Student Spotlight: Robbie Sian, SJ
Robbie Sian received his basic education in Negros Island in the Philippines. He earned a B.S. in Zoology from University of the Philippines Dilman, graduating cum laude and then graduated from University of the Philippines College of Medicine. After passing his boards, he began his residency in Pediatrics at UP-Philippine General Hospital in 1995. Robbie entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1997 and has served as a Christian Life Education teacher in Manilla, a physician to Montagnard refugees, and a school doctor and pastoral caregiver to handicapped students in Cambodia before graduating magna cum laude in his Theological studies. He was ordained in 2009. Robbie plans to teach Bioethics to medicals students in medical schools and serve on bioethics committees in hospitals in which the Society of Jesus is affiliated. His desire is to contribute to a compassionate & reasonable Catholic position in debates & discourses regarding controversial bioethical issues in his country.
Why did you choose LMU’s Bioethics graduate program?
I was attracted to LMU’s program because it didn’t limit itself to medical ethics but also addressed related topics social justice and feminist bioethics. I was looking for a program that would embrace a Catholic outlook rooted in the "faith and reason" tradition.
What did you like best about the program?
As a Catholic priest, I have to promote the Catholic viewpoint in a rational manner — but I also need the intellectual background to carry out a meaningful dialogue with the faithful and the differ-ent socio-cultural and religious "sectors" of society. After all, we are united by our common search for truth, individual fulfillment, and the common good. The LMU program provided me with the tools and training to participate, with open-mindedness and confidence, in these conversations —without giving up the reality that the human person is both body and soul.
Have you developed a special interest in the field?
My special interest is with medical ethics because I used to practice medicine. But, I still continue to face these questions when the faithful seek counseling which includes medical life-and-death questions from their priests. There are also questions regarding the application of modern technology to the human body. Providing counsel involves not only advising based on Church teaching or doctrine but also empowering the counselee to reach her or his best rational decision possible. This requires a union of both faith and reason.
What do you plan to do/are you doing after you graduate?
I am teaching a Bioethics course at the Jesuit run seminary for diocesan seminarians, St. John Vian-ney Theological Seminary, at Cagayan de Oro City in the island of Mindanao. But I will also teach this to lay persons who are interested in getting a degree from the seminary. I am also an instructor at the medical school of the Ateneo de Cagayan University, also known as Xavier University. I make myself available to the archbishop of CDO with regard to bioethical matters.
How do you think your Bioethics studies has informed your work?
It has taught me to be faithful to the truth, the common good, and the dignity of the individual hu-man person while espousing a just and compassionate attitude and decision-making process. Although the truth is non-negotiable, the common good and the dignity of the individual human person have to be carefully balanced when they might come in conflict with one other.