And so, before we let you go, before we say our goodbyes, and before we move on to the next chapter of your lives, let me, your President, make some final remarks. And I promise to be short.
What do I feel about letting you go tonight, releasing you like eagles, to fly high, and soar high, outside the Ateneo, to the world outside, to this big, complex, unfathomable world we have? Three feelings: I am proud, I am worried, I am hopeful.
First, I am proud. Many of you I saw graduate from the Junior High School four years ago. Many of you I have seen grow, mature, bloom, flourish. I am proud of your batch. All of us, your teachers, administrators, staff, undergraduates, we take pride of your achievement. You are the products, the fruits of our hard work and sacrifices. You are the meaning in our mission. You are the realization of our vision. It is because of you that we stay in this vocation of teaching and education. In the years you have spent in the Ateneo, we are proud to say: we have given you the best. And we see you tonight, and we claim that we have produced the best. Congratulations!
Second, I am worried. The world you will be entering as Ateneo graduates is a difficult world. It can be dark, you might lose your way. It can be mean and harsh, you might lose your happiness. It can be dominating and oppressive, you might lose your values. I am worried that the forces of
evil will defeat the forces of good in your soul and in your hearts. I am worried that you might find yourself so helpless and powerless you will choose to just go with the flow, even if the flow leads to destruction and despair.
But amid my worries and fears, I am confident, I am hopeful. We know that we have equipped you to be strong, that you will not give up easily. We know we have formed you to be leaders – leaders who will serve others and struggle for peace and justice. We know that we have trained you to be discerning and prayerful, and at the same time diligent and hardworking – that as St Ignatius and the other saints would put it – to pray as if everything depended on God, and to work as if everything depended on you. We know that we have given you a solid community, a band of forever friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord, a school spirit that is so indomitable you
can rely on it anytime, anywhere, as the Ateneo spirit and Ateneo friendships spell forever. There is indeed forever.
And thus, as we release you tonight, I am proud, I am worried, but I am confident and hopeful, I have faith. I have faith in you, as I have faith in the world, because I have faith in God. When our patron saint St Ignatius of Loyola released his best friend St Francis Xavier from Europe to travel to the frightening missions in Asia, tradition says that Ignatius told Xavier: ite inflammate omnia! Go, set the world on fire! Tonight, the Ateneo community sends you off as well, releases you, lets you go. Go, set the world on fire! On fire with passion and magis. On fire with love and service. On fire with the loving power of God!
Lastly, when we say Go, we also say Go Home! Go home to the Ateneo to rekindle the fire! Go home to the Ateneo to refresh your spirit! Go home to the Ateneo to strengthen your hope! The Ateneo, your Ateneo, will always be here, in Tumaga, in La Purisima, and in our new campus in Lantaka.
Congratulations, graduates! We are proud of you!