The Institute of Formation and Religious Studies (IFRS) began in 1963 as Sisters Formation Institute (SFI). It was founded by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines (AMRSWP) to provide for the need of young women religious for sound academic training and background in spirituality. The original formation plan was based on the Jesuit curriculum for seminarians of the Ateneo de Manila University. This program has been enriched through the years to equip young religious for their ministry, possessing through their studies a broader outlook, a spirit of service, a solid foundation for prayer, a greater spiritual maturity, and a deeper loyalty to community.

In the tumultuous years of the 70s, SFI opted for a more integrated approach that includes a critical understanding of contemporary societal condition as an important element in theological education. In the 1980s, SFI pursued a more holistic integration of the relationship among theological studies and formation, the understanding of religious life, and the lives of the people that the religious serve. This prominence of religious formation and its relevance to responsive ministry impelled the Institute to open its doors to religious brothers and lay Church workers, and even to a greater number of Asian students. This move became the seed for the change of name of SFI to IFRS. This change of name ushered in the 1990s a lot of developments: the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) authorized the Institute to grant degrees on the undergraduate and graduate levels in the area of Scriptures, Theology, Women and Religion, and Spirituality; the establishment of the IFRS Foundation, Inc. to become the new group responsible for IFRS; and the transfer of SFI/IFRS from its original site at N. Domingo to its new home at Acacia St., Cubao, Quezon City.

From the initial enrolment of sisters from 13 Congregations in 1963, IFRS has already welcomed and journeyed with students coming from almost 80 Congregations of men and women, with lay people, representing over 20 countries.

As we begin the 21st century, the Institute continues to seek for excellence and advancement in providing religious and lay women and men, both Filipinos and foreigners, with a theological formation and religious education that is contextual, transformational, integrated and inclusive.

The expansion of the course offerings and programs as well as openness to a wider clientele aim to meet the challenges of the Gospel in today’s social, economic, political, cultural, personal, and ecological realities. These developments are very vital to the authentic and relevant Christian formation in the contemporary globalize world. The support, partnership and networking between the Institute and many congregations, church groups and advocacy networks, funding agencies, and lay people have helped SFI to grow and mature into becoming the Institute that it is today. IFRS, the new name of SFI, has become a place where the dream and daily struggle to integrate faith and life is reflected on and experienced in the here and now.

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