History of Colegio de San Jose / San Jose Seminary
From its foundation by the Society of Jesus in the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Colegio de San Jose, as San Jose Seminary was formerly named, was an institution with an aim “to instruct and train the youth in virtue and learning … and to train ministers of the Gospel for which there is great need in this land.”
It was Jesuit Father Pedro Chirino, then Rector of Colegio de Manila, who was the first organizer of the Colegio de San Jose–if not its founder. Colegio de San Jose was opened on August 1 and was formally inaugurated on the 25th of August 1601. Latin grammar and “cases of conscience” were taught. Luis Gomes was the first rector.
The San Jose scholars attended lectures at the Colegio de Manila, but they held review sessions in their own residence, thus giving the San Jose residents an advantage over the day scholars who had no such opportunities for better learning.
In 1722, the King of Spain conferred upon the Colegio de San Jose the title “royal” (real in Spanish); it then prided itself with the title “El Real Colegio de San Jose.”
In 1768, the royal orders issued the previous year by King Carlos III of Spain, which concerned the expulsion of the Jesuits from all his territories and the confiscation of their possessions, arrived in Manila. The Colegio de San Jose continued to function under the administration of the diocesan clergy of Manila.
In October 1875, the King of Spain granted the petition of the Dominican Procurator that the building and endowment of Colegio de San Jose be given to the University of Santo Tomas to be used by the university’s faculty of medicine and pharmacy. By this time, the college had been relocated. From its original site, where the Jesuits had built it near the Puerta Real facing Bagumbayan Field where it had remained for over two centuries, the college moved in 1817 to the corner of Magallanes and Real Streets, and in 1877, to the corner of Anda and Cabildo where it remained until 1915.
The announcement in May 1910 that the Pope had ordered the restoration of the Colegio de San Jose estate to the Jesuits who were to administer it for the purposes specified by the donor (i.e., the training of priests) caused an immediate violent reaction at Santo Tomas. The students of medicine and pharmacy went on strike and paraded the streets. Finally, a cablegram from Rome persuaded the Dominican Fathers to put an end to the demonstrations, and a more sober dialogue became possible.
It was in 1915, that the Colegio de San Jose was reopened under Jesuit administration. It had to be housed in borrowed quarters, in a large building owned by the Society of Jesus in Ermita along Padre Faura Street.
In June 15, 1915, the Colegio de San Jose reestablished itself as Escuela Apostolica (Apostolic School)-–a minor seminary intended to prepare students for a major seminary. The curriculum was that of the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum: Latin, Greek, Spanish, English, Mathematics, and History, graded as in the Ratio: infima, media, suprema, humanidades, rhetorica. It was the same curriculum being employed by the Ateneo, minus philosophy and natural sciences.
There were fourteen students in the initial infima class, a number raised to twenty-three by September. Of those 23 boys who entered San Jose in 1915, five became priests, three diocesan and two Jesuit. The diocesan priests were Fathers Felix David, Emilio Gutierrez, and Eulogio San Juan. The Jesuits were Fathers Pedro Dimaano and Juan Gaerlan. A sixth became a Jesuit lay brother, Brother Julio Dio.
In 1921, the Colegio de San Jose became both a major and a minor seminary, with separate dormitories and study halls. The Colegio remained at Padre Faura for seventeen years from 1915 to 1932. During the first twelve years or so, it was under the Spanish Jesuits and, though the language of instruction was Latin in theology and philosophy, Spanish was the language in everything else. Gradually, the change was made to American administration and, while Latin remained the language for philosophy and theology, English replaced Spanish as the official language of the school.
In August 1932, the Ateneo in Intramuros burned down. San Jose was temporarily housed in the Jesuit Mission House at Intramuros, adjacent to San Ignacio Church. There it remained for four years until its new building was erected. It was at this time that the name Colegio de San Jose was dropped, and the institution became known as San Jose Seminary.
In 1936, the Seminary moved to a newly opened housing subdivision in Balintawak. The seminary remained there for five years until the outbreak of war in 1941 when the entire seminary community moved into the Ateneo compound on Padre Faura Street. There, classes in theology resumed. In 1943, the Japanese took over the Ateneo building, and the seminarians who were studying theology moved with the Jesuit scholastics to the large building of the Vincentians on San Marcelino Street where the theology classes continued. When the Japanese took over that building also, the Jesuits moved elsewhere and the seminarians were sent home.
During the Liberation period from 1945 to about 1950, the seminary reopened in Santa Ana, in several rented houses beside the grounds of La Ignaciana. In 1951, the seminary moved to its new location on Highway 54, popularly known as EDSA.
In 1957, the first Filipino rector was appointed, Father Antonio Leetai, succeeding the last American rector, Father Gaston Duchesneau. In 1964, Father Leetai was succeeded by Father Jesus Diaz who, the following year, presided over the transfer to Loyola Heights. With the creation of Loyola House of Studies and the Loyola School of Theology and Philosophy in 1965, San Jose Seminary was divided into two separate colleges, each with its own rector. The minor seminary remained on Highway 54 and later moved to Novaliches where it was finally dissolved. The major seminary moved to Loyola Heights, occupying at first, one wing of the Loyola House of Studies building, until the present seminary building was completed.
With the relocation to Loyola Heights, San Jose Seminary reverted to the original status of the Colegio de San Jose in Intramuros under the Jesuits. Once again, it became a residential college where the seminarians live in community and undergo spiritual and pastoral formation while attending classes at the Ateneo de Manila or at the Loyola School of Theology.