In a solemn ceremony witnessed by hundreds, the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) rededicated itself to the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception on July 3, 2009. The event marked the start of the school’s celebration of its hundredth birthday in 2012.
To add even more import to the occasion, the consecration to the Blessed Virgin took place during a Holy Mass that also celebrated the 150th anniversary, or sesquicentennial, of the return of the Jesuits to the Philippines.
The Jesuits, as members of the Roman Catholic religious order Society of Jesus are known, founded many institutes of higher learning in the country since they came back to the country in 1859, including ADZU in 1912.
The Mass was celebrated by Most Reverend Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, DD at the Multi-Purpose Covered Courts of the university’s La Purisima Campus.
The mass was con-celebrated by university president Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, SJ; Bishop Martin Jumoad of Basilan Prelature; Fr. Jose Cecilio J. Magadia, SJ, head of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus; two former presidents of the university, Fr. Ernesto Carretero, SJ and Fr. William F. Kreutz, SJ; the president of Ateneo de Naga University Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ.
Other Jesuits, both local and from out of town, were also present, as well as priests from various parishes in the city.
The mass was attended by members of the school’s board of trustees, students, teachers, staff, friends, and benefactors of the school.
“Today, we gather to celebrate the same anniversary of the return of the Jesuits to the Philippines. But what makes today’s event special is that for the first time, we bring this commemoration to Mindanao, the land that was the very reason for the Jesuits’ return, the land to which we have dedicated ourselves continually to this very day,” Fr. Magadia remarked in his homily.
Aside from the rededication ceremony, other activities were held that day to mark the sesquicentennial and the start of the centennial: a luncheon gathering; a public lecture by noted historian and archivist Fr. Jose S Arcilla, SJ on “The Jesuits’ Return to Mindanao” and “The Beginnings of Ateneo de Zamboanga”; an exhibit on “The Jesuits in Mindanao since their Return” and “The Ateneo de Zamboanga in Retrospect” at the Gallery of the Peninsula and the Archipelago; and a formal dinner with performances at the Multi-Purpose Covered Courts.
The exhibit was organized to give the viewers tangible sources of information they came across during the lecture of Fr. Arcilla. Featured in the exhibit are vintage photos of missionaries in Mindanao and heritage items fleshing out the university’s history and development. The exhibit is open to the public until September 3.
The day’s events shared the theme “En la Compañia de los Jesuitas: Re-Living Memories, Continuing Legacies.” - By Yen Blanco Delgado. With reports from Rianne Miranda (BSMasscom3)