By Ma. Isabel Actub
Stewards of Excellence in Catholic Education: The History of the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (1963-2023)
Author – Bro. Karl M. Gaspar CSsR
Publisher – Davao Association of Catholic Schools, Davao City, 2023
A Book on the History of the Davao Association of Catholic Schools is Launched Today.
The book Stewards of Excellence in Catholic Education: The History of the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (1963-2023) by Br. Karl Gaspar, CSsR took a long and circuitous route before it hit the press. Br. Karl’s early draft of the manuscript was originally intended for the Jubilee celebration of DACS in 2013. But it never materialized and it surfaced close to a decade later when its Executive Director Jimmie-Loe dela Vega gathered together a pool of editors to go over it and set the date for its release in time for the association’s 60th anniversary in 2023. Finally, the book is launched on Thursday, February 23 at the Holy Cross College of Davao.
Inasmuch as this work traces the founding of DACS six decades ago, it nevertheless pays tribute to the men and women (and the institutions and congregations they represent) who stood as strong pillars of Catholic education in the Davao region in the early decades of the twentieth century. Though long overdue, its release this February 2023 is very timely indeed for it gives the reader greater appreciation for the immense work that DACS member schools have contributed in creating the educational landscape of this region. It recalls the groundwork done by a select group of religious congregations (local and foreign mostly coming from the United States and the French part of Canada) in the prewar and postwar years when they established schools in many parts of the Davao region.
The stories of the schools featured in this book are insightful. Br. Karl’s narrative provides an eye-opener of how each was founded, how they developed in terms of population, programs offered, campus expansion, among others, and also how they evolved in the course of DACS’s expansion as an organic association.
DACS’s growth through the years has seen many defining moments in Philippine history. The books details how DACS traverses through the changes initiated by Vatican II, the sociopolitical impact of the martial laws years and the challenges they brought on the field of education, as well as the pivotal moments of DACS’s institutional reflection occasioned by the unfolding of the third millennium. Indeed, this is where Br. Karl’s book provides a rich treasure trove of historical data for readers to marvel and appreciate. He even includes some animating and adventuresome vignettes: how a boatful of sisters on the way to Cateel for a retreat fell into the sea when their boat capsized; how the members of the community spent the night plucking bee stings from the sisters who were stung by bees while on the beach; or, how school fees were back in the day (a picayune in today’s standard!), among others.
For those wanting to dig into Catholic education’s history in the Davao region (vis-à-vis the history of Davao and the growth of the local churches in Davao, Digos, Tagum and Mati [DADITAMA]), and for those wanting to put into context the valuable contribution of Catholic education in the Davao region for the past six decades, this book is a must have and a must read!
(Ms. Maria Isabel S. Actub is a Professor of the Ateneo de Davao University Teaching Theology. She has been Editor of the university’s journal – TAMBARA. She is finishing her PhD Theology at the St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute in Davao City.)