Long and winding road for ‘St. Scho’ president | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Long and winding road for ‘St. Scho’ president
Lawyer-turned-nun and educator Sr. Christine Pinto, OSB: “We have to create leaders for social transformation.” -Photo by Ceres Doyo
Long and winding road for ‘St. Scho’ president
Lawyer-turned-nun and educator Sr. Christine Pinto, OSB: “We have to create leaders for social transformation.” -Photo by Ceres Doyo

Producing leaders for social transformation defines Benedictine education at St. Scholastica’s College, says school president, Sr. Christine Pinto, OSB.

In the spirit of St. Benedict of Nursia—father of Western monasticism that influenced much of Europe in the Dark Ages—the school remains committed to its mission since its founding in 1906 by the Benedictine Missionary Sisters from Tutzing, Germany.

The centuries-old Benedictine dictum, ora et labora (prayer and work), is vibrant as ever, still bearing fruit in the lives of its students.

But Benedictine-educated millennials cannot help taking it to another level with their Latin-Filipino battle cry, ora et laban (pray and fight for what is right).

Do their school teachers mind? Not at all. Not even when the students, in their uniform, their fists raised as street activists, land on the front pages and prime-time news.

This month marks the first year of Sister Pinto’s leadership as college president. What a year it has been, she could say.

But much longer has been her journey as a Scholastican— from primary to high school at St. Scho Manila to University of Philippines (UP) law school to Supreme Court staff, and then back to her alma mater as a Benedictine religious, and now a full-time educator.

As the Beatles of her girlhood would sing, it has been a long and winding road.

Long and winding road for ‘St. Scho’ president
Flora May Pinto as a high school student. Inset: Her high school graduation photo —Contributed Photo

Balanced education

Pinto is remembered by her grade-school classmates as Flora May, the girl scout with many pins and badges on her uniform, proofs of her diligence, discipline and industry.

A Scholastican from kindergarten to high school, she looks back on the years of absorbing Benedictine values and virtues of discipline, proper decorum, honesty and integrity—fruits of living the way of ora et labore.

She was in the School of Life at the three-hectare campus with ancient trees and buildings done in neo-Romanesque and Art Deco style.

“It was a balanced education of living out ora et labore. In grade school, we had individualized instruction and worked on our SRA kits at our own pace,” she recalls. “We were prepared very well for college entrance examinations.”

More interesting, she learned to “compose haikus and songs, perform Broadway musicals, cook international dishes, sew pajamas and blouses and make hand-dyed shirts.”

After high school, Pinto enrolled at UP, major in political science, and took up law. While at UP she joined a Catholic students’ group called Ictus— Greek for fish, a secret symbol used by persecuted early Christians.

After passing the bar in 1991, Pinto worked at the Supreme Court then the Court of Appeals. But something (or Someone) was leading her back to the Benedictine Sisters.

Her widowed mother, Cathy, gave in, though not immediately, to her desire to become a religious sister. She underwent religious formation for three years.

As a novice, she took on the name Sister Maristella. After pronouncing her first vows, she took on school assignments in between formation and theology studies at the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies in Quezon City.

God’s ways

But God’s ways are not our ways. On her fourth year as a sister with temporary vows, she was granted official dispensation and left the congregation.

Transitioning back to life as a lay person and discerning what steps to take were not easy.

In 2006, she found her place as a lay missionary, still among Benedictines, in Namibia, southwest Africa.

But soon she was back in the Philippines. Responding to the call to the consecrated life from her former religious superiors, she went back to the Benedictine novitiate. In 2010, she took her final vows and took on the name Sister Christine.

While performing school duties including teaching at St. Scho, she enrolled at the Center for Language Learning at De La Salle University Manila.

Proceeding to the US for further studies, she finished her Master of Arts in Higher Education at Boston College in Massachusetts, and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Duquesne University in Pennsylvania.

On Aug. 20, 2018, she was installed as the 20th president of St. Scholastica’s College.


Sr. Christine Pinto, OSB, spoke recently to the Inquirer to share her views on education for leadership and social transformation that she had tackled in her 2018 inaugural address.

On the school’s identity: “Let us not forget that the so-called Benedictine ‘School for the Lord’s Service’ is a community whose way of life is centered on Jesus Christ. Together we build a welcoming and caring community and create a supportive environment that is conducive for teaching and learning, and creating leaders for social transformation. We claim this as the identity of St. Scholastica’s College Manila.”

On leadership education: “Leadership education focuses on self-awareness of the students… It is allowing them to further develop their leadership skills by giving them opportunities to engage their peers and exert their influence in the classroom or in clubs and organizations as student leaders.

There are opportunities for interaction and immersion in the school’s partner communities. Students get to know the communities, their needs and concerns. Together with the community, they plan on how to respond to certain priority needs and concretely take action on their plans… as citizens towards social transformation.

On counter-values prevailing in Philippine society: “At this point in our country’s history, there is the culture of vulgarity. Violence and death have become the norm. There are prevailing threats to our human rights, especially those of our indigenous brothers and sisters driven from their ancestral lands, extrajudicial killings, persecution and death for those who dare speak against the administration, the practice of questionable and self-serving government appointments, detrimental international alliances and economic policies, threats to the fundamental law of our land, our freedom of expression and sovereignty as a nation.”

How to face these head on: “With our advocacies of social justice and peace we will enflesh our academic programs, community involvement, administrative and academic policies and processes. We are for women empowerment, poverty alleviation, and environmental awareness and care for our environment, our common home. We take to heart the Benedictine value of stewardship.”

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