HISTORY OF THE AQUINAS SCHOOL’S OUTREACH MINISTRY
Aquinas School was established by the Dominican Fathers in 1965. Since the time of its formation, Aquinas School’s Vision Mission was very evident, “Contemplare et Contemplata Aliis Tradere”. The members of the Aquinas Community experienced and lived the ideals of Truth, Justice, Joy and Compassion by helping people who are really in need. They always attend to the needs of other especially the suffering. The initial help that was given by the members of the community was extended to other outside the circle of the Aquinas Community. As the members grew in their awareness and concern for the needs of others, they decided to go and reach out to the needy, our less fortunate brethren.
Fr. Braulio Pena, O.P., the director of the Aquinas School Religion Department in 1986 organized the Knights of St. Thomas Aquinas (KSTA). This helped the department to reach out to the indigents of San Juan and Barangay Sto. Nino in San Mateo, Rizal. From then, Fr. Braulio motivated the whole school community to offer any kind of goods to be given to the less privileged members of the said communities.
In 1987, Ms. Catharine Mercado (now Mrs. Catharine Ramos) and Ms. Ofelia Cadorna continued the noble work of charity begun by the Dominican Fathers. As the School Community members grew deeper in their commitment as inspired by the Christian spirit, they became more sensitive to the needs of others, that anytime materials were needed, they solicited, responded or assisted without delay.
In 1993, Sr. Flor Villabona, O.P., who was then working on her thesis made a survey and requested the Religion Department to make a survey in Barangay Sta. Lucia, specifically the Better Living and Averilla Streets.
A series of meetings with the Barangay officials were held to ask for their cooperation in improving the quality of life of their constituents – the residents. The Barangay Officials and the organized outreach arms together started to identify the poorest families in the area. These will be the beneficiaries of Aquinas School. After the survey, Aquinas School implemented the programs in the same year the Outreach Ministry was formally launched with Mrs. Ramos being the Head Coordinator.
As years went by different things to be done were thought of, ideas conceived and easier and means planned to reach out and help other. Livelihood programs were organized, Adopt-a-Child Program on Christmas. To enhance a more lasting human development to give the poor opportunities to improve their economic/social conditions/status in life. The Non-Formal Education Literacy Program (NFE) was recognized and accredited by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports. The proposals made for the implementation of the program were all approved and support was given by the DECS, the NCR and NFE, the Literacy Program or the Tuloy Aral helped Out-of-School youths, house helpers and workers finish their basic schooling in the Elementary and High School for free. As our records show, more than 300 out-of-school youths since 1995 have benefited from the program. Some of them are now enrolled/continuing their High School and College Education.
Last year SY 2004-2005, Aquinas School implemented another program entitled “ALAY KO TU”. This program was designed to help the students of the nearby elementary school. The teachers of Aquinas School would personally handle the classes of these students. Sometimes the students will come to Aquinas or the teachers would go to their school. All major subject areas were given due consideration and a time table completed which contains the name of the teacher and the time of their classes.
SY 2005-2006, the idea of bringing the students out of the school and having them involved in community service was taken into consideration. Mrs. Ramos with the help of the Aquinas School CAT-I Commandant, Mr. Arli T. Iquiña, visited a site in Tanay, Rizal were indigenous people were living and working. Farming being mostly their means of livelihood, these people work and live in very poor conditions. The first batch of students made the trip and brought along survey forms to be filled up by the respondents. For every family they visited, they gave them a bag of groceries which contained basic necessities like sugar, coffee, soup and other goods.
The outreach program will not have been a success without the help of the volunteers who have generously given their time and effort and their concern and dedication to this cause. These are the teachers, students, staff, and outsiders who had big hearts to participate, share and continue the Mission of Christ.
In 2006-2015, The Aquinas school continuously extends its outreach program to Kabayanan Elementary School. The Alay Ko Ang Tutor ko Program is lovingly offered to the pupils of the said school. Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday pupils go to Aquinas School to be tutored by the volunteer teachers and students. The school also supports the victims of the calamities in San Juan Area and other places in our country that is very much affected by a particular calamity. The whole Aquinas family gathered our resources and contribute to the needs of those who are affected and being taken care of by our parish church headed by Rev. Fr. Jesus Prol, OP and the Holy Rosary Province Dominican Priests.
As long as Aquinas School exists, the commitment and dedication to serve the underprivileged will always be in the heart of the institution. Contemplare et Contemplata Aliis Traedere. Contemplate and fill ourselves (oneself) with the Divine Truth and Love, then share to others the fruits of this contemplation through our good works of mercy and acts of charity.
The School and Community Sustainable Outreach Program is committed to serve the community in many forms it can extend its support to human development based on their needs as called for by the school’s vision and mission. It is committed to serve the humanity and to the changing needs of the society.
Similar to other existing Christian programme, the task of the people involved in the community outreach programme is to help bring about the total formation of the human person, which looks forward to the individual’s ultimate end, and to help achieve the common good of the Philippine society. Hence, the community goes beyond more imparting of knowledge. It is extended to the needy, the less fortunate and marginalized sector of the community while visualizing these groups as growing in Christian virtues.
The Outreach Programme undertakes the activities and uses varied approaches and strategies to identify the needs of its target clientele in order to adopt ways and means of helping these people cope with their needs. The programme is a shared experience between the school and other sectors in the community in serving mankind.
The special mission of the outreach programme is to share the message of the Dominican Order of truth, justice, and compassion hence the charitable activities of the programme are steeped in the value of intrinsic learning as demonstrated by the Dominican particularly the Aquinians.
SUSTAINABILITY OF THE CAMPUS AND OUTREACH PROGRAM
Community service – serving as a mentor to disadvantaged youth, and families, volunteering at different religious social activities is one way students, alumni, faculty, and staff can make tangible contributions. Volunteer opportunities for all campus members, and the sense of compassion that community service helps develop, are fundamental to achieving sustainability.
For students, such in-depth community engagement can enhance the development of leadership and skills while deepening their understandings of practical, real-world problems. As students work with communities, they learn of the interconnectedness between the classroom, the environment and its systems and the economic needs that must be a part of the solution. Through education and real world experience, students will provide a skilled workforce with the values, knowledge, and drive necessary for building a sustainable future. Student Involvement in projects such as these can be transformational, often leading to a deep commitment to the community and producing the type of well-trained and motivated work force we will need to build the a True, Just, Joyful and Compassionate Community.
The club activities are also aligned with the social / outreach activities to ensure that the students are given the opportunity to engage in worthwhile endeavors which will truly benefit our beneficiaries. The Student Activity Coordinator and the Campus / Outreach Ministry Head plan these activities to coincide with the different club activities held during the school year. Students and moderators plan their individual activities during their initial meeting and execute these plans during the course of the year. This will ensure that constant contact with the students and beneficiaries continues and all necessary resources are at hand when needed. These activities are continuously being monitored and evaluated by all the persons involved.
To also ensure the sustainability of the program, the administrators allocate a solidarity fund. All the Mass collection and are intended for the outreach activities of the school. At the same time, the Campus Ministry Office encourages the students, parents, alumni and all the members of the school community to give some goods like food, clothes, slippers, used books, toys and many others. during Friday Masses, Feast Days , or anytime they are indispose to offer any thing for the benefit of our less fortunate brothers and sisters in the community
AQUINAS SCHOOL OUTREACH PROGRAM DEVELOPMENTAL GOALS
Primarily, the school and community social action program is geared towards the achievement of the following goals:
- Dedication and commitment to the core value embodied in the mission statement of the school by participating actively in the social transformation thrust for a better nation/world in the light of the Catholic Social Teachings.
- Organize and build a community of Christians whose members are Gospel-centered and imbued with the Dominican/Aquinian charisma of joy, assiduous study for truth and justice and love for compassion particularly for the poor in prayerful reflection and filial devotion to the Mother of God.
- Focus on the formation of Filipino Christians learners who:
- are enlightened
- practice moral discipline
- imbued with respect for life and concern for nature and environment
- exemplify a deep sense of nationalism and pride for their cultural heritage
- are nature and capable of critical thinking
AQUINAS SCHOOL OUTREACH PROGRAMME OBJECTIVES
- Awareness/Commitment Component
- Make the school populace aware of and responsive to the socio-economic and political condition prevailing he Philippine society today.
- Orient the school populace of its role in the transformation of society in the vital areas of concern such as spiritual and health care, socio-cultural heritage and economic concern.
- Formation and Community Building Component
- Intensify the development of awareness of conditions obtaining in society and encourage voluntary involvement in the outreach program among students, faculty, school personnel and administrators.
- Provide administrators, faculty members, school personnel and students the needed information and training for selfless sharing of knowledge and experience in the spirit of truth, justice and love.
- Involvement and Spiritual Programme
- Moral and Spiritual Formation
- Learn to worship God through personal prayer and liturgical celebration
- Understand the concept of religion
- Pray with spiritual and intellectual humility to God for good interpersonal relationship
- Health and Sanitation Components
- Cultivate social responsibility for the community and environment by helping maintain cleanliness and in beautification of surroundings
- Value good health as an asset for enjoying life and as a tool to enable one to face challenges and problems squarely
- Socio-cultural Components
- Instill deep faith in national effort for progress by improving oneself through study and hard work
- Equip oneself with knowledge and experience in improving wisely one’s potential as a human being, including one’s moral, spiritual, intellectual, physical, social and emotional faculties
- Maintain a happy and united home life and deepen national consciousness and promote desirable cultural values
- Economic Security Component
- Identify the disadvantaged sectors in the community for educational and economic upliftment
- Collaborate with government and private organizations in pursuing the economic upliftment of the masses
- Solicit the help of the public and private sectors for employment for the poor
- Inculcate love for work and appreciate the dignity of labor
- Maximize clientele participation in activities for economic upliftment activities as they gain skills and improve work habits and attitudes
- Moral and Spiritual Formation