By Holy See Mission
Address Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York on the occasion of the Investiture of Doctor Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Seventeenth President of Saint John’s University Queens, New York, October 24, 2014Your Excellencies, Doctor Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw and Mrs. Gempesaw, Distinguished Members of the Board of Trustees and of the Board of Governors, Professors, Staff and Students of Saint John’s University, It is indeed a great honor for me to be here today in my capacity as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and as a Filipino, a Pinoy like the new President of this University. I convey to you, most especially to Doctor and Mrs. Gempesaw, the greetings of Pope Francis. The Holy Father reminds us that Catholic institutions of higher learning is called to recreate the essential conditions for a real capacity for in-depth study, research and reflection, enabling us to dialogue effectively with one another and together face the challenges of today’s world, in the perspective of fostering the integral development of all. Yes, with super social media and with every information just a click away, we have become “super-informed”. But can we reason better and think deeper? Are we better as human beings? The avalanche of messages, the you-need-me-now siren of to-die-for latest gadgets and the itch to do so many things simultaneously on your Ipad, on your Iphone, on your laptop and on your giant screen subject us to real stress. We find it harder to organize our knowledge, order our ideas and prioritize our thoughts. The rule of “everything and immediately” makes interior life and moments of reflections a rarity. Families find it harder to be together. And if they do, the girl is on Facebook and the boy is with his Xbox; Mom is tweeting with her friends in Manila and Dad is hooked on the thrilling World Series on the big screen. Thus, physically we may be together in the same room, but in reality we are nearer to friends in the Himalayas or in Patagonia, as our gadgets give us instant pictures of their adventures. This is not a criticism against the amazing progress that science and technology offers us; they are very useful. But this is a reminder of the danger of becoming slaves to what human intelligence has created. We are more than and we should be more than science and technology. Our striving for greater heights requires more than technology; it demands the cultivation of human and spiritual values. We are confident of Saint John’s University commitment to instill in each student the values of truth and love, of respect and opportunity, of excellence and service, which are at the core of its mission. We are certain that it will always strive to realize to the full its vision of academic excellence, the pursuit of wisdom and the cultivation of religious and human values. Mr. President, Saint John’s University has a long history of collaboration with the Office of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. For this, we are extremely grateful. For over a decade now, the Permanent Mission – and through it the United Nations - has benefitted from the wisdom, expertise and brilliant preparation of Saint John’s University’s professors. They have attended conferences and debates and they have helped the Mission shaped its Statements on many issues. Saint John’s has been indulgent with the Mission, because it knows that it is a service that it renders to the universal Church and to humanity in general, and to the Holy Father in particular. Thank you again! Dear friends, As you well know, since last Sunday we have a new Blessed in the Church, Blessed Pope Paul VI, the Pontiff who brought to conclusion the most important event in the contemporary history of the Church, namely the Second Vatican Council. During that Council, on October 28, 1965, Paul VI proclaimed the Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis. The document is a manifesto of the Church’s belief on the extreme importance of education in our life. Our time demands greater education for all, as we become more and more aware of the key role that education plays in full human flourishing, in the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, and in our active participation in the socio-economic and political life. Catholic universities should be at the forefront of this extremely important mission. Saint John’s is and will be at the forefront to lead us fulfil this mission. Mr. President, dear friends, I ask the Almighty to bless your efforts to advance the cause of well-rounded Catholic education and human formation. I ask the Lord to bless this University abundantly, so that future generations may learn from it and live in it the love of God and neighbor, the greatest mark of a real disciple of the Lord. Maraming salamat! God bless you all!
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