ORSEM 2015: “In Faith, Forging towards New Frontiers” | Ateneo de Naga University

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ORSEM 2015: “In Faith, Forging towards New Frontiers”

ORSEM 2015

Orientation Seminar for College Freshmen and Transferees: May 20-22, 2015

Parents’ Orientation: May 23, 2015

 

Welcome, dear Freshmen and Transferees, to the Ateneo de Naga University!

 

This year, Ateneo de Naga University, which you are now bona fide students of, is celebrating its 75th year! Your batch is entering the renowned Four Pillars of this premier Jesuit University at a most exciting time!

For seventy-five years, thus far, this university has been

  • training minds in pursuit of truth;
  • building character ignited by Ignatian values;
  • opening doors to larger opportunities for the youth and people in need;
  • treading fearlessly into unexplored territories;
  • forming women & men into competent, compassionate, and Christ-centered engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs, and experts in various fields;
  • partnering with kindred spirits for a more progressive Bikol; and
  • rising, faltering, falling, and rising again

In the Jesuit tradition of excellence!

All these have since gained for the school the distinction of being one of the best in this part of the world!  Locally and abroad, this academic institution has been recognized for many fine achievers and achievements!  Women & men, who started out where you are now in this university, have henceforth made significant contributions to this country and the world-at-large!

You shall be enjoying the harvest of all the labor and hard-earned gains of this school across the years.  Nothing should be more exciting than that for someone like you!  As you begin college life, you couldn’t possibly be in a better place than here.  Nor is there a better possible time to be here than now.

 

The Spirit of an Atenean

To start you off on this exciting journey, we ask ourselves: What spirit has animated all those who have studied and worked here these past seventy-five years?  What binds every person who has stepped foot on this place and considered it their home for a length of time?

Many things come to mind as we celebrate our Diamond Anniversary.  This, in particular, stands out: Everyone who has become part of Ateneo de Naga carries within them the spirit of boldness rooted in faith.

 

Only the bold usually enter this place.

Only the bold stay in this place.

Only the bold, steeped in prayer, complete the journey in this place.

Only the bold, steeped in prayer, go out into the world from this place.

 

Boldness rooted in and guided by faith in a gracious, loving God is a distinct attribute of those who have walked these grounds.  This same boldness is going to be required of you.  Ultimately, it will be your mark when it is time for you to leave.

The invitation to embrace the fullness of life, both the light and the shadows, will be offered to you over and over again while here.  You will be asked, in ever increasing measure, to:

  • think critically, independently, and in an “out-of-the-box” fashion as opposed to the black-and-white, copy-and-paste way;
  • feel deeply not only for your personal circumstances but also for the indignities many women & children experience, the tragic deaths that result from human violence, and the poverty & destruction that stem from selfishness and greed;
  • enter into places of desolation where desperation, stench, and pain are beyond bearing but where people need to hear the Good News of God’s salvation most.

 

This invitation deliberately aims to make you bold.  It shall, in the process, also direct you to turn to God at all times.

You may decline the invitation once or twice.  You may initially select only things light and easy while skirting around things difficult and too heavy for your taste.  You may invent a list of excuses to escape undertakings that you dislike.  Eventually, though, you will find that the only way to obtain a Jesuit education is to say “Yes” to all these.  For despite your resistance or fears, Ateneo de Naga shall compel you to be bold, if you already are or to become bold, if you aren’t yet.

By the time you all leave this university, boldness wrapped in faith shall be part of your daily wardrobe.  It will be the seal of your having studied here.  It will be something that you shall bring with you wherever you go.  +

 

Boldness Defined

What exactly is boldness?

Boldness begins with humbly acknowledging that all things come from God and that God is found in all things. It then proceeds by:

  • being fearless in wrestling with the truth about the interior givens of one’s self and the exterior realities of one’s life;
  • daring to counter the standards of a world dazzled by money, power, and prestige;
  • deliberately choosing gospel values even if this means giving up material comfort, experiencing humiliation, or becoming unpopular if things must come down to these;
  • standing up against what is unjust, inhumane, or degrading even when one is in the minority;
  • moving into the dark places of the world to bring light or effect positive change after having carefully discerned where he or she is being led;
  • leaping into the unknown and trusting fully that wherever God leads, He goes, too, and will Himself complete whatever He asks of us.

