It was 8am. Saturday July 15, 2006. The voice on the cell phone said, “I’m running late. Can you check if the projector has been set up yet?” It was a voice message from Desi, one of the Charlie Brown guys. I looked at the car dashboard. 72F. Not too bad, I thought. Nice summer day for the AAXS RecolleXSion at the Loyola Retreat House in Morristown, NJ. This should be another Xavier experience.
The Xavier experience started three months ago, on May 2, 2006, when a ragtag team of Xavier alums got together to plan the event. Representing different classes, ranging from Class of 1972 to 1986, we worked together so well it seemed like we’ve known each other the past 15 years. This was the Charlie Brown team, named after the popular restaurant where we met for our planning sessions.
9:15 am. Nineteen participants had arrived: XS alums, ICA alums, faculty, and spouses. Joining us was our Retreat Master, the indefatigable Fr Johnny Go, who was accompanied by Calvin, another Charlie Brown member. Ted brought the bagels and donuts. All systems go. Fr Johnny started with the journey of the three wise men. And compared that to the journey of the Jesuit priests to China. Their expulsion from China. And their arrival in the Philippines, which led to the founding of Xavier School in Binondo. Then came the roadmap session. Group sharing. Lunch. Discernment session. Group sharing.
By the time we finished the Mass at 5PM, the Xavier experience was complete. It reminded us of our academic roots. Our spiritual foundation. And the long journey that we have taken after graduating from Xavier. And through it all, we realized that the Xavier spirit was always within us. Sometimes dampened when we hit our low points, other times shining brightly during our highs.
As the RecolleXSion drew to a close, we gave each other a warm handshake. And Robbie and Victor led the singing of the school song. And Winston snapped a few group photos. All told, a memorable and bonding experience. The Xavier experience. As one of the participants said at the end of the day, “Sa uulitin.”
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