The Immaculate Conception School of Theology (ICST), dubbed the mother of all diocesan seminaries in northern Luzon, turned 200 years old on Monday, August 8.
A report on CBCP News said that on August 8, 1822, the first stone of the seminary was laid for the formation of native clergy.
In his homily during the celebration, Bishop William Antonio of Ilagan cited the seminary’s history and its contributions to the life and mission of the Church in the region.
“ICST is truly the heart of northern Luzon Church,” said the prelate who used to serve as the seminary’s rector.
“With the central role that ICST plays in the life and mission of the Church in the region, it can be said that the northern Luzon Church sinks or swims with ICST,” said Bishop Antonio.
“The future of this Church is in ICST,” he said.
The bishop said the bicentennial celebration serves as a challenge to the seminary “to face the future with courage and hope” and “to welcome the invitation to further growth and change for the better.”
He ICST must remain faithful to its “reason for being” both as a school of theology and a school of spirituality.
“Authentic priestly spirituality is the necessary condition for effective servant-leadership in the Church,” he said, adding that priests are “effective only to the extent that they are spiritual.”
Father Nick Vaquilar, the seminary’s current rector, said that since 1822 the seminary has produced priests who served and are still serving the northern regions of the country.
“We are truly blessed to celebrate this occasion, which marks 200 years of priestly formation in northern Luzon, in our lifetime,” said the priest.
“Together, may we all journey throughout this year. May our celebrations of the 200 years of priestly formation in Northern Luzon be fruitful and meaningful,” he added.
The year-long celebration opened with the Holy Spirit Mass on Monday with Archbishop Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia presiding.