 

You shall need to be bold.  At Ateneo de Naga, we do not only prepare you for YOUR future.  More urgently, we also prepare you for THE future.  Our mission is not only to hone you for a productive, fulfilling, and joyful life.  More urgently, our mission is also to hone you to make life productive, fulfilling, and joyful for the people whom you share this world with.

You shall need to be bold.  At Ateneo de Naga, we do not only allow you to explore the vast potentials of technology, the speed with which voluminous information becomes available to you, and the adrenalin rush that fuels your drive as you pursue your goals, ambitions, and quests.  More importantly, we also compel you to explore the world inside yourself so as to come to terms with the light and darkness, the strengths and limitations, the possibilities and parameters, the sufferings and joys that comprise your life.

You shall need to be bold.  At Ateneo de Naga, we are bound to the mission of not only making you excellent in the fields of work that you have chosen.  More earnestly, we are also bent on making you excellent for God’s kingdom especially in the service of the poor.  We are not only forming you to become fine women and men who will shine like stars in this world.  More earnestly, we are molding you to become Christ’s loving presence to the disadvantaged and the marginalized in the world as well.

 

Boldness in the History of Ateneo de Naga

After all, this Jesuit University has evolved to where it is now because of this boldness that we speak of:

 

Seventy-five years ago, in 1940 to be exact, Jesuits from foreign lands answered the call to take over a small private school in Bikol ran then by the Diocese of Nueva Caceres.  They initially taught boys and girls in the intermediate grades (Grades 4 to 6).  Eventually, in school year 1946-1947, the school became an all-male high school.

 

Without doubt, the beginning was hard. But these Jesuits were undeterred. They did all that they could to bring forth this university as we know it now. They discerned a need, prayed about it, and went where they were led to go.  This was boldness in action.

Time of Financial and Academic Crisis 

 

From 1972 to 1988, Ateneo de Naga was beset with huge financial and academic problems.  By the end of school year 1987-1988, talk was rife that the school had to be closed down for good.  It was no longer sustainable; the costs of keeping the school afloat could hardly be borne.

 

Making this decision wrenched the hearts of those working in the school at that time.  On one hand, there was the disturbing question of where the young of Bikol would go if Ateneo de Naga closed down.  On the other hand, the burden of how to inform stakeholders of this decision weighed heavily on those in the know.

 

To effect this decision with as little damage as possible, Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, SJ was sent to Ateneo de Naga in 1989 to serve as its new President.

 

Fr. Bonoan went as directed.  Upon assessing the situation at the Ateneo de Naga and after much prayer, he did the unthinkable: He decidedly worked to keep the school alive.  For this, he spent much of his energy rallying the alumni/ae of the school here and abroad to resurrect the Ateneo de Naga.  He personally went wherever they had settled down to explain to them the imminent threat of closure which the school faced.  In the end, he persuaded them to sink money into efforts that eventually made the school rise again.

 

Thanks to this act of boldness, Ateneo de Naga not only continued to exist; it soared to new heights.

 

A Season of Tragedy

Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J., after he had hurdled all obstacles to allowing Ateneo de Naga a new lease in its existence, went further to have the school obtain the much coveted “University Status.”

His efforts as well as those of the hard-working administrators, faculty, and staff, whom he led, paid off.  On February 20, 1999, Ateneo de Naga was elevated into “University Status.”  Fr. Raul J. Bonoan SJ was formally installed as the First University President.

Tragedy soon befell the university, however.  Barely two months after its inauguration as a university, Ateneo de Naga lost its first President.  The fledgling university was left bereft and orphaned for a few months until a new University President, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, was chosen as successor.

This season of great loss revealed the boldness of the Ateneo de Naga community in many ways.  When Fr. Bonoan died, seasoned lay Jesuit partners ensured that operations continued to run smoothly even without a President to lead them.  They were the minds and hearts, hands and feet that facilitated a steady transition for the new President when he came in.  With sheer guts and robust spirits, they steered the university towards the direction that a Jesuit institution worthy of its name should take.

To an outsider, these women and men were uncommonly bold.  To insiders, they were simply responding with a deeply ingrained fortitude to the call of duty.

Boldness in Ateneans Through the Years    

More stories beg to be told.  During your time here, we hope you will hear them all.  What must be said now, though, is that this same boldness rubs itself off in different ways on all those who pass through the Four Pillars of this school.  To illustrate a few examples:

 

Ateneo de Naga has been training students to become fine teachers for almost two decades now.  Many start out teaching in private schools while preparing to take the Licensure Examinations for Teachers (LET).

