Pope John XXIII Seminary in Cebu shifts focus to vocation discernment

CEBU. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.
CEBU. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma. File photo by Kaiser Jan Fuentes

POPE John XXIII Seminary (PJS), long regarded as a bastion for priestly formation within the Archdiocese of Cebu, is undergoing a significant shift in its mission.

In a press conference on Saturday, April 27, 2024, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma revealed the decision to pivot away from its traditional focus on priestly training, opting instead to prioritize the nurturing and discernment of vocations.

Fr. Allan Delima, rector of the PJS seminary, said that one of the major changes is the emphasis on the importance of the family and community or parish to the minorian's life.

The redirection marks a profound evolution in the institution’s role within the Catholic community, signaling a renewed commitment to fostering diverse paths of spiritual calling.

PJS Seminary serves as a high school institution catering to young boys aspiring to be molded according to the five foundational pillars of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral.

These pillars constitute the bedrock upon which the seminary cultivates the holistic development of its students, preparing them for a life dedicated to service and spiritual vocation.

Delima said that based on the book entitled “The gift of priestly vocation,” the new direction for the minor seminary was introduced -- that it would no longer become part of the formal priestly training, which was adopted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Delima added that the formal priestly training would begin after high school.

Impact to the community

Palma said the new direction in the minor seminary focuses on the appreciation for all the vocations in life, not just for priestly vocation.

Palma said the students in the minor seminary are still looking at the many possibilities of life, which the seminary needs to foster.

Palma said the impact would now be the contribution of the lay people in the church.

Delima said it increased the number of young boys who expressed willingness to be formed in the seminary, as the seminary faces a decline in the number of students enrolled.

Delima said this year, the minor seminary has only 61 students, a significant drop since 2014. However, with the new direction, they have noticed that they have more applicants for the next formation year.

Scholarship

The shift in the minor seminary's purpose is viewed as beneficial for attracting more junior and senior high school boys to enroll.

The formal organization of the PJS alumni, registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, comes at an opportune time.

Engr. Exuperto "Pert" Cabataña, president of the PJS alumni association, said one aim of the association is to support PJS by offering scholarships for future seminarians.

Cabataña said the alumni association is planning to provide scholarships for the deserving altar boys from parishes in Cebu.

He said they would still need to figure out how they would go about it, saying they are targeting an endowment fund of P5 million to start with. (AML)

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