FAST BACKWARD: The Religious Orders for Nuns

Fast Backward by Antonio V. Figueroa

There are little-known facts about Catholicism that lovers of Davao history are not familiar with. Two of today’s growing congregations of nuns, the Teresian Daughters of Mary (TDM) and the Apostolic Daughters of Mary (ADM) were founded in Davao City and both Orders are involved in educational endeavors aside from spiritual and pastoral missions.

Founded on September 15, 1974, the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows, by Msgr. Antonio Ll. Mabutas, the TDM started with an initial of only 16 aspirants, half of these eventually became professed. Amid the hardships that come with religious life, the congregation’s membership dramatically expanded to 50 in just over a decade.

The principal mission of the religious institute, with a Generalate House at Matina, Davao City, is by responding to the immediate needs of the local Church in pastoral engagements and educational apostolate. Initially, the sisters were assigned in the Bishop Thibault Media Center and the Archdiocesan Liturgy Center but overtime their involvement expanded to other engagements, among them the John XXIII Catechetical Center and Caritas. 

TDM’s influence would expand to academic institutions, such as Saint Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary (Davao City), Holy Cross of Davao College, Assumption Academy (Peñaplata), three Maryknoll High Schools(Asuncion, New Corella, and Manay), four Holy Cross Academy campuses (Agdao, Babak, Bunawan and Matanao), St. Mary’s Academy (Agoo, La Union), and St. Therese Learning Center (San Enrique, Iloilo). One of the nuns even served as religious coordinator of the diocesan Catholic schools in San Fernando, Pampanga. 

Born in Agoo, La Union on June 13, 1921, TDM founder Msgr. Mabutas was ordained priest on April 6, 1946 and appointed bishop of Laoag on June 5, 1961; he received his episcopal investiture on July 25, 1961. Later, he assumed as coadjutor archbishop under Most Rev. Clovis Thibault, PME, JCL, DD, the first archbishop of the Archdiocese of Davao.

He also served as titular archbishop of Valeria on 25 July 25, 1970 and succeeded the archbishopric on December 9, 1972 after Msgr. Thibault passed away. Another milestone in Msgr. Mabutasepiscopal ministry was when he served as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (1981-85). 

On November 6, 1996, at the compulsory age of 75, he retired as archbishop of Davao. A few years later, after serving as a priest for 53 years, he died on April 22, 1999. His remains are buried at the underground crypt of San Pedro Cathedral in Davao City.

The Apostolic Daughters of Mary (ADM), in contrast, was founded on August 22, 1989, the feast day of the diocese. Its main apostolate is working with the poor, particularly in humanitarian works and extension of relief assistance in times of disasters. 

The congregation’s objectives reflect in large measure the advocacies of its founder who was known for his anti-poverty campaigns and strong criticisms on the economic policies of the government under several administrations. Based in the Home of the Clergy Compound in Digos City, the Order is also academically connected with Holy Cruz of Sulop, in Davao del Sur, and is very active in vocation campaigns.

Born in Leon, Iloilo, on November 22, 1931, ADM founder Most Rev. Generoso C. Camiña, PME, DD, the only Filipino member of the Foreign Mission Society of Quebec (PME), a religious congregation for men, took Philosophy at San Jose Seminary, Quezon City, before going to Canada to study Theology. He took his masters course at the Ateneo de Manila University and also earned a masters in Catechism from Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada.

Bishop Camiña was ordained priest on June 30, 1959 in Davao City and was first assigned in Babak (1962-63). In later years, he was installed rector of the Holy Cross of Davao College (1967-70), Saint Francis Xavier Seminary (1972-76), and San Pedro Cathedral (1977-78). On May 24, 1978, Pope John Paul II later appointed him auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Davao and as titular bishop of Pauzera. 

In 1979, he was installed as first bishop of the newly founded Diocese of Digos, a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Davao. He resigned from the post in 2003 due to health issues. He died on February 1, 2007 from liver cancer.

Digos City is the capital of Davao del Sur, one of five provinces in southern Mindanao. Created on November 8, 1979 by Pope John Paul II, San Isidro Labrador is the titular patron of the diocese, with Mary Mediatrix of All Graces as patroness of its cathedral.