Addresses of Entrance Ceremony, April 2021
- Yoshiaki Terumichi, President of Sophia University
- Tsutomu Sakuma, S.J., Chancellor of Sophia School Corporation
- Mari Kawagoe, President of Sophia University Parents' Association
Opening Address by Yoshiaki Terumichi,
President of Sophia University
April 1st, 2021
President, Sophia University
My congratulations to you, new students, on your entrance to university! I would also like to extend my congratulations to your parents and others supporting you.
I am very happy to welcome all of you in one room and to be able to congratulate you in person. Last April, we had to abandon our plans to hold an entrance ceremony due to COVID-19. It was an inevitable decision, given that it was a time when the impact of the pandemic was spreading rapidly around the world. Today, we still have some students who could not come to this venue and are joining us online. Sophia University welcomes all our new students.
Today, you are entering a new stage of your life. As you welcome this moment, a milestone of success on the path of your intellectual pursuit, I would like you to envision how you will address and deepen the higher studies that you will be engaging in. You may feel anxious about how you will enhance your interests and motivation in your new spheres of learning at university. True academic joy and excitement is difficult to perceive at first and their pursuit will always involve challenges.
The year 2020 was a turbulent year defined by COVID-19 for the entire global community, as well as for us global citizens. Not only did we experience inconvenience in our daily lives, we also saw various functions of our global community, including economic activity, social systems and international relations, suspended and forced to undergo drastic transformation. Your growth at university needs to be embedded in the recovery of our society and in its future development. And this growth should not be the result of passively waiting for impetus but should be sought by yourselves out of a thirst to thrive.
While the energy for learning and exploring should fundamentally come from your will and beliefs, when and how it is generated and stored is important. An undergraduate education lasts only four years, a Master's course is two years and the Course of Midwifery is a one-year program. The quality and quantity of energy that you allocate will determine whether or not you will make dramatic advances in your studies at university. I would like those of you here with overwhelming curiosity and an inquiring mind to take advantage of the unique educational programs offered at Sophia University and to generate a virtuous cycle that will constantly create new interests to explore. To those of you who seek to gain more energy for learning, I ask you to carefully consider how you envision your future growth and how you wish to address society. I hope that you will pass this milestone with a strong awareness of your role and position in society.
Human society faces various new challenges: Will we recover from the chaos created by COVID-19 without leaving anyone behind? How will we recover and maintain the global environment, which we have destroyed? How can we achieve a society where human dignity is secured? Will humans be able to remain at the center of a society whose decisions are made by AI? We will be faced with unexperienced challenges to which we will be required to find solutions in the near future. You will lead this process of seeking solutions.
The Director of the Catholic Jesuit Center just introduced a passage from the Book of Matthew. (∗) Don't be like the old garments and old wineskins; when you are exposed to new values and ideas, be ready to change oneself. You can gain human growth by always being prepared for a new self. All of you who have managed to start university amid the COVID-19 pandemic stand at the starting point of such change.
You are promising leaders of future society. Sophia University's educational spirit of "Men and Women for Others, with Others" seeks to foster people who prioritize human dignity and offer the service of their abilities to others. I am confident that your university life will be enhanced by the research and educational environment, programs and experiences uniquely offered at Sophia University. I also hope that each of you will deepen your individuality through the personal growth achieved in your studies at university. Welcome to Sophia University.
(∗) The Gospel according to Mark 2:21-22
(Jesus said,) "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins."
Congratulatory Address by Fr. Tsutomu Sakuma, S.J.,
Chancellor of Sophia School Corporation
April 1st, 2021
Tsutomu Sakuma, S.J.,
Chancellor, Sophia School Corporation
Congratulations to all of you starting as undergraduate, graduate or midwifery students, turning a new page in your life. I would also like to extend my congratulations to family members, guarantors and others concerned who are joining us online today. The faculty, staff, students and alumni of Sophia University welcome all of you to the Sophia Family.
I am sure that those of you starting university have welcomed today, preparing yourself amid new challenges brought on by the pandemic while fighting the anxiety and stress that it has caused. Though we still need to be careful, the university will resume in-person classes and we hope that studies and research can be conducted in a less restricted way. I am sure that you are bursting with goals that you wish to achieve in the days to come.
You cannot hope for something that you already have, nor can you hope for something that no one has a way of knowing or envisioning. You can only hope for those things that you have yet to gain, and feel anticipation for, or find fascination in the thought of gaining.
