Five Steps to Rediscovering Spirituality as an LGBT Person | Nick Literski

I would like to share this especially to my LGBT friends out in the open (like my good friends Cherry​ and Helen Marie​), and even to those who are still in the closet…It might be of interest to you…Thanks!

Being religiously unaffiliated, however, doesn’t mean not being spiritual. In my practice as a spiritual guide, many LGBT adults have told me how they want to reconnect with spirituality, but they’re uncertain about how they can do so.

Source: Five Steps to Rediscovering Spirituality as an LGBT Person | Nick Literski

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Post-birthday thoughts 2015

My birthday season this year is different than the previous years.  Whereas, there were times I asked for a birthday of silence and rest, now I am thankful that the Lord is blessing me with something new.  A new family, a new work and a new ministry.  And while I know that I am still on the “honeymoon stage”, I know that I am savoring every blessing and experience that comes along the way as these moments pass.

While I am experiencing the “new”, I have to be thankful for what came before as this is the spirit of a birthday celebration.  This is one of the great realizations that I have after I have passed the “summer of silence” a month ago (check out my blogs, and the future blogs I’ll be posting on https://spitfire0877.wordpress.com regarding this).

Hence, I am inspired to share some points and express some declarations as my birthday weekend comes to a close:

1) While my exit with the Alagad ni Maria was not graceful 12 years ago, I am cognizant of the fact that without them, I will not be the person I am who has passion for the ministry.  Therefore to my very first community, I will say the following:

a) While the years had passed, my stand is still clear about the blog post that had drove the wedge between us, and I will not apologize for the things I have said ago as this has been done out of expressing the truth. However, the context of that blog was the years 2004-05, and this was written by a young brash seminarian who was hurt by the historical events of the time (especially the deaths of my mom and Bro. Ely Buenavente, AM).  Their loss, and the circumstances that lay in-between gave me painful realizations so much that I experienced a sort of rude awakening, hence leading to that moment where I wrote that piece against my-soon-to-be former community at that time.  And though I was fully aware of the consequences of my actions, this was done as I was actually calling out the elders of the community during that time, and not the whole community in general.  Well somewhere along the way, it got out of hand and it reached the community in general. And I admit, it blew out out of proportion as it was interpreted to be an attack against the whole AM community.  And in this, I will ask forgiveness for the hurt I have caused to those who have been affected by it especially to those who have journeyed with me, and to those who were greatly affected for my emotions of anger and righteous indignation by receiving the ire of the elders at that time. I realized that though I was fighting for what was right, I have hurt a lot of people, drove a wedge between those who were in the community, and ultimately putting me and the community at odds.  It may had been the worst time in both our lives, both the AM and myself, and it wasn’t a good parting as I finally decided to part ways with them in 2006.

Some may say, “Why only now, at this time that you will ask for forgiveness?” I have only one answer to give: to see this in maturity takes time like wounds that heal over time. Sometimes, it takes a maturity of sorts to realize that who that person was then years ago is not the same person he is years after, and that is what I realize right now as I am not that same angry, passionate seminarian who rises up whenever he feels he is put down.  Yes, I have no regrets over what I said, but I ask forgiveness to the Alagad ni Maria in general for the hurt my statements have caused.  I know that I may not receive your forgiveness nor do I expect it to be granted, but I do know I can only live with it, forgive what needs to be forgiven (including forgiving myself), and make the future right by helping those who had been wounded as we are as I continue to journey in ministry on my own while learning the lessons of the past continuously.

b) I am also thankful to God for you because my passion for ministry which seeds was planted in my family, the schools I’ve been to and the parish communities I belonged to started germinating with you.  As I trace the steps of where my passion and my love for the ministry comes from, it always goes back to the call of “standing with Mary at the foot of the cross”.  And until now, I still carry within me that sense of mission while it has evolved in many spiritualities through the communities I have encountered (Carmelian, Marian, Benedictine, Ignatian-Marian, Claretian and now Lasallian). That while there are changing expressions of spirituality is not a hindrance in my journey. Rather, it made me realize that God is blessing me to call me constantly to share in His work no matter which community I belonged as I served them and learning their way fo life towards God.  No matter what I do and where I go in my journey, I recognize that it all started with the community of the Alagad ni Maria. Starting from becoming a KLM trainor batch 1992, to becoming part of Batch 1994 of the seminarians/AM Brothers to my not-so-graceful exit in 2006, the mission was always my rallying point in doing ministry.

