Service for our church and country, especially the poor
The Holy Father spoke to us in his visit, that 2015 has been set aside as the Year of the Poor. He said “ I hope that this will challenge everyone at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community.”
How can we respond to this challenge in our curricular and extra-curricular programs, and as a community of learners and mentors? Can we be more effective in educating future leaders who will have real contact with the poor and will dedicate their time and talents to the eradication of poverty? In the coming elections, how can we advocate the choice of leaders who will pursue the fight against corruption and promote inclusive economic growth?
DLSU has reached the goal set by all Lasallian schools in the Philippines that 20 percent of her students are on full-scholarship. Can we go beyond 20 percent? What additional affirmative action can we take towards helping more disadvantaged individuals and communities, especially our indigenous brothers and sisters? How can we assist them to maximize their resources and achieve sustainable development?
We will continue to deepen our partnerships with the local Church, especially the Archdiocese of Manila, and the underserved communities especially those near us. How can we continue working with them in basic and catechetical education, poverty eradication, urban renewal and community building?
Authority for service
Some have been asking me what type of leadership I will exercise as the new President. I learned from Br. Lucian Belanger FSC many years ago that leadership is for service. To lead others is to orient and motivate them to passionately pursue the common mission and shared goals of the group.
I see the authority of my office, as emanating from the tremendous resources of the University community: her faculty and staff, students and alumni, legacy and traditions. I see this authority reinforced by the academic freedom enjoyed by the University in her mission of discovering, promoting and transmitting knowledge, and facilitating the internalization of values and skills by the young people entrusted to her care.
The responsibility of leadership, authority and governance is to tap, unleash, guide, harness and harmonize the talents and efforts of leaders and colleagues towards the achievement of the goals of our academic community. Leadership is not necessarily having the right answers. More often, it is asking the right questions. Today, I’ve dared to ask a lot of questions. The answers we will discern and pursue together and by association.
In closing, I return to our Parable. Our Founder too, reflected on the Parable of the Talents. And in his Med. 207 he pointed out that the Parable assures us that if we commit ourselves untiringly to our mission, “God gives us an abundance of grace [more talents] to carry out this mission.” Rather than considering these talents as burdens, we should consider them as the grace God gives us to carry out our mission.
St. La Salle also highlighted the fact that to the ones who multiplied their talents, the Master gave more cities to serve. Thus our Founder added: “to those who commit themselves untiringly to the work of the salvation of souls”, God rewards “with a more extended ministry and a greater ability to procure the salvation of souls.” (That means – “more work”!)
But St. La Salle ends with these very encouraging words: “Oh, how fortunate you ought to consider yourselves, to be working in the field of the Lord, since Our Lord says that the reaper will infallibly receive his reward.”
Domine, Opus Tuum. Lord, the work is yours. The mace is heavy. DLSU faces many questions, challenges and opportunities. But, as I look around this Chapel, I see many hands already passionately sharing the mission, and many more, eager to pursue it. Indeed, the Master gifts us with an abundance of grace, talents and resources.
Deo Gratias. Thank you, Lord.
Thank you, friends and colleagues.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Br. Raymundo B. Suplido FSC is President of De La Salle University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.