In a rare moment, the number of graduating degree students breached the five-figure mark, with 10,186 students earning their degrees from UST’s 22 faculties, colleges, institutes, and schools this 2019. The Baccalaureate Celebration, held on May 24 at the historic Grandstand and Open Field, hosted the final batch prior to the implementation of the Senior High School reform of the K-12 program.
I love you 3000
Inspired by the iconic line from Avengers: Endgame, the Rector, the Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., PhD, bid farewell to his 7th graduating class by expressing the University’s love for them.
“Love transforms, love changes everything it touches, it makes heavy burdens light, long hours short, ordinary faces beautiful, houses into homes, picnics into banquets, wilted daisies into bouquets, and sinners into saints,” Fr. Dagohoy said, quoting a poet. “Love equalizes. It is a love that unites. It is a love that knows how to forgive. We should learn how to forgive because we are capable of hurting each other.”
Recognizing that the Baccalaureate Celebration punctuates their Thomasian journey, perhaps for good for some, the Rector quoted Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Goodman, whose thoughts on exits and endings proved apropos for the occasion: “A graceful exit begins with the recognition that when something ends, just let it go. It should excite us because it opens the doors to a myriad possibilities.”
With the Gospel for the day signaling Jesus’ own farewell to the disciples, the Rector quoted Scripture, saying: “Love one another, and You are my friends if you do.” Fr. Dagohoy argued that “by our love for one another, we will be identified as followers of Christ. People will know we are Christians because of such love.”
Apart from joining the graduates in their jubilation, Fr. Dagohoy prayed for the graduates to be truly happy, as St. Thomas Aquinas wanted people to be. “What is the best way to achieve happiness? By loving the way God loves. You should be known for the love of the Father that creates, the love of the Son that forgives, and the love of the Spirit that sustains and preserves.”
The Cross, the Light, the Cross
In keeping with tradition, the post-Mass ceremonies included the imposition of the Thomasian mission cross, which is designed after the Dominican cross, with the elements of the University seal imposed on each arm.
The mission cross reminds the graduates of their “roots as Thomasians,” said Student Affairs Director Ma. Socorro Guan Hing, RN, DNM, who told the graduating students to allow the said crosses to be their “shield as they venture through life outside the University.” As the graduates imposed the cross on one another, they were called on by Fr. Dagohoy “to bear witness to the Good News and spread Jesus’ holiness.” He also asked the graduates to remember the sacrifices of the Thomasian martyrs and saints, whom he said are models of living life with faith, hope, and love.
Following the imposition of the Cross and the recitation of the Thomasian pledge of loyalty, the Deans and Regents spread the light to their graduates, by lighting each graduate’s candles from the fire that was sourced from the main source. This light, symbolizing St. Thomas’s call to illuminate and not merely shine, pierced the otherwise pitch-black night, as the graduating students looked to the blue Cross atop the Main Building and sang the University hymn as one batch of 10,186 for the first and the last time.