In the first part of this piece, I tried to recount some off-the-cuff memories or delightful vignettes of “puerile infractions” – or “petty old crime,” as it were – we have had in the seminary.
In this piece, however, I’d like to segue to the more “transcendent character” or fullness of formative life in my alma mater seminary.
The Sacred Heart Seminary is nestled on a 24-hectare land in Palo, Leyte purchased by the late Bishop of Palo, Most. Rev. Lino Gonzaga.
It was founded in 1944 by the late Most Rev. Manuel Mascarinas, DD, the first bishop of Palo. The first administrators were the Divine Word Missionary Fathers, or SVD Fathers, who took the reins until 1969, when they bequeathed their work to the local diocesan clergy.
In its more than seven decades of existence, my alma mater stands proud as eight of her beloved sons were elevated to the episcopacy: Most Rev. Salvador Modesto, Most Rev. Filomeno Bactol, Most Rev. Leonardo Medroso, Most Rev. Nereo Odchimar, Most Rev. Nolly Buco, Most Rev. Marvin Maceda, Most Rev. Oscar Florencio, and Most Rev. Rex Ramirez.
At present, the seminary houses 165 seminarians (62 Junior High, 38 Senior High, and 65 College or major seminarians), and 45 seminary personnel and staff (7 priest formators, 8 priest professors, 10 lay teachers, and 20 staff and auxiliaries).
As an institution, the seminary aims not only to develop the spiritual life of seminarians, but also their human, social, and intellectual life. By the time the seminarian leaves the portals of the seminary, it is hoped that he must have acquired the human values, and has learned to be sensible to the needs of the community, developed a life of piety, and nurtured the love for study.
The entire formation program of the seminary is categorized into the following four core areas and their component aspects:
1. Spiritual formation: Conscience formation, Perseverance in prayer, Discipleship, Eucharistic piety and Marian devotion, Spiritual direction, and Closer union with God.
2. Human formation: Self-identity and sense of gratitude, Appreciation of uniqueness of the person, Self-confidence, Leadership, and Physical-emotional-sexual relationships.
3. Academic formation: Sense of purpose, Passion for excellence, Critical mind, Diligence, Creative learning, and Effective communication skills.
4. Social and pastoral formation: Sensitivity to the needs of the poor, Dedication towards assigned tasks, Respect for others, Awareness of the world.
The Seminary Rector
My alma mater is currently shepherded by its youthful rector, Fr. Manuel “Manny” Baybay, Jr., who has a veritable track record of being a formator. Prior to his current assignment, Fr. Manny was director-formator of the Center of Spirituality for Priests and Seminarians of the Focolare Movement in Tagaytay City.
During my brief visit, I asked Fr. Manny about his personal insights in working as seminary rector, and I was impressed with his answer:
“I felt blessed and humbled to have been given this chance to serve as the 14th rector of the Sacred Heart Seminary. To serve the archdiocese of Palo in whatever capacity is always a joy and a blessing. During my sacerdotal ordination 16 years ago, I made a vow of obedience to the archbishop of Palo. Since then, I always had this in mind to be ready for everything. So, I accepted the task joyfully because I know I am exercising my vow of obedience. I also felt humbled because I am aware that many of my brother priests in the diocese are more qualified, more talented and more fitting for the office, yet I was chosen.”
Fr. Manny is undoubtedly upbeat with his current flagship project, the Sagrado Corazon Foundation Inc., a fundraising campaign to support the construction, renovation, and modernization of the seminary buildings and facilities as well as for the continuing holistic development of its faculty, staff and seminarians. “Really, the board-and-lodging fees of seminarians are just enough, if not lacking, for the maintenance and operational requirements of the seminary. That’s why we have to seek out to others who can help us in the construction and renovation of our buildings and facilities,” Fr. Manny said.
Donors may pledge or enlist as Gold Benefactors for P100,000 (name/s will be inscribed on the seats of the audio-visual building), Platinum Benefactors for P50,000.00 and Silver Benefactors for P25,000.00 (whose names will be inscribed on the benefactors wall of the audio-visual building). Interested donors may contact the following: Telephone (053) 3232214; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Finally, as parting thought, as suggested by this piece’s title, I have attributed my alma mater seminary as “home,” – and truly it is, because for me, it’s more than just my alma mater, it’s my home. And, profoundly so, home is where the heart is.