Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, a Jesuit-run university, dedicated a military tribute and a high mass called the “Blue Mass” to the founder of the Society of Jesus, St Ignatius Loyala, during his feast day on July 30.
Members of XU Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) led the military tribute to Loyola and it was followed by the blessing of two wreaths headed by university chaplain Fr Roberto Carampatan.
Ignatius and the power of discernment
“St Ignatius discovered this method of choosing or discerning God’s will not from books or instant spiritual revelation, but by experience, through trial and error,” said Fr Mateo Sanchez SJ in his homily.
He continued: “St Ignatius discovered the important role of our feelings and emotions in discerning the will of God. This discovery would later be confirmed by his many spiritual struggles, during a year’s stay in Manresa, his trip to the Holy Land, his decision to study for the priesthood at the age of 33, his studies in Spain and later in Paris, his attempt to organize a group, the first of which failed, but the second succeeded to become the present Society of Jesus and many other experiences.”
Loyola had systematized discernment with a set of rules which is now known and taught in Jesuit schools as the “Ignatian Spirituality.”
“His method of discernment has stood the test of time and has remained effective until the present,” said Sanchez. “But it is not only a method of making good decisions. It is, even more, a way of growing in our relationship with God, so that in all things we may love and serve His Divine Majesty, as Ignatius would say: In omnibus, amare et severe Domino.”
Two Jesuit jubilarians
Before the Blue Mass came to an end, the Xavier Ateneo community, led by university president Fr Roberto C Yap SJ, honored Fr Terry Barcelon SJ and Fr Mateo Sanchez SJ who are celebrating their jubilee years.
Barcelon, or Fr Terry to his friends, has been a Jesuit for 70 years. At 90 years old, he is among the most senior Jesuits in the Philippine Province today. Although his physical faculties are not in as tip-top shape as before, Fr Terry continues to be active in his pastoral ministries as a priest.
“Fr Terry is, most importantly, an inspiring figure among those who have had the privilege of knowing him or working with him,” wrote Br Carlo Lacang SJ in After the Heart of the First Companions. “[Fr Terry] continues to be a figure of apostolic vigor.”
Returning to the Philippines in the late 1960s, Fr Terry devoted himself generously to the assignments that were given to him. From 1969 to 1974, he was a professor at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati, and a senior fellow at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay from 1973 to 1993. From 1974 to 1986, he was the president of Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) and concurrently, the president of Davao Medical School. He led the construction of nine new buildings during his leadership stint in ADDU and stirred the university to greater heights in academic excellence and social development.
Meanwhile, Sanchez, a beloved formator and missionary to the Indigenous Peoples in Bukidnon, is celebrating 50 years of priesthood. A Jesuit for 63 years, this saintly man is revered among younger Jesuits, diocesan clergy, and lay partners for his fatherly love and example.
“Many of the vocation promotion posters that display missionary work in Mindanao feature Fr Mat in action, always with a warm smile on his face,” wrote Lacang. “To this day, Bukidnon is close to Fr Mat’s heart, just as he is close to Bukidnon’s heart — for such is the way a true missionary’s heart beats.”
Fr Mat entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Novaliches after his college graduation. He took up Philosophy at Berchmans College in Cebu City and then did regency work at the San Jose Seminary in Quezon City. In 1968, he was part of the first batch of Filipino Jesuits who were ordained in the Philippines, at the Loyola House of Studies in Ateneo de Manila. Their ordaining prelate was no less than then-Archbishop of Manila Rufino Cardinal Santos. The iconic photo of the four newly ordained Jesuit priests was featured in some local newspapers and magazines during that time.
Fr Mat took up further studies in Botany, earning a master’s degree from UP Los Banos. This came in useful for his four-year assignment at Xavier Ateneo’s College of Agriculture where he was not just professor but also confessor and spiritual companion to students and teachers.
The feast day of Loyola culminated with a short program and a salu-salo at the XU Covered Courts where XU Glee Club and San Jose Seminarians serenaded the two Jesuit jubilarians. (Press Release)