The turn of the century from 1896 to 1906 was a dark decade in the history of the Church in the Philippines. The shift from the Spanish sovereignty to the American regime brought about changes in the political, socio-cultural and religious order.  The Filipino people were faced with stark realities:  Aglipayanism, Protestantism and Freemasonry took an upper hand in the religion of the people.  With the Philippine Act 1902, on the basis of “separation between church and state,” no religion would be taught in school.  Most of the Spanish friars returned to their motherland, leaving the Filipinos with just a few priests to shepherd them.

Considering the deep religiosity of the Filipinos and their hunger for God, the Church hierarchy saw the need for the presence of men and women religious who could nourish the faith of the people.  The need for Catholic schools was deeply felt.

In 1906, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, Germany, under the leadership of Mother Birgitta Korff, OSB, responded to the plea for help signaled by the Papal Legate in the Philippines, Dom Ambrosius Agius, OSB.  Five sisters were appointed for the mission of bringing God’s word to the Philippines.

With the spirit of faith and a burning zeal for missionary service, M. Ferdinanda Hoelzer as Sister Prioress, Sisters Petronilla Keller, Crescentia Veser, Winfrieda Mueller and Alexia Ruedenauer, a novice, embraced their God-given mission.  On the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, August 15, 1906, they boarded the German “S.S. Gneisenau” in Genoa for their voyage to the land of mission.  They arrived in the Philippines on the 14th of September, feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

It is significant to note that the HISTORY of THE MISSIONARY BENEDICTINE SISTERS in the Philippines began with THE VICTORY OF THE CROSS.

With the coming of some other religious congregations to the Philippines, the glorious LIGHT of THE CROSS of CHRIST started to DISPEL THE DARKNESS across the Philippine shore!

On Moriones Street

The sisters’ first residence was in Moriones Street, Tondo, a very poor section in the city.   Tondo was the stronghold of Aglipayanism.  Sister Caridad Barrion writes in her book,  The Missionary Benedictine Sisters in the Philippines,  “Could it be that one of the big factors in  assigning the Sisters there was their expressed desire to work among the poor, among  the thousands of children who grew up without any instruction?”

Classes began

On December 3, 1906, the school opened for the first three grades and the first Holy Mass was celebrated by the Apostolic Delegate. The first enrolment was eight (two boys and six girls) from well-to-do families and 50 boys and girls in the “Free School” in a windowless wagon-shed.

New Site:  San Marcelino Street

The increasing number of students necessitated a larger place.  The Most Rev. Jeremias Harty, then Archbishop of Manila, offered the Sisters a lot in San Marcelino Street to become the site of the school.  On the Eve of Christmas, 1907, the Sisters moved out from their place in Moriones Street to their new home in San Marcelino Street.

Government recognition was granted to the new school which carried the official title:  ST. SCHOLASTICA’S COLLEGE.  The Sisters got committed to the educational apostolate, “the instruction and education of young girls taking into account the changed situation in the Philippines.”  

Sister Willibalda Schrader, OSB and Sister Baptista Battig, OSB
Blazing New Trails

Sister Willibalda Schrader, OSB, St. Scholastica’s first officially designated directress, guided St. Scholastica’s College for the next 30 years.  Together with her co-workers, they set high scholastic standards that gave the new school a reputation of excellence.  In 1907, Sister Baptista Battig, OSB brought fame to St. Scholastica’s College when she opened the Conservatory of Music.  A pupil of the great musician, Ludwig Deppe, in Berlin, Sister Baptista was a concertist even prior to her entrance in the convent.  It can be said with pride that Sister Baptista pioneered formal music education in the Philippines.

Year after year, St. Scholastica’s College was blessed with increasing enrolment.  In 1913, Archbishop Harty offered a church lot in Singalong for a bigger site for the school.  Construction of the new school building started at the beginning of the year 1914.

To Pennsylvania Avenue

The address of the new site was 1532 Pennsylvania Avenue.  At early dawn on the Day before Christmas, long before daylight, the Sisters, together with some student boarders, moved to the new site in Pennsylvania.  It is to be noted that St. Scholastica’s moved on to new sites, first in San Marcelino and then, after 7 years, to Pennsylvania Street on the DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS.  Indeed! St. Scholastica’s College is GOD’S GIFT TO HIS PEOPLE.  Moving on to new sites on the day before Christmas announced the BIRTH OF A NEW HOPE for an education needed by the Filipino women.  Governor Francis Burton Harrison who was at the solemn inauguration of the new site, expressed his wish that the Scholasticans “could work for the glory of God and the good of the Filipino people.”

