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ORSEM 2014: `Seeking the Fire, Living the Spirit`

ORSEM 2014: `Seeking the Fire, Living the Spirit`

Orientation Seminar for College Freshmen and Transferees

May 22-24, 2014

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

Today, you embark on what promises to be a truly remarkable journey.  Like other journeys that you have undertaken before, it will be full of delights and challenges, many highs and inevitable lows, tender moments and rough patches, and, at the end of the road, a destination.

Unlike other journeys that you have undertaken before, you will reach your destination while here in the Ateneo de Naga no longer the same person that you are today.  You will be shaken.  You will be changed.  You will be transformed.

How, you may ask, shall this happen?

As a student here at the Ateneo de Naga, it will not only be one journey that you shall travel.  Rather, you shall, in fact, be plodding through four journeys at the very least!

Tall order, you might say.  Take heart!  You shall not be doing this alone!  Throughout your stay here, while striving for what you will soon come to know as the `magis,` you shall most certainly be guided and aided by the Spirit.  As the Ateneo way becomes second nature to you, you will find yourselves forging onward almost instinctively towards new frontiers for yourself and the university.  Trust us.  It will be worth every step of the way.

Allow us to spell out what this all means.  Today, you stand here with your eyes set on obtaining a degree and eventually finding your niche in this world.  That is the journey that you intend to make.  In the Ateneo, however, this is not the only journey that awaits you.  While studying to become the professional that you dream to be, the Ateneo invites you to traverse four others as well, namely:

– One: The journey of the body that must be present in all our explorations;

– Second: The journey of the mind towards knowledge, reason, and truth;

– Third: The journey of the heart towards living out this truth for the betterment of humanity, starting with fellow Bicolanos and Filipinos; and

– Fourth: The journey of the spirit that ignites profound awareness in us that all things begin and end with Something and Someone beyond ourselves.

The First Journey

First, you have come to the Ateneo de Naga bringing yourself – all that you are and all that you have been through — packed into your physical body.

You come in many physical forms.  Some are tall, others, of medium height, others, petite.  Some are thin, others, slim, others, on the heavy side.  But this physical form is so much more than just an empty shell.  It houses all your potential, talents, achievements as well as your particular circumstances – the family you came from, the distinct stories of your lives, your unique set of joys, sufferings, problems, and coping mechanisms, too.

It is through your body that others initially know and experience you.  It is also through your body that you initially know and experience the world.  Yet you are certainly much more than just this body that is visible to others.  Later, in your Philosophy classes, you will learn that you are actually what is called an `embodied spirit.`

It is this body that you will bring with you wherever you go in the next four or five years.  Hopefully, you will take good care of it (e.g., through exercising and not indulging in vices) so that you may have enough strength, energy, and resilience to meet the rigors of college life.

This, then, is the first journey that you will undertake: The journey of keeping this body in top form so that it shall withstand the demands of the travel – for demanding, indeed, it shall be!


The Second Journey

Second, Ateneo de Naga offers you a curriculum that aims to develop your whole person.  Its goal is not only to make you competent as an engineer, teacher, businessperson, or computer expert.  More importantly, it seeks to mold you into a professional who shall also be compassionate, Christ-centered, and compelled to use your expertise to make this world a better place.

If you are a Math major, it is not enough that you only know everything there is to know about Math. Or, if an Accounting major, everything there is to know about Accounting.  Or, if an Education major, everything there is to know about Teaching.  In this university, that is certainly important but almost secondary.

While you are learning the `tricks of your (respective) trades,` you will also be having courses such as Philosophy, twelve units of it, Theology, twelve units of it, as well as Literature, Political Science, Economics, Rizal and His Works, Humanities, and a host of other subjects from multiple disciplines.  This is designed to give you varied lenses through which to critically study the unending stream of information, both true and false, which has multiplied exponentially in the internet.

The perfect mix of all these courses in the curriculum shall equip you to be discerning of truth. Truth, after all, is not too common but absolutely important.  It is what sets us free.  Falsehood, on the other hand, leads to destruction.  The way to arrive at this truth requires hard work.  One must be sincere, critical, patient, and objective as well as know how to use reason in the proper way.

