By Carlos Eduardo Legaspi, Jr.
All member schools of the Recoletos Educational Apostolate in the Philippines (REAP) joined hands to launch the Augustinian Recollect Integral Formation Program (ARIFP). More than 600 attended the virtual launching via Zoom and more than a hundred were linked through the REAP Facebook account.
In the invitation letter from Fr. William Villaflor, OAR, President of REAP, he wrote that “after months of meetings and preparations, the ARIF Program is ready to kick off with a Launching Program.”
The activity opened with a dedication to the Blessed Mother through a community praying of the Holy Rosary spearheaded by different REAP schools in different dialects for each sorrowful mystery.
This was followed by offering the entire activity and program to God through the Eucharistic Celebration presided by Rev. Fr. Lauro V. Larlar, OAR. He emphasized two points, as he referred to the Philosophy of the Educacion Agustinos Rekoletos (EDUCAR), that of evangelization and human promotion. Evangelization is focused on Christ himself while human promotion is this Integral formation. ARIF should always start with Christ. We have to model this with the love of Christ to his Father, who as a father has created us and as a mother who cares and nourishes us. So, we have to see Christ always in our evangelization and our integral formation, especially in the Eucharist, where He feeds our minds with the Word and he feeds us with his body and blood in the Eucharist.
The opening prayer of Fr. Rommel Rubia, OAR set the mood for the afternoon while, Fr. Nonie Murillo, OAR, in his welcome address reminded us that We are missionaries, and we are all gifted to give. This is a call for all of us to really give our total self, our, hearts and minds to the evangelization and formation of ourselves and those entrusted to us to be brought to the Eternal Master, who is Jesus.
Meanwhile, Fr. Antonio Carron, OAR has given us a very inspirational talk about formation. We need to remember the following things. We are in schools and schools living communities, we need to cope up with the changes of the times. We have to respond to the changes of times. The most important things in our vocation as Augustinian educators are LEADERSHIP, ACCOMPANIMENT, AND INTERIORITY. We need to see Christ always as our Master/leader. He is the Truth and we must share this truth with our students. Fr. Carron also reminded the participants of Pope Francis’ document “Christus Vivit. The document instructs us on how to face the challenges of the present times especially in the world of education. We must not prepare our students for the unreal (Disneyland) but we must evangelize them to see the truth, the real world.
We must also remember to accompany our students on their journey. We accompany them to Christ, so together we encounter the truth. And we shall also be masters of Interiority. God must always be present in everyone. We have to work together and learn from one another.
A panel composed of members from the different schools was asked to react to the talk of Fray Carron. They were Lino Sumbillo gave his reaction that the talk was about challenges and our responses are plans for the future. Ana Mae Gajete and Harold Toreno were touched by the statement “working in an Augustinian school is different from an Augustinian Educator.” Namerod Ceralbo was thankful for the idea of formation. Fr. Jessriel Marcha, OAR reminds us that we are disciples and students teaching our fellow students. Dr. Edgar Detoya was struck by the painting of Plato and Aristotle on Realism and idealism in education. Mrs. Eileen Fernandez was reminded that we play a vital role in the total formation of the student and Christ as the center of the formation. Ms. Corazon Cosico recalled the teaching of Christian values and the Catholic identity of schools. Dr. Jennifer Escobar was reminded that schools should cater to the formation of the person- the heart and the mind. And Mrs. Nailah Lescano talked about ARIF opening doors to her and her companions at school. And is very thankful for the talk of Fr. Carron that really enriched her.
Fr. Rafael Pecson, OAR declared the ARIFP 2021 open while Fr. Eduardo Celiz, Jr., OAR gave the closing remarks. The REAP schools are University of San Jose Recoletos, Cebu City; University of San Jose Recoletos, Balamban, Cebu; University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, Bacolod City; San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Manila; San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Canlubang; San Sebastian College Recoletos de Cavite; Sacred Heart School of Cavite-Recoletos de Alfonso, Cavite; Colegio de Santo Tomas-Recoletos, San Carlos City, Neg. Occ.; Colegio de San Nicholas de Tolentino-Recoletos, Talisay City, Neg. Occ.; Colegio de San Pedro-Recoletos, , Valencia, Negros Oriental; and San Pedro Academy - Recoletos, Caidiocan, Valencia, Negros Oriental.