The Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines (ACUP) held its national conference on the theme “The Catholic Universities’ Response to Gaudete et Exsultate: A Mission Towards Evangelization,” at the University of the Immaculate Conception (UIC), Bajada Campus, in Davao City from January 17 to 19, 2019. The theme was taken from Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), an apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis.

The three-day conference aimed to deepen the participants’ understanding of the diversity of forms that holiness takes, and to inspire them to genuinely reflect and actively respond to the universal call to holiness. University of the Immaculate Conception President Sr. Ma. Marissa R. Viri, R.V.M., gave the welcome remarks, while ACUP President Rev. Fr. Marcelo V. Manimtim, C.M., who is also president of Adamson University, delivered a message.

The keynote address on “The Role of Catholic Universities in the Mission towards Evangelization: A Response to Gaudete et Exsultate” was given by Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Committee on Catechesis and Catholic Education Chair Most. Rev. Roberto C. Mallari, D.D., while research studies on Gaudete et Exsultate and related works on Holiness were discussed by Adamson University Center for Research and Development Executive Director Dr. Nuna E. Almanzor. Other speakers included Office for the Promotion of New Evangelization Director Rev. Fr. Jason Laguerta, who discussed “Inspiring the Youth to the Call to Holiness;” Kerygma magazine Editor-in-Chief Ms. Rissa Kawpeng, who tackled “Searching for Meaning and Purpose to Effect Transformation;” and Bantay Bata 163 Program Director and broadcast journalist Ms. Jing Castañeda, who talked about “Making a Difference
through Dynamic Collaboration and Committed Partnership.”

There were also panel discussions on the Response of Catholic Universities to the Call to Holiness “The Mission of Education,” with discussants Notre Dame of Marbel University Campus Ministry Director Bro. Allan de Castro, F.M.S., Saint Louis University Community Extension and Outreach Programs Office Director Dr. Joselito Gutierrez, and Holy Angel University Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Alma Espartinez, and “The Mission of Evangelization,” with discussants Xavier University National Service Training Program Unit Director Ms. Dennise Edwina Gonzales, Holy Name University Vice President for Academic Affairs Bro. Carl Milos Bulilan, S.V.D., and University of Santo Tomas Ecclesiastical Faculties Academic Collaborations Officer Mr. Leo-Martin Angelo Ocampo.

“The Youth’s Response to the Call to Holiness” was also tackled by St. Paul University Dumaguete Continuing Education Institute Manager Ms. Mary Francis V. Laquinon, University of San Agustin Vice President for Administration and Finance Rev. Fr. Arnel A. Dizon, O.S.A., and Adamson University Student Leader Mr. Nicole Jean Mercado. There were also a workshop on “How Catholic Universities Make the Mission Possible” divided into
teaching, research, community engagement, and youth categories, and a UIC-facilitated community engagement with residents of a rehabilitation center.

A general meeting of leaders of ACUP member institutions was also held to elect the officers for 2019-2021. Elected were: Rev. Fr. Gilbert B. Sales, C.I.C.M., President of Saint Louis University as ACUP President;Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., Rector of the University of Santo Tomas, as ACUP Vice President; Sr. Ma. Marissa R. Viri, R.V.M., President of the University of the Immaculate Conception as ACUP Corporate Secretary; Bro. Raymundo B. Suplido, F.S.C., President of De La Salle University, as ACUP Treasurer, and Assoc. Prof. Giovanna V. Fontanilla, Ph.D., A.P.R., Director of the UST Office of Public Affairs, as ACUP Secretary General.

The Conference ended with the presentation of workshop outputs and awarding ceremonies. Established in 1973, ACUP is an organization composed of institutions of higher learning, and its activities include the promotion and enhancement of the Christian identity of its member institutions as leading centers of teaching, research and service. Its annual conferences, particularly those held from 2013 up to the present, have themes that are anchored on papal encyclicals and other similar documents.