2) The Maryhill School of Theology was the place where the young naive, obedient AM seminarian/brother was opened to the reality of “doing theology” in the world especially in the grassroots.  Frankly, my stand and conviction to leave the AM Community to be transplanted elsewhere came from the studies, experiences and encounters during my stay here.  Not only that, I have met a lot of wonderful people here from the Professors (Dr. Emmanuel Serafica de Guzman, Dr. Agnes Brazal, Padi Tom Maddela, Bp. Pablo Virgilio David, (+)Sr.Angelita Walker, RSCJ, Sr. Amelia Vasquez, RSCJ, Fr. Victor Nicdao, Dr. Dennis Gonzalez, Dr. Jun Bombongan, Fr. Ver Miranda, Sr. Kathleen Coyle, MSSC and (+) Fr. Colm McKeating, SSC to name a few), to my batchmates (SanGugma ‘Tol) who eventually became the GTP class of 2003, and to others esepcially in the ATEP who became my friends and are wonderful people who enriched my life (JayCab Cabrera, Pol Dinlasan, Joy Marzonia-Gallos, Ben Pormento Gemina, Chito Licuanan and fave sister from another motha’ Weena Salvador Meily), not to forget the staff past and present of MST, and of course ang paborito kong ate, nanay, kaibigan at kaututang dila, Tita Crisostomo.  No matter what your stations were, you touched my life, molded my consciousness and reminded me of the real nature of the person and mission of that great itinerant preacher from Nazareth, and the ideas and thoughts that developed from it in relation with the context of the globalized world where we live in, and my place in it.

3) With great joy, I will always be thankful to the Marian-Uganayan Community of St. Mary’s College of Quezon City for accepting this lost person whose unbridled passion was tamed and trained by the different persons, mentors and people who touched my life. In my transition to my return to the world outside the seminary, you were the first community who journeyed with me, taught me, mentored me, accepted me, supported me and even shared your generosity with me through the good times and bad. I will never forget my colleagues and friends who were very supportive.  Fondly, they called me “Papiyo!”, and it meant (and still it means) a lot to me because it established the “me” in the SMCQC as well as the cordial relationships, and for a while, made me forget the sorrows I was experiencing when our family faced the trial of taking care of my suffering mother for over two years.  I will never forget the HS Department during our retreat at Betania Baguio where you prayed for me and my family during those hours of need.  I am also thankful especially to the CifCom (formerly CESCA with our director and whom I considered my greatest mentor, Sr. Delia Servino, RVM) for opening me to new experiences especially the Bilibid visits, reach-outs, and to the older teachers and admin who introduced me to new responsibilities like the club moderatorship and the advisory (though I never lasted long, but I am still thankful). I am thankful to the friendships I shared (and still share) with the “breakfast club”, “the Year 3”, the 4th Year Faculty circa 2004-2005, the “‘Tipid gang” (my first advisory class of diverse personalities), and my Masayahin class.  And although I didn’t stay long, I now realized that I left at a time when I was looking for something more which the community could not provide anymore as I have outgrown what you have taught me.  Nevertheless, I will always fond memories with you.

4) I am also thankful, blessed and lucky to have been part of the Claretian family in the good parts and with its twists and turns, the successes and failures, and the closings and openings.  In my view, Claret was the acid test of the mentoring I received from the Marian-Uganayan Community of SMCQC.  Sometimes, I gave honor to the community, and sometimes I failed. I was appreciated by some, judged by many, but despite that, was considered a colleague by all.  While I may have lost a lot in the community, I was able to grow as a person, and gave me a lot of material blessings and growth opportunities.  It was in this period that I was able to connect with a lot of groups and ministries outside the school community which was possible because of her generosity to let me join them.  It was also my stay with them that I dared myself to pursue my unfinished business of finishing my MA in Theology major in Pastoral Ministry despite the obstacles laid in front of me.  I have nothing but thankfulness also to the FAITH Education and Enrichment Division Feedcsqc because despite the successes and heartaches, they were there to put up with me, converse with me and accept me for who I am, and helped me to grow as the person I am right now.  And while recently the door was shut on me to join them in the CMO (twice!), that event provided an open window where I made my graceful and silent exit as I am given the chance to continue the passion to be back to what I love: the ministry.

