Allow me to just quote the first paragraph of the letter of our Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, about the four “Universal Apostolic Preferences” that would guide the Jesuits in the next years in discerning the will of God for us.

“The Universal Apostolic Preferences, which I promulgate with this letter, are the fruit of an election. A choice has been made among several possibilities, all of them good. Our desire has been to find the best way to collaborate in the Lord’s mission, the best way to serve the Church at this time, the best contribution we can make with what we are and have, seeking to do what is for the greater divine service and the more universal good.”

Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, 6 February 2019

This provides the horizon and direction of my ministries today. The outline of this blog takes from the preferences, and the content of each article are my personal experiences, past and present, in living out these preferences, which I have been graced to have lived through them in my life.

Having a passion for forming young people into future leaders, this category is about my thoughts and experiences as a youth formator, particularly in my present assignment as the Assistant Director for Formation for the Ateneo de Davao Senior High School.

The profile of our graduates is very clear: we want them to be competent in their fields, compassionate to others especially to the poor, culturally-sensitive and respectful of other people’s differences. We envision them to be people of conscience, that they know right from wrong, but more importantly, that they pursue what is right. We hope that their lives is driven by a deep faith in God, and since we are a Jesuit and Catholic educational institution, our principles are rooted in a firm faith in Jesus Christ. And thus, our mission is forming them into committed people of faith, in whatever religion they belong to. Note that Mindanao is tri-people: Christians, Muslims, lumads. I have all of them in school.

Thus, a large part of my ministry is to equip all stakeholders, particularly faculty, staff, students, and parents, with the necessary skills for a strong and committed life of service to others with an emphasis on the needs of Mindanao.

An African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

I would like to raise my students to become responsible and active citizens with outstanding faith-based values and principles, and thus, I actively engage in social media to fulfil my mission most effectively and with a greater reach.

Social media offers the potential to communicate with the youth, and therefore, to contribute to leadership development. I have also reiterated that I want to be accessible to them. Social media has become to many young people an environment, like a meeting place, or a tambayan where they share anything under the sun.

I will thus share my experiments and experiences, both positive and negative, in the use of social media to engage with the young.

In 2011, I was sent to the Kino Border Initiative, located at the Nogales-Arizona border. KBI was a bi-provincial apostolate of the Jesuit Provinces of Mexico and California. We provided humanitarian aid to undocumented migrants, who had been deported from the US. Since their families remained in the US, they strongly desired to return, despite the dangers awaiting them. One of the “returnees” who braved the Sonoran desert was a 13-year old girl who died along the way.

In 2016, I was invited to give the Advent recollection at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. There I met various communities, not just the Filipino community. They were from different races and cultures, and yes, different rites within the Catholic Church. That experience broadened my understanding of the migration phenomenon, that, together with my experience at KBI, enflame my desire “to walk with them in both their sorrows and their joys.”

The call of Pope Francis to care for the environment in his encyclical, “Laudato Si” strummed the strings of my first love: marine biology. And the more I see photos of tons of trash at sea or on land, the more I have this “anger” that fires my desire to help in the solution of this climate crisis.

We’ll begin with cleaning up our shores. And I’ll tell you how we have banned single-use plastics in our schools, including our struggles in living out this new way of living (yes, it is hard especially when restaurants automatically put a straw in your drink).

Let’s put it more bluntly: the culture of silence and discernment pose as a great challenge to many people today. But silence and discernment have always been the hallmark of Ignatian Spirituality.

I work in Basic Education, as well as in the broader world of the young who live in a “kaleidoscope world” (McCann-Erickson Youth Survey 2018). It is a challenge, therefore, to bring people closer to God in an age of distraction, and a much more demanding is to use the Spiritual Exercises and teach discernment. Try keeping adolescents still and serene for 5 mins!

But precisely because of a complicated world that “finding God in all things” becomes more desireable and necessary. It is like a dream adventure to millennials.

I’m posting some creative work we’ve done, and will continue to do, in the hope that we might stumble upon a means that would be effective to the millennials and Generation Z who can’t do without their mobile phones.