05312024.Web.Banner Fr Mars P Tan SJ

My dear Xavier Ateneo colleagues, family members of our awardees, students, alumni, friends and guests. Today, our Service Awards Program, for me, is one of the most important annual celebrations of our university; and should be celebrated with much joy and gratitude by everyone. I will cite three reasons why it’s one of our most important celebrations.

First. It’s a remembering. The word “service” alone carries with it a profound meaning in Christian, and in particular, Ignatian spirituality. In common uses, however, the term “service,” just like “love,” is often misused, abused, and overused. We usually think that “service’ is anything that we do or accomplish for others, which is not exactly and necessarily true and correct. I may work the whole day but without love and no desire to bring Christ to others, my action may not be considered an act of service. For service can be done only in love. So, love always precedes service and the latter fulfills the desire to love. Every time, we celebrate Service Awards, we are all reminded of its true meaning and purpose for us as a Filipino, Catholic, and Jesuit University. In a way, we celebrate the Service Awards because we want to remember the true meaning of Christian service as the most beautiful expression of human love for God and for others.

Second. It’s a celebration. Our Service Awards Program is a celebration of people, 150 service awardees, and 10 retirees for their many years of love expressed in service to Xavier Ateneo. You, our beloved retirees and dear service awardees have personified love here at Xavier Ateneo. So this is a celebration of your persons as lovers and servers in this university. All of you have contributed to where Xavier Ateneo is now as a Jesuit institution, to what has become of our students and alumni, and to our lives and work as your fellow workers and friends. Xavier Ateneo is so rich with talents, and each one of us has his/her ways of bringing their gifts of love to our beloved school, though we do not always agree on how we do this under different circumstances. It’s the most challenging work of the university president to synthesize and harness your various gifts and talents so that all these can form into a unified work of love for the university and for God’s greater glory.

Third. It’s about gratitude. Today we are given this best opportunity as an institution to collectively express our gratitude to retirees and service awardees. A short virtual program like this and even an entire day of elaborate ceremonies won’t be enough to thank all of you for your dedicated and generous service to Xavier Ateneo and to all that its stands for. We thank you for your many years of love and service to the many generations of Xavier Ateneo students. For our retirees, I know that at any point (s) along the way, you might have thought of leaving Xavier Ateneo for various reasons but you decided to stay also for various reasons. I am sure one of those reasons that keep you here is your love for Xavier Ateneo, its mission, values, history, tradition, stories, and charisms, which for many years you’ve taken as parts of your life and work.  Thank you for keeping the faith in Xavier Ateneo. I would like to personally thank all of you for that. I can say that XA has become more loving and serving because of the day to-day examples you’ve shown to us, by Ma’am Sol, Ma’am Dulce, Sir Ed, Ma’am Verna, Ma’am Bing, Sir Bibal, Ma’am Doris. Ma’am Lai, Ma’am Norma, and Sir Junior Biwang!  Just imagine Xavier Ateneo without you, we would have missed lots of love and service in action!

To all our dear service awardees, thank you for your 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 years of service to Xavier Ateneo. I hope that you carry on and continue believing its love and service not money that make the whole world go round. To all our beloved retirees, may you enjoy your longest break with your family and loved ones and bring Xavier Ateneo’s brand of service wherever you will be.

May God bless us all. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!