UST Vice Rector Fr. Pablo Tiong, O.P. and Central Seminary Rector Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner, O.P. (third and second from left), together with representatives from San Carlos Seminary strike a pose during the passing of the Kapatiran Cross.FOLLOWING Christ and His works continues to inspire the missionary ideals of the Seminarians’ Network of the Philippines (SemNet) whose members vowed to strengthen the priestly vocation during its general assembly held last Feb. 7 at the Central Seminary.

Anchored on the theme “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,” the SemNet General Assembly, also known as Kapatiran 2009, gathered an estimated 500 theologian seminarians from 20 seminaries all over the country. In attendance were students from the Immaculate Conception School of Theology, San Jose Major Seminary, San Carlos Seminary, San Pablo Theological Formation House, Holy Rosary Major Seminary, St. John the Evangelist School of Theology, and St. Francis Xavier Regional Seminary of Mindanao, among others.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti and the first Filipino Papal Nuncio, presided over the celebration to open the assembly.

Nueva Ecija bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, homilist of the opening mass, touched on the decreasing number of aspiring messengers of the Holy Word and urged seminarians to take on the challenge of continuing Christ’s work..

“The sin of ignorance has made our people unaware of God’s word,” Vergara said. “We need more people who can battle against this ignorance.”

Vergara told the seminarians: “Preach the Gospel in order to feel the urgency of the mission, which is the conversion of our countrymen to Christianity.”

SemNet was established in 1992, when Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., in cooperation with the San Jose Seminary, UST Central Seminary, San Carlos Seminary and other seminaries in Tagaytay. They collaborated with NAMFREL, Radio Veritas and other public organizations to help facilitate the 1992 elections, the first since democracy was restored six years earlier.

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Again in the 1998 elections, SemNet deployed seminarians as field reporters for Radio Veritas. They reported on incidents of vote buying and other election anomalies.

After the impeachment of former president Joseph Estrada in 2000, SemNet began to institutionalize itself. by producing its mission and vision, and constituting its bylaws. SemNet continues to hold voters’ education campaigns and other programs that seek to intensify people’s involvement in the electoral process.

The first gathering of the reconstituted SemNet was held at the UST Central Seminary on Feb. 24, 2001.

Like Christ

Fr. Enrico Gonzales, O.P., dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, expressed in his talk titled “Imaging Christ” that the clergy must still treat each other as brothers for they were all made the same in the image and likeness of God.

“In His likeness, we share the same vocation toward achieving our duties as Christians,” he said.

“As living memorials of God on earth, the challenge that is set for us today is how we should see ourselves and our brothers as images of Christ,” Gonzales added.

UST Rector Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., in presiding the solemn vespers for the seminarians, said that for the seminary to attract more people who would like to express their faith on a higher level, it should first exercise “poverty.”

“Poverty is to be not afraid to lose anything,” he said. “To lose everything would impoverish our spirit and to be poor in spirit, we could attract more people to God.”

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