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.