MATER SALUTIS COLLEGE SEMINARY
Sipi, Daraga, Albay
The Mater Salutis College Seminary in Sipi, Daraga, Albay is a complex of three buildings that straddle the slopes of the mountain marking the boundary separating the town of Daraga from Legazpi City. The complex calls attention to itself as the beholder gazes south-westward from Mayon Volcano. The buildings are all white-washed. The seminary is the diocesan tertiary institution for the formation of candidates for the priesthood who come from the high school seminary or the pre-college level and in preparation for their theological studies. It is manned by a community of formators and formandi pursuing the process of integral tertiary education in the Catholic faith and in the humanities under the care of the Blessed Virgin Mother, Our Lady of Salvation. The seminary envisions young men who at the end of the course will not only be intellectually capable, morally upright and spiritually disposed but also physically fit and psychologically balanced; for them to be able to seriously pursue theology and the priesthood.
Mater Salutis College Seminary was envisioned as such by the third Bishop of LEgazpi, the Most. Rev. Concordio Ma. Sarte, who saw the need for the diocese to have a seminary of its own; after noting that vocations to the priesthood in Albay were increasing and that the Regional Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga, was becoming more and more crowded.
And so, March 17, 1988 the first building in the seminary complex arose. It was named the St. Gregory the Great Major Seminary after the diocesan patron saint. Three months later on June 17, 1988 it opened as a college affiliated with Aquinas University of Legazpi (AUL) with twenty-eight enrollees, Msgr. Ramon C. Tronqued was its rector.
On March 17, 1989, its first anniversary, the second building, the Academic Building was inaugurated, Enrollment had increased to seventy-five, Bishop Sarte himself assumed rectorship.
On September 17, 1990 the four-storey dormitory, the third building in the complex, was blessed and inaugurated. Soon after, in response to the continuing increase in enrollment, a fifth story was added to the dormitory. This was a joint venture of the three dioceses of Legazpi, Virac and Masbate. The fifth floor was blessed and inaugurated on September 27, 1991. A sad note, however, intervened two months later. On 21 November 1991, Bishop Concordio Ma. Sarte, the seminary founder and moving spirit passed away at Oxnard, California, U.S.A.
School year 1991- 1992 saw important events in the history of the college seminary. On January 21, 1992 it was granted its Government Permit and Recognition as an academic institution, On February 11, 1992 its fourth rector, Rev. Msngr. Antonio Rebanal renamed the college in Mater Salutis College Seminary after the diocesan patroness, Our Lady of Salvation; although it was not until May 30, 2000 during the incumbency of its fifth rector, Rev. Msngr. Noe de los Santos that the seminary was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under this name.
In March 1992 Mater Salutis College Seminary turned out its first college graduates with Bachelor of Arts (AB) degree
MSCS serves as an inter-diocesan seminary not only for the dioceses of Legazpi, Virac and Masbate but also for the philosophy studies of seminarians of religious congregations in the Legazpi Diocese; such as Disciples of Hope (DS) and the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT).
To date MSCS has 233 alumni. Thirty of them have been ordained priests and are presently serving the diocese.
GREGORY THE GREAT SEMINARY
PANAL, TABACO CITY
In the year of following the establishment of the Diocese of Legazpi in 1951, it was immediately apparent that a seminary was needed to take charge of the formation of young boys who planned to join the ordained ministry of the Catholic Church.
To respond to this need, Bishop Flaviano B. Ariola, the first Bishop of Legazpi, with the generous support of some families in the province, organized the Minor Seminary of St. Gregory the Great. At the start of school year 1953 – 1954, 28 young boys were admitted to the first year high school class of the seminary, with Msgr. Jose N. Belleza as their Rector Principal and the second floor of the former Liceo de Albay building as their classroom and living quarters.
Since it was urgently needed to have more permanent site for the building and grounds of the new seminary, Bishop Ariola laid the cornerstone and proceeded to build a studier building in a vacant lot in Panal, Tabaco Albay (now Tabaco City), His decision was timely because in 1960 Typhoon Olive swept through the entire province and destroyed many buildings, the old Liceo building among them.
Thus in the second semester of 1960-1961, the seminary moved to its new site in Tabaco, although the building was still unfinished. Shortly afterwards, the seminary gained a name as an excellent academic institution with its students winning prizes in various contests and placing among the top achievers in national and local examinations given by the Department of Education. In addition to the emphasis on moral formation and character education, the academic reputation of the seminary enjoyed an all-time high in the community and many boys of high school age were attracted to enroll. It was clear that the parents of the boys were putting premium on the quality of the curriculum that formed and trained the students in their intellectual, moral and spiritual lives, and imbued them with a strong sense of discipline. However, the focus on entering the priesthood was losing primacy in the mind of the students, therefore, it was seen that the graduates of the Minor Seminary were not necessarily candidates for the major seminaries. Enrollment started to dwindle.
The Seminary valiantly carried on its mandate to nurture priestly and religious vocations, and continued to accept students every school term. However, a re-examination of the mission of the school as a seminary, a seedbed of vocations, was needed. At one point there was even more to recommend that the seminary be closed and instead find another use for the buildings and the campus. However, this recommendation did not gain the approval of the church authorities. Today, the school continues to exist, and is expected to identify its relevance to the lives of young boys and re-define itself as an institution to prepare them for a life of full-time service to God. Its survival as an institution rests on the wisdom of the decisions made regarding its operations and on the providence and goodness of Almighty God.
- Msgr. Jose N. Belleza
- Msgr. Demetrio Villiar
- Fr. Honesto C. Sarmiento
- Fr. Antonio Rabadam
- Most Rev. Lucilo B. Quiambao, DD
- Fr. Lorenzo de Leon
- Fr. Eulogio Lawenko, Jr.
- Msgr. Ramon Tronqued
- Fr. Rolando Bongalon
- Fr. Adrian Rañola
- Fr. Leandro de la Cruz
- Fr. David Thomas Ramoso
- Fr. Romeo Cirujales, Jr.