Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dominican Sisters Teaching

November 6, 1909 the annals at St. Rose recorded, “At 10 o’clock am of Saturday, November 6, 1909 the Sisters were assembled in the school hall of the church of the Most Holy Trinity to receive the news of the Puerto Rico foundation.  The Rt. Rev. Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn George W. Mundelein presided. 

The Bishop address the Sisters assembled in this way, “About fifty years ago the Holy Ghost infused his missionary spirit into the hearts of children of St. Dominic and sent a few Sisters from Ratisbon to America to establish this place in Brooklyn. And so today again this same Spirit has descended from Heaven and selected your community to partake of some missionary work. You are probably aware of my object in appearing before you this morning.  Sent by your Bishop I come to bring you the news that it the sincere wish of His Holiness, Pope Pius X that you the Dominican Sisters of the diocese of Brooklyn take up missionary work in Puerto Rico.”  

Bishop Mundelein gave the Sisters volunteering for the mission, encouragement that might apply to missionaries in any place where the faithful have fallen into disarray for lack of good leadership in the schools.  “The Sisters who go must lead a saintly life, because the inhabitants of the Island who have by degrees left the fold of Christ and are daily becoming more and more tepid, will watch you as a cat watches a mouse, and whatever defect they will notice in you, they will use for their own defense.” He went on to note the gratitude of the Dutch Dominicans for the Sisters responding to the call and their reliance on the work of the Sisters in the education to support their own work in the parish.  “The Dominican Fathers who have been working this vineyard of Christ for the past six years have great confidence in the zealous co-operation of the Dominican Sisters. If the Sisters try to win the confidence of the children there, then the Reverend Fathers will more easily gain the parents.”   

The first Dominican Sisters of Amityville sailed from New York on the steamship Coamo at noon on August 20, 1910 and arrived in Bayamón, Puerto Rico to re-establish religious education and open schools there.  Their work took off quickly.  The Sisters’ first foundation, Colegío Santa Rosa, was begun on August 26, 1910.  Here they took over the school first begun by the Spanish Sisters of Charity and kept running by a few valiant sodalists.  One sodalist who stayed on Presentacion del Valle, now known as Sister M. Nieves, was the first Puerto Rican postulant to enter the Novitiate House at Amityville.” 

The second foundation was made at Colegío del Santísimo Rosario in Yauco.  Sister Agnes and Sister Illuminata were sent from Bayamon to start this new foundation on August 23, 1912.  “To fill the need for more Sisters for this second foundation, there arrived on September 12, Sister Basil, Sister Amadea, Sister Leopold and Sister Moneta.” (Grau) p. 37.  Sister Basil was made superior and principal of the school at Yauco while Sister Amadea served as a teacher.  In the summer of 1914 a fourth group of Sisters arrived from Brooklyn, among them Sister Clara, the second native Puerto Rican to enter the Congregation.  In 1918 a third foundation, Colegío Santo Tomás, was established in San Juan next to the Cathedral.  Mother Hilaria was the founding superior and principal and Sisters Januaria, Clara and Basilissa were sent as teachers.  Then in 1918 followed Colegío San Antonio in Isabela with Sister Tiburtia as superior and principal and Sisters Hermosilla, Bertrand and Nieves as teachers.  Colegío San Vincente Ferrer began in Cataño with Sisters Amadea and De Chantal traveling daily for two years from Bayamón.  The first superior and principal once established was Sister Clara with Sisters Nicasia and Guillermina as teachers.  Academia Santa Teresita was founded in Narañito.  Two Dominican Sisters from Amityville were among the pioneer faculty of Universidad Santa Maria, the Catholic University in Ponce.