High dropout rate hits seminaries

Published by rudy Date posted on April 18, 2009

DAGUPAN CITY , Philippines  – Only 10 out of 100 seminarians go on to become priests, and of those ordained, two percent would usually ask for dispensation.

This was according to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who served as rector of San Carlos Seminary for 10 years and as spiritual director of the Guadalupe Seminary for five years. Cruz had also served as a professor in different seminaries.

“More or less I know from our statistical findings – and I do believe it is still correct – that for every 100 who enter the seminary, only 10 percent become priests, 90 percent leave on their own or they are advised to leave or they are told to leave,” Cruz told The STAR yesterday.

“There must be a thousand and one reasons for that (leaving the seminary) but basically they feel that they are not meant for the priesthood so on their own they leave,” he said.

He said a seminary considers many factors before asking any of its students to leave.

He said a seminarian may be asked to leave for being a loner, for poor academic performance, for being ill-tempered, or for being soft or “gay-like.”

But Cruz said seminary administrators resort to expulsion only as a last resort because a seminary’s main purpose is to form priests and build up the character of aspirants.

“Advising seminarians to leave is a most painful task and I know because I was there before,” Cruz said.

“The thing is that even after all those years of study, of evaluation, of counseling, of guidance from the seminary and they become priests, of this 10 percent (who become priests) about two percent leave,” he said.

“They left and they are asking to be dispensed from their obligations and I am the one that many bishops ask to do the process for them,” he said.

He said he does not know how many of those who left their priestly vocation were homosexuals, although he remembered one such case in his archdiocese.

He said there must be a distinction between being effeminate and being homosexual.

He said it does not worry him that only three seminarians who graduated last March from the Mary Help of Christians College Seminary in Bonuan under the Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese would pursue their Theology studies in Vigan this June. He said this has always been the case.

He said education in the seminary is rigorous and needs much discipline.

“It is important that a seminarian has a good Philosophy foundation to prepare him for his Theology course. You cannot just have that by memorizing,” he said.

“As far as I am concerned, and this has been my position as a bishop, I’d rather have one good priest than a 100 bad ones,” he said.

He said parents may advise but not force their sons to enter the seminary.

He said there are three factors that inspire priestly vocation in a young man – closeness to his church where he practices his catechism or performs religious activities, good examples from parents, and admiration for a good parish.

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