CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma urged the UST faculty to reaffirm the “great value of academic freedom” without turning their backs on Catholic ideals during the opening of the academic year last June 3.

“In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you,” Palma quoted Pope Benedict XVI as saying, in his homily at the annual Misa de Apertura or the traditional Opening Mass at the Santisimo Rosario Parish.

Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, added: “Yet it is also the case [when] any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.”

As he officially opened Academic Year 2013-2014, Palma called on Thomasians to view every day as a “deeper conversion, communion with, and commitment to God.”

He reminded the Thomasian community that Catholic education is “still grounded to the mission of the church.”

Palma, now the highest ranking Thomasian cleric, finished his licentiate in Sacred Theology in UST in 1976.

He advised students not to take for granted the gift of education and consider UST education as a blessing.

“Thomasians should thus feel privileged to be able to share in this evangelizing mission,” Palma said. “I pray with you that you recognize the blessing of being scholars, of having the pleasure, the privilege, the gift, the opportunity of studying here at UST.”

Thomasians should journey through the new school year as one community bonded by one faith and one love, he said.

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He ended his homily by asking the Lord to “renew our minds and hearts, renew our University, renew our country, and renew the face of the earth.”

Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. and Vice Chancellor Rev. Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P. concelebrated the opening mass. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, the Dominican friars, deans, administrators, faculty members, support staff, alumni and students attended this year’s opening ceremonies.

History and creativity

The traditional Discurso de Apertura, or the Opening Lecture, was delivered by Prof. Allan de Guzman of the College of Education after the solemn Eucharistic celebration.

In his lecture titled “Parable of Talents: The University of Santo Tomas at the Crossroad of History and Creativity,” De Guzman described the University as an institution that had withstood the challenges of change and continuity.

It is also a “melting pot of plurality and multiplicity of talents,” he said.

“Such talents are byproducts of our longs years of self-examination, passion for learning, deep reflection, risk-taking behavior, openness to change and possibilities and more importantly, our engagement for and with others,” said De Guzman, recipient of the 2011 Metrobank Outstanding Teacher Award for the Tertiary Level.

De Guzman said the convergence of history and creativity in the University was the key to “globally recognized competency.”

“It is safe to claim that history and creativity can comfortably coexist in our midst as a university. As history informs our actions and decisions, our passion for creativity shall reform and transform all our educational efforts.”

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