St. Scholastica’s College: succession
St. Scholastica’s College (SSC) graduates are best known for their passion for social justice. In the mold of Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, and Sr. Noemi Francisco, OSB, they have served the disadvantaged and spoken out against martial law and extrajudicial killings, among others.
My college batchmate, Ingeborg del Rosario, heads Emmaus Center, counseling people in need. In 1986, third year student Inge went in front of the tanks, joining the nuns in winning the soldiers over. Inge is a Scholastican.
Since its founding in 1906, SSC has taken the poor and the weak under its wing, following the examples of St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica.
In 1975, SSC crafted an official statement on what constitutes a socially oriented school, which evolved around the motto “Education for Justice.” In 2008, SSC reiterated its focus: Education of transformative women leaders.
“To be relevant, you have to be socially oriented,” says Sr. Mary Vincent Feliciano of SSC Manila.
In 1985, a course on women’s studies was added to the academic program, followed by an institute headed by Sr. Mary John along with an eco-feminism model farm in Cavite.
Unlike groups that demand blind obedience, “we educate students to have open minds and listen to different views, and afterwards make their own decisions. This is not easy, but we listen to our parents, teachers, students, to [create activities] in line with our mission and vision,” Sr. Mary Vincent says.
Last week, we discussed the origins of SSC in the Philippines, and its foresight and planning in order to ensure continuity. July 11, for one, was the Feast of St. Benedict, a time for reflection and renewal.
How does SSC plan for the future?
“We have structures and committees to foresee and prepare for future needs,” says Sr. Mary Vincent. “If a school needs a president, then we look for a sister with a Ph.D. and who is strong enough to cope with things. We look at resumés, the [candidates’] background, for the best fit.”
“We call this obedience, but enlightened obedience.”
Enlightened obedience may also work for family businesses, several of which usually despair over choosing successors.
Employee turnover is a perennial business problem. Unlike companies that offer their employees financial rewards in order to stay, SSC has a better understanding of people.
“Some people thrive in our environment, we are not as big as other schools. Others want a more competitive atmosphere, and we understand. We welcome those who are a fit for us, to stay until retirement. Many retirees return afterwards.”
As in most religious congregations worldwide, vocations have also decreased.
“Some candidates who feel the urge cannot join us because they have to financially support their siblings. Others who are successful in the world find it difficult to dedicate themselves to the religious life.
“So long ago, we formed lay partnerships, with lay teachers, lay principals, to run our various schools. We inculcate in our laypeople our values and our culture.”
Translated to family businesses, this means “if your children are too young or not interested to work with you, then partner with trained professionals.”
SSC schools are established by the nuns, while other institutional links have begun through invitation from outside groups, such as the diocese.
“Like a franchise?” I ask. Sr. Mary Vincent laughs, “we don’t call it that.”
What happens if there is lack of qualified personnel to run certain schools?
“We close down, or sell to other groups.” Education of the youth is not to be taken lightly.
A last lesson: Never be too busy or too old to learn. At 50, Sr. Mary Vincent commenced studies for a Ph.D. in Educational Administration at De La Salle University in Taft.
Today, at 75, she is vice president of administrative affairs.
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