(NB. Sorry po kung d po ako makabanggit ng pangalan, pero alam ko sa aking puso na mahalaga po kayo sa aking buhay, maging kabati ko man kayo o nde ko nakasundo sa paglalakbay ng aking buhay.)

5) And finally to my love, Majella whose love, support, reminders and quirks made me grounded on my own two feet. It has been 6 years, and I wish that in our seventh, our love will grow towards commitment and further love. You have been my silent center, my anchor who sets my boat to rest.  We have loved each other, put up with each other, conversed, argued, and even at this point, stayed with each other. I have nothing but thankfulness and love for the gift of you which God has given me.

It is in all of these experiences that this person who has lived in this world for 38 years has been shaped, molded and journeyed. Yet, it has not ended, but rather it starts anew again at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde which began this past month as Campus Minister for those of us have been called “together and by association”.  Whatever the journey requires me and wherever it takes me, I can only lay claim to where I came from, and in God’s grace to help me as to where I will go.

38 years…and still going on…

PS. Huling pananalita: Maraming salamat po sa mga nakaalala, bumati at nakibahagi sa aking pasasalamat at kasiyahan sa pagdiriwang ko ng aking kaarawan, sa pag-abot ko sa ika-38 taon ng aking buhay, lalo’t higit sa mga nakasama ko kamakailan lang sa Balai Indang na kabahagi ng aking bagong pamayanan sa Benilde.  Isang taos-pusong pasasalamat din sa mga nakasama ko sa Retreat Seminar 1 ng Year 2015 na naging kaalakbay namin sa proseso pati sa mga nakilakbay sa amin: Sir Neil Parinas, Ms. Ruth de Leon-Hilario at Sir Aido Sepeda.

God bless po sa inyong lahat!

“C’MON MAKE IT EASY, SAY I NEVER MATTERED!”: Reflections on the passing of Julia Buencamino

[Blogger’s note: My condolences to the Buencamino family over their loss of their daughter Julia. This blog is not an intent to analyze or offer answers to the death of Julia Buencamino, but rather a reflection and a call for us that this reality exists, and that more than ever, we are called to reach out to them, and make them feel that they are not alone in their struggle and seeming despair in life.]

While reading over the INQUIRER.net​ article on Julia Buencamino’s artworks, I realize that you don’t need to look at one person’s appearance to know that she/he is depressed. In fact, I have encountered a lot of suicidal cases during my foray into ministry as an Alagad ni Maria brother. Whether one did go with it or not, and had survived it or not, one cannot really imagine nor can find any answers as to why such a phenomenon (if you can call it that way happens).

I remember years ago of friend of mine who lost her brother as he committed suicide. I was about to do the noontime radio youth show in the province where I assigned then, and I remember having to put 20-30 mins of the time just playing Bukas Palad songs about hope, and I dedicated it to her as she dealt with her loss.  The thing was, she was also my co-host on that show, and somehow I realized how devastated she was about the loss. Graciously, she was very thankful after that portion because it reminded her that I was there, my community was there, and the host of those who loved her and her family were there to show their love and support during that difficult time.  And like Julia’s story, no one had an inkling that his brother was in that state that his struggle ended when he took his own life.

No one can really know really. It can be one of your siblings, your friends, the person sitting next to you, the one you have greeted or even the stranger you interacted in a positive or negative way. You may think everything is all right, but it may not be at the other end. And the reverse can be true because you may be the one who is depressed and may have suicidal tendencies.

