Words by: Nicco Sobremonte
One of the educational principles of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) is to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church, through the spiritual guidance of Opus Dei. It has been the hallmark of the university since students are also being taught the role of faith in their studies and everyday lives. This is perhaps why religious occasions are often opportunities for everyone to profess their faith. Two other celebrations, that did just this, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions: The Fatima Exhibit in Stella Orientis that launched on October 4, and the Faith, Fun and Friendship (FFF) program, organized by students and faculty of the 6-Year Program (6YP), held last October 13 at Promenade B at 4:30pm.
The Fatima Apparitions were witnessed primarily by three children: Lucia dos Santos, and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who are all shepherd children. The apparitions started in 1916 when an angel appeared to them, identifying himself as the “Angel of Peace” and “Angel of Portugal”, who taught them how to pray. It would later be significant in 1917 when the Blessed Virgin appeared to them promising that she will appear every 13th day of the month until October 13, promising to perform a miracle each time that will “make everyone, believers and non-believers, believe.” This miracle, known as the Miracle of the Sun, would become the most notable one in human history. 70,000 people from all walks of life witnessed the miracle, some saying that the sun was seen “dancing” in the sky, unexplainable by science or theology.
The FFF was the initiative of Ms. Margeaux Valdez, 6YP Program Director and Personality Development professor. It was internally launched last October 4, 2017 during a mentoring assembly the day the Fatima Exhibit was also launched. It contains the image of Our Lady, relics from Jacinta and Francisco (who were declared saints last May 13), and other memorabilia (including pictures of St. Josemaria Escriva visiting the place). She said that this program will encourage the current two batches of 6YP students to pray the Holy Rosary together for one faith and devotion to Mother Mary. It will also enable them to socialize with their ates and kuyas of the upper batch, as well as share their experiences with one another, bringing in the fun and friendship aspect altogether.
The inclement weather didn’t hinder the students from attending the event. They even helped out setting up a rosary made out of red and blue paper hearts, representing the beads and the crucifix. The program started with Ms. Valdez giving a short background and importance of praying the rosary. “It is important for us to pray the rosary since this is what Our Lady told the three children, and that it should be passed on to all of us in the modern world today,” she said. Some members of the CAS Faculty were also there to attend the event, including Dr. Maria Asuncion Magsino, CAS Dean, and Dr. Judy Tanael, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs.
The rosary started with the image of Our Lady and the relics of the two children being brought from Stella Orientis to Study Hall B. It was led by all who attended the event, while selected 6YP students read verses and reflections about the Five Sorrowful Mysteries. Each student also received a medallion containing the image of Our Lady appearing to the three children. It ended with a group photo, a simple dinner, and an interactive game where everyone played along to build the spirit of unity and camaraderie amongst one another.
The exhibit will last until Wednesday, October 18 while the FFF program will still continue until the school year ends. It shows that Our Lady inspired all those who believe and love her to organize such events. What the three children did for their community can serve as an important reminder to every non-believer or those Catholics who are driven away by sin that it is never too late to go back to our Mother and pray.