The Seminary: A History

The Holy Rosary Minor Seminary, also known as the “Seminario Conciliar de Nueva Caceres” and officially referred to as the “Seminario del Santisimo Rosario de Caceres, Inc.,” stands as the oldest ecclesiastical and civil higher educational institution in Southern Luzon, dedicated to fostering Christian values and shaping Filipino priests and theologians. While previously believed to have evolved from the Casa de Clerigos, a residence and training center for priests and local Christian leaders, historian Jethro Calacday (2019, 239) opines that Bishop Juan Antonio Gallego de Orbigo independently established the seminary in 1785.

In 1855, the seminary faced substantial damage from a typhoon, followed by a fire in 1860. Consequently, Bishop Francisco Gainza, OP (1862-1879), spearheaded the construction of a new edifice, the striking Moorish-style building that stands today. On May 9, 1865, Bishop Gainza inaugurated the seminary and entrusted its administration to the Vincentian Fathers. Under Gainza’s leadership, the seminary evolved into not only a preeminent ecclesiastical institution but also a leading civil educational center outside Manila, aided by Fr. Ildefonso Moral, C.M., the first Vincentian rector, and Fr. Antonio Santonja, C.M. During this era, the Seminario Conciliar transformed into a Seminario-Colegio. In 1863, Bishop Gainza established the Statutes of the Seminario Conciliar. In 1897, Bishop Arsenio Campo, the final Spanish Bishop, expanded the seminary compound through Obras Pias. Until the American Period, the seminary remained the foremost higher educational institution south of Manila. In 1925, Bishop Francisco Reyes, the second Bicolano Bishop, reinstated the Seminario-Colegio as the Seminario Conciliar, renaming it Seminario del Santissimo Rosario in 1926.

Initially accommodating both minor or high school students and some Philosophy Seminarians, the seminary underwent changes in 1990 when Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legazpi, O.P., opted to close the High School Seminary after the last batch of high school (minor) seminarians graduated. While the High School Department phased out, the Philosophy (College) Department transitioned to the minor seminary building. Consequently, by 1990, the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary exclusively served as a formation house for the Philosophy Department, which had a longstanding association with both the Major Seminary in Concepcion Pequeña and the Minor Seminary.

In 2013, Archbishop Rolando Octavus Tria-Tirona, O.C.D., made the decision to reopen the high school seminary, subsequently reintroducing Junior High School (Grade 7 to 10) and Senior High School (Grade 11 to 12) programs in line with the K-12 Program of the Department of Education.

Since its inception, the seminary has produced approximately 22 bishops, including notable figures like the first Filipino bishop, Jorge Barlin, and the first Filipino Cardinal to serve in the Roman Curia, Jose Cardinal Sanchez, with Archbishop Rex Andrew Alarcon being the latest addition. Moreover, the seminary has made significant contributions to the national historical heritage through figures like Jose Ma. Panganiban and Tomás Arejola, along with nine of the 15 Bikol Martyrs.

Beyond its role as an educational institution, the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary serves as a foundation for personal and spiritual growth, nurturing natural human virtues, fundamental religious values, Christian ethics, effective study habits, community engagement, and a profound respect for the priesthood.

P.O. Box 8710
Elias Angeles Street
Naga City 4400

+63 995 641 3123




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