THE CONGREGATION OF THE AUGUSTINIAN RECOLLECT SISTERS The Congregation of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters originated in the Philippines in the early part of the 18th century. It was founded by two sisters, both in blood and spirit, namely- Dionisia Mitas and Cecilia Rosa Talangpaz y Pamintuan who hailed from barrio San Miguel of Calumpit, Bulacan.

Convinced of their vocation to a way of living which would allow them a well-disciplined life of the Spirit, these two sisters, after they failed to obtain the habit of mantelatas or lay tertiaries of the Augustinian Order from the local parish priest, undauntedly decided to leave Calumpit to come to Calumpang, then a sitio outside the wall of Manila, on which vicinity stood the first Church of San Sebastian. In this Church, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Mt Carmel already had been enshrined since 1621.

The Talangpaz sisters settled themselves in a rented cottage which was proximate to San Sebastian Church so that they could be near their beloved Mother and protectress, the same Virgin of Carmel.

Later, by the help of their spiritual director and benefactor, the two sisters made known their desire to don the habit of mantelatas of the third order of Saint Augustine to the local Augustinian Recollect Friars. After their credentials were carefully scrutinized and their petition for the habit was approved, they were incorporated as tertiaries of the Order. They received the habit on the 16th day of July of 1725.

Since saints cannot become saints unless they experience the test in the �crucible of sorrows� the happiness of these two foundresses and their co-beatas ran short-lived. The state of affairs surrounding them went awry. The beatas were divested of their habit by the Prior of San Sebastian convent. They were ordered to vacate the house which was built for them at the convent garden. The two sisters, nonetheless, never for a moment doubted that their agonies were only for a matter of time.

Strong in faith, the hopeful sisters later sought to implore back for the holy habit from the incumbent Prior of the San Sebastian Convent. Haunted by the humble but prophetic supplication of these women of faith, the Prior petitioned the Provincial of the Order that they be invested with the habit of mantelatas and that the community of beatas, henceforth, be assisted by the Recollects in accordance with the Sacred Constitutions of the Order. Consequently, the rites of the re-investiture of the Talangpas Sisters were held in the year 1728, probably on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, also. They re-adopted the respective names they took in 1725, namely � Sor Dionisia de Santa Maria and Sor Cecilia Rosa de Jesus.

The aforementioned events mark the beginnings of the Congregation of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters which was formerly called Beaterio de San Sebastian.

The Congregation is perpetually united to the Order of the Augustinian Recollects in many ties. It is one of the active congregations belonging to the Augustinian Recollect family and a fruit brought forth out of the missionary zeal of the Order. The primitive Augustinian Recollect Fathers guide the two foundresses and the first community of beatas. They directed the Beaterio from its earlier stage of growth and development until it was canonically erected as a diocesan religious congregation on August 19, 1929 through the recommendation of the Reverend Father Gerardo Larrondo, the incumbent Prior General of the Recollect Friars; and through the benebolence of the Most Reverend Michael O�Doherty, then, Archbishop of Manila.

Still with the nurturing assistance of the Augustinian Recollect Order, juridical autonomy was procured for the congregation which subsequently was declared an Institute of Pontifical Right by the Holy See on November 20, 1970, under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI.


A Brief History of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters as A Teaching Congregation

Since education plays a continuing role in the scheme of our national progress, it is therefore imperative for the Augustinian Recollect Sisters to seek ways and means of establishing schools that could adapt to the numerous challenges of development.

The Augustinian Recollect Sisters� Teaching Apostolate started with the �Beaterio,� in response to the mandate of the King of Spain to keep shelter for young girls and as means to spread Christianity in the Philippines.

The year 1754 marked an important point of progress in the AR Educational Apostolate when the Spanish Governor Marquez de Obando, ordered on the 14th of June, of the same year his clerk, Vicente Lopez Pilares to examine the Sisters and choose those prepared for teaching. Three Sisters, the prioress, Sor Nicholasa de San Jose, Sor Clara de Sta. Rita, and Sor Ignacia de la Santisima Trinidad, were found fit for the task. As a consequence of this decree the teaching apostolate begun.

The promulgation of the Educational Decree of 1863 gave an opportunity for the Sister�s professional growth because of the establishment of teacher-training institution. It was during this mig-nineteenth century that some Sisters earned the title of teacher. This enhanced their competencies by using Spanish as the language of instruction.

In December 21, 1898 when the American Army took control of the country, the authorities begun the educational work by continuing the system of education established by the Spaniards.

However in 1902 the American Civil Government passed an Act creating the Bureau of Education. In 1906 the government followed the laissez-faire policy on private education, so that even with the passing of the Act making English as the medium of instruction, Spanish and the dialect were still allowed in the private schools. Nevertheless, English was gradually introduced and adapted as the language of instruction.

In 1907, a significant landmark in the history of the Congregation tookplace. Reverend Father Yolde, a Recollect priest, prescribed a well defined and delineated program of education. Kindergarten, special classes in Spanish, painting , embroidery and piano lessons were offered.

On September 29, 1911, Colegio de Sta Rita, Manila became the Congregation�s first learning institution offering primary and intermediate classes which was registered by the Bureau of Education.

In 1912, at the request of several families and with the aid of efficient American educator, English was included in the program of instruction which gained immediate approval by the government.

In 1929, the complete secondary curriculum was recognized. Gradually domestic Science, Vocational courses, Spanish courses for all levels, Education and Liberal Arts had been offered. Hence, Colegio de Sta. Rita was changed to St. Rita College.

In 1931, three Sisters, Sor Dolores del Sarado Corazon de Jesus, Sor Carmela de Sta. Teresita and Sor Cecilia de la Purisima Conception were sent to Kueitefu, Honan, Oriental China to help the Recollect Fathers in the teaching mission. They experienced severe trials, yet, they kept on doing their apostolate. A few years later, the communists took over making it impossible for them to carry on the work further. Hence, the Sisters were forced to return to the Philippines.

Before World War II, eight schools were opened in the provinces. After the war only five schools survived and the rest were devastated, but the Sisters were determined to continue their service to the Church so they undertook the task of rehabilitation. Moreover, there was a need to open new schools to answer to the demands of the time. In 1969 there were 39 existing sshools, some owned by the Congregation and others by some dioceses.

Due to lack of personnel, a number of Sisters have been withdrawn from some diocesan schools. At present there are 32 schools in the Philippines administered by the Sisters, 7 other AR Communities with various apostolates such as Orphanage, Retreats and Dormitories and 4 foreign missions.

1997 Edition

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Prayer for Favors
Merciful God,
You have called your servants,
Dionisia and Cecilia Talangpaz
to manifest Your grace of humility
and fortitude
in serving Your Church
under the mantle of our Lady of Mt. Carmel, grant this favor
(mention your intention)
united with the loving supplication
of these courageous
Talangpaz Sisters
whose glory and joy in your kingdom
we ask You to reveal their holiness
and grant their beatification
through Christ our Lord. Amen

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