The welcoming remarks were delivered by School President Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, SJ during the unveiling and blessing of “The Joy of Teaching” sculptural tableau last 02 December 2016 at Xavier School Nuvali. The inauguration was preceded by the mass in honor of the feast of St. Francis Xavier.
Good morning and welcome to this simple rite of blessing to inaugurate this set of statues that will serve to remind Xaverians in Nuvali about the life and mission of our patron saint.
St. Francis Xavier was one of the seven Jesuit companions who founded the Society of Jesus. In 1540, he was missioned to Asia to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. He died in Shangchuan, an island just off the coast of mainland China, on December 3, 1552, without realizing his dream to preach in China. He was canonized in 1622 and was proclaimed patron saint of foreign missions in 1927.
This sculptural tableau depicts the missionary with a crucifix in one hand and a bell in the other, calling the children to listen to the story of Jesus. Xavier would gather them and teach catechesis through song. The work captures the passion and creativity of Xavier School Jesuits and lay teachers, inspired by the example of St. Francis Xavier, who personifies the cura personalis (personal care) practiced by Jesuit educators everywhere and the joy to be found in the teaching vocation.
Shown are five children wearing the traditional dress of the countries he visited during his 10-year mission to Asia: India, Sri Lanka, Malacca , Japan, and China. The sixth child wears the Xavier School uniform to show that the mission continues to the present. The six children further represent the six decades of Xavier School’s ministry in Christian evangelization and basic education in the Philippines.
The dream of St. Francis Xavier was fulfilled from the late 16th century onward by other Jesuit missionaries to China, including our school’s founding fathers who established Xavier School in 1956. His mission continues in every Xaverian who strives to let Christ’s light shine in an increasingly global community with all its complex challenges.
This installation is dedicated especially to all Xavier School teachers, from the original school in Echague, the campus in San Juan, and those educating a new generation of Xaverians in Nuvali. They have kept alive Xavier’s mission through the joy of teaching.
This project was conceptualized by my predecessor, Fr Johnny Go, in his final years as School President. The statues were designed and executed by Juan Sajid Imao, son of National Artist Abdulmari Imao, and a multi-awarded artist in his own right, having received, among others awards, the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines award in 2001, Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) of the World award in 2006, and the Metrobank Foundation Prize for Achievement in Sculpture (MPAS) in 2007.
Sajid has many public installations to his credit. There is the 25 meter-in diameter working brass sundial titled Kasaysayan Bawat Oras in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) which was one of the winners during the first public art contest of Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation in 1997. He was also the Grand Prize Winner in Deutsche Bank’s Public Art Contest when he created a 10-foot stylized sculpture made of copper and stainless steel which is also installed in front in BGC. In the Jesuit family, he is best known for the modern brass crucifix of Ateneo de Manila University’s Church of the Gesu, which used empty mortar shells excavated from the church’s construction site. Sajid reinvented them as nails in his rendition of the Christ figure.
The sculptural tableau that we are blessing and unveiling today further cements Sajid’s contributions to our national life of faith. I would also like to thank architects Bong Recio and Franklin Cacacho for their inputs in the design and execution of this project.
None of this would be possible without the resources made available to us by our benefactors. Last summer, as part of Xavier School’s 60th anniversary activities, I led a pilgrimage to Javier, the birthplace of St. Francis in Spain. Greg Yu, alumnus and Chair of the XS Educational and Trust Fund, was with us and so was his wife Zsa Zsa, known to all of us here in Nuvali as the project coordinator of this campus from the very beginning. Some of our guests today were also there. The trip was very spiritually enriching as we prayed at the places associated with St Francis and St Ignatius Loyola. It was during that trip that Greg was inspired to commit ten million pesos towards this project. I was overjoyed to receive the news from Greg, not only because this project is a fitting gift to Nuvali during the 60th anniversary of Xavier School and the fifth year of operation of Xavier School Nuvali, but also because this is an excellent way of honoring the work of Zsa Zsa, who has worked so hard for several years and oversaw the construction of all our buildings here. In fact, she also coordinated this project which their family is donating! I was afraid that this project would also signal Zsa Zsa’s retirement, but she is already working on our next two buildings which are due for groundbreaking next year. I am glad that this is not yet the end, and I would like to publicly thank Greg and Zsa Zsa’s family for this sculptural tableau and also for so generously sharing Zsa Zsa with us. They model for us the Ignatian spirit of generosity.
Thank you once again, and thanks to all of you for being here this morning!