From the Beginning…
Expelled from China by the Communist takeover, the Jesuits came to Iloilo in 1953 and started their apostolic work among the local ethnic Chinese community as a continuation of their missionary work in Mainland China. With the support of the Iloilo Chinese and Filipino communities, Santa Maria Parish, under the tutelage of Our Lady Queen of China, was established by Fr. Guerrino Marsecano, an Italian Jesuit Missionary.
The Jesuits believe that quality education is essential in molding good Catholic Christians. So in 1958, with only nine (9) students as enrolees, French Jesuit Fr. Andrew Joliet and Spanish Jesuit Fr. Santiago Leon, acting as Founder/ Director and Principal, respectively, opened a parochial school in Gen. Blanco Street, City Proper, Iloilo City that came to be known as Santa Maria Catholic School (SMCS). With the Holy Mother as Patroness, the Jesuits have embarked on a crucial mission of forming the youth of Iloilo. A year after the founding of the school, a two-story wooden building was constructed to provide the students with eight (8) classrooms. In 1962, through the beneficence of Eduardo and Cesar Lopez, part of the school was erected on the Lopez brothers’ lot situated across the street.
The school year 1965-1966 was a year that SMCS saw its first batch of graduates from the Grade School Department. The school accepted its first batch of high school freshmen a year after. From its founding until 1967, Fr. Joliet had been both Director of the school and the Pastor of the Parish. In 1968, the Philippine government recognized SMCS as a Filipino school program with a comprehensive Chinese language. Within the same year, Fr. Felix Maiza, another Spanish Jesuit, became the Principal of the school.