And in the artworks she drew, a familiar haunting message always catches my attention, “C’MON MAKE IT EASY, SAY I NEVER MATTERED!

A chilling message to some of us, but to those who were raised with the eyes and sense of authentic faith in Jesus especially in ministry and accompaniment, this is actually a call out of desperation, and borne out of depression. This haunting cry of Julia for me tonight is a call to reflection as I am again reminded of those lives overtaken by depression. More than often, in their existential angst, they give in to the power of despair as they take their own lives out of helplessness against their loneliness, their angst and anger, and their depression as they are subsumed by the view that the world doesn’t care, and in return, they have lost all care as well. I am also haunted by the memory of the families left behind seemingly bereft of answers, and even bereft of that faith in a God that seems to test them.  And we do think at times they are tested, even offer answers to the why and the how it happened.

We will always think our knowledge of the faith can give us the answers we need.  Just like the friends of that epitome of suffering in the Bible, Job, we seem to think that just because we are good in Theology class, or that we are top in our knowledge of our Catechism, or that we even go to Mass and had listened to every homily of the priest, or that we attend Bible study, etc. that we know how God thinks.  But just like the paradoxical speech of God in book of Job says,

Who is this who darkens counsel with words of ignorance?

Gird up your loins now, like a man; I will question you, and you tell me the answers!

Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.  

Who determined its size? Surely you know?

Who stretched out the measuring line for it?  

Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid its cornerstone,  

While the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  

Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb,  

When I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands?  

When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door,  

And said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,

and here shall your proud waves stop?  

Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning

and shown the dawn its place  

For taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are shaken from it?” (Job 38:2-13 NAB)

This verse was actually both a warning and an unconventional wisdom being offered to those both the suffering and the blessed: We are not God so we cannot presume to know the answers to whatever happens in life.  I know many will be skeptical and say, “But we have the sciences and the disciplines, surely we can explain this the way your divine theories and spirituality seem to offer answers in times like these.”  Actually, in the past, we who reflect on the Word used to presume in our audacity and arrogance as “guides” in life to offer answers such as “Well, maybe this event is God’s test for you”, and even down to this worst one (among others in my opinion), “Maybe in my opinion, this is God’s punishment to you because you have seemingly forgotten Him because you haven’t gone to Sunday Mass or that (insert any church tradition you know of here) __________________________ !”

Keep in mind, that I am not against any Church tradition here (lest my brothers and sisters in the conservative point of view may hold as such in my statements).  What is wrong here are not the teachings or the deposit of faith, but the way we use them as we interpret a certain notion we have as we try to grapple with this reality.

And to be honest, there are really NO answers we can offer.  Because if we try to answer them, we presume to be God and know the will of God. In the story of Job, we only know of how Job was tested, but we forget how his friends talked to him, and argued with him offering him answers that they presumed is the mind and will of God.  However, when the story ends, we see God mentioning these words to these friends of Job, “My anger blazes against you and your two friends! You have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job. So now take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves, and let my servant Job pray for you. To him I will show favor, and not punish your folly, for you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job.” (Job 42:7-8 NAB)  Keep in mind, God speaks to them of not rightly speaking about Her/Him and it was Job who spoke rightly about God.  Does this mean that the voice and complaints of the suffering matter more than what we know about God?  I guess the answer is YES.  And the explanation here at least in the author’s mind is not in the nature of the words they have spoken, but the way it was spoken.  It is actually a reversal of fortunes here because in this, the author tells us that the voice of the suffering talking is more honest, authentic and truthful in their conversing than we who seem to know a lot about God whether as theologians, ministers, catechists or the like.

