For the Congregation of the Siervas de San José to emerge, two persons were needed whom God was providentially preparing separately:

A Jesuit, faithful son of Ignatius of Loyola, accustomed to discovering God in all things, especially, in that which he saw since birth – manual work.
A simple artisan, a female manual worker, touched by God, who was humbly seeking her sanctification in a modest shop.
In 1871, Fr. Francisco Butiña set foot in the city of Salamanca, Spain where he gave himself to an intensive activity as a professor in the University and as a priest at the Clerecia (Church of the Jesuits).

At that moment, an artisan, a cord-maker and a daughter of manual workers, Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro’s life was in charge of her shop where she could work far from the pressures that many women of her time suffered at work. In her shop, she started imitating Jesus’ hidden life in the house of Nazareth.

One day, she went to confession with Fr. Butiña because she wanted to continue her spiritual direction with a Jesuit as she had always done since her childhood.

The group of friends that frequented the shop of Bonifacia, inspired by her good example, continued to gather on Sunday afternoons. Bonifacia believed that acting as a group to respond to the social needs was more effective, and could increase the possibilities to help; and so, under Butiña’s direction, she decided to associate herself with her friends. They formed the Association of the Immaculate and St. Joseph with Fr. Butiña as their director and Bonifacia as their head.

When the time came that Bonifacia expressed her desire to enter a Dominican congregation to Fr. Butiña, he suggested instead for them to found a new congregation that will respond to the needs of women workers.

The bishop of Salamanca, Bishop Lluch y Garriga, who had a great concern for the ‘social question’, greatly supported Fr. Butiña in the desire to give solutions to the social needs of his diocese. ‘Since there was no institution in Salamanca which would take care of young women from the lower class, preserve them from corruption, teach them catechism and enable them to earn a living …’, he wanted to avail of the services these women could offer, which would be more direct and effective because they were poor. Thus, Mons. Lluch set this group of female spiritual directees of Fr. Butiña into action.

On January 10, 1874, Bonifacia founded the congregation of the Siervas de San José in her shop in Salamanca, Spain, with six women, including her mother. It presented a new style of religious life for women that is inserted in the world of work in the light of the contemplation of the Holy Family. Furthermore, the congregation received no monetary dowry but rather counted on the willingness of the members to work.

However, three months after the foundation, the Jesuits were exiled from Spain. Being one of them, Fr. Butiña had to go leaving Bonifacia alone to lead. A new director was appointed by the Bishop of Salamanca to guide the community but his directives were opposed to the original inspiration of Fr. Butiña and Bonifacia. As a result, confusion and opposing views prevailed in the community causing misunderstandings and division among the sisters. In the midst of this, Bonifacia remained steadfast to the original inspiration and was seen as a stumbling block to the director’s plan until she was removed as the superior of the community.

Knowing that the only solution to the conflict in the community at that time was her departure, Bonifacia proposed to the Bishop of Salamanca that she would found a new community in Zamora. This was accepted juridically by him and by the Bishop of Zamora. So, she left the city on July 25, 1883 together with her mother Maria and a novice Socorro Hernandez. After she left Salamanca, changes in the mission of the community began.

In Zamora, the community was established by Bonifacia and they were faithful to the original inspiration of the charism. In time, the membership grew in number.

On July 1, 1901, Pope Leo XIII granted the pontifical approbation of the Siervas de San Jose but the house of Zamora was excluded. Driven by her strong sense for communion, Bonifacia went to Salamanca to attempt the union with them but she was not received in Salamanca.

Bonifacia did not falter in her conviction that the union would take place but when she dies. On August 8, 1905, Bonifacia died in Zamora. What Bonifacia prophesied was fulfilled on January 23, 1907 when the house of Zamora was incorporated into the rest of the Congregation, although the sisters were not allowed to talk about her nor of Fr. Butiña.

