Faith and Spirituality

Head of missionary nuns based in Tayabas dies at 69

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Head of missionary nuns based in Tayabas dies at 69

SUPERIOR GENERAL. Mother Teodora Juan, head of the Missionary Catechists of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus, dies at the age of 69 on May 21, 2023.

Courtesy of MCST/Facebook

Mother Teodora Juan was the superior general of the Missionary Catechists of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus, a congregation based in Tayabas, Quezon

MANILA, Philippines – Mother Teodora Juan, the head of a prominent group of Filipino missionary sisters, died at the age of 69 on Sunday, May 21, her religious congregation confirmed.

Juan was the superior general of the Missionary Catechists of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus (MCST), a 64-year-old congregation headquartered in Tayabas, Quezon. She was also a board member of the Conference of Major Superiors of the Philippines (CMSP), which gathers close to 400 Catholic religious congregations in the Philippines.

Born in Baliwag, Bulacan on April 1, 1954, Juan died on the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after he rose from the dead. “As Jesus ascended into heaven, he took our dear Mother Teodora with him,” the MCST sisters said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“CMSP will never forget her service to the Church and to the advocacies of the Conference,” the group said in a separate statement, noting Juan’s election as CMSP board member in July 2022.

The MCST is a congregation of around 240 missionary nuns committed to teaching the Catholic faith in 46 areas in the Philippines and at least 12 other overseas communities, such as in Italy, Nigeria, Taiwan, and the United States.

It was founded by Bishop Alfredo Maria Obviar, the first bishop of Lucena, Quezon, whom Pope Francis declared as “venerable” in 2018, putting him two major steps away from sainthood. Obviar started the MCST on August 12, 1958, after he “saw the need for catechists to teach Christian doctrine in the public schools within his diocese,” the congregation said.

‘Wherever I am sent, I am a missionary’

Beyond her work in the MCST community, Juan also served the Catholic Church overseas.

From 2016 to 2021, Juan was the office manager at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York. In the first half of her office manager stint, it was a Filipino from Bohol – Archbishop Bernardito Auza – who was serving as the Pope’s ambassador to the UN. In the second half, the envoy was the former papal nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia.

When she was at the Holy See Mission, Juan said she found people “very warm” despite New York’s brand as a “sleepless city” where “you always find people rushing.” In a January 2017 article, she recalled, “People stop us to say how much they like to see sisters in a habit!”

“I can see the goodness of God in this place. I am very much aware of my role as a missionary,” she said.

Juan continued: “Whether I am working in the house or office, or wherever I am sent, I am a missionary. To be a missionary is to bring the good news in my little way, just like Saint Therese. I try as much as I can to do little ordinary works in an extraordinary way. That is what our founder taught us: that wherever we go, we bring Jesus.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email