According to Kelly Besecker, educating a student is like building a house. For the house to stand firm, it must have a strong foundation. Likewise in education, students must have strong foundational skills that prepare them to learn throughout their entire academic careers.
Academics We hold monthly lectures on academic enrichment given by professors and topnotch students. We offer an advance study program for students of Accountancy, Dentistry, Medicine, Engineering, etc.
Culture and Character Monthly, in an informal setting, we invite leaders and experts in their various fields of specializations to give talks and to interact with the students.
Leadership Training Social Responsibility During school breaks, we accompany and guide students as they render a one-week community service to poor areas in the country.
Ethics and Morality To understand current issues in society, we offer regular classes on Ethics based on the Natural Law. We also invite speakers who have authority on moral issues to teach the students how these issues can be dealt with in an ethical manner.
Mentoring We can arrange for qualified mentors to regularly meet those students who need a personalized one-on-one mentoring.
A story is always better if you have someone to share it with. What could be better than sharing it with a group of friends who have read it, too? We're starting a Book Club on June 6, 3:30 pm . You're invited!
YOUTH VOLUNTEERISM Summer 2014
Listen to quality RESEARCH papers
AGUINALDONG BELEN Why a "BELEN" for the Poor “The manger helps us to contemplate the mystery of God’s love who revealed himself in the poverty and simplicity of the Bethlehem cave.” “The crib can help us, in fact, to understand the secret of the true Christmas, because it speaks of humility and the merciful goodness of Christ, who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor." -Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
In the last few centuries, nothing has been more valued than freedom. At the same time, however, nothing has been more threatened. Together with an exaltation of personal liberty on the part of many, there have also appeared schools of thought which limit and even deny human freedom. Some thinkers thus understand personal decisions merely as side effects determined by one’s culture, by economic factors, or even by physical processes. Others, by contrast, affirm freedom but understand it as a completely undetermined capacity. Freedom thus comes to mean being entirely unbound and all forms of personal commitment or determination consequently become viewed as hindrances and limitations of one’s freedom. Understanding the meaning of freedom takes on greater urgency during one’s youth. For young people, moreover, this problem is not an abstract one but rather personal and concrete. Contemplating their future, various unavoidable and urgent questions arise: Can my current decisions already affect my entire future life, in spite of all of its unforeseeable events? Moreover, are such decisions an unfair limitation of my freedom? The question of freedom is also urgent with respect to one’s present. Our small daily choices are a constant invitation to live coherently as well as a continual opportunity to improve our world. Living freely is not only a question of radical choices made in decisive moments. Each person must also choose one’s path in life as a whole and then follow it with persistent determination.
Pope Benedict XVI has forcefully expressed his confidence in human freedom. He often points out that decisions which give rise to serious commitments “are the only ones that allow one to grow, to move forward and achieve something worthwhile in life. They are the only ones which do not destroy freedom, but rather teach it the right direction in which to go” (Interview, 16.7.2006). At the same time, the Pope has also affirmed that freedom is not an absolute reality: freedom can only be understood in relation to the truth. Thus the valueof one’s decisions—both those which affect one’s entire life and those made each and every day—is judged by the truth of the convictions which underlie them. In the end, one’s commitment to the truth is the only reliable basis upon which free decisions can be faithfully maintained over the course of time. Living freedom decisivelyis thus first of all living the truth decisively.
The 2011 UNIV Forum wants to contribute to the ongoing contemporary reflection on freedom, commitment, and the value of personal convictions, while doing so from a perspective which is both profound and practical. The following are possible fields of enquiry:
- daily personal decisions: their necessity and relevance, especially in fields like medicine, business, public opinion, etc.;
- freedom’s dimensions: freedom from and freedom for, What role do personal convictions and the moral virtues play in making daily choices?;
- business ethics: responsible decision making, the value of loyalty;
- university education and the formation of convictions;
- freedom and history: big and small decisions that have changed history, concrete examples: the dedication of Petrarch or of Alexander Fleming; work and inspiration: their role in the great scientific, artistic, cultural and social revolutions;
- the youth and serious decisions: Can young people make important and lasting decisions?; concrete examples: George Washington, L. Braille, Thomas Edison, Alexander the Great, etc.;
- freedom and service: personal commitment and the “new narcissism.”
