Assumption College
Assumption College San Lorenzo
 
 

History

ST. MARIE EUGENIE OF JESUS
- Foundress of the Religious of the Assumption

“Jesus Christ brings a liberation that transforms society.”

Marie Eugenie Milleret de Brou, foundress of the Religious of Assumption, was born on August 25, 1817 to a wealthy father and a respected member of the Parliament; and a mother who was tender but firm, gentle and energetic. Madame Milleret developed “those natural virtues” like honesty, integrity, courage, self-control, and a certain spirit of renunciation in her children. With them, she visited the poor and the sick of the neighborhood. Anne Eugenie spent a comfortable life in their town house in Metz on the spacious estate of Preisch which provided her the freedom to play and made her taste the joys of nature. The children spoke and wrote German and French fluently, and they were open-spirited in their studies. They received solid teaching and great culture, nourished by innumerable readings. At an early age and during her adolescent years, she was marked by the death of her siblings, financial reversals, separation of parents, and the death of her mother.

Her personal history was also marked by a period of historical and social upheaval. New philosophies challenged traditional understanding of human thought. The new scientific method and mentality gained ground and shaped minds, sharpening the conflict between science and faith. Industrialization was beginning to transform not only the economic structures but also the lifestyle of society and politics. France discovered the power of popular movement, with new ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity shaking the foundations of the structures of society: its government, social order, economy, education, and its Church. Anne Eugenie wanted to be part of the new and evolving world and find her own place in it.

In her own words, “Daughter of a family unfortunately without religion, brought up in a social circle which was even less so, left motherless at fifteen, … I was brought up in an unbelieving family that belonged to the liberal opposition to the Restoration. My mother, however, wished me to be a Christian, and her great and energetic character led her to imprint upon my education a character of renunciation which always seemed to me more Christian than many forms of religious education.”

In 1836, she underwent a radical conversion while listening to a Lenten sermon of Abbe Lacordaire at Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. She wrote to him, “Your words gave me new generosity, faith that nothing would ever be able to shake again. I was truly converted to give all my strength, or rather, all my weakness to this Church which alone, in my eyes, had the secret and the power of good on this earth.”

On April 30, 1839, Anne Eugenie founded the Congregation of the Religious of the Assumption, taking the name – Marie Eugenie of Jesus. She founded the Congregation for two essential reasons: because God wished it, and because the Church and society needed to form deeply Christian women, with a passion like hers for the Gospel, women capable of influencing society and family in Gospel directions. Her faith gave her not only boldness but also endurance, not only the energy of action but also the strength to carry it out in the face of misunderstanding and opposition. Her faith and her love for Jesus Christ were for her a source of unity. She kept her gaze fixed on her goal. Marie Eugenie understood that she could practice the Gospel law of love through education. For her, educating means to make Jesus Christ and His church known and loved, and thus extend His Kingdom for the glory of God and the happiness of humanity. Education consists in developing each person’s talents and gifts, so that the person grows in liberty, goodness, honesty, straight-forwardness, tact, simplicity, courage, generosity. She looked upon her time with hope and considered that the world was a place of the revelation and glory for God. This way of looking at the world impelled her to love it better. She believed in the social consequences of the Gospel and its power to transform society. It was her reflection on her own experience, on the need of her time, as well as the growing split between faith and reason that led her to choose education as her response to the challenges of her time.

The spirit of Marie Eugenie is an intense love for Jesus Christ and for his Church. Her attachment to the Church was too strong for her not to risk going wherever the Church called the Congregation. Rooting the Congregation in the world and in the Church filled the life of Marie Eugenie from 1839 to her death on March 10, 1898.

Today, the Religious of the Assumption and their lay partners continue her work, faithful to the founding inspiration and attentive to our world’s reality, that of our societies, and of our Church. They contemplate reality in all its dimensions – people, society, the world – to be able to discern everything that favors life and leads to an ever greater hope in God, in humankind, and in society. It is to understand that God has a plan for the world, that each one is called to partnership in it.

The humble path marked by Marie Eugenie is one of joy in becoming ever more disciples of Christ in every facet of our being, joy in spreading the Kingdom in oneself and in others. A path which is simple and demanding.
In 1965, the Church recognized her way to holiness. Pope John XXIII solemnly declared the veracity of her virtues. Pope Paul VI beatified her on February 9, 1975. On June 3, 2007, Marie Eugenie Milleret de Brou was canonized a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City. A woman of faith and vision, she now belongs to the whole Church.

