Rev. Fr. Antonio Moreno, S.J., Rev. Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner, III, O.P., members of the LST Board of Trustees, LST administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni, benefactors, superiors of religious communities, distinguished guests, my dear graduates of batch 2015, good afternoon!
Two months ago, our country hosted the first pastoral visit of Pope Francis from January 15-19. Still fresh in our memories are the dramatic images of his encounters with government officials, church ministers, children, young people, students, the poor and the sick, families, typhoon survivors during his visit here in Manila and Leyte.
In all his messages, Pope Francis emphasized that we need to encounter Christ in prayer and in action. During his first mass with the bishops, priests and religious at the Manila Cathedral, Pope Francis said that this renewed personal encounter with the Lord Jesus must be at the core of our commemoration of the 5th centenary of the evangelization of the Philippines.
When asked about his particular message to the Jesuits, Pope Francis replied: “Two things…the first is to go to the peripheries, especially to the poor…and the second is not let go of prayer”.
The same call to encounter the Lord in the peripheries and in prayer is expressed in his recent letter of March 3 to the theologians of the Catholic University of Argentina on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its founding: “teaching and studying theology means living on a frontier, one in which the Gospel meets the needs of the people which should be proclaimed in an understandable and meaningful way. We must guard against a theology that is exhausted in academic dispute or watching humanity from a glass castle. You learn to live: theology and holiness are inseparable”.
I wish to reiterate the same message for our graduates as you leave LST. The integration of theology with holiness as expressed in prayer and work for the poor has been witnessed by our saints: St. Dominic de Guzman, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and the other founders and foundresses of our respective religious communities.
I thank Fr. Gerard Timoner for his profound message to us. I also thank everyone for your presence today. In particular, I thank the graduates of 2015 for your active engagement in LST. With the rest of the LST community, I congratulate you and wish you all the blessings from God. Marami pong salamat!