What is taught to us in the grappling of this reality is not to offer rationalizations, spiritualizations or even that we theologize too much. That is only our mind talking.  What is needed is that we have a compassionate spirit, a listening heart and an open attitude to accept the questions, doubts, anger and even the unbelief of the people who experience this.  To this I say, the deposit of faith we express in words and propositions is not so much the priority here, but rather the faith we hold by the heart we have in God’s grace that should move us to silence, in the hopes that in this passively active encounter, we (both the suffering and the companion) can discover God together.  And this, I think, is what the haunting cry of those who give in to despair and commit suicide together with their affected families mean and ask for, as they cry out to God. Our silent presence, our show and practice of Christian (and even non-Christian) love and the offering of hope by our companionship and accompaniment as a response to their honest and authentic expression of angst against God is where the Spirit should lead us.  And we may not be successful all the time.  Yes, in my years of experiencing this reality, I will tell you that time and time again, we will express our own angst against God because of what we perceive to be our failure to help and make a difference.  And we will fail, as I have many times.  However, let us always be assured that despite we failing in many ways in facing any reality in ministry especially the reality of depression and suicide is the comfort of the words of the Lord Jesus as mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mat 28:20 NAB)  And if that is not comfort and assurance in what we do for them in God’s time despite the times we “fail”, then what is?

C’MON MAKE IT EASY, SAY I NEVER MATTERED!

To my brothers and sisters who are in this state of hopelessness and despair, and to the families that do suffer as a result of this reality: You do matter, and forgive us if often we do not listen to you and be patient towards you.  May God in His grace, love and compassion remind us that we are here for you, and that we have to listen and accompany you.  It may not be easy for us, and forgive us for our impatience, but know that even we are broken like you, and together we seek God in the light.

And to my brothers and sisters who see and encounter them: Let us make them feel that they matter. It is not easy because it requires a lot of patience and silence to show them that we care. Let our actions, more than our words make them feel that they matter, and they will see God in us even if we don’t understand.  It is in these moments that God moves us, and use us to be Her/His companion to them as they cry out in all honesty and truth of their suffering and pain in their search for Her/Him.  Let our silence that is expressed in active compassion and care in companionship be the way that points to their search of God.

THEY MATTER BECAUSE GOD LOVES THEM.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit” (Rom 14:17 NAB)

Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:11 NAB)

Robin Williams: His Five Most Memorable Roles

This is a shock as I was browsing the e-mail just moments ago. A sad day indeed as I grew up knowing him, and the brand of humor he has brought in the industry. But moreover, he will be remembered for the most poignant performances he has brought in movies, four  of which are my favorites: 1) Good Will Hunting; 2) Dead Poets’ Society; 3) Where Dreams May Come; and 4) Patch Adams…

But he will be remembered as the alien who was more human in many ways, and the most profound Jew of my time…

Vaya Con Dios, Mr. Williams! You will be missed…

TIME

Beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams passed away Aug. 11 at the age of 63 in a suspected suicide after a long battle with depression. As the world mourns the loss of a comedic voice that spanned decades, we take a look back at his career.

Williams made the long climb from stand-up comic to leading man. His first roles were strictly in comedy, including stints on The Richard Pryor Show; eventually, he broke big playing a sailor with a love-hate relationship with spinach in Popeye. From there he went on to star in The World According to Garp, Moscow on the Hudson, Jumanji,Good Morning Vietnam, Night at the Museum, Death to Smoochy and many more films.

Here are five of his most memorable roles.

Mork in Mork & Mindy

Mork, the alien sent from the planet Ork, who came to Earth in a small, one-man egg-shaped…

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Reports from Asia-Pacific Theologians

I have participated in the survey of the first two reports. I consider these reports to be increasing relevant in today’s world particularly in the field of the faith-life which must be espoused by the aggiornamento of Vatican II. This is like Asia now after 50 years of Vatican II. Pls. take time to read this as this may very well have implications on the development of lay empowerment in the field of theology.

The first two reports are done by two of my former professors in theology.  They are husband and wife, and both have extensive academic background in the field of theology as well as on-going exposure in the field as they continue to articulate the faith-life experiences of the people.

The Discourse of Economy and the “Soul” of Education: A Discourse of Polarities

Last Monday, I have heard the SONA of the President. While I believe in his integrity as a public servant, it seems that he is part of the old guard that seems to still use the discourse of economics. Our country is holding on to this discourse that is seemingly keeping and trying to be relevant, but is not reflected on the lives of the Filipinos…

Economics and its discourse is as old as Adam Smith, and back then progress which was the end-result and goal  of economics was relevant because of the advancements made by humanity in the name of science and technology in the years of the 19th Century Industrial Revolution, and the ideologies that made and plead their cases in the name of progress. Fifty or so years later, the discourse of the elite dictated that this same science and technology be the tools for continuing progress and in the process, it dehumanized the human.