Thank you JPII
First, thank you JPII for being an unfaltering defender of the dignity of man. Amidst the wave of opposition during your pontificate, you remained ever-firm in safeguarding this inviolable human gift. “The inalienable dignity of every human being,” you once told us, “and the rights that flow from that dignity—in the first place, the right to life, and the defense of life—as well as the well-being and full development of individuals and peoples, are at the heart of the Church’s message and action in the world.” (Greeting to Mr. Bill Clinton, 1993)
Do not be afraid,—you once again told us—in defending this inalienable gift. In my unworthiness to paraphrase, let me quote your words again,
“Never tire of speaking out in defense of life from conception and do not be deterred from the commitment to defend the dignity of every human person with courageous determination. Christ is with you: be not afraid.” (Address to the Bishops and Apostolic Administrators of Albania, 2001)
Next, thank you JPII for being the propeller of the youth. Your youthful energy always kept us comfortable with you. Didn’t you once call yourself, “[a] young man of 83?” (Meeting with Young People, Spain, 2003) You always energized us whom you dearly called “the hope of the Church and of society.” (Ibid)
But, with this endearment came your firm call for us to act: “Dear young people of every language and culture,” you once addressed us, “a high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone.” (World Day of Peace Message, 2001) This responsibility is surely daunting, JPII, but we ought not to be afraid as you have told us, “Do not be disheartened for you are not alone...” (Meeting with Young People, Spain, 2003)
Third, thank you, JPII, for being our model of holiness in suffering. Your final years were especially difficult. Parkinson’s disease was no joke: it took away your physical prowess. –Yet you never gave up. All the more strength did you display especially when you struggled to give your final blessing on March 30, 2005. These and so much more have made us realize that suffering can be a path to sanctity so long as we unite it with the Lord’s. May your words always remind us of this: “Suffering is transformed when we experience in ourselves the closeness and solidarity of the living God.” (Meeting with the Sick and the Suffering, Cuba, 1998)
At present, the world remains a battleground for the defense of human dignity. I have been one in securing this inviolable gift and doing so has not been easy. But, why should I, and the rest of my co-defenders fear? I know we’re standing for what is right. Besides, we have the great Pope Blessed John Paul II as a co-defender of human dignity. We have responsibility on the nation’s—and the world’s—welfare. And, we suffer for something worthwhile.
Therefore, for those of us who haven’t done their part, may JPII’s life be a wakeup call. For those of us who still hesitate but know that they’re in the right, may JPII be an inspiration. For those of us who know what to do but are still caged by fear, may JPII’s epic words resound forever:
"Do not be afraid!” (Homily during Inauguration, 1978)
*NOTE: All quotations were lifted from www.vatican.va.
-Maria Beatriz D. Mendiola
"Be not Afraid"
I have always wanted to submit an article to a broadsheet. But, whenever I attempted to do so in the past, fear always held me back: fear of inadequacy, fear of the responsibility that comes with my right to express myself, fear of the reactions from those who oppose my view…The list could go on forever.
However, a few weeks after my return from Italy, I finally got the courage to get my pen and get started. Something fired me up—none other than the recently beatified former Pope John Paul II’s immortal words: “Do not be afraid!”
Hence, I ought to give the late pontiff tribute for these words of his have given me—and perhaps, a million more of my fellowmen—the courage to act.
Before I go to my “thank you essay,” though, let me give you a brief backgrounder as to why I went to Italy in the first place. I went there to attend the UNIV Congress, a gathering of university students from different countries which was initiated by Saint Josemaria de Balaguer and is annually organized by the Institute for University Cooperation (ICU) in Rome. This congress focuses on a theme every year which is to be researched on and discussed in the congress itself—the last one being, “Living Freedom Decisively.”
Apart from gaining tons of insights and savoring a taste of other cultures, this year’s UNIV Congress made me realize that authentic freedom is not simply license or doing what we want. Why? –Because we live in a world of intertwining freedoms and license entails curtailing another person’s freedom. Hence, to be truly free is, I quote JPII (Pope Bl. John Paul II), “not doing what we like but…having the right to do what we ought.” (Homily; Baltimore, USA; 1995)
Fortunately for us, the UNIV participants this year, the UNIV Congress (which is always held on Holy Week) was just a week from the Beatification of JPII. This opportunity rarely comes so many of us chose to extend our stay in Rome. Another blessing from this congress was that we witnessed a testimony from Ms. Valentina Alazraki, a journalist who worked closely with JPII, about the recently beatified pontiff’s life. In this testimony, Ms. Alazraki mentioned three exemplary roles of JPII in his pontificate: 1) defender of the dignity of man, 2) propeller of the youth and 3) model of holiness in suffering.
Allow me, then, to use these roles as my framework for this tribute to the late pontiff.
More than 3-in-1 Rome Experience
Frankly put, a feature article, no matter how long, can never fully convey what the UNIV 2011 experience made me realize. As I may have said in my previous narratives, Rome is such a shower of graces and one cannot help but be drenched in them. Consequently, you get so many insights—so many that you can’t share and organize all at once. In fact, just given the proper disposition, walking on the cobblestone streets of Rome as the rain pours can already make you ponder so much. Just imagine how much more you would realize if you visited its majestic basilicas, listened to the Pope, went to a get-together with the Father and attended a university congress!
Hence, as aforementioned, this brief essay cannot fully convey what I realized from attending the UNIV 2011 Congress and staying for the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. Let me then share only one of my insights and then expound on it: