Category: Maryknoll Sisters

Maryknoll Sisters

Sister Margarita Jamias speaking at the centennial celebration of Miriam College. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MARYKNOLL, New York – Maryknoll Sister Margarita Jamias was recently honored for her years of “exemplary service” on the Board of Trustees for Miriam College, Quezon City, Philippines.

Sister Margarita, who served on the Board from 2010-2013, was honored for her singular efforts in pioneering the college’s Nuvali campus.

She was also cited for other unique contributions, including building links between the school and the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, a resource center for organizations, schools, institutions and the general public, seeking to study and appreciate the ecosystems of the Philippines.

Since entering Maryknoll Sisters in 1960, Sister Margarita, a Filipina, has served as an educator and administrator on the primary, secondary and college levels in Guatemala and her native Philippines. She has also worked in community development, pastoral ministry, and empowerment of women in Nicaragua.

Following several years as Missions Project funding coordinator for her congregation, Sister Margarita moved to Baguio, where she served as advocate for “justice, peace and integrity of creation” and a resource person for the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary and chair of the Association of Women Religious of Baguio-Benguet.

She currently conducts “The Journey of the Universe,” a seminar exploring the origins of the cosmos and the challenges facing people today.

Founded by Maryknoll Sisters in 1926 as a teacher-training program, Miriam College began as Malabon Normal School, later evolving into Maryknoll College, and finally into its present form.

The school, which offers classes to preschoolers through Ph.D candidates, has grown to be one of the leading model schools for Catholic education in the Philippines. Its graduates have gone on to become leaders in government, business, education, and socioeconomics in their homeland and beyond.


It was 1947, and postwar Manila was full of promise. I was eager to study at Maryknoll College, a progressive school run by American missionary sisters. It used American textbooks, and was known for excellence in teaching the English language.

I came in the sixth grade when it was at 610 Pennsylvania Avenue (now Leon Guinto Street), a road lined with acacia trees. It was a small, happy school, rather like a family where everyone knew everyone else. We shared a classroom with the fifth graders, and played softball in an empty lot next door.

Uniform regulations were strictly enforced. Skirts had to be 11 inches from the floor—with shoes on—so that when we lined up, they would be beautifully symmetrical. Socks had to be beige to match our blouses perfectly. When beige socks could not be found, clever girls resorted to dyeing them with brewed coffee—anything to escape the exorbitant fine of 25 centavos for every infraction.

Vivid memories there have been woven into the fabric of my days and nights, refusing to be bracketed into seven numerical years, which was the length of my entire stay.

It was with missionary zeal that the nuns imparted a lofty regard for life. Sr. Zoe Marie, my first teacher, inspired me to do my best. She was a gentle disciplinarian, methodical and consistent.

My world was innocent, and my concepts of God were trapped in the constraints of doctrine.

One day, I learned that a high school freshman was not Catholic. She was Protestant! I felt the horror of heresy and panicked. Were the nuns aware of this catastrophe? Would my soul be damned by being her friend? I had been taught that outside the church there was no salvation, and feared for my soul.

I ran to the first nun I saw, Sr. Francis Leo. I stammered as I spoke of my anxieties and the possible scandal in the school. Very kindly, she said to me, “We know she’s Protestant, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Like you and me, she is also seeking God.”

READ THE STORY HERE: Philippine Daily Inquirer

“May nangyari na (Something has already happened)” is the terse explanation given by a Filipino parent when queried why she (more frequently it is the mother) is marrying off her daughter. That “something” is usually sex, usually after the daughter “elopes” with her boyfriend or comes home after an unauthorized night out.

There is even an unsavory Filipino saying to explain why the family honor must be upheld: Kapag  ang  aso  kinagat  ang  buto,  hindi  pwedeng  ito’y  hindi  malawayan  (roughly, when a dog runs away with a bone, there is no way it won’t be licked), so that even if the young couple loudly protest that in fact “nothing happened,” nobody would believe them.

Coming home to her hometown of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and looking for a research topic for her doctoral dissertation, Maryknoll nun Sr. Teresa Dagdag (“Sister TD” to her friends) asked influential persons in her community what they considered the “biggest” problem in society. The common response, from parish priests to parents, was teenage marriage—young people getting married even if they lack the necessary preparation for it simply because the bride is pregnant. Initially planning her dissertation to focus on the “indigenization” of the Catholic marriage ritual, Sister TD decided to probe deeper into the social and cultural roots of early sex and marriage.

The book “May Nangyari Na: Mga Kuwentong Kabataan” is a distillation of Sister TD’s research and analysis, an effort to bring her findings and conclusions to an audience beyond academic circles. At its heart are interviews and case studies with 10 young women (out of about 60 interviewed) in Nueva Ecija and in Jala-jala, Rizal, where the Maryknoll sisters have a mission.

“This book takes a studied look at the junctures from socialization to marriage,” writes Sister TD, “a path which is marked by decision making.” When forced to make a decision—to enter a relationship or not (courtship), to take the relationship seriously, to engage in sex, to enter into marriage—young people need “the anchoring and connectivity of their parents,” says Sister TD. But too often, this parental help line is unavailable, judgmental, or half-hearted.

* * *

Key to how a young woman survives the transition from girlhood to adolescence to womanhood, says Sister TD, is the “mother-daughter dyad,” their exchange of communication, information, values and confidences, and how these bear on the process of making life choices. In much of her research, says Sister TD, “the father is usually invisible or absent.”

But what happens in many cases, the Maryknoll nun finds, is that in the absence of a genuine mother-daughter dynamic, when “something happens,” social factors come into play.

We are all familiar with the pressure put on the family of the  disgrasyada  or disgraced woman, who is suddenly burdened with the responsibility of upholding the family honor. And much too often, this means marrying the father of one’s child, thereby “restoring” the family’s name, or “face.” And thus does marriage—hurried, furtive, falsely celebratory—become what Sister TD describes as “a community response to an otherwise stigmatized outcome.”

* * *

Explaining why she persevered in the years between research, writing and publishing, Sister TD says that foremost in her mind was the desire “to share with parents, mentors, educators and counselors and with young people” the thoughts, feelings, experiences and life-lessons shared by the teenage wives and mothers she interviewed.

She also wanted to encourage youth-carers “to support and accompany young people as they explore positive sexuality,” as well as to share the aspirations “of young people who had become mothers.”

A supporter of the Reproductive Health Law, Sister TD advocates the crafting of a sex and sexuality education curriculum that takes into consideration young people’s values, self-image, and aspirations, as well as awareness of one’s body, emotions, and reactions. At present, the Maryknoll nun observes, “sex education is only about menstruation,” what was once known as “hygiene.”

Sister TD also thinks a serious examination of gender structures and gender expectations is needed when teaching healthy decision-making among young people. She cites the language used by many of her respondents: “ginamit” (used), “nilaspag” (run to the ground) when referring to their sex lives, references to their view of themselves as machines.

* * *

During the book launch of “May Nangyari Na” at Miriam College, two reactors gave linked and contrasting testimonies around the matter of teen sexuality.
Edna, a community leader, spoke movingly of early sex viewed from the parent’s perspective, telling the story of her daughter who left home while still in her early teens and putting them through the wringer as they traced her journey through delinquency and even prison.

Erika, on the other hand, spoke of her experiences of being an 18-year-old “single mother” who, supported in her decision by her parents, continued to pursue her college education and is now gainfully employed. “It’s not easy,” she told the audience, especially because she is no longer in a relationship with her son’s father, “but I am thankful my parents did not force me to marry him.”

When “something happens,” young women face a crossroads in their lives. In her book, Sister TD points out that there is no single path, no single destination, for them. The young woman has her whole life ahead of her, and she can make the right choices for herself only if the significant adults in her life take time to listen to and respect her story, her feelings, and her dreams, and provide support and emotional anchoring in a tumultuous time.