“Jesus brings a liberation that transforms society.”
St. Marie Eugenie

The story of the Assumption in the Philippines is a story of God’s “kagandahang- loob” to the Congregation and the Filipino people.

Spain served as the gateway of the Religious of the Assumption to the East. The Philippines was under the Spanish rule for over 300 years. In 1892, Maria Cristina, the Queen Regent, asked the Religious of the Assumption to assume the direction of the Superior Normal School for women teachers in Manila. Marie Eugenie saw the immense possibilities for good in this distant mission to the East and readily acceded to the Queen Regent’s wish. The proposed foundation fully answered the Foundress’ educational vision - to pioneer women education in the Philippines.

The outbreak of the Revolution in 1898 brought the school to an abrupt end. The Sisters returned to Europe, having instilled in their students a deep appreciation for the teaching profession and a keen realization of their responsibility as the future molders of the youth of the land. A distinctive characteristic of Assumption education was evident among its first students. Among them were: Rosa Sevilla-Alvero; Florentina Arellano; Dolores Guerrero; Susana Revilla and Emilia Sacramento, who became foundresses of the Instituto de Mujeres, the first lay Catholic School for women in the Philippines; Rosa Sevilla-Alvero and Florentina Arellano who became the only two women included in the staff of the revolutionary paper, La Independencia; and Librada Avelina and Carmen de Luna, staunch nationalists, who became foundresses of Centro Escolar University.

At the special request of Pope Pius X, a group of English-speaking Assumption Sisters returned to Manila in 1904. The Sisters re-opened the boarding school for the elementary and secondary levels in Herran, Manila. In 1910, a second boarding school was opened in Iloilo in Western Visayas at the request of Bishop Dougherty. Both schools had as emphasis, character formation of young women in line with the Assumption philosophy of education. A college department was added after 1950. It was later phased out in 1976.

In 1940, a college department was added to the school in Herran, Manila. However, the convent and the school were completely burned down during the Liberation in 1945. At the request of the alumnae, the Grade School and the High School were re-opened in June of the same year. Most classes were held in quonset huts built on the ruins of the school since only one building remained standing after the war. In 1947, Mother Rosa assisted by Mother Esperanza began the work of reconstruction.

The Assumption expanded in the 1950’s to answer the needs especially of the rural poor. San Jose Academy was opened in 1955 and Sta. Rita Academy in 1958 for both girls and boys in Antique. The Assumption Sisters also went northward towards Baguio and opened Mount Mary Primary School. The school moved to Crystal Cave subdivision in 1965 under a new name, St. Martin de Porres Grade School, for the surrounding tribal villages. A retreat house was also established in the new site.

In 1958, a second Assumption School was built at San Lorenzo Village, Makati and the College moved into it in 1959. In 1973, the High School in Herran moved to San Lorenzo and the Grade School in San Lorenzo moved to Herran. In 1974, with Malate fast becoming a commercial center in the tourist belt, the property was sold, and the Grade School moved to Antipolo.
In line with the spirit of Vatican II, more socio-pastoral apostolates for the urban poor communities were opened in 1968 with the help of the Assumption alumnae, the Maryville Homes and San Juan Nepomuceno School in Malibay, Pasay City, and the Assumption Socio-Educational Center in Barrio Obrero, Iloilo City.

The 70’s were marked by social unrest and the Assumption Sisters were present to the local Church and the disadvantaged sectors. The Assumpta Technical High School and the San Simon Integrated Rural Development in Pampanga were established in 1970 in partnership with the Mother Rosa Memorial Foundation; the academic administration of La Salette College and High School in Santiago, Isabela was assumed from 1974 to 1977; the administration of San Isidro High School in Kadingilan, Bukidnon was undertaken from 1978 to 1997; and the parish ministry in Puerto Rivas, Bataan was animated from 1978-1980. Parish assistance work in Kauswagan, Lanao began in 1980 while campus ministry started in Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City. In the same year, the Philippine Province sent off the first Sisters to start a mission post in Thailand. Today they are found in Bangkok and Thabom.

Sisters and lay missionaries have embarked for Japan, Cameroon, West Africa, Sweden, England, and the United States to answer their missionary call.

In 1998, the Religious of the Assumption - Philippine Province celebrated the 100 years of God’s “kagandahang- loob” – His gracious and bountiful love – in the Philippines. Grace continues to overflow, as generation after generation of sisters, alumnae, friends, and partner organizations incarnate in their lives the spirit and vision of St. Marie Eugenie.