Father William F. Masterson, SJ
Founder of the College of Agriculture at Cagayan



PHILIPPINES, 2009, from a souvenir sheet (see below) honoring the 150th anniversary of the Ateneo de Manila

William Francis Masterson was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1910, entered the Society of Jesus and did his studies at Woodstock College, Maryland, and Georgetown University, Washington, DC. In 1933 he went to the Philippines, taught English at the Ateneo de Manila, and became a Special National Field Commissioner for Catholic Scouting. In 1936 He returned to the United States for theological studies at Woodstock and was ordained in 1939. As serious illness delayed his return to the Philippines, war broke out. He was named director for the Jesuit Philippine Bureau in New York and by the end of his term in 1947 had raised an estimate of four million dollars towards postwar rehabilitation of Jesuit educational, parochial and charitable organizations in the Philippines He also served as Chairman of the Committee of American Catholic Religious Communities which had institutions in the Philippines, and as such was invited to Manila by General Douglas MacArthur in April 1945 to set up a relief program for children which would distribute some two million dollars worth of medicine, clothing and foodstuffs.

In 1947 Masterson returned to the Philippines, having been appointed Rector and President of Ateneo de Manila. It was his vision that brought about the transfer of the Ateneo from Padre Faura to Loyola Heights. The decision was not thought wisdom at the time and met with wide spread opposition and many setbacks. In May of 1950, he effectively was fired and exiled to Ateneo de Cagayan (now Xavier University) to be student counselor and head of the English Department. Three years later he organized a College for Agriculture, a precursor to the internationally acclaimed South East Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute, which trains leaders from South East Asia, China, Korea, Africa and Oceania to address the problems of rural societies. He was director of SEARSOLIN from 1964 until his death in 1984. Said Masterson, "I felt that we had no right to exist unless we immersed ourselves in the problems of our milieu." Masterson received a number of prestigious awards, including by way of amends a honorary doctorate from the Ateneo de Manila. More

PHILIPPINES, 2009, the 150th anniversary of the Ateneo de Manila