SOURCE: Philippines Daily Inquirer >>

Maryknoll Sister and former BOT member Teresa Dagdag, Ph.D. launched her first book titled May Nangyari Na: Mga Kwentong Kabataan (Adolescents Tell Their stories on Teenage Sex and Marriage) at the Paz Adriano Little Theater last August 12.  Organized by the Office of the Vice-President for Mission, Identity and Development (VPMID), Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) and the Institutional Network for Social Action (INSA), the launch was held together with a symposium themed, “Caring for the female adolescent.”

The book May Nangyari na: Mga Kwentong Kabataan is the  result of Sr. Dagdag’s research in fulfillment of her dissertation for her Ph.D. in Anthropology.Completed in 2007 and published by the Health Action Information Network (HAIN), the book tackles the cultural influences of teenage sex and teenage marriage, significant mother-daughter relationships and values and influences on which the female adolescents base their decisions regarding their sexual lives.

Opening the program was Miriam College President Dr. Rosario O. Lapus who congratulated Sr. Dagdag on her first publication. Dr. Lapus also led the unveiling of the book on stage.

Giving their messages for Sr. TD, as she is fondly called by the community, were Nilda De Vera who represented Dr. Edelina de la Paz, executive director of the Health Action Information Network (HAIN) and publisher; Rina Jimenez-David, women’s health advocate, columnist and Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) awardee; and Sr. Nenita Tapia, MM, Maryknoll Sisters Representative.

Introducing Sr. TD was Rose Linda Bautista, VPMID, who traced the beginnings of the Maryknoll Sister’s missionary in the 70s to her stint in New York and Rome into the 80s, 90s and 2000, and her current ministry in the Philippines. For her part, Sr. TD, shared the outcome of research and what still needs to be done to thoroughly understand the subject of teenage sex and marriage in the Philippines context.

A panel of reactors were invited to share their perspective on the subject. They were Erika Elaine Santos, a BS Psychology graduate of MC; Mrs. Edna Singco , a mother from Daan Tubo; Alyssa Bianca Encarnacion, a graduating student of Miriam College High School; and Ma. Rosanna Monica V. Marabut, head of the Middle School Guidance Office.

Wrapping up the sharing and the symposium  was a response from  Prof. Gigi Francisco of the DAWN.

The event was capped by a book signing by Sister TD and merienda at the Our Ladies’ Court.

The Miriam College Community remembers our beloved Maryknoll Sisters who have entered into eternal life



Sister Reina Paz Kakilala entered Maryknoll in 1950.  She served in the Philippine Region in the mid-1950 to the late 1960s, as teacher to first and second grade children at Maryknoll College in Manila, supervisor of a Maryknoll school in Jimenez, and later assistant principal of Maryknoll grade school in Manila. Sister Reina Paz also served in missions in British Columbia, Canada and the United States.

A published poet in the United States, Sister Reina Paz’s works are found in the American Poetry Association’s anthology, the New York Poetry Anthology and Poetic Voices of America.  She was a National Library of Poetry Editor’s Choice Awardee in 1998 and honoree of the San Francisco International Women’s Year Conference in 1975 for her work among women as a role model “that had encouraged all women to break through the barriers of discrimination.”   

Sister Mary Clare Henry had been a Maryknoll Sister for 65 years.  She was assigned to the Philippine Region where she taught English and Religion in Lipa, Pakil, and Lucena in Laguna, Cateel in Davao Oriental, and in Malabon, Metro Manila. She was also engaged in pastoral work in Maguindanao and at the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Manila as volunteer for its literacy program.

Sister Mary Clare also spent many years in service at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, New York, USA, where she was assigned administrator and business coordinator for the Maryknoll Mission Institute.  

Let us include Sister Reina Paz and Sister Mary Clare in our prayers.


Members of MCHS 1955 gathered for their diamond jubilee celebration this year.  Classmates were together on a five-day, activity-filled reunion, going places around the metro and on an out-of town escapade.  One of the highlights of their activities was a reflection on gratitude and promise solemnly held at the Maryknoll Sisters Centennial Garden of Gratitude and Promise at Miriam College. The garden is dedicated to the Maryknoll Sisters during their 100th year.  With them was Sister Marisa Lichauco, MM, who was their teacher back in their high school days. 