A hundred or so years later, there came a resistance from those whose concerns are of the truly human and ecological shouted their cry unto the wilderness, and denounced the dehumanization economics has caused in the Earth, and the destruction it has caused upon the planet. Slowly, but surely, the economic discourse was criticized, as many opened their eyes. Today, many are making their move to rectify the damage that had been done by the prevailing discourse of economics.  As a result, the discourses of ecology and economy had been in the floor of the world stage for many years, as ecology is the upstart who cries for the “soul” of the Earth, while economics is the old guard that tries to dismiss the claims of its upstart opponent using the “numbers game” of progress.

And the keepers of the old guard have their systems well in-place as they have devised ways to keep the discourse of economy alive affecting all aspects of life talking of progress in numbers, development in percentages, even if the dark reality of ecological destruction looms at the distance. They are even willing to sacrifice many lives to keep the system that their discourse has spawned. It affects all countries as they mask themselves in transnational corporations, and multi-national entities who advise governments in lieu of asking funds for so-called “economic development”. It dictates policies that keep the machinery of economy running even at the expense of the “soul” of the Earth.  Some policies come into play in the form of economic partnerships, development goals, and globalized structures.

One speaker who gave a talk last Saturday in a national convention for educators and administrators of Catholic schools (and was relayed to me) gave an ominous warning, “The government has bitten the bullet…Will the Catholic educational institutions bite the bullet also?”

Economy proclaims numbers increase in development even if the stark reality of dehumanizing poverty is tangible and overtly visible. Howevermany had spoken this unrealistic view of the economists.  Even the poor had spoken out about their plight, and criticized the numbers game the economic discourse seemingly tries to project as it is not seen in the life they are living right now.  Indeed, money has become the object in which progress was measured.  And the amusing thing is, while economists see growth in the projection of numbers given by the governments, the projection speaks volumes of contradiction (even contra-indication) of the growth it argues to sell to its people.

Currently, it has dictated its discourse in education where the name of the game is globalization. In a surprising move, it has sought to take away (whether intentional or not) the “soul” of the human in the pedagogical process, leaving only in the meat of the curriculum courses that highlights the skills developed by the person, and in effect, will make the human “inhuman”, a cog in the machinery of economics because of its emphasis on what they can contribute to the numbers game of progress. Pretty soon, the human person will not be “fully human” anymore as she/he becomes a client, a competitor, a cog, and a skilled worker instead of a brother, sister, father, mother, friends, co-worker and co-community builder. Language and culture, morality and understanding are now being taken away in favor of skills and global competitiveness disguised as analytical thinking, and critical reflection.

The battle for the “soul” of humanity here in the Two-Thirds World has been raging back and forth. And, in our country, I think the worst is about to come.

How do I know all of this?

I have read the discourse of economics many times, encountered the poor and the marginalized in my years of ministry, and have been formed in the “humanities” discourse especially on cross-cultural reflection. Funny that in my theology years, my professors were warning us of this developing trend in the Philippines. Now, it seems they (to me) are the “voices of the wilderness”, and am sensing the warning to be but around the corner.