The Culture of Benedictine Education at St. Scholastica’s College

Sister Caridad Barrion, OSB, in her book on the The History of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in the Philippines, describes the education given at St. Scholastica’s College as an integral formation for the “total person.”  The Sisters drew up a philosophy of education that combined academic excellence with the religious-socio-pastoral and civic formation that would prepare the Scholasticans to be contributive members of the Church and of society.  The Benedictine culture of Ora et Labora was fostered.  The students learned to pray before and after every class period and every activity.  First Fridays of the month were spent in chain adoration before the Blessed Sacrament during which the students made an Act of Consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Equally important was the emphasis on the apostolic activities of the students:  giving catechetical instruction in public schools, visiting the children in orphanages and in Welfareville, and prayers and voluntary acts of sacrifice for the Propagation of the Faith.  Membership in the Sodality and Student Catholic Action nurtured in the students a love for Mary and a commitment to work for God and for country.  

World War II:  The Ravages of War

At the outbreak of World War II, the Japanese made their triumphal entry to Manila.  St. Scholastica’s College was sealed as “property of the Japanese Imperial Forces.”  Parts of the school were converted into a hospital.  Sisters opened the school gates to welcome people who sought refuge in the concrete buildings of the school. Thus, St. Scholastica became the sanctuary for people suffering from the terrors of war.  But on the fateful day of February 13, 1945, an incendiary bomb set St. Cecilia’s conservatory of Music on fire.  Soon, the other buildings were also razed to the ground.  St. Scholastica’s buildings were all gone.  But, by God’s grace, all the Sisters in the campus were spared.

Reconstruction and Renewal

The Sisters who lived amidst the ruins of St. Scholastica’s had their vision of buildings once more rising from the debris and they prayed for further fulfillment of their missionary vocation. Under the leadership of Mother Amadea Bessler, OSB, reconstruction started.  Hand in hand with the reconstruction of the physical plant, Mother Amadea called for renewal in the monastic life of the Sisters.

St. Scholastica’s College re-opened its doors once again in the second half of the year 1947.  Undaunted by the crippling effects of war, the Sisters pursued the goals of St. Scholastica’s College with greater vigor: the education of finished women of character.  The Sisters firmed up their efforts to prepare women for the re-building of the home towards a post-war spiritual reconstruction of the Philippines.

St. Scholastica’s College once again focused on academic excellence through discipline, precision and hard work while maintaining A LIFE of ORA ET LAOBRA, SEEKING THE GLORY OF GOD AND SERVICE TO HIS PEOPLE.  Recognizing the quality education at St. Scholastica’s College, the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (PAASCU) accredited the College unit in 1957.  St. Scholastica’s College became a chartered member of the said association.  The High School and Grade School Units were subsequently accredited in 1964 and 1973 respectively.

Education for Justice

In 1975, the Benedictine Sisters in the Philippines, under the leadership of Mother Irene Dabalus, OSB, then Prioress, made a declaration of their commitment to social justice.  Mother Irene drew up a well-defined statement on the components of A SOCIALLY ORIENTED SCHOOL.  St. Scholastica’s College mapped out a program of implementation of the new thrust.  The school adopted as its theme: EDUCATION FOR JUSTICE.  This led to a re-examination of existing curricula, course offerings, methodology, co-curricular program of activities.

  • In answer to the needs of the poor, SSC opened a Social Center in the campus.  This center mobilizes students to respond to crisis situations like flash floods, lahar flow, fire, typhoons and other calamities.  The Scholastican is trained to be there where there is need, to respond to the needs of people with womanly compassion.

  • The Work-a-Year Program was revived.  This program gives graduates the opportunity to offer services to our province schools and/or social centers with a view of training them to share what they have received.  Later, this was expanded to what is now called The Benedictine Volunteer Program which includes students and graduates from other schools.

  • In 1985, in celebration of its tenth year of social orientation, St. Scholastica’s College, through the initiative of Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB, introduced programs in the curriculum that would promote awareness of the problems and concerns of women.  In the College Unit, an Introductory Course in Women’s Studies was incorporated in all academic programs.  As an offshoot of the school’s commitment to empowerment of women, the Institute of Women’s Studies (IWS) was established.  Later, the school ventured in frontier work in eco-feminism with a model farm in Mendez, Cavite.