Ultimately, this distinct curriculum of Ateneo de Naga hopes to imbibe in you a passion for both truth and excellence so that you will stop at nothing to pursue both in your life.  Not easy, of course.  But in this university, we reject simplistic ways of doing things.  Instead, we believe that diligence, hard work, and courage are non-negotiable in living a worthwhile life.

This, then, shall be the second journey: The journey of allowing your mind to be engaged and turned upside down.  It is the journey of giving up shallow thinking and all falsehood or half-truths in favor of the truth.  It works towards expanding the intellect so as to accommodate life`s many contradictions.  It shall be tough but is totally necessary if you are to truly become a `catalyst of change` in this world.


The Third Journey

Third, Ateneo de Naga is after a change in your heart.  This is a secret that we shall not hide from you: We are doggedly, unabashedly intent on making each of you `catalysts of change` in this world.  We are set on making sure that you will leave our gates four or five years from now with hearts that bleed for the multitudes who are suffering.  With such hearts, you shall be forever moved to do your share in alleviating pain in whatever way you can.

We actually begin to do this by making you central in our teaching.  In this university, we practice what is termed as `cura personalis.`  This means that we attend to the needs and feelings of our students – that`s you! — as best as we can.  We strive to make you feel that you are valued and that you matter because, indeed, you are and do.  We then proceed to expose you to the reality of great need and suffering all around you.  We introduce you to the reality of what you will later know as `social ills` and `social sin` to which this suffering is largely attributed.

The suffering in the world, we are sure, is not unknown to you.  Media is not remiss in already exposing you to this.  There is war in our country and around the globe; there is extreme poverty and dying children in our midst; there are calamities that leave thousands of people dead, grieving, homeless, helpless, and afflicted with inconsolable sorrow.

As a Jesuit and Ignatian university, we believe that we are all sisters and brothers of one Father in Heaven.  Together, we must do our share in our Father`s work of establishing His Kingdom here on this earth – a Kingdom where no person is hungry, abandoned, unloved, or imprisoned because all of us care for one another.  Thus, we introduce to you what St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, invited his daughters and sons centuries ago to ponder on: `What am I doing for Christ? What can I do for Christ? What shall I do for Christ?`

The answers to these will entail a change of heart.  Once you start to ask these questions, you cannot live for yourself any longer.  You will have to look to the suffering of another, to the suffering of others, and to the suffering of the world.  You will consequently be disturbed, restless, and without peace until you do something.

This then shall be the third journey: The journey that shall move the heart to care, to reach out to others, and to be involved in the plight of those in pain.  In between this, it is possible that you will also fall in love once or twice while in this university, have your hearts broken, rebuild your hearts from scratch, and learn more and more about the ways of love in the process.  This, in itself, is a necessary part of this journey.  All the beauty and pain of these experiences will soften your heart and, paradoxically, make you stronger.  Do not be afraid.  You will have companions especially in this precise journey as you move along.

The Fourth Journey

Finally, Ateneo de Naga`s only boast, really, is that it exists not by virtue of mere human endeavor but by the Spirit that has kept it going all these years.  Keenly cognizant of this, it desires to inculcate in you the knowledge of this same Spirit throughout your college life and beyond.

As your bodies, minds, and hearts journey along in your college life, you will reach points when you cannot but acknowledge how limited you actually are.  Often, this comes in the form of a crisis – a struggle with your identity, a loss of something or someone precious to you, a devastating failure or major disappointment, or a problem bigger than your grasp.  During such times, there will be so much more that you wish to do, so much more that you wish to give, and so much more that you wish to be.  To your dismay, you are up against a wall. Your limits have been reached.  You cannot go further no matter how hard you try.

Discouragement initially besets us in times of great crisis, especially in our youth.  This, however, becomes the moment when, like in the story of Zaccheaus the tax collector, Jesus might say to us, `Today salvation has come to this house` (Luke 19:9).

From this moment on, we see God in a truer light.  We recognize our need for Him.  We learn to rely on Him.  We seek to know Him more intimately.  Ultimately, we desire Him, want to live for Him, and endeavor to follow Him alone.

This is the fourth journey: The journey of the Spirit, the journey of grace, the journey towards transcendence.  We understand more and more that all the things we possess – our intelligence, our knowledge, our memory, our giftedness, our abilities and capacities, our bent for achievement – are not ours.  They come from Him.  We consequently understand that all these are not to be used for ourselves alone.  They must be converted into acts of gratitude to Him.

