HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 65 no. 1 (2019)

Women Religious as Trailblazers: On the Contributions of Women Religious to Christian Mission and Human Development and Nation Building and Integration

Michael G. Layugan



The dearth of published literature on the role of the religious congregations of women in the missionary enterprise of the Roman Catholic Church and in the promotion of social, cultural, and economic ventures in the Philippines is a poignant reality considering the fact that they have contributed immensely to the realization of the thrusts of the Roman Catholic Church’s evangelizing efforts and to the concretization of citizenship and nation-building. Sad to say that even in the narrative of the history of the Christian mission, religious sisters are either on the sidelines or are portrayed not as equal partners or protagonists in the missionary undertaking. The credit of having done something for the Church’s missionary endeavors still belongs to the male missionary or diocesan priest. Through the various apostolates and ministries in which they are engaged, they form social consciences among Filipinos, so they can fulfill their social responsibility. Often inconspicuous and unpretentious, the sisters of various congregations, in all shades and colors, in a variety of their charisms and in the expressions of their spirituality are undeniably the face of the Church in the unfamiliar and often very challenging situations. This paper presents the contributions of two homegrown religious congregations of sisters in the evangelizing activities of the Church and in the promotion of socio-economic and cultural undertakings for human development, nation-building and integration. Both Congregations were founded by religious missionaries who instilled in the sisters the spirituality, the core values and the charisms of their own congregations. As homegrown congregations, they have a better understanding of the people they serve, can better adjust and adapt to the conditions of the region, and can easily relate with the concerns and hopes of the communities they look after. Women religious in the Philippines have ventured into uncharted situations, engaged in innovative pursuits in dealing with them, and advanced creative solutions to emerging problems brought about by them.