, DECEMBER 21, 2006 (STAR) HINDSIGHT By Josefina T. Lichauco - On Dec. 3, St. Scholastica’s College celebrated its centennial anniversary – 100 years of Benedictine presence in the Philippines. The magnificent celebration was an excellently planned event principally under the aegis of Gigi Prats, president of the St. Scholastica’s Alumnae Foundation Inc. (SSAFI) and Rose Mallillin-Rodriguez, chairman of the day’s celebration.

Reverend Mother Prioress Mary John Mananzan, OSB, delivered a speech with such stirring and striking relevance to the state of our beloved country right now. Because of this, I would like to have it reprinted in its entirety.

"In the name of the Sisters of the Manila Priory, I welcome you all to the culminating evening of our centennial celebration. At this moment, this hall is witness to ‘realized genius’ – not only of the mind but also of the heart. At no time in our school’s history has this hall been filled with people whose lives have made a difference in our society and in our world by living out the values of their Scholastican education. So once again, mabuhay kayo.

"For the past years, we have been thanking God for the wonderful gifts and blessings we have received in the past 100 years. Undoubtedly, the first century of our existence was a resounding success! But as someone said, ‘Success is its own great danger.’ And so we cannot afford to be complacent, to just bask in our glory, in our comfort zones, and be contented with our success. We are in a changing world and new challenges confront us. We need reinvention and re-visioning so that we remain alert to the signs of the times and embark on creative and innovative means to give a prophetic Scholastican response to the continuing challenges of life.

"Tomorrow, we will begin our next 100 years. What do I see as challenges to St. Scholastica’s College as it faces the future?

"Mother Irene Dabalus, in her opening talk during our last general chapter meeting, spoke of the ‘growing influence of a materialistic, consumerist, impersonal, pleasure-seeking, market-oriented globalization which has brought about a clash of civilizations’ and a ‘me culture’ that trivializes the sense of the absolute. She said that the rock foundation on which our Christian civilization was built is being eroded away.

"In the midst of these developments, St. Scholastica’s College must intensify its inculcation of Christian Benedictine values that would enable its students and alumnae to be what Christ enjoins all of us to be: ‘the light and the salt of the earth’ – to become civic, political, and religious leaders that will hopefully turn around the self-aggrandizing, corrupt, disempowering leadership atmosphere in our land.

"I believe that in any decade or in any century, St. Scholastica’s College will continue the pursuit of academic excellence which goes beyond predicting that perhaps we will have someday to change our initials from SSC (St. Scholastica’s College) to SSU (St. Scholastica’s University). It also goes beyond scholarly achievements but means a relentless pursuit of truth, and an uncompromising practice of intellectual and moral integrity in our private and public lives.

"Sadly, I cannot predict the end of poverty, injustice, oppression, inequality, and devastation of the environment in our land in the next century. And, therefore, the Scholastican must remain committed to prophecy – which means announcing the Good News and denouncing the Bad News. Announcing the Good News means mirroring in our lives what we want others and our society to be. And denouncing the Bad News means making a stand on important social issues, denouncing injustice, corruption, oppression, tyranny and violation of human rights. It means engaging in prophetic actions like solidarity with the poor and the oppressed and helping in improving their quality of life, contributing positively to the empowerment of women, and militant protection of the environment.

"Strengthened by our rich legacy, firmly rooted in our Christian Benedictine values and inspired by our vision, we face the future with courage, hope and joy – knowing that we do all these that in all things God may be glorified.

"In this centennial celebration, 100 alumnae received plaques of honor, in recognition of their accomplishments in apostolic work, family life, education, music, business, law, medicine, science, literature, journalism, the performing arts, etc.

"Actually what is known as the highest award of the school to an alumna is the Pax Award. I was informed that if an alumna is a Pax awardee, this disqualifies her from being nominated to the hundred outstanding. Former President Cory Aquino received the award for 1986, so that when I was given the same award for 2000, I was really touched! So with Clarissa Ocampo (remember her courageous stand for truth), and Karina Bolasco of Anvil Publishing, who were seated beside me during the ceremonies.

"Scholasticans, within the hundred years, have such remarkable achievements but I am glad Mother Mary John said in her speech that beyond these accomplishments, there is need for a relentless pursuit of the truth and an uncompromising practice of moral integrity in their lives."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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