XU celebrates feast of St. Francis Xavier

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Friday, December 6, 2013

XAVIER University held its Xavier Festival Day (XFD) in honor of its patron St Francis Xavier. Although traditionally celebrated for a number of days, this year’s XFD was cut short to a day, Dec 2, to sympathize with storm victims in the Visayas.

Celebration for a cause

The much toned-down XFD allowed the Xavier University community to donate the savings from the celebration to Tabang Visayas. The various activities also served as avenues to gather more donations for the storm victims. Audiences were encouraged to give in kind and volunteers passed around a hat to collect cash donations. Many student organizations also sold items with messages of hope, and buyers were given the chance to donate the items they purchased (such as a pair of slippers) to the victims.

Songs about faith and love were performed during the opening program and several university bands dedicated their songs to the people affected by STY Yolanda. The University also lit up a tree of hope along the main lane, a beautiful belen courtesy of the Alumni Affairs Office and the University Church. Candles were lighted, as well, at the closing program.

“Let us celebrate in solidarity with and for our suffering sisters and brothers who are victims of the worst natural calamity that has devastated our country,” said Fr Roberto Yap, XU President, in his memo on XFD, which he described as “significantly simplified.”

Ever since news of the devastation broke out, XU has been mobilizing relief efforts for the people affected by the super typhoon. Besides accepting in kind and cash donations, it sent its Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) Team to Northern Cebu from Nov 20-26. The team was composed of students, faculty and staff who carried out missions in health, sanitation, relief, psycho-social, and post-disaster needs assessment. A separate group was also sent to Palo, Leyte for medical and psycho-social response from Nov 29-Dec 4. The XU DRRM Team was officially launched at XFD.

80 years

Still, there was occasion for celebration as the University turned 80 years old. While keeping the fanfare low-key, XFD, which had Smart as event partner, retained some of its signature programs such as Kinauyokan, a neo-ethnic dance competition among the undergraduate colleges and high school. This year, the participants got creative in interpreting the history of XU from when it was founded in 1933 until its ruby jubilee this year. The Center for Integrated Technologies was proclaimed the grand winner, keeping the crown for three straight years.

Another much-loved XFD event is the Christmas Caroling Contest. The spirit of the season echoed through the walls of the University Church as chorale groups from the different colleges and the high school entertained the audience with their musicality and choreography. The School of Education outdid all the other performers claiming the top prize.

Student bands also got together to perform eight decades of music. The University main lane transformed into a concert ground as people gathered to listen and groove to music from the ‘30s to the current decade. Even teachers formed their own rock band and performed some of the Beatles’ classics.

Those more inclined to the arts had their fill of chalk art and poster-making. There was a trivia contest for fans of trivia, Minute to Win It games and exhibition basketball games. The soccer field teemed with boys and girls in colorful costumes who showed off their dance routines for their field demonstration. Science films from the Goethe-Institut were screened at the Audio Visual rooms 6 and 7 from 10 am to 5 pm. Dulaang Atenista, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, performed improvisational theater at Audio Visual Room 8, and The Xavier Stage mounted their production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Little Theater.

The finals night of Himig Atenista, featuring original compositions of XU students, capped XFD. The students brandished their talent in writing and performing music that communicated who Atenistas are and what it meansto be “persons for others.” Cat Project’s “Nagdaang Dekada” won the top prize followed by “Ateneo Tara Na” by John Fernandez and “Code of Conduct” by Old Time Fling. Smart Communications Texters’ Choice Award and Magic 89.3 Listeners’ Choice Award were both given to “Now It’s Time” by Heartbeat, a group composed of Medicine students.

As the celebration came to a close, Fr Yap commented that it had been a day of faith. “In faith, we heard the cries of our suffering brothers and sisters, and in faith we responded. It is in faith that we believe that love is stronger than a super typhoon.”

Icon of Mission, Passion and Compassion

Dec 3, the actual Feast Day of St Francis Xavier, was declared a University holiday. St Francis Xavier, whom the school is named after, is considered the principal Patron of Missions. He crossed the oceans from Europe to Asia to spread the gospel and propagate the Christian faith.
At the opening mass of XFD, which was preceded by a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of St Francis Xavier, Fr Yap described Xavier as an icon of “mission, passion and compassion” – the slogan of this year’s XFD.

“Xavier pursued six missionary journeys,” narrated Fr Yap. “These were journeys that took him immense distances by sea and foot…Xavier went to a place, did what was immediately necessary and later sent other missionaries to remain for a longer period to continue what he had begun.”

Xavier also showed extreme compassion for the poor and the sick. “Xavier took no notice of his own pains, forgetting them in work for others,” said Fr Yap. He was a true example of what it means to be compassionate.
“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless.”

Moreover, Francis Xavier was a man of passion. In describing his missionary work, Fr Yap said that Xavier was “filled with passion to go far and wide, to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.” The question for us is not only “What have I done for Christ?” or “What am I doing for Christ?” but more importantly, “What more can I do for Christ?”

This year’s celebration of the Feast of St Francis Xavier has been a call for the renewal and deepening of XU’s ideals of mission, passion and compassion. As Fr Yap put it, “May our celebration of the feast of our patron during this time of natural calamity be an affirmation of our faith in the God who suffers-with-us and is always near.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 06, 2013.


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