Honestly, the joy and meaning I found in the teaching profession is seemingly eroding because the old vanguards of economics have gotten their way, making its last ditch to win the war by destroying the very “soul” of the human dictating its policies of relegating the liberal and cultural arts to an afterthought, an appendix if you will, in the critical formation of its pupils. And my dear colleagues in the profession (no matter what school you belong to), this is happening in our part of the world. With the move the DepEd, TESDA and CHED is making, it will not only change the landscape of the nature of our education shifting towards the discourse of economics, but it will also render unemployed (and ultimately eradicated in the field of education), the jobs of approx. 80,000 jobs in the tertiary education who are mostly belonging to the liberal arts.  The irony that what the West has discarded from the discourse of economics because of heeding the discourse of the Earth has found its way to ours. While, it has lost its argument in the West, it seems to have made its way to us like a quack doctor who was rejected from a town who saw his duplicity only to find another village who because of ignorance has embraced his products despite the destructive effects it has proven to have done.  I don’t know how we will respond about this, but as Filipinos and Asians, can we accept a discourse that has formented wars and destructive competitions and more so, has threatened to bring humanity to destroy its very essence, its very soul?  Much of this discourse is dictated by the same transnational bodies and multinational entities ordering our government to adopt this in the hopes of keeping the discourse alive, as they, the “few” have always benefited from it, and will bring more from our side of the world.  And we bought it, not knowing that we are transforming schools from learning communities to businesses.  And this spells disaster in my opinion as schools can never become business entities.  To do so contradicts the nature of a school as a learning institution where education becomes a benefit to all.  Moreover, a school is place of learning, and not a place of business-like transactions and profit-making strategies.

I do not believe that a school transformed as a business solves the problems of quality education, let alone replacing the principles of its faith in God with globally-competitive standards. Having a business-oriented style of educational management, as I have believed in since my SMCQC days, does not ensure the survival of any school let alone any institution. It is because when we begin to replace the vision with the profit, the mission with money-making procedures, decisions and policies, and the relationship of the community with rigid structures of management with admin-only decision making, the ideal of the community of disciples loses its meaning and gives way to a corporation that is soulless, and is a twisted reflection of its Catholic (or Christian) identity it claims itself to be.  Economics and discipleship are two polar opposites that ironically takes its roots of concern from the same Greek word, oikos (the household).  Economics derives its word from it though in the end the management style it seeks to promote is result-oriented.  Discipleship on the other hand, enriches the word, makes it live the spirit of community and solidarity, and is life-giving as it is process-oriented.  One does not respect the process as long as the result is achieved while the other looks at its process to achieve the desired results it has set itself to attain.  One doesn’t tolerate failure, and won’t compromise success in any other way.  The other however sees the paradox of failure as the way to success.  One drives people to the point of exhaustion while the other nurtures and fosters growth in its paradoxical process.  No wonder a school cannot become a business because it compromises the process it sets out to do in the “business” of forming and nurturing people.  Many have said all along these lines, and they are still true today: “There is no such thing as business ethics.”

Similarly, I would like to remind those who read this, that Christ did not proclaim his ministry for a professional fee or that he did not do what he did just to exchange it for a hefty price. True quality education is ministerial education, one that teaches, discovers and practices the vision-mission it seeks to proclaim. To transform the school into a business destroys the culture and the essence of the vision-mission it seeks to lives. It compromises in a twisted way time-honored values and life-giving institutions. And if this happens in any way to any school, then it becomes the death of “the soul” of the school.  Ministerial education brings the joy of learning through discovery and guidance.  It lets the learner become a partner, a potential life-giver, and most of all, a living human person.  It simply lets the learner discover with the nurturing hand of  the educator what she/he lives for and how she/he live for. Ministerial education also seeks to foster the values of partnership, solidarity and cooperation wherein each individual become a builder of community whether she/he is a student/pupil, an educator, a co-worker or even an administrator.

The school as a business makes the climate a competitive (to the point of being destructive), individualistic, too much result-oriented, and profit-making institution where the saving of money at the expense of the needs of its members becomes the norm thereby twisting what an education should be.  On the other hand, the school as ministry provides an atmosphere that is cooperative, fostering the values of partnership, solidarity and discovery.  It promotes what is truly human, and the money given is spent on giving back than taking profit as it should be creating a true atmosphere of mission and service.

Is the school a place of learning or a machinery for profit? Will leaders of today’s educational institutions realize this precarious position that they are putting themselves in today’s globalized Two-Thirds World? What will be the stand?

I don’t know with you, but this is where we are right now. We are in the verge of making a decision that will either give the lasting legacy of reclaiming life in education or destroying it in the process.

What will be the choice?

“For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” (Mark 8:36 NRSV)