THE elusive but tantalizing challenge of establishing a regime of lasting ad dynamic peace in this historically-checkered region is the top priority of the new presidency in Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU).
“The Ateneo must address the root causes of conflict in our region”, Fr. Antonio Moreno, SJ, said during his investiture as the new Ateneo president last September 22.
“In this direction, we have started to look at our curricula and asked ourselves how else can we improve our modules on peace and development across the board from basic education to the tertiary level. Peace and development should be embedded in our curricula starting from Grade One to Graduate students. Peace is elusive, but that will not stop us from exploring, searching and finding innovative ways of responding to the situation of conflict,” he emphasized in his speech.
Aside from peace and community building, his two other intertwining administration thrusts are Catholic and Jesuit identity and intellectual leadership.
In regard to Catholic and Jesuit identity, Fr. Moreno said: “We want to continue to press for interreligious and intercultural dialogue. However, this can be more meaningful if, first and foremost, we are clear about who we are as Christians and as Catholics. Part of our deficiency in interreligious dialogue is our lack of understanding about our Catholic faith, and our Catholic Social Teaching. In our recently concluded Catholic identity survey on our universities, we saw the need to rediscover the richness of our Catholic tradition, a tradition that necessarily commits us to deeper faith, dialogue of cultures, and the promotion of peace founded on development.”
His third institutional theme of intellectual leadership, he said, will “mean (that) we generate new ideas to respond to our situation here and now. Our curricula should prepare our students to a life of engaged and intellectual leadership in our region and beyond. Our research ought to generate new ways of addressing old problems.”
“Leadership is key to delivery of basic services, to eradication of poverty, to conflict resolution and to development of peoples. As the peace and development issues become more complex and elusive, learned and engaged leadership is not only desirable, but an imperative. I hope the Ateneo can contribute to a brand of leadership that is engaged, culturally-embedded, competent, and intellectually informed”, he explained.
In his speech, Fr. Moreno summed up the growth of the school by pointing out that it was the “first provincial Jesuit school, that hopes to celebrate its centennial anniversary five years from now. It started as a small parochial elementary school known as “Escuela Catolica” of Immaculada Concepcion parish in 1912. Four years later it was renamed ‘Ateneo de Zamboanga.’ It became a high school in 1930, a college in 1952, and a university in 2001.”
The investiture was preceded by a Holy Mass celebrated by Archbishop Romulo Valles, DD. It was graced by Fr. Ernesto Carretero, SJ and Fr. William Kreutz, SJ, both former ADZU presidents; Jesuit Provincial Superior Fr. Daniel Patrick Huang, SJ, Commission on Higher Education Commissioner Hadja Luningning M. Umar, and Mayor Celso Lobregat, among others.