It was in 1936 that the box buried by Mo. Socorro Hernandez, SSJ, which contained the origins of the Congregation, was found and in 1941, that Bonifacia was officially recognized as the Foundress of the Siervas de San Jose with Fr. Butiña, SJ as co-founder.

The first group of Siervas de San Jose arrived in Manila, on May, 1932, to establish a community in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique. They put up a small school to cater to the children of the poor families of the city. Financially stricken, the sisters needed to go once in awhile to Silay City and there, they were given support by the rich families until eventually they were invited to put up a school. In 1933, Sta. Teresita’s Academy was established with the help of the hacienderos of the place.

The house in Antique was greatly damaged during World War II that made it difficult for the sisters to restore it. However, communities were established in other places like Iloilo, Leyte, Mindoro, Rizal, Cavite and Manila. In 1981, the Philippine Province was borne with the name Holy Family Province. This Province went beyond the frontiers of the country and communities were founded in Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam.

In November 9, 2003, Pope John II beatified Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro, SSJ in Rome.

B. Brief history of the school

The school’s foundation dates back in 1959 when Mo. Maria Valentina Ayerra, SSJ, then superior of the Holy Family Dormitory-Manila, procured the lot for Holy Family School. Inspired by the desire to share their Charism through education apostolate, the SSJ sisters started the construction of the school building in 1966 in three moments and was completed in 1971. Later on, other facilities were added. The pioneer sisters attending to the school at that time were: Mo. Carmen Enriquez, SSJ, Sr. Jacinta Salazar, SSJ and Sr. Maria Flora Perez, SSJ, who were later joined by Sr. Filomena Cabrera, SSJ. The pioneer teachers were Miss Elma Tuzon (now Sr. Elma Tuzon, SSJ), Sr. Maria Flora Perez, SSJ and Miss Teresita Origenes. Mo. Carmen Enriquez was the first superior and Sr. Jacinta Salazar was the first principal.

A long period of stability and growth followed. The first class began on July 1966 with fifty pupils, boys and girls, occupying two rooms which were available at that time. The school accepted boys for pre-school until mid-‘80s but it was discontinued due to the limited number of classrooms and the priority given to girls.

As the student population increased from 1967 to 1975, the Novitiate community which occupied the top floor of the school building transferred to a small house within the compound. In 1975, another house was built for working girls and some faculty members in order to live and promote the Josephine spirituality. Further on, as the student population continued to increase, the Novitiate moved to Tandang Sora in 1981 because the house they were in was occupied by the community of sisters assigned in the school.

During the first years of its foundation (1968-1974), Holy Family School extended its services to Barrio San Vicente through the Holy Family Clinic and Holy Family School Branch. Moreover, selected fourth year students gave Catechetics to Pinyahan Elementary School one hour weekly.

There was a period that for two years, the school offered Vocational Course to the ‘yayas’ of the pre-school pupils and to other helpers who wished to learn dressmaking.

Aside from the basic academics and co-curricular programs, Holy Family School as a missionary school gave assistance to a large number of students from the poor working families in both elementary and high school levels. The school offered from 1985-1989, free late afternoon classes for High School working boys and girls and other students from poor families. In celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the school in 1991, the Educational Assistance Program (EAP) was revitalized and expanded. The EAP assisted poor but deserving students even beyond tuition needs. The program, for two years, included Shop Class and Income Generating Projects to enable recipients and their families to help themselves.

In 1993, upon the imperatives of the congregation’s “Taller Document”, the school revised its Vision-Mission and started undertaking a program of redirection. The program entailed a re-alignment of the school’s policies and programs to its Vision-Mission.

In the school year 2008-2009, the institution underwent a process of renewal and re-organization which included the revisiting of the Vision-Mission, Goals and Objectives as well as the different school programs and policies with the aim of providing quality basic education to the young, the Nazareth way. Holy Family School continues its process of redirection towards the fulfillment of its apostolic goals and renders faithful service to God, the Church and the country.

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