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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A Legacy of Academic Excellence
The core of Benedictine Education remains rooted in the
tradition of academic excellence as a social
Today, St. Scholastica’s
College is accredited in all its basic education units and
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
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.
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
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”
Degrees are now offered in the following areas :
Pre-School Education/Pre-School Management
Music (Piano Pedagogy,
Family Psychology and
Hotel and Restaurant
St. Scholastica’s College
has started two new Institutes:
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.
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
IN GRATEFUL PRAISE OF GOD
On September 14 of this year 2005, the Missionary Benedictine
Sisters in the Philippines will officially open
The CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION of
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
On the CROSS of CHRIST is VICTORY.
On the CROSS of CHRIST is FREEDOM and PEACE.
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
committed to CHRIST’S LOVE:
a LOVE that renounces power,
A LOVE THAT EMBRACES SERVICE to GOD
and His people