January 28, 2006
Loyola Schools Awards for Service and Excellence
To Whom It May Concern:
Peace of Christ!
I would like to recommend the ATENEO CHRISTIAN LIFE COMMUNITY as MOST OUTSTANDING ORGANIZATION for this year's awards.
I recommend the said organization for several reasons.
Firstly, because of the regular formation activities that its members go through, empowering them to be better servant leaders of the larger community they belong to. ACLC prides itself with a four-fold formation program that integrates spirituality, socio-political and cultural awareness, apostolic service, and community life. These are not slogans that are simplistically placed on brochures. The organization draws from a long tradition of excellence, owing to its existence as the Sodality of our Lady--as it was called before--which began centuries earlier. All the members of the organization go through weekly prayer sessions that are based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Apart from this strong institution, members are required to go through a week long silent Ignatian retreat, held during the semestral break. Such intense formation is not left without a corresponding response of action. The educational aspect of ACLC formation tries to ground its members on current events and issues, as well as the nuances that come with appreciating a lay vocation that comes with the Christian Life Community which members are hopefully open to after college. I shall talk about the aspects of apostolic service and community life as my two subsequent reasons why this organization deserves to be the recipient to this year's award.
Secondly, because of the apostolic impact their endeavours have, particularly the quality of service they bring with their presence. ACLC has been traditionally associated as going to Payatas every weekend for apostolic work with the communities there. What I feel is of particular relevance is how this organization has continually adapted itself in the apostolate area, given that they have been present in Payatas for over three decades now. Through the years, ACLC has learned to specialize on particular needs of the community. Hence, there are groups that focus on tutoring, or groups that prepare children for the sacraments, etc. This allows for greater efficiency of service. But more than just that, ACLC has also learned to synergize with other groups such as Gawad Kalinga, ACMG, and Days with the Lord. These are different groups with different apostolic interests, but whom ACLC has been able to work with in bringing about positive movements in the area. Of significant interest also is the yearly Adopt-A-Child program that ACLC organizes wherein the larger Ateneo community is given the opportunity to sponsor a Christmas party for the children of Payatas. During the culminating activity of AAC, Payatas kids whom ACLCers engage with each weekend are brought to Ateneo for a fun-filled day of activities, a most memorable Christmas gift indeed! However, it would be an injustice if I were simply to go on enumerating concrete activities of which to laud ACLC. I think at the very heart and soul of an apostolic zeal to be effective and efficient is that greater apostolic heart to be simply present. The way by which ACLC has shown its simple yet potent presence year after year in Payatas is a sign of a heart bigger than what all particular projects can achieve. The simple dedication of coming to school each weekend and commuting to Payatas just to spend time with the communities and children there is not just a current testimony to the character of ACLCers, but an anticipation of these young men and women are also be sources of apostolic inspiration in the future.
Finally, because of the possibilities they open up to what it means to be a loving community in the context of our modern day society. It is no secret that Ateneo faces a concrete concern these days: What does it mean to be an Atenean in a globalized culture of consumerism and media? Where do our ideals of service, love of God, and love of country enflesh themselves amidst modern realities and fast-paced changes of values? I think the significant contribution that ACLC provides the Ateneo landscape is in its capacity to provide a space for an alternative lifestyle of being Christian, of being Filipino, of being human. ACLCers are, at best, ordinary people who confront real issues. They face questions that have to deal with what jobs they can pursue, how much they should spend on cellphones and gadgets, whether they can rightly or wrongly spend luxuriously on this or that trend. They confront issues as to whether they can still have faith in God in a postmodern world, how really relevant prayer and the sacraments are, what does it mean to be Christian. They engage with the realities of government in crisis, of the seeming lack of hope in the country, of many of their fellow countrymen leaving for elsewhere. Yes, ACLCers are ordinary people who face such complex questions. And inasmuch as it can be such a temptation for the ordinary Atenean to box out the world or to be boxed in by its secular tendencies, ACLCers somehow find in their little pockets of space--be it in Matteo Ricci, or in their group discussions or prayer sessions--the capacity to face these questions like a real Atenean would: with a bit of seriousness, because these are important things that affect lives; but with a light-heartedness as well, because blessings abound. For this is, after all, the most secret grace of ACLCers: their capacity to stay together inasmuch as they committedly work with each other in building community. ACLCers take care of one another, and challenge each other with values they themselves are struggling with. They call this "The Way of Life," not because this has already been engraved in stone, but precisely because they find that the crux is upon their shoulders to continually redefine what this personally means to them as individuals and as a group. It is in such idealism, tempered by rounds of card games and jamming at the Matteo Ricci steps, that ACLCers have learned to have faith. As they struggle with complexities they have inherited from previous generations, theirs is a journey they do not have to take alone. For they have each other as friends to guide them forward.
If there may be any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at Loyola House of Studies, telephone number 4266101. Or you may reach me at the Philosophy Department, local 5360.
Thank you very much.
Terence Christopher Go Ang