EAPI—50TH Year Anniversary and Alumni Homecoming
Fr. Arthur Leger, SJ - Current EAPI Director
To watch the 50th anniversary video, click here.
EAPI recently concluded its week-long celebration, from September 26 to 30, 2011, to commemorate the 50thyear anniversary of its naming. As a background for this memorable event, Fr. José Maria Calle, SJ, now living in Taiwan and who considers himself the “last survivor of EAPI founding team,” narrated the event in a talk given at EAPI in 2009.
One evening in September 1961, Fr. Brunner and myself were taking a walk with Fr. Hofinger around the quarters of Chabanel Hall. He had just arrived from giving several courses in South Africa. At one point he stopped and said: "You know, quite a good number of people who attend my lectures find rather strange the name of our institute. They don’t know what we mean by "Mission Apologetics." "Neither do I," I said. That evening of September 1961, among the quonset huts of Mandaluyong, through a very informal sharing, the name East Asian Pastoral Institute was heard for the first time. And as a result, the EAPI Team was born.[Taken from an excellent article on the first 10 years that can be accessed at this site: http://eapi.admu.edu.ph/eapr009/calle.htm]
Prior to the actual Homecoming and 50thanniversary of the Naming of the EAPI festival week, the staff, support staff, participants, MA and English students had a sports festival on the 24thof September. As mentioned by Fr. Silito Emeni Topou, one of the organizers, “I was told that this was the first time that the staff and students had ever celebrated together with such a marvelous and terrific spirit as we prepared ourselves in body, mind and soul to forge ahead into whatever comes in the festival week”.
To put some order into the event, each day in the week-long celebration was assigned a motif based on regional areas represented by the current batch of participants. Some invited guests arrived at 5:30 in the afternoon to view the cultural exhibits and then enjoyed the special dinner with dishes particular to the region assigned for that day. Cultural presentations followed right after the special dinner. Fr. Felipe Gómez who prepared a photo presentation of faces, past and present, during the program, remarked: “There is a cultural continuity from the beginning in EAPI, the same cultural presentations but with different faces every year.” Monday was ‘Southeast Asia’ day with Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, and host Philippines. Tuesday, the ‘chopstick countries’—China, Korea and Vietnam—turned to present their show. Wednesday was for the South Asian and African countries represented by Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe to present their respective colorful songs and dances.
After three days of nightly celebrations, the whole EAPI Community had a day of prayerful silence in the form of a recollection on Thursday, September 29, to deepen the meaning of this commemorative event. Ms. Carmencita Rojas and Mr. Paul Sim shared some profound reflections to lead the community in pondering the words, “Remember” and “Forge Ahead.” In his homily during the Eucharist, Fr. Patrick Pradhan, SJ offered his thoughts on “Celebrating”.
Fr. Felipe Gomez and Ms. Tessie Nitorreda, the speakers for the event, having a perennial discussion.
On Friday, September 30, the EAPI had the yearly Alumni Homecoming and the official celebration of the 50 years of its “naming.” Former staff members like Roger Champoux, Vicky Faicol, Luz Hufancia, Marcy Ramos, Tom O’Gorman came... and then, escorted by Ronald Yago, Miss Teresita Nitorreda effected her entrance, among the smiles and awes of the multitude. 82 people signed the guest book. Fr. Felipe Gómez then presented a photo PowerPoint show about the history of the East Asian Pastoral Institute. To “crown” the presentation, Miss Tessie took the microphone and remarked that it was the first time that she saw all these photographs that highlight the history of the EAPI. The Eucharist at the Nebreda Terrace, was celebrated by the incumbent EAPI Director, Fr. Arthur Leger, in “Fijian Rite,” was well prepared and rehearsed by the Pacific performers. At 6:30 pm we moved to dinner. A short film, prepared by Lettie Taberdo, was shown, with interviews of staff members and participants. Some entertainment followed, as the guests started to leave discreetly, before the weather got nasty.
After sincerely thanking everyone who helped in the preparation of this unforgettable week-long celebration, Fr. Arthur Leger concluded: “Today the Spirit of Jesus continues to pour out His gifts, especially joy upon us, guiding us into the future. He invites a new hearing of the Scriptures in our local cultures so that we may become credible conch blowers of the word of forgiveness before the world that yearns for spiritual joy. We are invited to pick up the conch and proclaim anew the message of salvation, forging ahead—so that ‘our joy may be complete’ (1 Jn 1:4).”