History and Foundation
The ‘House of Bethany’ is, first of all, a work of the Divine Providence in favor of female vocations for religious communities in the Tradition. The story of its existence goes back to 1997 when Rev. Fr. Daniel Couture was in his second year as District Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) in Asia and at the same time prior of Our Lady of Victories Church (OLVC) in Manila. At that time, the SSPX mission in the Philippines had only a priory in Manila, handling a few mass centers in the provinces, with a pre-seminary for male vocations. A house for female vocations was still in the mind of God. Until then the ladies who wanted to join Traditional communities had to arrange the matter directly with the concerned Orders or Congregations.
On November 4, 1996, Fr. Santiago Hughes (+2001), a priest of Antipolo diocese, arrived at OLVC, and decided to dedicate the rest of his priestly life working full time for Tradition, alongside the SSPX. The next day, he managed to convince one of his ex-parishioners, then a novice with the ‘Pink Sisters’ (a contemplative branch of the Divine Word Missionaries), to ‘make the jump’ to Tradition. She arrived at OLVC, where secretarial work was assigned to her, and stayed with one of the local families, as there was no provision for ex-nuns coming to the SSPX.
A year later, on the last Sunday of September 1997, another young lady presented herself to Fr. Couture at Our Lady of Victories Church asking to be admitted as a religious of the Society of Saint Pius X. Very early that morning, in fact, she too had left her modern Religious Congregation where she had spent seventeen years in order to live from that day onwards a religious life in the Tradition. This second ex-nun had discovered Tradition through a visit of Bishop Lazo to General Santos, about a month earlier. Fr. Couture, always zealous for the good of the souls, gladly received the aspirant although he still had no house in which to accommodate her. She too had to resort to staying with some faithful. There she spent her first nights while during the day she worked at Our Lady of Victories parish office together with three other ladies who had been working there and, like her, were planning to join traditional religious communities. These four aspirants spent the day together at OLVC but went their separate ways in the evening as two of them went back to their respective homes and the other two to their host families. Such a situation finally prompted Fr. Couture to open a house where ladies aspiring to a religious life in the Tradition might stay together forming a community under the guidance of the Society of Saint Pius X.
With God’s grace, in less than a month, on 24 October 1997, the Feast of Saint Raphael, a rented house with its four members was blessed by Fr. Thomas Onoda, SSPX, who became its first Superior. Thus the ‘House of Bethany’ came into existence.
Some might be interested to know why the name ‘Bethany’ was given. It was simply to commemorate the biblical house of Bethany, where lived Martha and Maria, they who loved Our Lord. It was not far away from Jerusalem and Calvary represented by Our Lady of Victories Church where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered daily.
Activities and Development
At the beginning, the four members, commonly called “Bethanians”, helped as secretaries at the OLVC office. They joined the priests in the morning prayers of Prime and meditation at 6.30 a.m. and attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 7.15 a.m. The greater part of their day was spent in silence between work and prayer at the parish office. Their meals were provided by the priory and consumed at the dining room adjacent to the same office in the church basement. Their day ended with the evening Holy Rosary, Holy Mass and supper. They received guidance from their Superior, Fr. Onoda, as well as spiritual conferences from Rev. Fr. Marie-Dominique, O.P., from Avrillé, France, who at the time was helping in the SSPX mission in the Philippines. As for the internal activities of the House, the charge was given to an elder Bethanian who was to act like Martha at Bethany during the time of Our Lord.
In April 1998 the first Bethanian left for Menzingen, Switzerland, to join the Oblates of the Society of Saint Pius X. In early May of the same year, Sister Maria Regina, an Oblate assigned in Switzerland, came to visit the ‘House of Bethany’ and stayed for some weeks. Her valuable advice in favor of the new community was appreciated by Fr. Couture, thus the “House of Bethany” took a new form. Their activities, from then onwards, were focused mostly on prayer and studies of the Catechism, Church History, Latin, English, French, Gregorian Chant, including the weekly spiritual conference. Furthermore, the Bethanians received spiritual direction from the priests of OLVC. In this way the aspirant’s daily life was spent in acquiring knowledge and habits so important for the next step of her religious formation.
As the number of the Bethanians considerably increased, a second house was opened and given the name of ‘House of Loreto’. All the members had to work and pray hard in order to meet their needs which were then admirably bestowed upon them by the Divine Providence through generous benefactors.
In November 2001, after four years of hard work and dedication, Fr. Onoda was succeeded by Fr. Joven Soliman as Superior of the ‘House of Bethany’. Some little variations in the life of the House took place, Bethanians regularly left for other shores to try their vocation, and the main activities continued to flow until June 2003 when the first group of Oblates of the Society of Saint Pius X arrived in Manila. Since then the ‘House of Bethany’ has been taken care of by the same Oblates while Fr. Soliman has remained the Superior. Shortly after, the whole community moved to a bigger rented house, the fourth one, which was a fifteen minutes’ walking distant from the priory, and in which the community still lives at present.
