18 Recollection Points on the Revival of Holy Cross

Jan 18, 2021 | Columns

Ex Fide Ad Veritatem
From Faith to Truth

This is a recollection of Holy Cross about its decision to revive itself from financial losses and to revitalize itself as an institution worthy to serve the community. There shall be no heroes to be named in this recollection, but plenty of heroism to share. There shall be no specifics but plenty of truths. There shall be no prescriptions, but plenty of diagnosis. With love and inspiration, Holy Cross shares the 18 recollection points – ARISE, HAIL HOLY CROSS.

As soon as the news of retrenchment at Holy Cross reached the public on November 29, 2020, it divided the community. While some sectors condemned Holy Cross for the unprecedented act, others applauded the Archdiocesan institution for its resolve. Amidst the noise of exchanging views, passing on judgment and sharing of opinion, Holy Cross remained silent as it carried on the work.

Reviving a 69-year-old institution from sustained financial losses was like facing a formidable but unseen opponent. Unraveling the prevailing system, culture, and paradigm was an uphill struggle. Every initiative must find its mark. While David struck Goliath with a single stone, Holy Cross would need two: The Survival Mindset and The Growth Mindset. The first would give Holy Cross a fighting chance. The second would give Holy Cross its competitive edge. It was a worthy battle considering that the survival of Holy Cross was at stake.

In search of the truth, Holy Cross studied its data going back five academic years. It showed the trend of declining enrollment, rising expenses, and a prevailing system unable to maximize its resources. When these data were presented to the different sectors, it divided Holy Cross. While others would accept, others would refuse but the truth remained on the imminent demise of Holy Cross. Something must be done.

Sectoral dialogues were scheduled and from these sessions, Holy Cross was able to refine the Survival Mindset. While the initial dialogues were leaning towards achieving break-even, Holy Cross was able to discern that the real purpose was not to achieve break-even, but to sustain the mission. Holy Cross honored the sectors for their level of engagement during these dialogues. While it was true that a sustainable agreement was not achieved, Holy Cross understood that immediate action must be taken.

Engaging the stakeholders enabled Holy Cross to proceed with competence and compassion. During this time, Holy Cross was the humble steward of inputs from community leaders, regulators, and administrators. Holy Cross was reminded time and again that while it pursued its mission, it should be mindful of what was due to its students, teachers, and employees. It should be mindful of its place in the community. As help and assistance continued to pour in – a White Knight’s proposal, an invitation for transitory engagement of retrenched employees, volunteering to shoulder cost of printing documents –the burden was shared and that made the effort bearable. Holy Cross soon realized that it has engaged the community, and the time to act was at hand.

Hardly a day passed without new development happening. As Holy Cross ventured deep into the implementation of its plan, letting go of contentions allowed it to be involved as events unfolded. Holy Cross remained steadfast when asked to explain its side during crucial conversations. Amid public criticism, Holy Cross remained silent in its work. When asked to present its side to the public, Holy Cross was clear in its message of truth. Interestingly, some sectors of the community became strong voices supporting Holy Cross.

A new set of thinking was being put in place at Holy Cross. The Survival Mindset and the Growth Mindset were part of it. Other paradigms included Crossian Conversations, Dialogic Mindset, and shared Servant Leadership. These mindsets were shaping the revitalization of Holy Cross. These mindsets were redefining the system and culture at Holy Cross. Holy Cross was in the position to anticipate changes and to adapt quickly. But these mindsets must be reinforced to all sectors at Holy Cross – students, teachers, employees, and alumni.

In retrospect, Holy Cross was able to sustain its mission because of three factors: (1) Dialogue, (2) Diligence, and (3) Discernment. These factors emphasized the act of reaching out – to others through dialogues, to the self through diligence, and to God through discernment. Throughout its transformation journey, Holy Cross consistently engaged in dialogues, diligence, and discernment.

Leadership at Holy Cross is evolving and is replacing the sense of doubt, prevailing silence and the lack of confidence that crippled the students, teachers, employees, and alumni from rising to the challenge. At the heart of the Holy Cross leadership is stewardship with a deep sense of service. This allows every leader at Holy Cross to become stewards of the role and to pass it on to the next generation of leaders when the time comes.

Has there been any secret weapon, a formula for success, or genius behind the curtain that allowed Holy Cross to achieve such milestones in just under a semester? The answer is none. There is no secret weapon, only dialogue. There is no formula for success, only diligence. There is no genius behind the curtain, only discernment. Truly, the revival of Holy Cross is a gift from God. And as a steward of this gift, Holy Cross will continue its mission for the community.

Opportunities for growth remain available. However, Holy Cross must continue to protect its survival. For Holy Cross to survive, it should be tended properly through constant pruning and cutting off branches. For Holy Cross to grow, it should learn to rely on the strength of its vine. This means that a system for projecting enrollment, engaging teachers, and developing programs must be in place and constantly monitored and adjusted.

Looking further into the future, Holy Cross understands the work required. As a steward of the mission, Holy Cross is prepared to carry on what it started in the early years of its history – of providing affordable Catholic education. The Archdiocesan institution is not in the position to be proud of what it accomplished. But in the hearts of every Holy Crossian – the students, alumni, teachers, and employees – there is gratitude. Holy Cross ventured through great difficulty and came out revitalized in the end, a stronger steward of the mission.

Yesterday’s mindsets are no longer fit for Holy Cross. The Survival Mindset and Growth Mindset shall prevail. The Crossian Conversations and Dialogic Mindsets shall be institutionalized in a manner that will shape the identity of Holy Cross. The mission remains the same but by some miracle, the steward is no longer doubtful, silent, and lacking confidence. Simplicity borne out of reliable competence and genuine compassion shall be the core strength of Holy Cross. This simplicity will be nurtured among the students, alumni, teachers, and employees of Holy Cross.

Choosing Holy Cross for schooling or employment is choosing to take part in the mission. Everyone that enters and leaves these halls play unique roles in the history and the unfolding story of Holy Cross. Holy Cross honors its students, alumni, teachers, and employees – past, present, and future. Each one has been stewards of God’s varied grace at Holy Cross.

Registration for the 2nd Semester of AY 2020-2021 has been promising. It is a testament that Holy Cross has made the transition. Holy Cross welcomes its students, teachers, employees, and administrators with a revived community. Through unwavering faith and constant prayers, may the Holy Cross community remain to be resilient in the decades to come.

On its own, Holy Cross will fail. The system it created would collapse. Holy Cross being an Archdiocesan institution is part of a bigger community. Therefore, Holy Cross should reach out. The revival of Holy Cross is not a single event but a continuing process integral to its Administration, Research, Instruction, Spirituality, and Engagement – ARISE. These shall be the pillars of Holy Cross. ARISE shall be the guiding principles behind the mission, formation, and action of Holy Cross.

Silence prevailed in the halls of Holy Cross from January 1 to 3, as the 69-year-old institution emptied itself out, hit rock bottom, and suspended its operations. In those three days, Holy Cross remained in the heart of the earth as Jesus did; in the belly of the great fish, as Jonah did. And on January 4, Holy Cross opened its doors – a renewed and revitalized institution ready to serve the community.

Sustaining the momentum at Holy Cross now rests on its stewards – students, teachers, alumni, and employees. These sectors making up the Holy Cross community are entrusted with the mission. For as long as these sectors engage in Survival, Growth and Dialogic Mindsets and synergize through Crossian Conversations and be guided by the pillars of ARISE – through dialogue, diligence, and discernment – Holy Cross by the grace of God will survive and thrive.