SPCEM Holds Annual Educators’ Congress 2023
by: Sydney Reyes, York Geralo, Rae Sablaon | The Paulinian
Photos from ONE SPCEM
The annual SPC Educators' Congress was held in St. Paul University Philippines (SPUP), Tuguegarao City on July 6-8, 2023. Adopting the theme: Re-Designing Synodal and Transformative Education, the congress aimed to deepen the educators’ sense of purpose to better serve Paulinians. This was the first time the congress was held outside Metro Manila, attracting educators, Sisters, staff, and stakeholders from various parts of the country. Additionally, guests from Paulinian schools in Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam were invited to join the event. The three-day congress included seminars on different facets of Paulinian education.
Day 1 - Opening Ceremonies
The first day of the Educators’ Congress began with an Opening Mass, presided over by Fr. Adalbert Barut, with Fr. Dennis Jake Ordillos and Msgr. Gerry Santos. After the Mass, facilitator Dr. Jeremy Morales welcomed the guests to the SPUP campus. Opening remarks were delivered by Sr. Merceditas Ang, SPC, SPUP President, who expressed her gratitude for the presence and participation of the in-person and virtual attendees. “We are navigating through the social challenges and opportunities; we pursue a vision towards transformative education,” Sr. Merceditas said. A brief video was then presented, providing a retrospective glimpse of the previous year's SPC Educators' Congress. Sr. Maria Nilda Masirag, SPC, Provincial Assistant for Education, formally opened the SPCEM congress, sharing her insights and discussing future perspectives. SPC Philippines Provincial Supervisor, Sr. Lilia Therese Tolentino, SPC, followed with a thought-provoking discourse on the Christological theme of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. She stressed the significance of understanding shepherding culture in the role of educational and Catholic leaders.
Msgr. Pedro Gerardo “Gerry” Santos then took the stage to deliver the keynote address. Drawing inspiration from the concepts of "Aggiornamento" and "Ressourcement" popularized by Pope John XXIII, he urged participants to search their souls and rediscover their purpose. Msgr. Gerry encouraged them to “practice habits that cultivate our prudence, which will help us make wise decisions that affirm.” Sr. Helen Malubay, SPC, Dr. Katrina Naval, Dr. Mary Leongson, DBA, and Dr. Ronald Santos were called on to deliver their responses to the keynote and share their insights. Their points were centered on taking action. “The challenge is to transform the notes that we have and that the notes we will be having in the congress into action to go where we want to go truly,” Dr. Naval said in her response.
Concurrent Sessions on AI Technology and Servant Leadership
After a short break, the SPCEM Educators’ Congress continued with two concurrent discussions. The first session, for the administrators and faculty, was a discussion by Dr. Christopher Monterola on “The Tech Renaissance: Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology on Educational Teaching and Learning.” He delivered a balanced, comprehensive discussion on the science of AI and the generative applications of this technology. “AI cuts across fields and is agnostic. It does not choose a field where it isn't useful,” Dr. Monterola said. He accompanied his discussion with a showcase of the abilities of AI, such as making a video using the processing tool ChatGPT with third-party generative sources. He ended his presentation with an open forum and finally shared: “We cannot stop the development of technology so we must learn to adapt. AI is changing the landscape of society.”
In the second concurrent meeting, facilitator Mr. Guillbert Mantara from SPU Surigao introduced speaker Atty. Josephus “JBJ” Jimenez. Atty. Jimenez works as a Labor Attaché, resolving cases related to human trafficking and workers’ rights violations. In his discussion, he talked about the importance of staff, personnel, and maintenance workers in the Paulinian Community and the quality of its education. He asked an open-ended question that prompted the audience to reassess their career status as part of the community. “Where are we headed in life? What is our principle in life?” he asked. His personal story, filled with passion and humility, left a profound impact on the attendees. After his address, Atty. Jimenez emphasized the significance of empowering individuals through knowledge and humility.
The first day of the SPCEM Educators' Congress drew to a close with a virtual tour of the SPUP campus, followed by dinner and a cultural show.
Day 2 - Pilgrimage and Plenary
After a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Piat and visits to various locations, including St. James’ Parish Church and Poor Claire’s Monastery, the second day of the SPC Educators’ Congress 2023 continued in the afternoon with a session titled “Plenum: Synodality in Paulinian Education.” The session was facilitated by Mr. Ricky Boy Limlingan, who featured two main topics—Synodality and Paulinian Traits—available for both onsite participants and online attendees via Zoom. At the same time, a concurrent session was held for SPCEM Finance Officers by Professor Xavier Alpasa.
