ABS High School Commission holds National Youth Leadership Congress
In this Year of the Laity, the Association of Benedictine School High School Commission organized its National Youth Leadership Congress with the theme revolving around, “Young Benedictine Leaders: Models of Good Zeal,” held at St. Scholastica’s Academy, San Fernando, Pampanga last August 28-30, 2014. The leadership training for student leaders was spearheaded by Sr. Rosalina Fajardo, OSB, Commission Chair, in coordination with all the Coordinators of Student Activities and Services of the seven (7) participating schools, namely: Holy Family Academy, Angeles City, St. Agnes Academy, Legazpi City, St. Scholastica’s Academy, Marikina City, St. Scholastica’s Academy, San Fernando, Pampanga, St. Scholastica’s College, Manila, St. Scholastica’s Academy, Tabunok, Talisay, Cebu City, and St. Scholastica’s College, Westgrove, Silang, Cavite.
On the first day, the sixty-nine (69) delegates from Luzon and the Visayas regions assembled at the school gymnasium for the opening ceremonies prepared by the host school, St. Scholastica’s Academy-San Fernando. This was followed by the getting-to-know you activities where the students were grouped according to deaneries of good zeal. After the health break, Sr. Michaela Manalang, OSB, a Benedictine child and School Directress of St Agnes’ Academy shared her reflections on “The Good Zeal of Monks” according to the Rule of St. Benedict, Ch. 72. She discussed with the student leaders the importance of living and leading a life of love and service, cherishing Christ above all things, giving reverence to one another and upholding all that is true, beautiful and good. A guided group Lectio Divina followed after the talk; it then concluded with Vespers. After dinner, the student-leaders gathered again at the gymnasium not only to showcase their talents in various forms of cultural presentations, but to form camaraderie between and among them. A simple snack and night prayer capped the day.
The second day commenced with morning praise followed by an inspirational talk on ‘The Heart and Hands of a true Benedictine Leader,” delivered by Ms. Selene Yu, SSC-Manila’s 2012 PAX awardee. She shared with the young leaders her story on how she developed her advocacy for S- leadership: The Potter’s Way which led to the founding of “The Potter’s Leadership Academy. Her leadership framework is anchored on five (5) elements, namely: Pray, Listen to God’s will, Obey God’s will, Trust and Submit to God’s will which is completely in sync with the Benedictine spirituality of Ora et Labora. Group sharing of their insights and learnings concluded the morning session.
In the afternoon, the delegates listened to another Scholastican leader, Ms. Georgina Hernandez, SSC-M HS batch 2003 and currently serving as Director of Social Welfare and Development Sustainable Livelihood Program of DSWD. The talk focused on her passion for reaching out to the poor and the marginalized which began in her grade school years at SSC-M. She claimed that St. Benedict’s word ‘listen with the ear of the heart,’ molded her into becoming a leader as a community worker who heeds “the call of the time, and who is moved by those who suffer, struggle and finally are moved by the Spirit.” More importantly, she explained that community work is a way of life for a leader who values, “charity and justice, and never about pity. It’s seeing the good in every person, and the potential that they are not able to realize because of their poverty situation. It’s journeying with them in the process of reaching their dreams and goals in life.”
With a Benedictine’s balance of work and leisure, the deaneries participated in the amazing race games prior to the creative presentation of lessons that they have gained from the congress. Compline crowned the day with the students’ reflections and insights prepared by Ms. Veronica Almine, Coordinator of Student Activities, SAA, Legazpi.
The last day of the congress concluded with a thanksgiving Mass followed by the distribution of certificates after which the whole delegation planted ten (10) Mango seedlings — with the prayer and hope to harvest some fruits in the next ABS National Leadership Youth Congress. For the last activity, the delegates visited the different Churches in Angeles City including a tour of the ruins at San Guillermo Church and St Mary’s Academy (formerly an ABS member school up to 1996) in Bacolor that was half-buried in lahar during the Mt. Pinatubo volcano eruption in 1991. They also went to Bale-Balayan museum for the Poor in Angeles City and to Susi Cuisine to taste Pampanga’s delicacies and bring ‘pasalubong’ to families and friends.
Indeed, the three-day training of young Benedictine leaders was a grace-filled event of collaboration, cooperation and support from everyone. The success of the congress is highly attributed to Sr. M. Ezekiel Fernandez and the SSA- San Fernando Community for hosting the event, to Sr. Josefina Nepomuceno, OSB ABS Executive Director, for the financial support and to all our ABS school administrators – religious and lay-mission partners for their energy, time and sacrifices expended to make a positive difference in helping the young leaders to be models of Good Zeal, characterized by a loving service and commitment to good governance, responsibility, accountability and transparency, so that in all things God may be glorified.
By: Sr. Rosalina Fajardo, OSB
High School Principal