'Extraordinary envoy'. Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, leads the Thomasian community in Thanksgiving Mass. In bottom left photo, Grocholewski, accompanied by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams. Grocholewski, chosen by Pope Benedict XVI as his special representative to the Quadricentennial celebrations, used the Papal chair made for Pope John Paul II when he visited UST in 1995. Photo by Paul Allyson R. Quiambao

LED BY no less than a Papal envoy and with the local Church hierarchy in full force, the Thomasian community gathered in gratitude to Almighty God for 400 years of unending grace in the Quadricentennial Thanksgiving Mass at the UST Grandstand last January 28.

Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pope’s “extraordinary envoy” to the University’s week-long celebrations, was the main celebrant, assisted by the Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

In his homily, Grocholewski delved into the humanistic importance of education in society.

“Education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian. It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live to the [fullest],” the Papal Legate said. “In short, it is about imparting wisdom—the most genuine and comprehensive purpose of a university—to impart wisdom, true wisdom, which is inseparable from knowledge of our Creator.”

Grocholewski also praised the University’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, for spreading a way of thinking with the “harmony of faith and reason,” “humility,” and “faithfulness to the Church and its Magisterium.” He pointed to the qualities of a true Catholic university—“a Christian inspiration,” “a continued reflection in the light of Catholic faith,” “fidelity to the Christian message,” and “institutional commitment.”

Greetings from the Holy See

In recognition of the University’s status as the only Pontifical university in Asia, Pope Benedict XVI took part in UST’s Quadricentennial by giving a recorded video message, in which he confirmed UST’s place in history as the oldest institution of higher learning in the region.

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The message, recorded by the Centro Televisivo Vaticano, was made by the Holy Father at the request of Cardinal Rosales.

He acknowledged the University’s Jubilee Year as a “significant event in the life of the Church,” adding that the two-minute video message was a way “to lend myself to you spiritually” and to extend “my affection and congratulations on this happy occasion.”

“As you know, the University of Santo Tomas is the oldest institution of Catholic higher education in the Far East and it continues to play a very important role in the Church throughout the region,” Pope Benedict said.

The Holy Father also told Thomasians to “[keep] in mind the faith and the reason which are always part of a truly integrated approach to education,” adding with confidence “that the University will continue to contribute to the intellectual, spiritual, and cultural enrichment of the Philippines and beyond.”

Grateful

As the Mass neared its end, Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. said the large congregation and the Pope’s message made him “conclude that God loves the University of Santo Tomas.”

“My spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour, for He has looked in favor on this University and has done great wonders in all of us,” the Rector said.

De la Rosa took the podium to express thanks to everyone who made the University the institution that it is now. He cited a long list of people—including the Dominican clergy, the government, the students, and the faculty—who made the week-long festivities a success.

The Rector reserved the final string of gratitude to the alumni for incarnating “the values and principles that UST stands for.”

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“Thank you, dear alumni, for making UST present in the places where you lived and worked,” said De la Rosa. “You radiate to others the light of wisdom and warmth of love that you have imbibed during your student days in the University.”

After his speech, the Rector led the symbolic lighting of candles—or the lumina pandit rite—followed by the singing of the UST Hymn and granting of plenary indulgence.

Among those who attended the Mass were Spanish government representatives Carlos Alberdi of the Office of the Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines Luis Arias Romero, and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim. Charizze L. Abulencia

SEA OF CLERGY. Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) attend the Thanksgiving Mass. The CBCP played a very important role in a number of Q events. Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P., the rector of the UST Central Seminary, described the bishops’ support as “overwhelming.” Photo by Josa Camille A. Bassig

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