Lourdes College

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By A. Paulita Roa

Past Speaks

Sunday, February 3, 2013


IT'S February once again and it is a special month for all Lourdesians because this is where we old gals of Lourdes College attend the annual homecoming and pay homage to our Alma Mater. As an alumna, I find it fitting that I write about this august institution that has contributed so much to the field of education in Northern Mindanao.

In 1912, Fr. Arnalot, a Spanish Jesuit, invited the Sisters of the Compania de la Virgen Maria, the first indigenous congregation for women in the country, to teach in a parochial school in Cagayan de Misamis (now Cagayan de Oro). The Sisters taught the parish kindergarten and catechism classes. Later, the Sisters opened a dormitory for girls, named Santa Teresita Dormitory.

In 1927, Fr. James T.G. Hayes S.J. was transferred from Talisayan to Cagayan, where he became the town's parish priest. The following year, he founded the St. Augustine School, the first government recognized Catholic school in Cagayan. At his request, the Sisters taught in that school that was temporarily housed at the Santa Teresita Dormitory.

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In 1932, the name of the congregation was changed to "Religiosa de la Virgen Maria" now the Religious of the Virgin Mary or RVM. When Fr. Hayes became the Bishop of Cagayan in 1933, the St. Augustine School had its first intermediate graduation. That same year, the school was dissolved and he turned it into diocesan high schools, one for the boys – the Ateneo de Cagayan under the Jesuits and for the girls, the Lourdes Academy, under the RVM Sisters.

Full ownership of the Lourdes Academy passed from the Cagayan Diocese to the RVM Sisters in 1937. The first Directress was Mother Andrea Montejo R.V.M. who later became the Superior General of the congregation.

In 1936, aside from the General Course, the following subjects were added: Home Economics, Music, Embroidery, Decorative Painting and Dress Cutting.

In 1937, the Lourdes Academy together with Ateneo had its first High School commencement exercises. Among its first graduates was Miss Ignacia Ehem, who later became the Superior General of the RVM Congregation. Then, the first year Junior Norman College course started.

Unlike Ateneo de Cagayan, which had a concrete building, the Lourdes Academy had a new wooden building that was completed in 1938. However, on May 1 of that year, fire broke out and razed the whole building to the ground. The work for over a decade was gone and $50,000 worth of books, equipment and other materials were lost in the fire. It was a big blow to the school founder, Bishop Hayes, but he declared that he was resigned to the will of God as he placed his complete trust to the Sacred Heart.

After World War II, much of Cagayan was devastated due to the massive aerial bombings near the closing months of the war. Among those that were destroyed were the St. Augustine Cathedral and convent, the Bishop's house, Ateneo de Cagayan, Lourdes Academy and the Sisters' convent.

Shortly afterwards, Bishop Hayes was able to reconstruct the school building and dormitory of Lourdes Academy with funds coming from the US War Damage Commission and from private donors here and abroad.

The campus of Lourdes College, the auditorium and dormitory that are located along Gen. Capistrano St., formerly known as Calle Real, once belonged to the Racines family. In the late 1880s, Don Leoncio Roa y Casas, the first lawyer of Misamis Province, whose wife was Julia Racines, opened a private school in his residence located at the present college campus of this august institution. Among his students was Don Apolinar Velez, a Philippine-American War veteran, Misamis Provincial Governor and Municipal Mayor of Cagayan.

Through the decades, Lourdes College has become a byword of excellence in the field of education in Cagayan de Oro. It has a roster of alumni who distinguished themselves in many fields of endeavor here and abroad. What a huge contribution this is to our country and it gives us a deep sense of pride as Lourdesians!

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 04, 2013.

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