Please allow me to introduce how hope was described by St. Ignatius de Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, which established Sophia University. Sophia University's spirit of internationality and neighborly love based on Christian humanism is founded on the spirituality of St. Ignatius de Loyola who found God in everything. He said that God dwells in creatures: in the elements giving them being, in the plants giving them growth, in the animals giving them sensation, in men giving them understanding. This dynamic leap from nothing to being, to growth, to sensation, to understanding shows that God is here. In other words, what is valuable to humans is not "the other," which exists alongside other things, but something that exists beyond the limits of our being. St. Ignatius refers to what bears ultimate value as "God," but we can consider this to be ultimate hope − a hope that is fit for humans, and a hope that will not deceive you. I expect you, our new students, to seek what is fit for you to truly hope for and to live each day with aspiration for what is better.
Our new students in graduate school or the Course of Midwifery are about to engage in more specialized studies and research. Your natural academic approach will be to understand and structure the rational world with reason. Still, I would ask you to pursue rational actions to serve the good of humans with dignity. Einstein, a physicist, talked about the wonders of mathematics, an abstract concept created in the human mind, being able to explain the structure of the physical world. To put it another way around, if the natural world, as humans understand it, were only a structure of human reason, then the pursuit of natural sciences would only be a grand but solitary monologue. I would like you to bear in mind that academic research is pursued by humans, and that it is guided by an anticipation that encourages human use of reason to reach beyond oneself. It is a dialogue of nature with the human world, or a dialogue with what lies at the source. Dialogue is the opposite of domination. Dialogue is born from love for others.
All of you have come here to live, learn and conduct research "for Others, with Others" to complete your academic pursuit guided by hopes founded on your love for others and maintaining an attitude of dialogue based on your love for all beings.
Congratulatory Address by Ms. Mari Kawagoe,
President of Sophia University Parents' Association
April 1st, 2020
Ms. Mari Kawagoe
President of Sophia University Parents' Association
Congratulations to all new students to Sophia University. Congratulations to the parents and guarantors of our new students. On behalf of the Sophia University Parents' Association I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations.
Given the spread of novel coronavirus infections, I am sure that many of you have overcome many challenges in order to welcome this day. Some of you may feel anxiety or disconnectedness along with joy. However, you are not alone in feeling anxious. The faculty and staff of Sophia University have also dealt with many new challenges in their preparations to welcome you today. Above all, the alumni of this university are fighting the pandemic in various settings, including the medical front and the global community. Please feel proud that you have joined this network.
Sophia University offers a diversity of programs so that each of you may spend a fulfilling student life. Before you start your student life in this privileged environment, I would like to invite you to do two things.
First, please enjoy Tokyo to its fullest. Sophia University is located in Yotsuya, in the heart of Tokyo, with excellent access to various areas. Tokyo is home to many Japanese cultural traditions, including kabuki, sumo, many shrines and temples, as well as various historical buildings. Many museums and art galleries offer students admission at a very reasonable rate. Please find something that you find comfortable with from Tokyo's arts and culture, sports, science, townscape, local lifestyles, and subculture. While the spread novel coronavirus infections has constrained our activities, I encourage you to use your time at university to indulge in these experiences. I believe that there will be many discoveries unique to the current circumstances. The flexible sensibility fostered during these times will surely help you in the future, when you become leaders, bridging Japan and the world.
Secondly, please be more conscious of the importance of human connections.
The faculty and staff at Sophia University will provide each of you with the warmest support. They make every effort to maintain the high quality of the education and environment offered at Sophia University, despite the various constraints faced in the spread of the novel coronavirus. They are also dedicated to providing you with mental health support when you are worried about your future or feel unmotivated to study. I encourage you to approach them in different ways and engage in dialogue with them. You will feel at home at Sophia University, where students share very close relationships with faculty and staff members, as well as with fellow students. I urge you to strengthen these ties.
The Parents' Association, which I represent, is also here to support you in the same way. Now, please allow me a moment to introduce the Sophia University Parents' Association, which was founded in 1973 as a voluntary group of students' parents seeking to financially support the university.
One of the aims of the Association is to improve the environment in which students spend their university life. In addition to supporting infrastructure and environmental improvements, we subsidize student groups engaging in extracurricular activities. In the 2020 academic year, we also supported students who faced financial difficulties in continuing their studies.
Our other aim is to foster friendship among members. We promote communication among guarantors, as well as with faculty and staff members. We usually hold an annual gathering. If you are interested in joining, please attend the online welcome event which we will hold at 6:00 pm today. I look forward to your participation. ( ∗ )
I hope that what you learn at Sophia University will become valuable lifelong assets. I pray for the happiness of all of you who will support students in their endeavors.
( ∗ ) The online welcome event has already ended.