Re-connecting with their alma mater, the group was greeted by Dr. Rosario Lapus (MCHS 1958), President, who updated them on the latest developments in the school’s programs and campus features as well as recent outstanding achievements of students and employees. Also present were High School Principal Dr. Edizon Fermin and Marose Peña (bottom left photo, far left) who represented her late mom Diana Picazo-Ramoso.

MCHS 1955 shares with the community reflection pieces titled “On Gratitude” by Ms. Concepcion Limcuando Rosales and “The Promise” by Ms. Cayo Nivera Marschner.

Top photo shows Ninit Paterno (seated, far left) and classmates with Sr. Marisa, Dr. Lapus and Dr Fermin.

“Immersing ourselves deeper into the life of these people is a continuous experience of self-emptying and personal remolding which I believe is consistent with the spirit and example of Jesus. It is like removing our sandals to be able to enter into the ‘sacred ground'; it is an ‘Incarnation’ experience for me.” – Sr. Teresita Rellosa, M.M.

The Maryknoll Sisters, members of the MC community, family, and friends paid their last respects to Sister Teresita “Tereret” Rellosa, M.M. at the interment and funeral Mass celebrated by Fr. James Ferry, M.M held at the mausoleum on June 16, 2015.  Community workers, relatives, and people whose lives Sister Tereret has touched gave their respective eulogies remembering her happy disposition, love for the youth, and devotion to the poor. Speaking on behalf of Miriam College President Dr. Rosario O. Lapus and the MC community was Dr. Rose Aligada who honored Sister Tereret for her exceptional missionary work and commitment to the poor when she was still alive.

Sister Tereret hails from Laguna and joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1962. Her mission experiences include teaching at the Maryknoll School in Cateel, Davao Oriental and later on in Upi, Cotabato where she administered three elementary schools.

In 2006, she worked with the Subanen tribe of Zamboanga and led the founding of the Indigenous Cultural Community Center for Development. Before her death, she was active in helping peasant women who are neglected impoverished and discriminated against through the National Federation of Peasant Women and Suhay Kanayunan (Support for the Barrio) organizations.

In January 2013 she was assigned to Jala Jala, Rizal Province, and remained there until August 2015.

Sister Tereret is survived by her sister Rowena and two brothers, Plaridel and Rizalino, who live in Pangil, Laguna, as well as by her nephew Michael and her niece Mary Rose who live in Cavite.

Miriam College, through the Miriam Identity, Spirituality and Mission Office (MISMO) and in collaboration with the BEU and HEU’s campus ministry offices, paid tribute to the Maryknoll Sisters in the Philippines and celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Sr. Teresa Dagdag and Sr. Aida Manlucu.
Held last October 7 as part of the school’s 90th anniversary celebrations, the event opened with a Mass presided by Fr. James Kroeger, MM who shared the challenging journey of the Maryknoll Sisters so they may be able to plant the seeds of their mission here in the Philippines.  Student representatives from the different units took part in the celebration of the Mass to honor the Maryknoll Sisters who were present, namely, Sr. Virginia Fabella, Sr. Helen Graham, Sr. Nenita Tapia, Sr. Marvelous Misolas, Sr. Imelda Bautista, Sr. Nora Maulawin, Sr. Marisa Lichauco, Sr. Lourdes Fernandez, Sr. Genie Natividad, and Jubilarians Sr. Teresa Dagdag, and Sr. Aida Manlucu.

