ACADEMIC YEAR 2009-2010 opened Monday, June 15 amid a call for unity and collaboration ahead of UST’s quadricentennial, in opening ceremonies marked by a departure from centuries of tradition due to the swine flu pandemic.

Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, Jr., O.P., head of the Filipino Dominican province and University vice chancellor, called for “unity amid diversity” among administrators, faculty members, and students in his homily for the Misa de Apertura or opening mass.

“Work together for peace, justice and unity,” Pedregosa told the crowd at the Santissimo Rosario Parish Church, adding that he looks forward to “joyous” festivities for UST’s 400th year in 2011.

He encouraged the Thomasian community to work for the common good and “allow the gifts of the Holy Spirit within us to reign.”

The opening of classes in UST was moved to June 15 as a precautionary measure following the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus in the Philippines.

During the mass, members of the Academic Senate did not join the liturgical procession, and, along with the faculty, were not required to wear academic gowns.

“Academic robes were not worn … as a preventive measure to avoid the saturation of the atmosphere in the chapel,” UST public affairs chief Giovanna Fontanilla said.

Students and others who attended the mass were given cardboard fans which bore reminders on how to combat the novel flu virus.

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