Madres Escolapias School


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By Mother Josefa María Urbano:

The Madres Escolapias School in Cárdenas was founded on September 1, 1920, thanks to a series of fortuitous circumstances. In April of that year M. Cándida León, the Head Provincial Consultant of Castilla, Spain, had travelled to Cuba. During her stay, she was visited by Father Modesto Roca, Dean of Catholic schools in Cárdenas, who convinced her to establish a secondary education school for girls in that city, as a sister school to the one for boys run by the Escolapios Priests in the city. He spoke to her about the purchase of an estate on Calle Real that was then available. Both M. Cándida Leon and M. Paz Parodi, the Provincial Vicar, understood the need and acted upon it.

Just as she had done previously for other church-related projects, the necessary funds were donated by the Marquesa de Montes Claros. She agreed to finance the founding of the school with only one condition, that the school be named "Maria Encarnación", after herself and her granddaughter. The estate, large and full of fruit trees, with a beautiful garden and a grand house upon it, cost $38,000.

On July 25, 1921, under the sponsorhip of the Apostolate of Santiago, Sister Matilde Araoz, Sister Angeles Gutiez, and Sister Encarnación Martinez sailed from Barcelona, Spain, on the Steamship Montevideo. In Cadiz they were joined by Sister Daniela lbarrola and the Provincial Mother Pilar Albín. The community reached Cárdenas on August 31st. Mother Eduvigis Angulo, Sister Resurrección Anguita and Sister Justa Angulo arrived in September, and finally Sister Consuelo got there a month later.

Upon arrrival of the religious community, Father Modesto Roca blessed the chapel and celebrated the first mass. Elementary school classes began in October and the following month secondary school classes began, with only 4 students. In December, night school was openned for working girls.

The first exams were a great success for the school, as certified by the professorship of the Matanzas Institute. Nine years after its founding, the school had 65 students in attendance. The student population reached its peak in 1956, when 293 were registered. In addition to its regular commuting female students, the school had residential and semi-residential students as well as one grade with 23 male students in it. The school also offered an organized catechism program for non-regular students.

The 1940 Student Body

The curriculum included elementary and secondary education, a commercial secretarial program and classes in art and music. Students were encouraged and guided in the ceremony and practice of the Catholic religion. Two student organizations were active on campus: the school's Alumni Association, and La Pía Union de Hijas de María (The Pious Union of Daughters of Mary) founded by Miss Carmen Castro, later to become Mother Carmen Castro.

1955 Graduation

The School's Principals were: M. Eduvigis Angulo; M. Micaela Hereu; M. Calasanz Vilata; M. Matilde Araoz (cubana); M. Carmen Ruiz de Velasco; M. Margarita Rodriguez; M. Maria de Jesus Jurado and M. Africa Nieto

Sad times arrived for the school, as well as for other schools in Cuba, with the communist revolution. Nuns, teachers and students were called traitors, phalangists, "siquitrilladas," "homeland sellouts" and other names, and all the while in the background they'd have to listen to screams of "PAREDÓN , PAREDÓN!!""DEATH, DEATH!!"

On March 4, 1961 "intervention" of the school is threatenned by the new regime, and on May 3rd at 3:00 p.m. everything was concluded with the signing of the declaration and taking of the keys by militiamen of the Castro regime.

Madre Josefa Maria Urbano, Adelante Escolapias, January, 1996

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