Fr. Miguel A. Bernad, S.J.: “Colegio de San Jose (1601-2001): A Quick Survey of the Turbulent 400-year History of an Educational Institution”

COLEGIO DE SAN JOSE [1601 – 2001]
A Quick Survey of the Turbulent 400-year History of an Educational Institution
taken from the lecture delivered by
Fr. Miguel A. Bernard, S.J.

16th Century

September. The newly arrived Jesuits opened the Colegio de Manila, the first institution of higher learning in the Philippines and the predecessor of Colegio de San Jose. The support to build the College came from a donation by Captain Esteban Rodriguez de Figueroa. Latin grammar and “cases of conscience” were taught to priest and candidates for the priesthood.

17th Century

1601. August. A Residential College. Because of the “morally unhealthy” climate in Manila, the Jesuits decided to build a separate residential college for the students of the Colegio de Manila. Fr. Pedro Chirino, rector of the Colegio de Manila, was tasked to organize the proposed Colegio de San Jose. After obtaining civil and ecclesiastical approbation for the new college, Fr. Pedro Chirino gathered an initial batch of thirteen young men to become the pioneering student-boarders. The Colegio de San Jose was opened on August 1st and formally inaugurated on the 25th of August 1601. Fr. Luis Gomes was the first rector.

1604. An Endowment. Doña Juana, daughter of Captain Esteban Rodriguez, was lost at sea. The proviso in Figueroa’s will stated that should his heirs-his wife and daughter die-portions of his wealth should go to the Jesuit for a college. This legacy came to the Jesuits few years later, just in time to bolster the faltering finances of the Colegio de San Jose.

1623. Academic Degrees. There was a great desire on the part of the students, and of others was well, that their studies might be rewarded with academic degrees. Endorsed by the governor, a petition to this effect had been made to the King. On the other hand, it had been opposed by a very influential person, a Dominican bishop, Miguel de Benavides (founder of the University of Santo Tomas). However the Brief issued by Pope Gregory XV (dated July 9, 1622) officially gave Colegio de San Jose the permission to confer academic degrees.

1626. The Colegio de Manila conferred the doctorate for the first time on a scholar of the Colegio de San Jose Jose. San Pedro Tunasan estate was eventually acquired and used to support the Colegio de San Jose. Fr. Juan de Aguirre, SJ, rector at that time, directed the purchase.

1648. A Serious Threat. The Rector of Colegio de San Tomas petitioned the Audiencia to forbid the Jesuit College form granting academic degrees. After a series of compromises, King Philip IV reiterated the right of the Jesuits to grant degrees in Manila on March 12, 1653.

18th Century

1722. A Royal Institution. King Philip V, the King of Spain, conferred upon the Colegio de San Jose the title “royal” (real in Spanish); hence prided itself with the title “El Real Colegio de San Jose”.

1768. The Expulsion. In 1768, the royal orders arrived in Manila, issued the previous year by King Carlos III of Spain, ordering the expulsion of the Jesuits from all Spanish territories and confiscation of their possessions. The Colegio de San Jose continued to function under the secular clergy- many of whom were alumni of the Colegio.

19th Century

1875. The Medical Faculty. The Dominican procurator in Madrid presented a memorial to the King’s Council asking that the building and endowment of the Colegio de San Jose be applied to the University of Santo Tomas to be used by and to support the faculty of medicine and pharmacy. According to the terms of the contract, a certain number of boys were to be supported in their studies for the priesthood out of the Colegio de San Jose Estate.

1898. The San Jose Case. During the American Occupation, the United States inherited from the Spanish Crown all government assets in the islands, including the administration of the Colegio de San Jose estate. The Philippine Commission took up the question of the legal status of the Colegio de San Jose and ended its investigation by enacting a law granting original jurisdiction of the case to the Philippine Supreme Court.

20th Century

1907. Taft-Harty Agreement. In 1907, through the Taft-Harty Agreement, all the parties questioning the legal status of the Colegio de San Jose estate signed an agreement that the estate should fall entirely under church jurisdiction with no claims from the government. Since it was under the jurisdiction of that Holy See, the Supreme Court did not decide on the San Jose Case.

1910. The Holy See’s Decision. By virtue of a Brief of Pope Pius X dated May 3, 1910, to the Most Reverend Ambrose Agius, then Apostolic Delegate to the Philippines, the Colegio de San Jose is detached from the University of Santo Tomas and returned to the Jesuits to be used according to the terms of the original endowment.

1910-1915. Five – Year Turmoil. The announcement in May 1910 that the Pope had ordered the restoration of San Jose estate to the Jesuit caused an immediate violent reaction at Santo Tomas. It was not until five years later, in 1915, that the Colegio de San Jose was able to reopen under Jesuit administration. It had to be housed in borrowed quarters, in a large building owned by the Jesuit in Ermita-that building along Padre Faura Street.

1915. At Padre Faura. On June 15, the Colegio de San Jose once more opened as a seminary, an Escuela Apostolica, for the training of the secular clergy in the Philippines under the rectorship of Fr. Jose Alfonso, SJ. In 1928, of those23 boys who entered San Jose in 1915, five became priests: Rev. Frs. Felix David, Pedro Endoso, Jose Pe Benito, Antonio Radovan and Eulogio San Juan. San Jose remained in Padre Faura until 1932.

1932 – Present. Four Locations. In August 1932, the Ateneo in Intramuros burned down. San Jose Seminary was temporarily housed in the Mission House at Intramuros, adjacent to San Ignacio Church. There, it remained for four years until its new building was erected. It was at this time that the name Colegio de San Jose was dropped, and the institution became known as San Jose Seminary.

At Balintawak. In 1936, the Seminary moved to its new building- a fine large and well-equipped structure, built on a parcel of land bought in a newly opened housing subdivision at Balintawak. The seminary remained there for five years, until the outbreak of war in 1941 when the entire seminary community moved into the Ateneo compound on Padre Faura Street, where classes in theology were resumed.

In 1943, the Japanese authorities insisted on the evacuation of the Padre Faura site. The Paules fathers accommodated both Josefinos and Jesuit Scholastics San Marcelino.

At Santa Ana. During the Liberation period from 1945 to about 1950, the seminary reopened at Santa Ana in several rented houses beside the grounds of La Ignaciana.

At Highway 54. In 1951, the seminary moved to its new location on what then officially called MacArthur Boulevard but popularly known as Highway 54, now renamed EDSA. It was a much large building but poorly constructed. It was there that in 1957 the first Filipino rector was appointed, Fr. Antonio Leetai, SJ succeeding the last American rector, Fr. Gaston Duchesneau, SJ.

At Loyola Heights. In 1964, Father Leetai was succeeded by Father Jesus Diaz, SJ who, the following year, presided over the transfer to Loyola Heights. With the creation of Loyola House of Studies and School of Theology and Philosophy in 1965, San Jose Seminary was divided into two separate colleges, each with its own rector. The minor seminary remained at Highway 54 and later moved to Novaliches and was finally dissolved. The Major seminary moved of the Loyola House of Studies building, until the present seminary building was completed. With this relocation to Loyola Heights, San Jose Seminary has reverted to the Original status of the Colegio de San Jose in Intramuros under the Jesuits. It has once again become a residential college where the seminarians live a community life and undergo spiritual and pastoral formation, but they attend classes at the Ateneo de Manila or at the Loyola School of Theology.

As for the Colegio de San Jose as an institution, established in 1601 four hundred years ago, it exists today as San Jose Seminary, celebrating the four hundred anniversary since its foundation.

That in brief is the history of the Colegio de San Jose.

Source: San Jose Seminary website

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