  • Social orientation in a Benedictine school creates a school climate that respects the uniqueness of the individual.  The Grade School uses an approach to instruction called Small Group Prescribed Instruction with Individual Pacing (SGPIIP).  This approach helps the child develop her gifts so that these gifts can be used for the service of others.  Imbedded in the Grade School curriculum are programs that develop values of uniqueness, celebration, creativity, critical thinking and involvement.  Among these programs are Drama in Education, the Search for the Filipino, and the Outreach Program.

  • The High School uses inter-disciplinary approach among subjects and the academic and co-curricular programs to form Scholasticans who are embodiments of academic excellence and social responsibility.  The High School has a challenging Religion Extension Program that integrates religion with social action.  This action enhanced by an in-depth theological reflection develops a capacity for deep compassion and service to others.

  • The Night Secondary School of SSC, now on its 35th year, continues to provide opportunities for a better future for the less-privileged.

A Legacy of Academic Excellence

The core of Benedictine Education remains rooted in the tradition of academic excellence as a social responsibility. 

  • Today, St. Scholastica’s College is accredited in all its basic education units and college programs.

  • Graduates in degree programs requiring licenses have established a good track record in the board examinations.  In the school year 2000-2001, St. Scholastica’s College was granted full autonomy by CHED.  SSC has the distinction of being one of 30 Higher Education Institutions across the country accorded this privilege in recognition of the quality of its programs.

  • St. Scholastica’s College School of Music, under the energetic and enthusiastic orchestration of its Dean, Sister Mary Placid Abejo, OSB, has expanded its repertoire of offerings from piano and voice to winds and strings and has given life to PREDIS, Philippines Research for Developing Instrumental Soloists.  Through PREDIS Scholarships, the musical talent of many young girls and boys, some of them from disadvantaged backgrounds, has been discovered at a very early age and given opportunity to be developed.

  • SSC School of Music now offers Masteral Degrees: Master in   Music Education and Master in Piano Pedagogy.

New Ventures

To keep apace with the fast changing socio-economic-technological world of the third millennium, St. Scholastica’s College has ventured into some innovations in educational programs to better equip the Scholasticans for a more effective service to our people.

  • Distance Education.  In a Memorandum of Agreement signed with Saint Paul’s Business School of Tacloban, Inc., St. Scholastica’s College has agreed to conduct classes In Master of Science in Accountancy and Master of Business in Business Management for baccalaureate degree holders from Eastern Visayas and nearby provinces as part of SSC, Manila’s Extension Program.

  • CHED Zonal Research Project.  St. Scholastica’s College, Manila is the lead Institution in two Research Projects:

Project 1: “Aligning Competency Skills of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Graduates and Industry Needs”

Project 2:  “Comparative Study of Traditional and Problem-based  Learning Methods in Teaching Business Subjects”

  •  Masteral Degrees are now offered in the following areas :

    • Education (SPED, Pre-School Education/Pre-School Management

    • Music (Piano Pedagogy, Music Education)

    • Family Psychology and Counseling

    • Hotel and Restaurant Management

    • Accountancy

    • Business Management

    • Women’s Studies

  • St. Scholastica’s College has started two new Institutes:

    • Institute for Emerging Technologies (IET)

    • Institute for Catering Management and Hospitality Technology (I-CATHY)

  • St. Scholastica’s College has also pioneered new and innovative degree and non-degree programs in Business, Hospitality Management and Technology.

  • The School has taken a forward step towards greater utilization of technology in the teaching-learning process.

  • Another innovative accomplishment in the area of technology is the in-house development of an Integrated School Information System (ISIS) in support of an effective and efficient administrative system.


On September 14 of this year 2005, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in the Philippines will officially open


St. Scholastica’s Priory


St. Scholastica’s College, Manila

The celebration will bring to mind the wonderful deeds of GOD in the 100 Years of Missionary Benedictine Presence in our country and in the history of St. Scholastica’s College, Manila.

The first Five German Benedictine Sisters landed on Philippine shore on September 14, 1906, Feast of The EXALTATION OF THE CROSS.



As we look back to GOD’S BLESSINGS in the PAST,

we keep alive the HOPE that

St. Scholastica’s College will hold high its MISSION of EDUCATING WOMEN

committed to CHRIST’S LOVE: 

a LOVE that renounces power,


and His people












That in all things GOD may be glorified!

For more information send email to: sscinfo@ssc.edu.ph