Matnog Seminary Video
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Matnog Seminary Video

S&I Annual Training Broadcast 2020

Richard Manahan: Matnog is one of the municipalities in the province of Sorsogon. It is the jump-off point from Luzon to the Visayas region. If Matnog is the gateway of millions of travelers from Luzon to Visayas and vice versa, seminary is just like a gateway as well to the seminary students to a better opportunity in life.

Alex Castidades: I am Alex Castidades, a seminary teacher and the new branch president of Matnog Branch. I would like to let everyone know that in the year 2012 the seminary program started with an enrollment of 22, and it continued to increase until this year. Our enrollment kept increasing every year, including our completion.

Richard Manahan: And so it continued; from 55 and up until today, there are now 110 students. In short, their enrollment is 100%. They were able to enroll all of the potential seminary students. They did that from 2015, ’16, ’17, ’18, ’19, all were almost 100%, because they believe that seminary can really change lives.

Edilberto Gabelo: I am Edilberto Gabelo of Matnog Branch. I was called as branch president six years ago. I reviewed our CMIS, our membership records. I found the list of youth who are potential seminary students. There were a lot of problems because nobody paid attention to seminary. I interviewed returned missionaries. First was Brother Alex. I got his commitment.

Richard Manahan: They were the brother and sister who were recommended to teach seminary. They were Brother Alex Castidades and Sister Margie. That’s where it really started, because I saw that they have the heart of the program.

Alex Castidades: The youth couldn’t attend seminary before, even institute. It was mainly because their families are not members of the Church. Secondly, it’s because they live far from the chapel.

Margie Adiong: As a new teacher I didn’t know the nature of my calling as a seminary teacher. It was very difficult to get the program started, especially when it came to encouraging the youth. They were so aloof at that time.

Edilberto Gabelo: I needed to have the influence of the Holy Ghost. That included asking for God’s guidance to be able to open the hearts of the youth, as well as the parents so they would give their commitment, their willingness, and their support for the youth.

Alex Castidades: As a seminary teacher back then, I joined the council meeting with the branch presidency and all the Church leaders, and it was there that we talked about what we should do first. One missionary suggested for the whole branch to fast, to help those who are lost.

Richard Manahan: We immediately agreed with each other. We had the same purpose, which was to reach out to them, because it’s the Church’s priority that as much as possible we have to sincerely invite all potential seminary students. And we did just that. We really went out and visited them all. Recruit, recruit, recruit, and then we also utilized the active seminary students to help us in the recruitment.

Stephanie Pantone: After class, we wait for each other at the gate of our school, and that’s where we meet to go to seminary class together.

Alex Castidades: I teach early morning class in this branch. I get up at 3:00 a.m. to prepare to go to the chapel for the 5:00 a.m. seminary class. I should be at the chapel before the students so I can prepare the materials that we will use in seminary. After seminary, I go straight to work. I travel for two hours from the chapel to my workplace. At first, I really had a hard time. And then in the afternoon, I should be back at the chapel in Matnog by 5:00 p.m. to teach seminary again. When I reach Matnog at 3:00 p.m., and if I still have time, I need to visit my seminary students and their parents. So in other words, I go around and visit my seminary students at home almost every day.

Margie Adiong: So he was called to be the daily seminary teacher, and then I became the home-study teacher. It was hard to focus on the youth, especially those who live far away—not only meters away but several kilometers away from the chapel. You need to visit them in their homes so they can participate in the seminary program. Now I have 23 home-study students, and I visit them one by one each week.

Richard Manahan: We cannot underestimate the potential of the person. I see them as really very precious sons and daughters of God. I am really convinced that the program can really change their lives. That’s why we are very passionate about the program. So far, they have 12 missionaries who left this year, and they will have more.

Margie Adiong: The leaders are doing a lot of things like creating activities for the youth so they can bond with each other, and at the same time they can promote the seminary program to them.

Erica Villareal: I am greatly blessed by seminary because it strengthened my faith and helped me to be strong and to rely on the strength of the Lord.

Arnold Cariso: I am preparing myself to go on a mission by attending seminary.

Margie Adiong: I am really happy! To see that some of the youth need the care—I’m also a mother, and I want them to feel loved. Whenever a student is not able to attend class, I feel unhappy because I know there’s a problem, and I want to reach out to them and find out why. So even if they live far, I do my best to visit them to show them that they are important and that they are special.

Richard Manahan: Like I said, I would not be surprised if one day many of these young people will become leaders of the Church in this area and maybe in the district.

Participants:

Richard Manahan

Seminary and Institute Coordinator

Alex Castidades

Seminary Teacher

Edilberto Gabelo

Former Branch President

Margie Adiong

Home-Study Seminary Teacher

Stephanie Pantone

Seminary Student

Erica Villareal

Seminary Student

Arnold Cariso

Seminary Student