Photo gallery: ‘New normal’ seminary formation for future Filipino priests amid pandemic

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a Catholic seminary in the central Philippines has adapted to the so-called “new normal” in the formation of future priests.

High school seminarians in the Diocese of Borongan are attending classes, praying, meditating, and even holding recreation activities in their homes.

Seminarian Joshua Ray Mabilangan, a Grade 12 seminarian of the Nativity of Our Lady College Seminary, is one of those undergoing “online learning” by religious following a schedule set by the formators.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” said Mabilangan, adding that it is “very demanding” because of a lot of “paper work” and reading material.

In May, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen Dagupan, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Seminaries, issued new guidelines for seminary formation during the pandemic.

The guidelines state that online classes are not applicable all the time for seminary formation and urge academic deans to “study prudently” which subjects can be taught online.

Archbishop Villegas said seminarians need to be accompanied in their pastoral, spiritual, and human formation “in the context of community accompaniment.”

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