The first of three annual seminars commemorating significant dates in St. Thomas Aquinas’ life opened on July 18, 2023 at University of Santo Tomas (UST) Manila.
The two-day forum gathered nearly 200 scholars, students, and researchers in hy-flex mode to reflect on the theme “Truth in Dialogue: Conversations on St. Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary Questions on Truth.”
The conference was formally opened by UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Vice Rector for Research and Innovation and the Dean of the Faculty of Sacred Theology Rev. Fr. Jannel Abogado, O.P., Institute of Religion Director Rev. Fr. Ermito de Sagon, O.P.
Plenary speakers included Prof. Fr. Mark Daniel Holtz, O.P., Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Sr. Prof. Catherine Joseph Droste, O.P., Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Pontificia Università San Tommaso d’ Aquino.
In his speech, Fr. Holtz said a deeper engagement with St. Thomas Aquinas’ thoughts on truth should be done in the “spirit of open and mutually curious dialogue.” This would “benefit contemporary debates” on pluralist notions about truth.
Sr. Droste said the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and counsel help form the self for
dialogue and engagement. With prudence and charity, these gifts would allow dialogue partners to enter a “dialogue of Revelation” whose principal agent is the same Holy Spirit.
Prof. Jovito Cariño, Ph.D. of the UST Department of Philosophy shared his insights in his lecture“Tagpuan, Tapatan, Talaban: Si Santo Tomas de Aquino, Dayalogo at ang Kontemporanyong Paghahanap sa Katotohanan” (Encounter, Exchange, Engagement: St. Thomas Aquinas, Dialogue and the Contemporary Search for Truth). He said truth-seeking through dialogue ideally starts with tagpuan, or initial encounter of dialogue partners, leading to a relationship of tapatan or authentic exchanges, and ultimately to talaban, influencing each other with “values and virtues.”
UST Graduate School Regent Rev. Fr. Rodel E. Aligan, O.P., SThD, lectured on the “Relevance of St. Thomas Aquinas on Truth, Communication and Authenticity of Christian Life in the Digital Age.” He said communicating in the digital world requires “consistent as well as authentic witnessing to the truth.”
“Everyone must help incarnate, enflesh, or enliven “the Gospel truth in the real world,” he added.
More than 50 academic papers were heard in parallel sessions clustered into 16 topics, including Asian cultures, Contemporary Ethical Theories, Post-Truth, Catholic Education, Modernity, and Modern Technology.
The Holy Eucharist on July 18 commemorated the 700th anniversary of St. Thomas Aquinas’ canonization. The main presider was Rev. Fr. Napoleon Sipalay Jr., O.P., Vice Rector of the UST Central Seminary.
Assoc. Prof. Marella M. Bolaños, Ph.D. from the Department of Philosophy of the Faculty of Arts and Letters gave the closing message on July 19.
The forum coincided with the 9th annual Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi Lecture Series, the flagship activity of the UST Center for Theology, Religious Studies and Ethics honoring the University’s first Filipino Rector Magnificus, and former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Organizers of the event were the Institute of Religion, Center for Theology, Religious Studies and Ethics (CTRSE), Office of the Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation, Department of
Philosophy of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, UST Graduate School, the Ecclesiastical Faculties, and Office of the Vice Rector for Religious Affairs.