Before I entered the convent just few months after finishing college education, I never thought of attending graduate school. My intention was solely to offer my life to God as a Religious. It was only during my initial formation that I observed Sisters attending graduate school. My turn came as a second year Junior Sister, when I was told by Sr. Ma. Adoracion Bonto, AR, then Councilor In-charge of Formation to start my graduate school journey. Out of obedience, I accepted the challenge and opportunity. Throughout my years in graduate school while attending to my responsibilities as a Sister assigned in different AR branches, she unceasingly checked on my graduate school status. Coming from a family of educators, I remembered that it was also the dream of my father to finish Master of Arts in Education and become a Principal in the public school. When I invited my parents to attend my doctorate graduation at The National Teachers College Manila, I realized that God has higher dreams for me as a Religious Sister engaged in the education apostolate. A grace from God indeed! In the Recollect journey, I have learned that our crude knowledge could be integrated with the service of the Catholic Church.
The month of October is a month to reflect on the importance of education. World Teachers Day on the fourth of October is an opportunity to highlight the significant contributions of teachers engaged in the formation of people. Teachers have become channels of learning for mankind. The 10th of October is a day to celebrate the feast of St. Thomas de Villanova, patron Saint of Studies of the whole Augustinian Order (Order of St. Augustine-OSA, Order of Augustinian Recollects-OAR & Order of Augustinian Discalced-OAD). During the homily of Fr. Rene Paglinawan, OAR, Prior of San Sebastian Convent Manila on October 10, 2017, he mentioned that ‘knowledge is the scaffolding of charity’. The focus is not just learning but for learning to enable one to be more charitable. He said that in our schools, there is a combination of Science and Charity. He shared that St. Thomas de Villanova was already charitable even as a child, when he gave out their chickens to the poor. As the Saint advanced in learning and wisdom, he was always bent on helping the poor and the needy. This should serve as a challenge for all Recollects especially those engaged in the education apostolate
As a Congregation involved in the education apostolate, it is of prime importance to form Sisters as educators and at the same time channels of charity. It has been noticed that most AR Sisters at present are licensed teachers (LET passers). There are also Sisters with graduate school education. The Office of the Superintendent of AR Schools closely monitors the Sisters-administrator and provides updates based on the new trends of education prescribed by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP). Aside from baccalaureate degrees and graduate school education related to educational leadership and management, there are also Sisters in other fields of interest that are contributive to the demands of the other apostolates of the Congregation. All these are done at the service of the Catholic Church. The Congregation of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters is always at the service of the Catholic Church. Any educational endeavor by the AR Sisters serves as a channel for the charitable activities of the Church. AR Sisters who are serving in other apostolates such as Apostolate of prayer for the elderly and the infirmed are also one in prayerful support towards the education apostolate of the Congregation.
Written by Sr. Cleofe Maria Jala Agua, AR at the Generalate Office