Venerable Madre Sayong remembered for legacy in education

Photo grabbed from Jarvis Sy's Facebook account.

DESPITE being raised in an affluent family, Venerable Sr. Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo, O.P., or Madre Sayong to her fellow religious, devoted her life and wealth to building a Dominican congregation for women and schools in Iloilo.

Sr. Ma. Arlene Nacionales, O.P., secretary general of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines, said Madre Sayong exemplified the heroic virtues of simplicity, charity and a life of prayer when she donated her wealth to establish the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines.

“She gave up [her] wealth, even donated to the congregation, and she lived in a very simple life so that even her habit, she mended her personal own habit,” Nacionales told the Varsitarian in an interview.

On June 12, the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized Arroyo’s “heroic virtues,” which elevated her status from “Servant of God” to “Venerable.”

She was born on Feb. 17, 1884, in Molo, Iloilo City. She entered religious life at the old Beaterio de Santa Catalina in Manila, now known as Santa Catalina College.

As part of her formation, she took up music and taught Christian Living to children. On Jan. 3, 1914, she became a professed Dominican sister.

Venerable Sayong, together with her sisters, was also sent by the bishop of Jaro to teach in the parishes to stem the spread of Protestantism.

She, along with her parents and former Jaro Bishop James Paul McCloskey, had long planned to build a religious congregation in Iloilo.

Once the permit was secured from the Vatican in 1925, Arroyo asked her superiors for help in building the religious congregation with Bishop McCloskey.

Her request was granted and she came back to Iloilo, accompanied by Mother Mercedes del Santisimo Rosario O.P. and Mother Ana de Jesus O.P.

They established the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines in Iloilo City in 1925, with a charism and apostolate in education.

Madre Sayong died on June 14, 1957 because of heart failure. The process for the cause of her canonization was opened by Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo in 2009.

Her congregation now has 264 professed members.

Nacionales said the Dominican Sisters in Iloilo continues Mother Rosario’s legacy by expanding its network of schools in Western and Eastern Visayas, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Hawaii, and California.

It has ties to UST Legazpi and Elizabeth Seton School in Las Piñas and offers pastoral services in Italy. M. C. L. Serquiña


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