In receiving the 2022 Catholic Heroes Award conferred by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), Prof. Joselito C. Gutierrez, Ph.D. shared his heartfelt gratitude saying, “I am humbled knowing that our simple works and engagements were used as bases for this recognition. I strongly recognize that this is not mine alone – this is a product of a collaborative effort of the many people and institutions, most especially, Saint Louis University, CEAP, and the PEAC in the CAR, and other institutions and individuals who serve as our partners in the community engagement and organizing.”
CEAP’s Catholic Heroes Award honors educators for their simple yet life-changing contributions to the Catholic Education community. Prof. Joselito C. Gutierrez, Ph.D., a teacher, a research adviser, a graduate school facilitator, a faculty development program coordinator, a former assistant principal at Saint Louis University’s Laboratory Junior High School, and currently the Executive Assistant to the President of Saint Louis University has been selected to receive the 2022 Catholic School Heroes Award by the CEAP Board of Trustees.
A Modern Day Catholic Hero
At the height of the pandemic, Prof. Gutierrez intensified his social and civic activities through immersion in the areas of Region II, III and CAR in need of assistance.
In his thank you speech, he recounts a conversation he had with SLU President Rev. Fr. Gilbert B. Sales, CICM early into the pandemic: “Nagsimula ang pandemya pati kami sa paaralan ay naging abala kung paano namin maitatawid ang pagtuturo namin sa aming mga mag-aaral. Fr. Sales then called me up and said, Joi, ano ang maitutulong natin sa mga paaralan sa Cordillera? Huwag ninyong pababayaan ang mga private schools, maging Catholic school man o non-sectarian o maging mga Christian schools, tulungan ninyo sila. I immediately formed a team and lead a group of teachers who unselfishly dedicated their time and effort in assisting the schools in the region. Nagkataon po na ang SLU ang kasalukuyang nabigyan ng pagkakataon na maglingkod at gumabay sa CEAP at PEAC sa aming rehiyon kung kaya naging magaan para sa amin ang pagkilos. Kaya minsan kapag may training o webinar, tinatanong ng participants, CEAP ba ito o PEAC? Ang sagot ko na lamang, both po.”
This talk resulted in tireless efforts by Prof. Gutierrez and his team in providing solutions to the pressing need. He gave mentoring and review sessions for free to aspiring teachers and teachers during training programs. In addition, the writings and research efforts he toiled so persistently over the years had borne fruit when his studies were released locally and worldwide in 2020 and 2016.
He is passionate for what he does because he is motivated by the belief that teachers have the capability to help form the child and eventually the community. His philosophy in teaching is that the profession is a mission that helps transform society. In the coming years, he sees Saint Louis University and CEAP becoming a prime mover of justice, peace, integrity of creation and indigenous peoples advocacy in the region. It will be a model institution for such advocacies in the country.
When putting into words what Dr. Gutierrez’s work has accomplished so far, CEAP aptly says, “it is Dr. Gutierrez’s humble participation in CEAP’s JEEPGY program as a Regional Coordinator, which exemplifies his practice and commitment to CEAP’s core values of Christ-centeredness, integrity, solidarity, stewardship, empowerment, and service. This magnifies all of his efforts in Catholic education and portrays him as a true, Modern Catholic Hero.”
Dr. Gutierrez continues to look towards the future grateful for how the seed of selfless service and borderless missionary works were instilled in him and those he continually works with. “This is ours,” he says, “this is for all the Catholic schools in the Cordillera.”