For love, God works in various and wonderful ways to make His presence felt and His love known in our world. He sent His Son Jesus, who in turn called and formed a group of friends, His 12 disciples to go and spread His message of love and salvation.
In this way, we would like to retell too, of our beginnings both as followers of Jesus and members of this congregation, the Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary in the Philippine territory. The congregation began its presence when the Sisters were completely expelled from China and were temporarily housed then, in Hongkong. The plan of God did not take too long to materialize in them, it was intervened by Fr. Faustino Fernandez, S. J., a Jesuit priest who requested the Sisters to come to the Philippines to work in the leprosarium in Zamboanga City.
ln this city, the group of sisters were kindly and hospitably housed by the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) at Pilar College. A year later the La Purisima Dispensary was opened where hundreds of patients from all walks of life have been attended to. At the same time, also conducted catechetical instructions in the nearby barrios.
After a short time, the Stella Maris Nursery was built meant only for the children of Hansenites of Mindanao Central Sanitarium located at Calarian. Unfortunately, the Department of Tourism purchased the lot where the sanitarium was catering to its patients. Consequently, the whole populace of the then sanitarium had to move to Pasobolong, 12 kms east from the city and was entirely an arid, parched land.
ln the new place where they settled, the families were assisted by the Dominican Sisters to gain self-confidence after a period of devastation. The Sisters unreservedly continue giving their service to the most marginalized sector of the society, facilitating in every way for the moral, social and spiritual well-being of each. The community has been blessed with the presence of Rev. Fr. Angel Moreta, S. J. who also gave his full support to these people. He worked for Sagrado Corazon Foundation and the entry of a providential assistance of an agency, the then Christian Children Fund, or CCF as popularly known. This organization lasted for thirty good years which enabled to promote health as well as opportunities for education of their children.
In 1960 Msgr. Luis del Rosario, SJ. Archbishop of Zamboanga City deemed it necessary for our Congregation which was the only missionary group in the city to start a novitiate. With such authentic witnessing, many young Filipino girls knocked the door of this newly erected novitiate to ask for admission to the congregation. The postulants initiated the training in January 1960 with Mo. Begoña Ortuondo, the first novice mistress.
Amidst great difficulties, the Sta. Rosa Residence was founded in Manila in 1962 by pioneering Spanish and Filipina sisters in this ministry. This boarding house can accommodate some 100 young university students as it aims to provide wholesome guidance and environment to these young boarders. “A home away from home” for them.
Conscious of its missionary charism, the congregation sent out its first missionaries to the rural mission of Subanipa, Zamboanga del Sur in the year 1964. The charism here is much in line with our charism, the Christian Education of the youth. The Sisters, in collaboration with the Jesuit Fathers took the responsibility and administration of Loyola High School where the moral and spiritual formations of young boys and girls lay in the hands of the sisters.
Another group of Sisters extended their services as educators in the neighboring barrio of Mabuhay, some 20 kms away from Subanipa. At present, there are two communities in the island with the Servants of the Divine Word or the SVD fathers.
Since there was a need for theological studies of newly professed sisters, a house was made sought and made possible for them, the now, 82 11th St, New Manila, Quezon City. The location was very much accessible to theological and catechetical centers. Projecting to the sustainability of this community and to financially enable them on the daily sustenance, the sisters cater to about 70 children for kindergarten classes.
Further on, a community was established in Darwin, Australia in 1972. The lack of members to constitute a community with the experienced difficult of entry to this country, the house was closed. Another request came from the Bishop of Basilan prelature, an outlying island in the southern part of Zamboanga City. Thus, a community of sisters was established in Lamitan in the year 1974. The Sisters run the Claret School of Lamitan which provides education for the underprivileged Christian and Muslim students, enhancing their spiritual, moral and intellectual development.
There were other communities established in different missionary stations but some are already closed at this time. Reina de la Paz community is in Zamboanga City as “La Comunidad de Acogida” or the home for all the sisters. Meetings, conferences and provincial wide gatherings are held here, besides a priority to attend to the needs of the sick and elderly sisters. It does serve as a place to come and spend some time for silence and rest, away from rural missions.
St. Pius the X the novitiate also based in Baliwasan, is the most cherished section of the whole province since the continuity of the congregation thru the province lie in the hands of the young sisters. But through the years, various strategized planning caused changes based on the sign of the times. Recently, the Novitiate was transferred to New, Manila, Quezon City.
Through the years after the return of the Timorese Sisters in East Timor, the establishment of 5 communities in Timor was made possible, a combination of Timorese, Filipina and was later joined by other sisters in serving this country.
By 2013, somewhere in the northern part of the country, in Teresa, Rizal Province, a community was established in the task of education.
This is the providential way and the hand of God worked through these years in the Province of San Luis Beltran. The hopes and dreams of our Founders Msgr. Ramon Zubieta and Mo. Ascension Nicol Goñi have not vainly fallen on arid nor thorny ground but rather found a fertile soil in the spirit and heart of those who responded and became religious sisters, the Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary. We continue to put our trust in the Lord and His providence, taking pride and joy to live up the ideals and charism of our Founders while full of gratitude that, the Lord indeed has been and is always so good to us.
Sister Ester Alcera,op
Zamboanga City, Philippines