AdZU: Holistic Training for Head, Heart and Hands

AdZU, the Ateneo de Zamboanga Jesuit University, welcomed a new president in March 2023, Ernald Andal SJ, a 47 years old Jesuit. He is often referred to as a ‘young Jesuit,’ particularly given the significant responsibilities of his position. Let’s start by asking him about his vision for his mission.

“Leadership for us Jesuits is mission. And this mission has gradually taken shape through my formation years. Throughout these years, I have learned to appreciate the power of attentive listening. This requires me to understand and appreciate diverse viewpoints, including those that may contradict my own. I am convinced that wisdom lies in varied perspectives, and my role is to help unearth the Divine Dreams concealed within each voice.

As someone who prays for the grace to take on the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the exercise of leadership, I have sought to lead with humility and generosity, fostering an environment where all members feel appreciated and heard. Our Ignatian value of “cura personalis” prompts me to reach out to all community members and nurture a sense of belonging, especially among those who may feel alienated or overlooked. I do not wish to impose an image of superiority but that of a companion in our shared mission.


I am committed to strengthening an inclusive university culture recognizing that Zamboanga City is a melting pot of diverse cultures and religions and that ADZU should stand as a beacon of reconciled unity in diversity. Our university is home to students from various religious backgrounds; 60% Roman Catholics, 29% Muslims, and 11% Non-Catholic Christians. We take pride in this diversity that distinguishes us from other Jesuit universities in the country. We strive to foster understanding and respect among students of different faiths so that they coexist harmoniously and live in deep solidarity.

The university’s approach to formation is holistic, focusing on the head (competence), heart (conscience and character), and hands (compassion). Recollection and retreat programs are tailored to our students’ spiritual and psycho-emotional needs, often in collaboration with the Guidance and Counseling Office and the Social Involvement Office. And I am blessed to be surrounded by competent and committed partners-in-mission, lay and Jesuits alike, who share this vision of a transformative Jesuit education.

Despite inevitable challenges ahead, with faith in His Saving grace, I move forward into my role as President. God, who replaces fear with faith, self-doubt with courage, and despair with hope, has shared with me the sacred task of tending His flock. Under the loving gaze of our Good Shepherd, I know I am not alone. With great hope, I am eager to serve our AdZU community, Pro Deo et Patria, the university’s motto.”


Education for the common good, social transformation and solidarity

In his inaugural speech as President, Ernald Andal drew attention to how, as a Jesuit, he sees the place and role of the Ateneo de Zamboanga. Yes, he stated, AdZU is relevant...

“Because in this wounded and wounding world, we still need to form compassionate, committed, competent leaders inspired by the Gospel values. They who will courageously put service over self, wisdom over distinctions. We still need to accompany Ignatian leaders who discern that true power lies not in accumulating riches but in enriching lives. This is the kind of transformational Jesuit education we provide here in Ateneo De Zamboanga University.

I shall bring with me three inspirations from an interesting fusion of horizons of Pope Francis and educator and philosopher Paulo Freire.

First, education as a common good. Quality education should be for all, but poverty, conflict, and isolation deter many in Western Mindanao. At AdZU, we dream of a future where no student will be denied a Jesuit education due only to a lack of means. We will advocate for better complementarity between the private and public education sectors. We will also expand scholarships and aid for underprivileged students, recognizing that the better it will be for the Peninsula and beyond.


Second, education for social transformation. Through meaningful dialogue and action in a Filipino, Catholic, and Jesuit university setting, ADZU aims to foster a harmonious, equitable, and peaceful society in Western Mindanao. We will continue educating our students to become agents of change and bridges between peoples.

Finally, education for solidarity and kinship. Western Mindanao is a mix of ethnic groups, faiths, and communities. While some think this diversity could only increase tensions, we believe it also enables unity and fraternity. Education builds understanding and kinship across divides.

These next years will be challenging for me and for those who would choose to stay and collaborate and accomplish our shared mission of forming the next generations of Ignatian leaders - people who are God-fearing, critically conscious, compassionate, committed, and competent to address the challenges of society.”

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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