On August 3, Saturday, Xavier School hosted its annual Family Missioning Mass. Every year, the school holds this event for the Xavier community to mark the beginning of a new year, involving the XSPA, Xavier families, faculty, and staff. During these missioning masses, we are blessed with the grace to carry out our own missions in life, particularly our educational missions in Xavier. However, this year’s celebration was a uniquely momentous occasion. As the Xavier community welcomes its new school president, Fr. Aristotle Dy, S.J., PhD (Class of 1989), his formal installation was celebrated together with the annual Family Missioning Mass.
To further magnify this historic event, the mass was presided over by the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. Joining his eminence were Monsignor Bong Lo, Father Antonio Moreno, SJ, and Father Alberto Ampil, SJ (Xavier School’s 3rd School Director), among many others.
Situated in the Xavier Sports Center, the gymnasium was decorated in a sea of vibrant colors. Cheerful faces of students, families, alumni, faculty, and staff alike, lit up the gymnasium. The rafters were draped with elegant banners of white, gold, and yellow. Exquisite Chinese lanterns were hung above the stage, accompanied by a statue of St. Francis Xavier below. It was evident how much effort was put into the production; each bit significantly contributed to the overall festive splendor of the scene. Clearly, many hours of thought and effort had been put into making this entire ceremony possible.
Made evident from the very beginning, the ceremony was a powerful manifestation of the Xavier community’s rich and diverse culture. Naturally, the mass was celebrated mainly in English; however, certain traditions and practices of Chinese and Filipino culture were also incorporated throughout its duration. For instance, even before the actual mass began, Father Art Borja, SJ led the Xavier community in its participation in the distinctly Chinese tradition of the veneration of our ancestors in the form of performing three reverential bows. However, as the mass progressed, there were also moments when Tagalog was the language being spoken by the priests.
In addition, the Xavier community’s active involvement in the event was also made conspicuous. Our very own Knights of the Altar were dignified and respectable while serving in the mass. Some select few were even given the wondrous opportunity to hold the Archbishop’s staff and to serve God alongside his eminence. The Xavier School Choir also deserves recognition and accolades for their spectacular overall performance during the mass. Their passion and enthusiasm undoubtedly contributed to the ceremony’s convivial atmosphere.
The entire ceremony lasted for two full hours–definitely much longer than the regular mass. Nevertheless, having the well-loved and comical Cardinal Tagle preside over the ceremony, the crowd was far from restless. Despite his position as the highest ranking priest in Manila, his eminence displayed admirable humility and light-heartedness throughout the mass. In effect, Cardinal Tagle was able to efficiently convey his crucial messages of “choosing life” and “doing everything for the greater glory of God,” in accordance with the ceremony’s “Ignatian Month” theme.
Following the Gospel Reading for the day (Luke 9:23-26) and the blessing of the Gospel Book by Cardinal Tagle, the “Formal Missioning of School President” began. Entering Xavier School as its 6th School President, Fr. Aristotle Dy, SJ had to undergo three steps before he was formally installed. The first of the three steps was the “Reading of the Missioning Statement”, which was led by Fr. Moreno, the Jesuit provincial. During the reading, he spoke about the various vital aspects of true leadership, missioning Fr. Dy to lead and serve Xavier School. “No leadership is ever a resolve of one person alone,” said Fr. Moreno, reestablishing the significance of being grounded and humble. The second step of the missioning was Fr. Dy’s “Oath of Office”, which was said as if reciting the “Panatang Makabayan”, in Tagalog. Succeeding the oath-taking was the “Turning Over of the Xavier Torch” by Fr. Ampil–the final step of Fr. Dy’s missioning.
An extremely jubilant and stimulating Homily by Cardinal Tagle took place soon after the thunderous applause for Fr. Ari had died down. His eminence spoke briefly about choosing the right path to true life by doing everything for the greater glory of God, making use of St. Ignatius’s choices in his own life to explain the Gospel. He then proceeded to comparing Fr. Ari to St. Ignatius, as Cardinal Tagle hopes that much like the latter, Fr. Ari will lead Xavier School to life.
As a product of his humorous personality, Cardinal Tagle then said, “First love never dies. However, first trauma never dies as well,” with the hopes that Xavier takes good care of our new school president, preventing him from potential trauma. On a more serious note, his eminence concluded the Homily by saying, “Let us choose life. Let us choose Jesus. Let us do everything for the greater glory of God.”
Shortly after Communion, the gymnasium lights were dimmed for the commencement of the Luceat Lux Ceremony. In this ceremony, candles all throughout the crowd were lit. The scene was beautifully reminiscent of a starry night sky, having innumerable candles glimmer in the darkness. We then prayed for the entire Xavier community, including special guest Senator JV Ejercito, one of Xavier’s alumni in the Philippine Senate, that we let our lights shine in our daily lives.
Finally, to mark the end of the event, Fr. Aristotle Dy, SJ stepped up to the podium to deliver his first official message as the new school president. Our new School President rather jokingly emoted his nervousness by acknowledging the fact that it would be quite difficult to live up to the twelve marvelous years of Fr. Johnny Go’s being our beloved school president. However, Fr. Dy said that he “owes his being to Xavier School” and that “coming to Xavier is literally like coming home,” expressing his gratitude to the school. Fr. Ari said that he aims to “evangelize the Chinese-Filipino community” as his mission as a Jesuit educator as well. Finally, Fr. Aristotle Dy concluded his address by reassuring the Xavier community that “we will all walk and work together to bring Xavier School to new heights.”