Service has been the guiding force behind Fr. San Miguel’s work in Japan. He came from Spain to Japan in 1969 and worked in education at high schools and universities as an instructor and administrator before serving as the President of St. Catherine University and St. Catherine Junior College from April 2001 to March 2023.
When Fr. San Miguel began his 22-year tenure, the university was a Women’s University with a Social Welfare Department. Fr. San Miguel began the transition of the University in 2004, when St. Catherine Women’s University went co-educational, and established the Department of Welfare Management in the Faculty of Social Welfare, and changed the University’s name to St. Catherine University. The enrolment at both the university and the junior college increased significantly since then.
His leadership helped establish the Department of Human Sociology in 2011 and the Department of Sports and Health in 2014. He helped expand the campus to provide more student parking and a sports practice ground. He led the University to establish a second campus in the center of Matsuyama city, which became the home of a new Department of Nursing in 2017. This department was built on the history of over 50 years of nursing instruction at St. Catherine High School and in partnership with Matsuyama Red Cross Hospital. Always thinking about the expansion of St. Catherine University and Catholic education in Japan, one of Fr. San Miguel’s final accomplishments was the establishment of the Department of Nursing Graduate School in 2022.
Locally, Fr. San Miguel assisted with the modernization of St. Martin’s House, a nursing care facility adjacent to the main campus where students can practice nursing care skills. He has served on numerous committees both locally and nationally in Japan. Fr. San Miguel also served as Counselor for the Japan Education Exchanges and Services (JEES) since 2012 and has been asked to continue in this capacity.
He also helped St. Catherine University to become more global and to begin accepting international students through the establishment of international agreements with other universities and global links through the International Council of St. Thomas Aquinas University (ICUSTA) and the Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Universities (ASEACCU).
An Apostolic Blessing Letter, dated January 31, 2023, signed by Pope Francis of the Vatican Church in Rome, was presented to Fr. San Miguel and the University for the contributions made in Catholic education over the years. Furthermore, Fr. San Miguel was awarded by the Japanese Government the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, in the 2023 Autumn Conferment of Decorations on Foreign Nationals for contributing to the promotion of private-school education in Japan. Fr. San Miguel will continue to serve through teaching, pastoral duties, and as President Emeritus of St. Catherine University.