Synodality in Paulinian Education
In the first part of the session, Sr. Dedicacion Rosario, SPC, Directress and Principal of St. Paul College of Bocaue, and Sr. Ma. Evangeline Anastacio, SPC, President of St. Paul University Manila, discussed the topic of synodality, highlighting the importance of unity within the SPCEM community. Sr. Evangeline emphasized the importance of unity among the SPC schools, stating, “This is one moment when we can feel we are one SPCEM.” The session continued with an activity that allowed the participants to reflect and share. Onsite attendees were grouped according to their years of service while online viewers were grouped according to their locations. Participants had to answer three questions. The activity was a way for the participants to be heard, inspired by the Pope’s desire to listen to the people. After the activity, Sr. Dedicacion spoke to the audience, “Self-awareness, they say, is one sign of wellness.” She then concluded that with all that had been mentioned, the SPCEM has already reached far, but shall reach further distances. In her words, “Malayo na, actually. Malayo pa ang mararating.” To end the session, Sr. Dedicacion shared a text she saw in the Heritage Center of St. Paul University Philippines, titled “COMMweNITY” which highlighted the strengthening unity of the Paulinian community. As an ending remark, she encouraged Paulinians to journey together in a synodal path and left a quote: "AFLAME! For life is meaningful when that fire inside illuminates what surrounds you."
The Paulinian Traits
Sr. Aileen Bonifacio, SPC, Principal of Basic Education in St. Paul University Surigao, facilitated the second part of the afternoon session. The session’s objective was to define mindsets, motivations, and methods to transform Paulinian education, with the outcome of Paulinian educators who are agents of transformation. To begin, Sr. Aileen showcased a painting named The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet, followed by the Paulinan Gleaners’ Prayer, which features the Paulinian traits to be explained further later on. The Gleaners is a painting of three women gathering wheat after a good harvest during a time when class conflicts were prevalent and gleaners were in the lowest class. Gleaning involved three actions, namely, bending over, picking up, and straightening up again, which Sr. Aileen and other participants of the session related to being operational in schools and everyday lives. As an example, Sr. Evangeline related gleaning to paying attention and not giving up on students that may be deemed by others as the “worst,” understanding that there may be a reason behind their actions and giving attention, love, and care to them as gleaners. Further explaining the characteristics of a gleaner, Sr. Aileen shared Jim Kwik’s book titled Limitless, which features the three M’s: mindset, motivation, and methods. The session also reviewed a prior session titled “Re-designing a Synodal and Transformative Paulinian Education,” where the three M’s were elaborated upon as well.
Sr. Aileen described each Paulinian trait and provided a supplementary video. Prayerful—the first Paulinian trait mentioned in the Paulinian Gleaners’ Prayer, was the first Sr. Aileen focused on. She discussed the difficulties of being prayerful, especially when it comes to maintaining the integrity of prayers. Self-effacing—the second Paulinian trait, was defined as being quick to transcend when taken for granted by others or when the good things one has done are not recognized. Tranquil-daring—the third trait mentioned, was explained as saying “yes” to back-breaking responsibilities. Lastly, all to all was introduced by Sr. Aileen as a trait that has long been attached to the Paulinian identity, meaning one serves everyone willingly. The session ended with an online poll via Slido where participants were asked to choose the Paulinian trait they embody the most. Everyone was encouraged to share what they believe is the right mindset, proper motivation, and correct method to develop and live out the most voted trait—all to all.
Day 3 - SPCEM Educators’ Congress
Day 3 started with an opening prayer, followed by a review of what happened on Day 2 by Dr. Jennifer Joy Olivar, Dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences of SPUM. She then introduced the speaker, Sr. Marie Rosanne Mallinllin, SPC, Chancellor of the St. Paul University System and President of St. Paul University Surigao. Sr. Rosanne presented the SPCEM Strategic Directions, “Dapat alam natin kung saan tayo pupunta (We have to know where we are headed),” she said, referring to the strategic plans set for 2023-2026. The process of the proposed strategic plan was based on Jim Kwik’s 3Ms: Mindset, Motivation, and Method. Her discussion was followed by an activity for the attendees. Onsite participants were tasked to review plans, identify areas for clarification, and indicate key result areas (KRAs) for collaboration. Meanwhile, online attendees were tasked to discuss the implementation of the four KRAs in their respective schools.
The program then proceeded to the closing ceremonies, with Sr. Mila Grace Silab, SPC giving the congress synthesis. She highlighted the power of three in the 2023 Congress context: redesigning, transformation, and synodality. “PRISM is the core of our Paulinian Education,” she stated. The presentation of evaluation results, following the congress synthesis, was handled by Mr. Raymond Samonte of St. Paul College Makati. The results showed that most attendees were very satisfied with this year’s congress. Some respondents suggested topics for the next congress and took the opportunity to put in questions they were not able to ask during the congress.
After the presentation of the evaluation results, Sr. Nilda returned to the stage to give the closing remarks and acknowledgments. She began by expressing her gratitude to God for the success of this year’s congress. Sr. Nilda extended her appreciation of the participants, physically or virtually present. She also commended the staff of SPUP for their warm welcome and comfortable accommodations. Her closing remarks focused on the future of Paulinian Education and on its framework or the Transfigurative Education, which she related to Christ’s transcendence. The event closed with a Thanksgiving Mass, presided over by Rev. Fr. Bernard Corpus of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. “Education of the heart comes from the gospel,” he said in his homily. He also said that the conclusion of the congress, through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, is a form of gratitude to the Lord. He then commended the SPC Sisters and the community for conducting the 2023 Educators’ Congress successfully.
A photo opportunity was held shortly after the Mass to serve as a remembrance of the congress.