 

These teachers’ careers in their starting jobs are often enviable.  Work conditions in these work places are generally good.  They easily earn prestige and honor among administrators, other teachers, and their students because of the excellent work that they do.

 

Remarkably, however, many of them do not stay in these places.  They are drawn to the public schools where poor students go and conditions are often dismal.  The desire to serve those who have less in life, planted in them by their Ateneo education, simply becomes too strong to ignore.

 

Before long, they submit themselves to the ranking system in the public schools.  Eventually, they become long-time teachers there.  They take it all – being assigned to distant places, entering overcrowded classrooms, needing to shell out their own money for instructional materials, bearing with the lapses of the system — while striving to practice all that Ateneo has taught them in outstanding ways.

 

They could have an easier life.  Yet they choose to be where their service is better needed.  They pay a high cost for choosing a difficult life.  But it is primarily for God and country that they were trained. So, for God and country, they stoutheartedly go.

 

That is boldness.

 

Working for Government

 

One graduate of the Ateneo de Naga finished as class valedictorian with a course in Financial Management.  Upon his graduation, companies swarmed to him, eager for him to join their ranks.  They dangled huge salaries, travel perks, and other incentives before him.

 

After much discernment, though, this brilliant, young Atenean decided to join government, which offered considerably less than what these companies did.

 

When he entered government, he was well aware of the problems besetting those who staked their lot in this sector.  But he said, “A good education should serve the vast majority rather than be for self-profit.  What better place to be of service to this country than in government where what you do impacts not just a few but the entire Filipino people.”

 

Big companies continue to entice this Atenean into the prestigious and highly competitive world of corporate life, to no avail.  Close to five years since his college graduation, he continues to work in government.  The pay shall never match the bids of rich corporations.  But the meaning and fulfillment that work in government bring is, to him, priceless.

 

This, too, is boldness.

 

Fools for God

 

Many of the professors that you shall meet in this university are graduates of Ateneo schools.  A good number of them joined the Jesuit Volunteers of the Philippines (JVP) when they graduated.  The JVP is a program where fresh graduates spend one year doing mission work in poor communities.  They leave the security of home and family for one year to serve as community organizers, teachers, computer technicians, or campus ministers in remote places where there are no malls, sometimes, no electricity or water, and only the barest of material comforts.

 

For one year, they live in a strange place away from all things familiar.  During the first few weeks, they get unbearably homesick.  They struggle with loneliness.  No family member is around to take care of them when they get sick.  But they bravely plod on.  Then, one day, they find that they have fallen in love with the people in their places of work.  Strangely, they do not want to return to their own homes anymore.

 

When their year is up, they no longer pursue the things they originally set out to do when they began college.  Fortune and fame totally lose all appeal to them.  They are not interested anymore in the pleasures that this world offers.  The rest of their lives instead become devoted to simplicity, service, and a commitment to follow Jesus.  They become fools for God.

 

This is difficult for many, including their family members, to understand.  Why choose voluntary poverty when you can have relative wealth?  Why choose to settle for the unglamorous life when honor for you is possible?  Why choose to serve others when you could finally own many things for yourself and be reasonably happy?

 

The reasons cannot easily be explained to those who have not obtained a Jesuit education.  But to those who have, the reasons are as clear as day.  These women and men are simply embodying the boldness immersed in faith that Ateneo has instilled in them.

 

 

Boldness in Forging through New Frontiers

 

Such boldness will be yours as well.  This university shall be your training ground for excellence and for this quality of boldness that puts Ateneans in a league of their own.

 

More than ever, this kind of boldness shall be your hardiest tool as you forge through the many new frontiers that appear from all fronts: in the twists and turns of your personal lives, in the radical changes that affect universities, in the unending issues that plaque this country, in the unceasing conflicts that afflict the world, in the singular work that goes into building the kingdom of God.

 

Some of these frontiers are:

  • The K-to-12 Educational Reform that is changing the face of education in this country;
  • The lack of substance, depth, and interiority of the present age attributed to rapid advances in technology in the 21st century;
  • The threats posed by climate change and environmental degradation as revealed to us by calamities that, in recent past, have been able to wipe out whole communities;
  • The challenge posed by Pope Francis to be uncompromising in living out gospel teachings on marriage, family, social inequality, and a preferential option for the poor, doing so with uncompromising tenderness, mercy, and compassion for all people.