At the Ateneo de Naga, we reflect on our purpose for having been given all these gifts.  We ponder on the ways we are invited to use them for the healing of our world.  We then go where the Spirit leads and do what the Spirit compels us to do.

To support you in this journey of the spirit, Ateneo de Naga has prepared a strong and well-ordered program of formation for you.  This includes spiritual recollections and retreats, immersions, outreach activities, cultural events, exposure trips, liturgical celebrations, and prayer services. These are meant to imbibe in you the inclination and skill to navigate all the collective journeys you are undertaking in an integrated way.

Primum Regnum Dei – First the Kingdom of God

The journeys of the body, mind, and heart shall allow you to experience the temporal highs of human achievement. The journey of the spirit shall give you a taste of eternal gains. It shall make you keenly aware that no achievement, nay, human endeavor is possible without your Creator.  It is He who is Giver of all good things, the One who is your origin and your end.

At this point, you shall have fully become Ateneo de Naga`s vision of an Atenean graduate.  We shall subsequently be excited to send you out into the world in Jesus` name.  We shall be confident that you will now live in alignment with the university motto, which you will constantly hear in the next four years: Primum Regnum Dei – First, the Kingdom of God.  We shall then dispatch you on the shared mission of bringing Christ into the world.

Rejoice, dear Ateneans-in-the-making! You are entering Ateneo de Naga at a most opportune time in the history of this university!

In 2015, Ateneo de Naga University shall be celebrating its 75th year of existence!  Seventy-five years of embodying the `magis` in this part of the world!  Seventy-five years of living in the Spirit!  Seventy-five years of raring to forge onward towards new frontiers!  A truly grand celebration is in order and you shall be part of it!

ORSEM 2014 captures all these journeys in the theme: `Seeking the Fire, Living the Spirit.`

Welcome again, Freshmen and Transferees, to the Ateneo de Naga University!  Thank you for accepting the challenge of undertaking this four-fold journey underlying the journey of earning a degree with us!  Thank you for this leap of faith you are making to seek with us the truths of the world and the splendor of creation!  Thank you for the open heart you bring to this University right now so as to give room for the Spirit to enter, to grow, and to transform!

As you join the Ateneo de Naga University in its continuing quest to seek the fire and live the Spirit, may you discover the path to your life`s deepest meaning, purest joy, and highest purpose.  This is our prayer for you today.

Schedule of Activities

Day 1: May 22, 2014 (Thursday) – Personal Visioning

7:30 – 8:00am Registration, Xavier Hall

8:00 – 8:15 Cheer Practice, Gym

8:15 – 8:30 Song Practice for the Mass, Gym

8:30 – 9:30 Opening Mass, Gym

9:30 – 11:30 Opening Program, Gym

11:30 – 1:00pm Lunch Break

1:00 – 1:30  Registration, Classrooms

1:30 – 4:30 Interaction Laboratory 1 – Personal Visioning, Classrooms

4:30 – 5:30 Group 1 – Library Orientation & Practice for College Presentation

Group 2 – Campus Tour & Block Picture Taking, Various Venues


Day 2: May 23, 2013 (Friday) – College and Departmental Orientations

7:30 – 7:45am 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 Orientation, Various Venues

11:45 – 12:00nn Video Presentations, Various Venues

12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch Break

1:00 – 1:30 Registration, Classrooms

1:30 – 4:00 Departmental Orientation, Various Venues

4:00 – 5:00 Group 2 – Library Orientation & Practice for College Presentation

Group 1 – Campus Tour & Block Picture Taking, Various Venues


Day 3: May 24, 2013 (Saturday) – Personal Growth Setting

7:00 – 7:30am Registration, Classrooms

7:30 – 7:50 Recap of Yesterday`s Activities, Classrooms

7:50 – 12:00nn Formation & Student Support Offices Orientation,Various venues

12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch Break

1:00 – 1:30 Registration, Classrooms

1:15 – 4:00 Interaction Laboratory 2 – Personal Growth Setting, Classrooms

4:00 – 4:15 Transition from Classrooms to the Gym

4:15 – 6:00 Closing Ceremony

ORSEM Cup Awarding, Gym


Special Orientation for Parents and Guardians | May 24, 2013 (Saturday)

1:00 – 1:30 pm Registration (venue to be announced)

1:30 – 5:00 pm Orientation Proper