St. Josemaria Escriva was born on January 9, 1902, in Barbastro, Spain. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 28, 1925, in Saragossa. On October 2, 1928, by divine inspiration, he founded Opus Dei. On June 26, 1975, he died unexpectedly in Rome in the room where he worked, after a last affectionate glance at a picture of Our Lady. Opus Dei had by then spread to five continents, with over 60,000 members of 80 nationalities, serving the Church with the same spirit of complete union with the Pope and the Bishops which characterized St. Josemaria. His Holiness Pope John Paul II, now himself a saint, canonized the Founder of Opus Dei in Rome on October 6, 2002. His feast is celebrated on June 26. The body of St. Josemaria rests in the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace, Viale Bruno Buozzi 75, Rome.
A group of parents got together in some cities in Spain in the 1960s. Among them were members of Opus Dei; others were cooperators and friends. They wanted a new type of school for their children; a school which would mirror the same Christian values they were endeavoring to impart in their own families; there emerged the idea of a school which would be like a family.
Character formation to be carried out by trained mentors was to have a high role. Parents, teachers, and mentors were to work in close collaboration for the optimal benefit of the students. Key Christian concepts such as the dignity of man, the sacredness of human life (the core of the social teaching of the Church) had to be reflected in policies and in practice. Above all, spiritual values, seen as a key element in a Christian character formation, had to permeate the school. Souls, not just minds or bodies, were to be educated. For the growth of these souls and for the Catholic ethos of this new family, an oratory and the administration of the sacraments were necessary. The emerging Prelature of Opus Dei was requested to provide the spiritual input.
Something similar happened in Manila in the mid 1970s. A group of parents, concerned about the standards of education in local schools, formed the Parents for Education Foundation (PAREF) of which Southridge is the first born son. The Prelature of Opus Dei was again asked to provide priests to look after the spiritual needs of the school. It has become increasingly important in recent years for parents to be very aware of what their children are being taught in school.
This initiative is very much in keeping with the indications of the Second Vatican Council which said: “Let the spiritual shepherds recognize and promote the dignity as well as the responsibility of the laity in the Church. Let them willingly employ their prudent advice. Let them confidently assign duties to them in the service of the Church, allowing them freedom and room for action. Further, let them encourage lay people so they undertake tasks on their own initiative. Attentively in Christ, let them consider with fatherly love the projects, suggestions and desires proposed by the laity. However, let the shepherds respectfully acknowledge that just freedom which belongs to everyone in this earthly city.” (Lumen Gentium N. 37)
There are schools like Southridge in the United States, Italy, England, Ireland, Mexico, Argentina, and in many other countries around the world. In Spain alone, there are more than 250 schools similar to Southridge. The first born son hopes for many brothers here in the Philippines.
A student or alumnus of Southridge should feel a holy pride and debt of gratitude to the man to whom the School owes her spirit, her philosophy of education, the family ambience and character of her buildings, and many other good things, even though unseen and unrecognized.
Visit Opus Dei's website here: opusdei.org