QUEZON CITY – The Recoletos School of Theology officially opened the school year 2020-2021 amidst COVID-19 through a votive mass in honor of the Holy Spirit (Solemnity of Our Lady of Consolation, September 4, 2020).
Rev. Fr. Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR, the Prior-Provincial of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, presided this solemn celebration emphasizing the role of the Holy Spirit in every pursuit of studies. The said celebration was made ‘live’ online for RST students not residing in RFC.
It has been months already since the COVID 19 first broke in the Philippines. Countless and various institutions have been halted. Many lives have been lost. Even the economy of the entire nation is constantly taking an overwhelming turn because of the strict protocols. The school, however, continues its quest for truth despite the pressing issues on the pandemic but at the same time, bearing in mind the government’s policies with regard to the outbreak such as having class ‘online.’
The annual mass of the Holy Spirit is a tradition of every Catholic or religious institution to formally start a new school year. During Fr. Selma’s homily, he repeatedly emphasized the value of the celebration with the words, “we do not succeed in whatever activities we do or undertake in this world without God’s help. That is why it is a good, pious and laudable tradition—catholic tradition—to always start the new school year invoking the Holy Spirit because it reminds us, first of all, that everything is grace.” He also quoted Emeritus Benedict XVI, saying, “That the Holy Spirit is like a compass, namely, in our life… without the compass we cannot find the right direction where we are going… so therefore we need the Holy Spirit, the light to guide us to the right direction.”
He mentioned these to remind the theologians the value of invoking the Holy Spirit in the search for truth than to simply be engrossed in self-acquiring of knowledge and data. Of course, the intention of the presider is not to undermine theological studies but to empower it with a different perspective and a theological point of view. In his own words the presider adds, “Theological studies is important because it is not just about what we know but why we know…. A theology student is not genuine unless he is one with the subject of his studies… one with the subject— God!”
After the homily, the professors present during the celebration, including the presider himself, professed the ‘Cofessio Fidei.’ It was a not only a profession of faith but a commitment to teach the same faith according to the doctrines and teaching of the Catholic faith.
Right after the final blessing, Fr. Selma declared the school year 2020-2021 finally open! The theologians responded with an applause of joy and fervor to start “Afresh from Christ.”
Fray Neil Robert M. Ailain, OAR