All of us are born demanding something out of this world; whether it’s fame, fortune or absolute power over others. We keep on asking, begging and working on our own selfish desires. This world is polluted with self-centered and heartless dreamers all seeking fulfillment while stepping on the hopes of others. We plead God to give us what we want and yet we do not ask what He wants from us, what life wants from us.
There is a saying: In order to be fulfilled in life, you must believe in the divine works of God and lose yourself in the service of others. This might sound strange, absurd and all around foolish in the eyes of society today. People who serve God are often ostracized and in recent cases are forced to denounce their faith. But is living a wealthy yet egotistic life better than finding the joy out of God’s unconditional love and following those footsteps? One man has qualms of living this way and followed God’s plan to help others out of his undying passion; that man is Fr. Pierre Tritz SJ. The founder of one of the most successful foundations in the country fulfilled the dreams of hundreds of disadvantaged Filipino youth.
Father Tritz is a French-born Jesuit priest born on September 19, 1914 in Bouzonville, in the Lorraine region of eastern France, who became a proud member of the Society of Jesus in October 1933 at the age of 19. Throughout his life, he studied and became a missionary in China from 1936 to 1948. But due to the turmoil of World War II, he was forced to return to France where he taught in a Jesuit school in Reims. In 1950, he received a telegram from one of his superiors asking him to come to the Philippines. He knew that this was a message from God, a divine providence to which he without hesitation remained faithful and followed.
Upon arriving in October of the same year he was asked to take care of Chabanel Hall wherein many refugees from China made a safe haven away from the destruction of war. Shortly after, he became a teacher, chaplain and guidance councilor to numerous schools and universities such as the Far Eastern University, University of the East, and Centro Escolar University respectively.
In 1965, his eyes were opened to the scourge of children deprived of proper education in public schools but alas, there was nothing for him to do but entirely engage with his current assignments. However, in 1974 he was able to go to Juan Luna Elementary School and obtain a listing of dropouts at some point in the school year. He then proceeded to persuade their parents to continue their studies with his help, assuring them that the expenses for their education were supported by Operation: Back-To-School. He was able to convince the parents of six students to return to school which led to the development of the Educational Assistance Program (EAP), the flagship program of ERDA Foundation. He fell in love with helping those who needed it the most, that he, along with 11 other foreign Jesuit priests, changed their nationalities to become legal Filipino citizens. With this drastic change, he believed that the ways he could carry out his mission were now easier and more successful than ever.
The world witnessed the dawn of a new generation — a generation filled with hopes and dreams far beyond that of the yesteryears. The youth have become more than the typical rebellious, hormone-filled sacks of happy-go-lucky attitude that once remained a stereotype throughout the years. They have become the future doctors, teachers, chefs and engineers that will mold this country and the rest of the world.
This world is plagued with the devastation of unsuccessful youth that are now lurking beneath the rubbles of shattered hopes and ruins of destroyed dreams. Fr. Tritz believed that we were meant for more than this. Our dreams were his motivation to continue pursuing his divine mission. Even in his old age of 100, he is still able to astound us with his resilience and strength. He taught us the value of hard work and education in the field of success. He inspired us that being socially disadvantaged was never nor will ever be a reason to abandon our dreams. That century of blood, sweat and tears he poured out to give us the opportunity to learn and develop the skills needed to pursue our dreams will never be wasted. And our gratitude for his sacrifice will never perish.
Fr. Pierre Tritz SJ; the faithful servant of God, the visionary and molder of the future. His legacy will forever be known throughout the land and shall stand the test of time.