MANILA Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula urged Thomasians to channel St. Thomas Aquinas’ resolve in teaching and learning as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt traditional education in the country.

In his homily during the Mass for the feast of the University’s patron saint at the Santisimo Rosario Parish Church on Jan. 27, Advincula said teachers and learners alike should exhibit UST’s “3Cs” (compassion, competence and commitment).

“It is important to persevere in this mission of education and formation — pandemic or no pandemic if our hope is to produce Catholic students who are committed, compassionate, and competent to face the questions and challenges of our time,” Advincula said. 

“Pagsikapan natin magturo at matuto gaya ni Santo Tomas na nakikinig at gumagamit nang buong lakas at talino upang tumugon mula sa pananampalataya,”  he added.

The prelate emphasized that persevering is more meaningful if done “not only for our personal aspirations but also for the dreams of those whom we love.”

“Both teachers and students know the perseverance needed in online teaching and distance learning. Both staff and administrators hope for the end of the pandemic for a safer and more suitable environment to work and study,” he said.

The theme of the University’s celebrations for the patron saint’s feast was “Saint Thomas: Beacon of Hope and Perseverance.” 

Advincula reminded the faithful to turn to prayer and the Eucharist whenever their patience and perseverance are tested.

“May we encounter the ultimate reason for all of our hope who will give both rest and security and passion to pursue. Like St. Thomas, we persevere in hope so that we may see goodness in His acts and give praise to our Heavenly Father so that all of our lives will be for the love of thee,” he said.

The Mass was concelebrated by Dominican Prior Provincial and UST Vice Chancellor Fr. Filemon de la Cruz, Jr., O.P. and UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P. 

Advincula also led the conferment of the academic mandatum or teaching mandate on faculty members of the Institute of Religion. 

The University held triduum and rosary prayers from Jan. 25 to 27, the days preceding the Jan. 28 feast of St. Thomas.

During the first Triduum Mass, Fr. Maximo Gatela, O.P., regent of the College of Education and Education High School, described St. Thomas as a “great spiritual master” whom Catholics could learn from about human life. 

“Reading Aquinas makes us understand that human life is never immune from pain, sufferings and difficulty and the like. [H]uman life has its own pain but it also has its own blessings. All those pains could give us blessings because God is with us,” he said.

Fr. Wenifredo Padilla, III, O.P., sub-prior of the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas, said optimism is rooted in hope, which is grounded in one’s relationship with God. 

“Para kay Santo Tomas, ang optimismo ay kailangan nakaugat sa pag-asa na nagpapanatili ng pananampalataya at nakakamit lamang mula sa ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa Diyos,” he said during the second Triduum Mass.

“Ang pag-asa ay nagbibigay ng positibong pananaw, hindi lang dahil lamang naranasan na natin ang anumang suliranin noong nakaraan kundi dahil mayroon tayong nakasama na hindi tayo kailanman pinabayaan sa kahit anong pagsubok na pinagdaanan natin,” he added.

St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of Catholic schools and universities. He is also considered the “Angelic Doctor of the Catholic Church.”

According to St. Thomas, the pursuit of knowledge and truth could only be found in God.

Aquinas stopped writing his greatest work, the Summa Theologica, after offering Mass on Dec. 6, 1273.

“I cannot go on…. All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me,” he told his companion, Reginald of Piperno.

He died on March 7, 1274, and his feast day falls on Jan. 28.


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