 

Boldness in YOU

 

By being part of the Ateneo de Naga University, you will no longer be mere spectators in all these.  Rather, you will become actively involved and deeply engaged participants in the conquest of these frontiers.

 

Do open your hearts widely now to this training for boldness this early in your journey.  Be prepared to roll up your sleeves for the tough work ahead that shall build muscles of boldness in your hearts, minds, and spirits.

 

Through it all, do keep faith in your ability to overcome all the challenges that lie before you even when this faith itself might be challenged and, possibly, even upturned.  No matter what, do not give up.  Never, never give up.  It is for boldness such as this that you have been led to this place.

 

By the time your journey with us comes to a close, you will have befriended your fears.  You will have learned that prayer is indispensable.  You will have become bold.

Welcome again, dear Freshmen and Transferees, to the Ateneo de Naga University!  Walk with us all the way.  Be assured that all of us who are already here shall also walk with you all the way.  Above all, God Himself shall walk with us all every moment of everyday.

 

With God, by His love and grace, and for Him then: Let us begin.

 

 

Schedule of Activities

 

Time Activities Venue
Day 1: May 20, 2015 (Wednesday) – Personal Visioning
7:30 – 8:00 am Registration Xavier Hall
8:00 – 8:15 Cheer Practice Gymnasium
8:15 – 8:30 Song Practice for the Mass Gymnasium
8:30 – 9:30 Opening Mass Gymnasium
9:30 – 11:30 Opening Program Gymnasium
11:30 – 1:00 pm Lunch Break
1:00 – 1:30 Registration Classrooms
1:30 – 4:30 Interaction Laboratory 1 – Personal Visioning Classrooms
4:30 – 5:30 pm GROUP 1 (1st 25 blocks)

Short Orientation on the following Student Support Services:

–     Medical/Dental Health Program

–     Library Orientation

–     My ADNU Online Registration/MIS Online Enrolment

 

 

Gymnasium

4:30 – 5:30 pm GROUP 2 ( Last 25 blocks)

–     Campus Tour  and Block Picture Taking

Various Stops

Four Pillars

Day 2: May 21, 2015 (Thursday) – College and Departmental Orientations
7:30 – 7:45 am Registration Classrooms
7:45 – 8:00 Recap of Yesterday’s Activities Classrooms
8:00 – 9:30 Year – Level Testing Classrooms
9:30 – 9:45 Break
9:45 – 11:45 College Orientations (2hours) Various Venues
11:45 – 12:00 nn Video presentations: Treasurer’s Office (on-line assessment) Various Venues
12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch Break
1:00 – 1:30 Registration
1:30 – 3:30 Departmental Orientations (2 hrs) Various Venues
3:30 – 4:30 Cheer Practice
4:30 – 5:30 GROUP 1 (1st 25 blocks)

–  Campus Tour and Block Picture Taking

Various Stops

Four Pillars

4:30 – 5:30 pm GROUP 2 (Last 25 blocks)

Short Orientation on the following Student Support Services:

–  Medical and Health Program (30 mins)

–  Library Orientation

–  My ADNU Online registration/ MIS Online Enrollment

 

Gymnasium

Day 3: May 22, 2015 (Friday) – Personal Goal Setting
7:00 – 7:30 am Registration Classrooms
7:30 – 7:50 am Recap of Yesterday’s Activities Classrooms
7:50 – 12:00 nn Formation Offices’ Orientations Various venues
12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch Break
1:00 – 1:30 pm Registration Classrooms
1:30 – 4:00 pm Interaction Laboratory 2 – Personal Goal Setting Classrooms
4:00 – 6:00 pm Closing Ceremony Gymnasium
Day 4: May 23, 2015 (Saturday)                 Parents’ Orientation
7:30 – 8:00 am Registration Gymnasium
8:00 – 8:05 am Opening Prayer
8:05 – 8:15 am Welcome Remarks – University President Gymnasium
8:15 – 8:25 am Message from the Academic Vice President Gymnasium
8:25 – 9:00 am On Ignatian Formation Program – DAVP for Formation Gymnasium
9:00 – 9:20 am On Payment – University Treasurer Gymnasium
9:20 – 9:35 am Important Announcements from the PTA – President of PTA Gymnasium
9:35 – 9:55 am Open Forum / Reminders Gymnasium
9:55 – 10:00 am Transition Gymnasium
10:00 -12:00 nn Meeting with the Deans and Chairpersons Various Venues

 

 

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