The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) celebrated its 80th Anniversary and CEAP Day exactly on its Foundation Day Anniversary last February 2, 2021.
The CEAP @ 80 Adhoc Committee organized activities that were live streamed via the official CEAP Page on Facebook and CEAP Channel on YouTube. The event started with an Opening Eucharistic Celebration presided by Most Rev. Daniel O. Presto, D.D., Bishop of San Fernando La Union, and Member of the CBCP- Episcopal Commission of Catechesis (ECCE). Bishop Presto mentioned that the celebration of the CEAP’s founding anniversary has become more significant as it falls on the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. He gave a substantial homily as he elucidated the meaning of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. At the same time, he explained how CEAP was founded and how the organization has developed throughout the years. He also mentioned the three-fold mission of man which he receives upon Baptism. Bishop Presto emphasized that Catholic educators need to hold fast to their faith, work together, and continue doing their priestly, kingly, and prophetic missions amidst the global health crisis.
The mass was followed by the Welcome Remarks of the CEAP President, Sr. Ma. Marissa R. Viri, RVM. Sr. Viri reminded the member- schools of the continuing tasks of sharing in the evangelizing mission of the church.
Fr. Thadeu Enrique N. Balongag, Chair of the CEAP@80 Committee and CEAP Vice President, provided an overview of the CEAP@80 celebration by explaining the logo and the rundown of the activities for the year. Fr. Balongag added that CEAP re-commits itself to affirming and strengthening its mission, institutionalizing programs that respond to the call of its mission, and enjoining individuals and member- institutions to take part in the cause of its mission.
Gilbert B. Sales, CICM, CEAP Secretary, presented the CEAP attendees by region. It was followed by an Inspirational message from Fr. Alain P. Manalo, OIEC Secretary for the Asian Region. Fr. Albert N. Delvo, CEAP Treasurer, discussed the Response: A Call for Action. The program ended with the singing of the CEAP Hymn: Huwarang Katoliko.
PRESENCE AS PRESENTS: EMBRACING OUR EVANGELIZING MISSION BY INSPIRING, WITNESSING, AND SANCTIFYING
REVISITING ACCESSIBILITY OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
“All Christians have a right to Christian Education. So, I have been asking, are we violating a right, a Christian right? If Catholic children who sincerely desire or need to go to a Catholic school will not be accepted. “– Rev. Fr. Alain P. Manalo
Those were the questions that Fr. Manalo asked himself several times when his curiosity about accessibility started from an encounter with two lines from a book called Gravissimum Educationis. The book used the word “right” instead of privilege to describe Catholic Education. “Spare no sacrifice in helping Catholic schools to care for the poor, the orphans, and the strangers in faith”. Instructions like that from the Vatican Council captivated Fr. Manalo’s desire to apply Accessibility programs to Catholic Schools in the country that will eventually allow these schools to be open to all, especially the deprived in this world.
Formerly known as Nuestra Senora de Guia Parochial School the now De Guia Academy in Magallanes, Cavite became his first parish and school assignment, where he was able to apply his aspiration for accessibility programs. In 2006, this became Fr. Manalo’s first-ever assignment, it was not as easy as expected especially that the school is barely surviving. There were only over 100 students most of which were scholars of benefactors abroad and closing the school was an option entertained multiple times. But in his heart, he knew that this specific school would play a very significant role in uplifting the lives not only of the student or their families but of the parish and municipality as a whole.
To thrive, Fr. Manalo adopted the Socialized Tuition Fee program initiated by the former Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle when he opened the Our Lady of Pillar Catholic School. The program addressed the issue of the school’s sustainability and indeed saved the De Guia Academy. Year after year- the enrollment rate increased and its financial deficit decreased from time to time.Fr. Manalo also established the Solidarity Meal Program, which is their answer to multiple cases of stealing money in a grade one classroom.
Poor students who attend their classes without eating breakfast resorted to stealing for their survival and sanity. Consistent with his desire to make the school open to all, the Solidarity Meal Program was launched which will provide morning and afternoon snacks to all pre- elementary to high school students.
The decision to keep the Academy open paid off. Not long after, the community around the De Guia Academy began to accept the value of caring for the poor and needy. The rich parents would then opt to raise their kids to be sensitive to the plight of the poor and they saw no better context for this but in a school. Multiple benefactors from a distance showed their willingness to help and be part of the same charitable work.
The poor are not simply objects of transformative actions, they are also active agents of transformation, poor by the fact of their poverty offer invaluable life lessons to all. Accessibility of catholic schools is formative and transformative. It fosters relationships and builds up communion with a desire to welcome all.
He ended his speech with a statement that accessibility is part of every school’s beginnings. He reminded us that applying accessibility programs to all schools in need is surely a daunting challenge. But he wanted us to remember that schools are made for challenges, not complacencies.
[Article submitted by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines]