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Blair, Lowney in Pre-Sesqui events: Ateneo lines up special events to mark sesquicentennial

MANILA, Philippines - All roads lead to Loyola Heights, the heart of Ateneo de Manila University this year. 2009 is the final year of the three-year countdown to Ateneo’s 150th anniversary, or sesquicentennial, which will be marked on December 10.

In 2007, the university community was rallied to celebrate the Atenean’s excellence in various fields and callings. In 2008, the theme segued to deepening Ignatian spirituality which is the hallmark of Atenean formation. This year, 2009, the community proudly hearkens back to 150 years of building the nation, the milestone of which are deeply entwined with the country’s own history.

March brings two distinguished international speakers to the Ateneo: Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who will deliver a talk at the Ateneo MVP Center Sesquicentennial Leadership Forum, and Chris Lowney, bestselling author of “Heroic Leadership,” who will be the Loyola Schools’ commencement speaker.

On June 14, the Ateneo de Manila University officially kicks off its sesquicentennial year celebration. The Sesquicentennial Kick-off Mass at the Manila Cathedral will have His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, as main celebrant. It will be followed by a grand motorcade that will pass through the Ateneo campuses – Intramuros, Padre Faura, Salcedo and Rockwell in Makati, Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health in Pasig and finally, Loyola Heights, in Quezon City – to symbolically retrace Ateneo’s journey from its beginnings as a school for boys in Intramuros to its present stature as a world-class university.

On June 12, the very Rev. Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus returns to the Ateneo to celebrate Mass in honor of St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus at the Ateneo High School Covered Courts.

December is jam-packed with special events. There will be a Grand Sesquicentennial Anniversary Mass at the Church of the Gesu on Dec. 10. Dec. 12 is made special for alumni through the grand alumni homecoming Mass, One Big Night and grand alumni homecoming at the Ateneo Loyola Heights campus. Also in December, Gawad Kalinga-Ateneo will spearhead the GK Sesquicentennial Build, a grand house-build for the much-anticipated Sesquicentennial Village.

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Two books will be launched this year. Fr Jose Arcilla, SJ’s coffee table picture book The Ateneo Way. 150 years in May, and 150 Year in the Life of the Nation, produced by the Loyola Schools Department of History, in December. Advanced orders and reservations can be made for these books and for limited-edition memorabilia, including a replica of the Immaculate Concepcion statue from the Intramuros campus rendered by well-known artist Sajid Imao, Sesquicentennial Swatch watches, car plates, and medals accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Expect more celebrations as the Blue Eagle Gym, Ateneo’s oldest structure built in 1949, turns 60 years old in June and a modern, five-story Rizal Library building is completed in November.

For a detailed calendar of sesquicentennial events, please visit http//150.ateneo. edu or contact the Office of University Development and Alumni Relations at tel. no. 4266001, local 4081 to 4094, or email address 150@ateneo.edu. You may also visit the OUDAR at Alingal Hall, across from Eliazo Residence Hall in the Loyola Heights campus.

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