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Opening Eucharistic Celebration – ICLA’s 25th Foundation Anniversary

Introduction to the Mass (May 16, 2022)

Written by Fr. Prisco Cajes, OFM

Read by Sr. Eileen Adjaro, SIHM

1. Introduction

We welcome everyone to this Opening Mass of the celebration of the 25th Foundation Anniversary of ICLA. Mabuhay ICLA! In this celebration, we praise God with gratitude for the many blessings He has showered on ICLA throughout the 25 years of its existence.

2. History of the foundation of ICLA

ICLA started to be conceived immediately after Vatican II. As all of us know, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) called for the renewal of Religious/Consecrated Life. Driven by the need for a systematic and in-depth theological reflection that must accompany the process of renewal, the Claretian Missionaries shortly after the Council founded the Instituto Teológico de Vida Religiosa in Madrid, Spain and the Instituto di Teologia della Vita Consecrata in Rome, Italy.

In an Assembly of the General Government of the Claretians in Rome in October of 1992, it was proposed that a Center of Higher Studies in Asia will be established. This proposal was overwhelmingly approved by the Assembly, and in February of 1993 the Minister General of the Claretians called for a meeting to discern on how to concretely implement the approved project of a Center in Asia.

This meeting approved the following:

1.) The Center will serve the Consecrated Life in Asia.

2.) The Center would be established in Manila.

3.) The Center would be a shared responsibility by all the Major Entities of the Claretians in Asia.

In November 1993, the General Government of the Claretians appointed Fr. Domingo Moraleda, CMF to be in-charge of the Project, which is the Center.

The Center was to be known as the Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia or ICLA, and was officially inaugurated on June 14, 1997 by Cardinal Jaime Sin (Archbishop of Manila), Archbishop Orlando Quivedo, OMI (CBCP – President), and Fr. Rolando de la Rosa (Rector of UST).

Since then ICLA has contributed in the formation and education of the Consecrated persons in Asia, especially from the poor churches in the continent.

3. Reasons for Our Gratitude to God

ICLA has produced hundreds of graduates many of them became Superiors of Orders and Congregations, leaders, and good missionaries of the Church. First of all, this is what we thank God for, today. We thank God for all the ICLA alumni and alumnae, all the graduates in each of the academic years for the 25 years of ICLA’s existence. For them, thank you Lord! Let us give them an applause of appreciation.

Secondly, we thank God for the continued help from the Claretian Missionaries, benefactors, funding agencies, stakeholders, the Church of Asia, and the whole Roman Catholic Church of which ICLA is a humble part and contributor. For the Church, the Claretians and other missionaries, thank you Lord! Please, give them a big hand!

Thirdly, we thank God for all the individuals who have been part of ICLA and who contributed to the establishment, growth, and the continuing existence of ICLA – former staff (those who have died) and those still alive and working in ICLA today. For them let us thank God. Another big hand for them, too.

Finally, let us thank the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us thank God for being our faithful and loving companion for ICLA and for each one of us. God is always with us here in ICLA. Let us give a big hand for our God. Thank you Lord.

4. Our Theme: “Sturdy Roots and Winged Dreams”

God has given ICLA “Sturdy Roots”. As we look at the past 25 years of ICLA, we realize how the Institute has grown strong throughout these years. And today we look at the future of ICLA with Hope. We know that ICLA’s sturdy roots become ICLA’s able wings to fly swiftly and steadily towards the future.

We may not know what lies beyond the horizon – to ICLA’s future. But we have trust and confidence in God’s Spirit guiding ICLA and giving us wings to fly and reach our dreams. We dream that ICLA will improve the number of its students to the double and even triple. ICLA dreams that we add and offer more important MA and PhD academic degrees – like Theology of Interculturality, Theology of Interreligious Dialogue, Marian and Asian Feminist Theology, and others. We dream of improving our facilities and faculties.

So future-looking, we trust and we hope and we pray for these “winged dreams” of ICLA today in this celebration.

Thus, our theme for the 25th Foundation Anniversary of ICLA therefore is “Sturdy Roots and Winged Dreams.”

We have prepared for this celebration and we even invited very important personalities to grace our events as our speakers, even though we are not sure if they coulp come because of the Pandemic. We invited the Minister General of the Claretians; unfortunately he declined. We invited the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines and the Cardinal Archbishop of Manila, they also cannot come. Other speakers also cannot come. These are all still the effects of Covid 19. However, two bishops can come and celebrate with us during these days of our Silver Anniversary. We also invited local religious consecrated persons. Some can come, while others cannot. We are grateful to all who can celebrate with us.

5. Foreign Countries’ Participation in our Celebration

Many friends and ICLA alumni from foreign countries like Vietnam, Myanmar, Bangladesh, South Korea, and others are praying for ICLA during these days of our celebrations. We are grateful from the bottom of our hearts to our alumni and alumnae in these four countries for putting up and displaying our ICLA 25th Anniversary posters in their convents and churches. Moreover, they also posted them in the internet especially in Facebook and in other media platforms.

Many important persons were also asked to send us their message of congratulations for our Anniversary Celebration to be published in our ICLA Anniversary Book. Many messages have already been received.

Thank you and may God bless you all – our brothers and sisters in other countries. Let us give them a big hand, please!

6. Conclusion: Intensifying and Heightening Mode of Our Celebration

To conclude this Introduction, let me just say that the mode of our more than week-long celebration is like this: “it is gradually intensifying and heightening.” We start with the three-day seminar and with this opening Mass. Though, I am not a Minister General, nor a Papal Nuncio nor Cardinal nor a Bishop, I have to fill up to preside this opening mass of our celebration. Please, forgive me for doing so.

Thus, we start humbly and with less intensity. Our celebrations will gradually be more interesting and more intensifying with the next activities. After these seminar days (May 16-18), we have a more joyful intense Intercultural Festival Day (May 19), after that is a deeper and more serious Religious Life Week Conference (May 20-22), then, the Hogar Blessing (May 24), which will offer a prayerful and ecological experience. However, the most intensified activities of our Anniversary Celebration will be the last two days – the Graduation Day (May 26) and the Culmination Day (May 27). Hence, the mode of our Anniversary Celebration is “gradual heightening and intensifying mode.”

With praises and thanksgiving to God let us now continue with our Mass.

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