The Mass was capped with a message from Sr. Dagdag who likened the Maryknoll Sisters’ “crossing” to that of the crossing of Mother Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. “Crossing over and leaving one’s comfort zone is part of Mary’s life and so is ours,” she said, adding, “crossing over is how we connect with Christ.”
After the Mass, a program was held at the Miriam College-Henry Sy, Sr. Innovation Center (MC-HSSIC). Gracing the event were former Miriam College presidents Dr. Loreta Castro and Dr. Patricia Licuanan; former vice presidents Dr. Glenda Fortez, Dr. Angelina Galang, and Rose Bautista; and current Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Lourdes Baybay.  
In her message read by Dr. Castro, Dr. Rosario Lapus said that the school is happy to be hosting the tribute “for our noble Sisters who constantly light lamps of kindness, love and compassion that ultimately teach our students to make God’s love visible.” 
She also wished for Sr. Dagdag and Sr. Manlucu, “to continue to be sources of inspiration and strength to other Maryknoll sisters and to the entire Miriam community.”
On behalf of the Maryknoll Sisters, Sr. Graham thanked the Miriam College community for the tribute and congratulated the school on its 90th year. She gave credit to the trailblazing Maryknoll founders for their contribution to the school. “We say thank you, first of all, to these pioneering women who blazed the trail for so many more to come over the ninety years since their arrival.” She added that Sr. Dagdag and Sr. Manlucu are two of the many “fruits” of the Maryknoll Sisters’ mission presence in the Philippines.
In between heartfelt messages, the school’s homegrown talents serenaded the Sisters and guests. Among the performers were the Miriam College Middle School Chorus, MC High School Glee Club, MC Aria of the HEU, Cynthia Guico of the Music Center, and Mirma Tica of the Center for Peace Education. A highlight of the night was a piano number from Sr. Nenita Tapia who gamely played the song “If” by Bread.

The night ended with messages of gratitude from Sr. Dagdag and Sr. Manlucu. This was made special by the offering of red long-stemmed roses by members of the community to the Maryknoll Sisters present at this meaningful event. 
Contributing to the success of the tribute were Dr. Gail Galang who was the program emcee; Boyette Fernandez, Lower School Administrative Officer who took care of the physical arrangement; and the Department of Leisure and Tourism for providing the students to help welcome the special guests at the chapel and at the MC-HSSIC.

Maryknoll Sister Teresita Perez, who taught at Miriam College, celebrates her 50th Golden Jubilee this year. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation from the Archdiocese of Manila in 1967 and was assigned to Peru two years later. 
After 24 years as a missioner in Peru, Sister Teresita was assigned to the Philippines in 1993, where she shared the richness of her mission experiences as well as learned about all that had changed in her absence. At Miriam College (formerly Maryknoll College), she taught Theology and Spanish and organized the Campus Ministry Office of the Higher Education Unit, then serving 2,200 students. 
Presently, she resides at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, New York where she remains an active volunteer for the local community.  She volunteers as a bi-lingual interpreter at Brookside Elementary School and at Maryknoll Neighbors Link (a local immigration program). She also volunteers at the Ossining Library in their “Reading Buddies Program” to help people who need to improve their reading skills. 
Right photo shows Sr. Teresita with her brothers Richard and Cesar along with the son and daughter-in-law of her brother Cesar and his wife Lourdes.

Sister Teresita Perez with her brothers, Richard and Cesar

Hearing about someone celebrating their Golden Jubilee Anniversary in their profession seems unthinkable to a young person like me. In an age where priorities keep changing by the minute and distractions are present in every corner, staying in one job for fifty years – let alone five years! – seems like such a tremendous feat. 
But Sister Teresita Perez did just that. On September 24, 2017, Sister Teresita celebrated her 50th anniversary as a Maryknoll Sister. That means fifty years of devotion and service to her calling. For me, it means fifty years of bravery.

As Miriam College launches its campaign Girls Be Brave!, it is fitting that we learn more about the life of this strong and spirited woman. I had the privilege of exchanging numerous emails with Sister Teresita to write this article. Reading her stories was like being transported to another place and time. It was refreshing to read about her adventures as a Maryknoll Sister – what inspired her to join the order in 1967, her experiences teaching in the Philippines, and mostly doing pastoral care in Peru.

The more I read, the more I felt Sister Teresita’s courage. Her life was spent doing things I never imagined doing myself – living alone in a foreign country, immersing oneself in a completely different culture, and perhaps most difficult of all, showing compassion and kindness to strangers even when they themselves do not want to be cared for. In Sister Teresita I found a friend and an inspiration. 

As I write this article, I realized that the best way for me to tell her story is to share it in her words. I hope you “hear her voice” like I did, and may it give you a glimpse into the blessed and purpose-filled life of a Maryknoll Sister.

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