Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from the Philippines where he has been part of the teaching team for the English language program there.
Today is preparation day for my 11 students. Tomorrow morning they will take the entrance exam to Xavier University in order to begin their philosophical studies. Actually, eight of the students will take the exam as two entered the university last year and took a limited number of courses and were in the English program this spring to help improve their language skills. The third student has already completed philosophy and will enter the year-long postulant program.
All eight students were told last evening they could take the test based on the practice exam they took on Tuesday morning along with the oral exam they had in the afternoon before me and the rest of the formation staff. It was a fun experience, at least for me, though I’m sure for the students it was a tense time, especially having to answer two questions within five minutes before the staff and the rest of the students looking on.
By late tomorrow afternoon we’ll know the results of the exam. Fr. Khoa Nguyen, SCJ, who took the exam several years ago, is confident our students will do just fine. It is an important moment for them, but not the end of the world. When our program ends a week from tomorrow the students will have a few weeks off before the school year begins. However, over the next two or three years Xavier (and many other universities in the Philippines) will be moving toward a schedule similar to what we have in the States (and to a certain degree Europe). They’ll start school sometime in August and end the second semester in May. Most European schools open in October and end in late June.
Tomorrow evening we will have a “despedida” [farewell party] for Fr. Andrew Sudol, SCJ, who has been on the formation staff here for a number of years (I think at least seven). He will begin a sabbatical year first with a vacation home in Poland and then in the fall participate in a renewal program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He’ll live with our formation community in the US Province.
Turning for a moment to the weather we have had daily rains since our return from Zamboanga del Sur, though today it was more of a sprinkle, at least in our area. We also have had good luck with the power company as well. The other day we lost power just before supper but in about 20 minutes it was back on. I’m going to guess it was either an accident that knocked down a power line or lightning in the area hit a transformer.
Fortunately the rains have been predictable making it easy for me to take my walks. I have also expanded my territory now that I know where our local parish is and the road to it is not well traveled by cars making it a safe way to go. It also is up a pretty good hill that is good for my exercise program.