MASTER of the Order of Preachers Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P. urged Letranites to offer their assistance to the needy and marginalized, and emulate the example shown by the founder of Colegio de San Juan de Letran 400 years ago.

Timoner narrated Letran’s foundation story, in which Don Juan Geronimo Guerrero opened his home to orphans.

“In 1620, Don Guerrero would teach them the Christian doctrine and molded them to be good Christians. This work of mercy received royal approval in 1623,” Timoner said in Letran’s quadricentennial retreat held virtually on Dec. 15.

Echoing the word of Pope Francis, Timoner said Filipinos should be full of mercy when dealing with the needy: “Mercy is key to understanding. Upang maunawaan natin nang lubusan ang isang tao, kailangan mauna ang awa. Una ang awa [bago] unawa,” he said.

Timoner also emphasized that Christian hope should not be proportional to the pleasurability of one’s living conditions.

“Hope is not optimism because it is born out of a careful assessment of future prospects vis-à-vis our own capabilities and resources. Hope is not about a reversal of a miserable present into a miraculous future,” he said.

“Hope is entrenched in the eyes of faith. Despite the pandemic, the numerous calamities, and other disastrous events — despite our sins and our difficulties,” he said.

Timoner is an alumnus and former chairman of the board of trustees of Letran.

‘Serve with gladness’

Letran Rector and President Fr. Clarence Victor Marquez, O.P. called on Letranites to serve God with gladness.

“This grand retreat of Letran points us to God, our first cause and last cause. Truly, God is our alpha and omega. Our beginning and our end, our origin and our destiny,” Marquez said.

The Letran rector urged Letranites to “ask for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us so that we may be able to draw living water for our weary souls, to dare us to dream dreams, and see visions, to direct us to deeds of godliness and goodness towards others especially the poor and the needy.”

Letran’s four-part quadricentennial celebration kicked off in 2016.

The final phase of celebrations held this year had the theme “Como el Sol es tu Gloria Sin Fin” (Like the Sun Your Glory is Without End).

President Duterte declared 2020 as the “Year for the Celebration of the Quadricentennial Anniversary of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran.”

“The State recognizes the Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s contributions to our history and nation-building, through the formation of individuals who have excelled in various fields, including national heroes, leaders, and artists, as well as through community services to the poor and needy,” Duterte said in Proclamation No. 908 signed on Feb. 21.

Founded in 1620, Colegio de San Juan de Letran has three campuses outside Manila: Bataan, Laguna and Pangasinan.


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