that transforms our students into persons of conscience, competence, and compassion, all for the greater glory of God. We are all about students! It is our continuing obligation to carry this legacy forward in time to future generations of students who will come here to learn.
If our school mission is the soul of our university, the conscience of our university—constantly ensuring our demonstrated commitment to the legacy of our founders—is our governing board, the Board of Trustees of Holy Angel University. Speaking of our Board of Trustees, please allow me to pay tribute to our Chairman of the Board—Archbishop Emeritus Apu Ceto. It was Saint Irenaeus of Lyons who wrote: “The glory of God is man fully alive, and to life of man is the vision of God.” In the life of Apu Ceto and all those whose lives he has touched, we have experienced first-hand the goodness of an all-loving God. Apu Ceto is, indeed, a living saint in our midst. Apu Ceto, on behalf of the Holy Angel University Community, thank you very much for the guidance that you have pro¬vided Holy Angel University and, as you retire from our Board of Trustees, may you be blessed with fair winds and following seas.
Following my message, our University Chaplain, Fr. Marvin Dizon, will brief the University Community on our activities pertaining to FIDES 500 in commemoration of the quincen¬tennial of the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines and SAN USÍP: The Year of Saint Joseph at Holy Angel University.
Finally, many thanks to you all for your continuous support, diligence, and commitment to Angelite education. In commemoration of Founders’ Day, Tuesday, March 9, will be a special non-working campus holiday – no work on campus, no work from home, no syn¬chronous lectures, and no asynchronous class activities. Thank you.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam! For the greater glory of God!
Laus Deo Semper! Praise to God always!