The year 1985 saw the dawn of a new era of the Philippine Church as well as that Asia, in general. Through the initiative of the late Archbish0p of Manila, His Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, D.D., the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary, the first of its kind in the Philippines and in Asia, was born. It was the local church’s “response to the growing emergence of vocations among men, who after finishing their college courses and practicing their professions, feel called to the priestly ministry.”
Out of 137 applicants, 17 were admitted as the pioneering batch of a five-year program to complete the requirements for ordination to the priesthood. The late Rev. Fr. Benjamin B. Carlos, S.J. designed the program specializing on spirituality.
Since its foundation, the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary (HASS) has welcomed men of various professions like doctors, teachers, lawyers, accountants, businessmen, journalists, engineers, dentists, managers and others into its program. At present, 63 priests and 3 deacons have been ordained serving in different dioceses all over the country.
THE HOLY APOSTLES SENIOR SEMINARY
There is a curious tension today in regard to the priesthood. On the other hand, there is a great deal of hand wringing and anguish over the identity and role of priests as well as their diminishing numbers, and on the other hand, our culture is crying out for what I have called mystagogues or bearers of the mystery of God and doctors of the soul. I suggest that this tension or dilemma could be resolved if we realize that what our people so desperately need is precisely what we priests are uniquely equipped to provide: nourishment for the soul.
We are not indispensable “functionaries” in the Church; we are bridges to the very mystery of God and healers of the soul. When we claim this identity unapologetically, we not only find ourselves; we also provide the church and our culture with the sustenance they require.
This is the vocation, the reality, to which we are called. It is not dependent on numbers, or structures, or chancery offices, or any of the things we thought so essential, so important but now are completely changed or are no more. Rather, it is dependent on the Lord Jesus (who is the mystery of God and the healer of the soul) whom we make present in a tangible and inviting way each day to the countless people whom we serve. (Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, “Priests, Religious Leaders, Doctors of the Soul”, Origins, 25 May 1995, pp. 27-28)