Sunday, October 10, 2010


"COLEGIO DE LAS MADRES DE GUAGUA". College of the Sisters of Guagua--was how Guagua folks referred to the Academy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its early years. It was run by the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM), a congregation founded by Mother Ignacia. Dated January 1929.

Guagua’s most regarded Catholic institution of learning is over 100 years old and is still a force to contend with in the academic community of Pampanga. Starting out as the Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus in honor of the Sacred Heart, it was founded in 1908, with the first two-storey building donated by a pious lady of means. It was put under the charge of the Sisters of the Beaterio, or known as the Religious of the Virgin Mary, the first Filipino congregation established by Ven. Mother Ignacio del Espiritu Santo.

The Sisters were supported by duly qualified teachers and emphasis was not just on academics but also in the teaching of Religion-- “to make its students devout both in faith and in practice”. By the early 1930s, the Academy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (A.S.H.J.) touted that it was “modern in its methods of instructions and in its complete equipment, library, laboratory and dormitory". It offered Elementary and Secondary courses recognized by the Government.

The War put a momentary end to the school and, over a decade after the war’s end, a petition was filed by Mother Maria Emilia Romero, RVM, together with some school alumnae to reopen the school. The request was favorably granted by the Superior General, Mother Catalina Dychitan, RVM. The old convent beside the church was used to house the Kindergarten and elementary classes. The school also assumed a new name-- Sacred Heart Academy—when it reopened on 10 June 1956.

The High School Department reopened in 1960, which led to an increase in student population and the subsequent expansion of the school, its buildings and its facilities. A 2-storey high school building was added in 1968 and the numerous school alumnae pitched in to have a Lourdes grotto as well as the campus gate made for their beloved school. The grade school building on the church grounds however, was razed to the ground a day after Christmas in 1969. A replacement wooden structure was hastily constructed on an unused lot donated by the Cancio family in 1970, until the grade school was moved ultimately to the San Roque campus a year later.

Further expansions were started in 1988 with the addition of 10 classrooms, a library, a high school faculty room and laboratories. The Pinatubo eruption did not deter the Sisters from stopping their operations, even opening their doors to hundred of victims seeking refuge from Pinatubo’s fury. When the volcano quieted down, the administrators replaced the termite-damaged grade school building with a new one.

By then, the funds of the school were drained due to the catastrophe, but money borrowed from the RVM congregation went into the construction of a 4-storey edifice which was named as Assumption Building that had over 20 classrooms.

For the first time too, starting school year 1996-97, male students were finally accepted by the school, freshmen and sophomores only. The first graduation of male students was realized in 1999. The next year, Sacred Heart Academy was re-named “St. Mary’s Academy”, and another 4-storey building was added with state-of-the art facilities including a Speech and Computer Labs, Auditorium and the Music Department. Inaugurated in 2003, it is now known as Beaterio Building.

The journey of this revered school--from Academy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Mary’s Academy—is a long one, but throughout its history, it has remained true to its Ignacian Marian spirituality, helping build Christ-centered communities and transforming societies by molding students into leaders, dedicated to serve others.

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