The ‘House of Bethany’ is now composed (as of January 1, 2008) of three Oblates, an active Carmelite Sister, a former Franciscan Sister (waiting to be admitted to the Oblates) and seven young ladies. An Oblate Sister is in charge of the internal affairs of the House as well as the formation of the Bethanians. Fr. Soliman gives a spiritual conference to the community once a week, two other SSPX fathers give lessons of Catechism and Latin while the Oblate in charge teaches French/English, Gregorian Chant and Introduction to Religious Life. The young ladies are also trained in household activities and basic skills, which are useful for the future Religious Life.
After Ten Years
During this ten-year period, besides Filipinas, there have been members from other countries such as South Korea, Thailand and Switzerland who have crossed the threshold of the "House of Bethany". Twenty are now happily settled in the Congregations or Orders where Almighty God has called them: The Sisters of the SSPX (USA, France, Australia), The Oblates of the SSPX (Switzerland, England, South Africa, Philippines), The Dominican Contemplative Sisters (France), The Teaching Dominicans (France), The Disciples of the Cenacle (Italy), Carmel (France). From this little tree of the ‘House of Bethany’ God has spread its fruits throughout the five continents of the world. Twenty others have returned home after having tried and submitted to the will of God regarding their vocation: it is that mystery which is hidden behind the words of Our Lord, “Many are called but few are chosen”. The remaining eight are still learning and preparing themselves for their turn with the usual worries about visa applications, as all have to leave the Philippines for their religious formation and then follow the roads of holy obedience as to their destination. In addition to the Bethanians there are also Sisters who have joined the community of Bethany, as well as visitors who stay at the House for some time in order to examine if they have the religious vocation. May God send to this House many more good and holy religious vocations!
Spiritual and Material Support
Divine Providence, being the author of the existence of this House, has never failed to sustain the members through the charity of its benefactors and friends. Therefore as an act of gratitude each member of the community offers the daily Mass and Rosary for all their benefactors and friends (living and dead) and their intentions, and in addition, a novena is made to Our Lady of Perpetual Help from the 18th and 26th of each month concluded with a Holy Mass on 27th offered by a priest of the SSPX for the same intentions.
Finally, each member of the ‘House of Bethany’ is wholeheartedly grateful to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mother, to the patron Saints, to Fr. Daniel Couture, Fr. Thomas Onoda, Fr. Vicente Griego, Fr. Joven Soliman, to all the priests and religious who have helped with the formation of the Bethanians, to all the benefactors and friends who, in one way or another, have contributed to the spiritual and material support of the community throughout these past ten years. May Almighty God grant them abundant blessings and an everlasting reward in heaven!
Bethanians actually in the Religious Life
Religious Name (Origin) - Order/Congregation
1 Sr Maria Concepcion (South Cotabato) - Oblate of the SSPX, Manila, Philippines
2. Sr Rosaire (Rizal) - Contemplative Dominican, Avrillé, France
3 Sr Maria Giuseppina (Manila) - Discepole del Cenacolo, Velletri, Italy
4 Sr Marie des Victoires (Bohol) - Teaching Dominican, Brignoles, France
5 Sr Maria Jacinta (South Cotabato) - Oblate of the SSPX, Johannesburg, South Africa
6 Sr Ignatius Mary (South Cotabato) - SSPX Sister, Sydney, Australia
7 Sr Isabella Marie (Cebu) - SSPX Sister, Browerville, USA
8 Sr Marie Agnes (Manila) - Oblate of the SSPX, Menzingen, Switzerland
9 Sr Diana (Cebu) - Contemplative Dominican, Avrillé, France
10 Sr Maria Josepha (Manila) - Oblate of the SSPX, Highclere, England
11 Sr Dominica (Bohol) - Contemplative Dominican, Avrillé, France
12 Sr Maria Ancilla (Dumaguete) - Oblate of the SSPX, Highclere, England
13 Sr Maria Vicenta (Siquijor) - Oblate of the SSPX, Manila, Philippines
14 Sr Ancilla (Bulacan) - Contemplative Dominican, Avrillé, France
15 Sr Maria Salome (Thailand) - Oblate of the SSPX, Salvan, Switzerland
16 Sr Marie Laetitia (Switzerland) - Novice, SSPX Sisters, France
17 Sr Maria Remedios (Iloilo) - Novice, Oblate of the SSPX, Salvan, Switzerland
18 Sr Maria Fidelis of Christ the King (Switzerland) - Novice Carmelite, Eynesse, France
19 Sr Mary Monica (Bohol) - Novice, SSPX Sisters, Browerville, USA
20 Isabel Cadayao (Iloilo) - Postulant, SSPX Sisters, Browerville, USA
To help the House of Bethany, please forward your donation to the District of Asia with a mention “For the house of Bethany”.
Mother House Address:
Noviciat Ste Thérèse
1922 Salvan (VS)
Oblates Contact No. (41) (27) 761 2128