An outpouring of gratitude and a sendoff to remember.
Fr. Jett Villarin SJ bid the Ateneo de Manila farewell in his final mass as university president, on Friday morning July 31, 2020.
Live-streamed via the Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM Facebook page, the Eucharistic Celebration proved to be a momentous occasion for the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus. Among the day’s numerous highlights were the anniversary for the Church of the Gesu’s dedication, thanksgiving for Fr. Jett’s nine years of service at the Ateneo’s helm, the end of the 2020 Ignatian Festival ‘One Foot Raised’, and most importantly, the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
As he recalled the many diplomas and letters left to sign, on top other responsibilities to accomplish, Fr. Jett reminded how everything remains actively in motion.
“The Ateneo mission, our nation, the world, everything is a work in progress… Even our Lord in the Gospel today is unsettled. ‘I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!’”
Reflecting on the Responsorial Psalm, Fr. Jett explained how our lives were part of God’s constant creation.
“We may have failed God countless times, but we are far from finished… We remember again how God made us, formed us. The greatest proof of God’s love is our being here, being alive.”
Honoring the feast of the Jesuit founder, Fr.Jett then compared our experience of fire through baptism to St. Ignatius’ own conversion story.
“When St. Ignatius of Loyola discovered this love, there was fire inside him that couldn’t be contained. His marching orders to St. Francis Xavier and to all those after who were sent on mission were ‘Go with one foot raised. Run after this world and set this world afire with the love of God.’”
It was this same burning passion that Fr. Jett witnessed through selfless acts of generosity amidst the pandemic, as well as in the dedicated service from the members of the Ateneo community.
“Even in this time of quarantine we have seen our hearts catch fire. Despite dark forces that threaten to dampen our desire and resolve, we have seen this fire in the loving choices people continue to make.”
“I have felt the warmth of this fire with you, who continue to give without the cost, in the way we have ignited each other’s hope, through our faith in the goodness of each other, in our shared mission and in God’s unfailing love,” he continued.
With a grateful heart, Fr. Jett then looked back at a truly blessed and grace-filled time of his life.
“As a Jesuit, I take all this in faith, surrendering myself to go wherever the Lord of the harvest sends us. We are blessed to be stewards of this vibrant little corner in the vineyard of the Lord.”
Thanking the many departments and units of the ‘ship’ he captained for nearly a decade, to the tune of ‘Song for Mary’ by the Ateneo Boy’s Choir playing in the background, Fr.Jett finally made his last goodbye.
“Love alone begins us. Love alone heals and sustains us. Only love in the end will finish what love has started.”