St. John's Seminary College

EVANGELIST   Vol. 24, No. 3   Spring 1962

by Bernard Brakel

With the removal of the College to Camarillo, came the advent of the Pious School Sisters to the kitchen staff here at St. John's. Our inquiry into the busy activity of the kitchen did cause some consternation but we were rewarded with the following history of the Sisters of the Pious Schools.

Paula Montalt remained in her home-town, Arenys de Mar, from her birth there in 1799 and taught catechism in her youth. She early felt the call to the religious life which she was to attain when she left home in 1830 for the neighboring town of Figueras, Spain. Here she established a school with some of her friends. This school prospered so well from the zeal of its teachers that, in spite of the reign of terror of 1834, she was able to establish other schools, one in her birthplace, Arenys de Mar, and another in Sabadell. It was here that she decided with her fellow teachers to form a religious congregation under the counsel and protection of the Pious School Fathers.

The young order adopted the rule of St. Joseph Calasanctius, patron of Christian Schools, and founder of the Pious School Fathers. And thus Pope Pius IX gave his temporary beneplacitum to the order now called the Daughters of Mary Pious School Sisters. The graces through this rule are evident in the subsequent success and propagation of the order. They opened schools in Barcelona, Gerona, Soller, and San Martin de Provensals. Their first noviate was established by Mother Paula in Sabadell. St. Anthony Mary Claret, archbishop of Madrid, recommended the order to take over the Royal Academy of Santa Isabel. This they did at the behest of the queen until the revolution in 1869 when they were expelled from the palace. But this vibrant order had been founded in tempestuous times and was to see them again, so it was not at all set back by this reverse. Another school was founded in Madrid which remains among the finest in the capital even to this day. And 1887 saw the final approbation of the constitutions of the order by Pope Leo XIII.

At present the field of their apostolate is teaching, care of orphans, catechetical instruction, maintenance of boarding schools and homes, as well as retreat houses. The order has schools in Spain, France, and South America. Until last June there were 6 houses in Cuba. 18 nuns of this order were in Cuba under house arrest by Castro's Communists and have finally been released. We are privileged to have these courageous women staying here at St. John's.

Father Henry Pobla, Sch.P., who has been pastor of Our Lady of Help of Christians in Los Angeles for these last ten years, passed away on the 22 of November, 1961. He was instrumental in getting 5 Pious School Sisters from Cuba in April of 1954 to open their first house in the United States at Our Lady Queen of the Angels Junior Seminary in San Fernando. His Eminence, Cardinal McIntyre, expressed his sorrow at the death of Father Pobla, adding, "He was a great priest and we are confident that he is at peace in the embrace of the Lord." We seminarians have a debt of gratitude to Father Pobla for bringing the Sisters of the Pious Schools to our minor seminary.

The houses of the community at present in the United States are a house of Studies in Pacoima, and the seminary here in Camarillo. There are over a thousand nuns in the order with 35 in America. Next September, some of these will begin teaching in one of the schools of the archdiocese, having prepared for this work at Immaculate Heart College.

I am sure my fellow seminarians will join with me in the hope that God will continue the prosperity of the order in proportion as it has already given so unstintingly to us.

Sisters of the Pious Schools at Our Lady Queen of the Angels Junior Seminary in 1955
Top row: Sister Pilar, Sister Lucy, Sister Adoration, Sister Lillian, Sister Mary
Bottom row: Sister Clare, Sister Teresa, Sister Maria Luisa (Superior), Sister Caridad