I do not want to rain on your parade but I have to tell you that after four years of studying in high school you still remain in high school. You are not graduating yet. This is not the usual. You are the first batch in the history of our country’s educational system to have “suffered” this fate or to have “enjoyed” this luck (it depends on how you look at the coin). But just the same (and whatever the case is may be), you certainly deserve a parade after all these years of academic toil. You may not be a graduate yet, but today you hold the unprecedented distinction of being called as “completer”. I checked, no dictionary yet has ever carry this term “completer”. While it is still inexistent, you dear students, are honored today as “completers”. Congratulations!
Obviously, you find yourself today in a period of transition. A chapter of your life is winding down and another is about to unfold. From junior high schooler you will now be senior high schooler (thanks to K-12). This transition is aptly called by your ceremony today – Moving Up Rite. Move up to become more and more Christ-like. Imitate the ways of Jesus. Move up to achieve slowly yet surely excellence. Do not settle for anything other than what is best. Move up to be of service to society. Bear in mind that the most fulfilling to do in life is always to serve others. In other words, strive to spread the (core) values of our school – to become Christ-like, to achieve excellence and to be of service to humanity. You will never be lost in transition if you only hold on to our school’s values.
Furthermore, what actually is the goal of every learning? For me, as your teacher and spiritual father, education could only be recognition. Providentially with our ceremony today comes Recognition Rite. The ending of our schooling is this rite of recognition wherein we award medals and ribbons to those deserving. But more profoundly perhaps, the end or goal of learning is recognition – recognition of God, that is. To recognize God in your life is has been your task as you study. To recognize God in our society is your unending pursuit in life. Hence, we could say that failure to recognize God means failure in education as well.
Dear students, if after four years of studying you have not yet recognized God, by all means stay. Stay in our school. We are not done with you yet. On the other hand, if after four years, you have already learned to recognize God, all the more you have to stay. You have to stay because you now have a mission – to teach others to recognize God in their lives. Hereafter, you have to task yourselves to let others see too what you are enjoying to see – the face of God.
I know I have just made you confused whether to stay or not to say. In truth and in fact, there is only one thing that is necessary- to stay with Jesus. Into whichever school you find yourself in next school year, stay with Jesus. Whatever strand (ABM, STEM, HUMMS, GA Sports, Arts & Design or TVL) you take in your senior high school, do not forget to be close to Jesus. To be close to Jesus is to echo in your hearts the reminders that I keep “pestering” you: “The Holy Mass is the most important schedule among our school activities.” “Chapel is the most central place in the campus,”…. among others. By all means, stay with Jesus!
And with this kind of recognition (of God), more “recognitions” would be spontaneous. Recognition of parents is gratifying. Recognition of mentors is pleasant. Recognition of our unsung heroes in the kitchen and in maintenance is profound. Last but not certainly not the least, recognition of our classmates is stimulating (I know how you hate to see each other go separate ways).
My dear students, completers you consider yourselves today. It has been a terrific journey with you. Thank you for everything that is good and anything in between….. Go forth! Adios! …. Vaya con Dios.
(Closing Remarks during the Moving Up Rite 2016 at Seminario de San Jose, Palawan)