A Brieft History of ICST
It was Bishop Francisco Alban, OP who founded the Seminario de San Pablo in 1822. The good Bishop saw the serious lack of co-workers in the missionary endeavor of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia which was then made up of the whole northernmost frontier of the archipelago. He started the construction of a seminary in the center of town south of the Vigan Cathedral for the training of young men for presbyteral service in Northern Luzon. In 1867, the seminary was placed under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception.
From its foundation, the seminary was served by priests and brothers from different Religious Orders and Congregations. First to serve as formators were the Dominicans who stayed from 1840 to 1872. Next came the Vincentians who served from 1872 to 1876. The Augustinians came in 1876 to serve until 1898. In 1896, the seminary was closed down because of the onslaught of the Philippine Revolution. It was opened on December 17, 1898 but barely a year later, it closed down because of the coming of the American Forces who used the seminary as their headquarters. The seminary was re-opened only in 1904 under the care and direction of the Jesuits who served as formators from 1905 to 1925. The task of running the seminary was transferred next to the Fathers of the Society of the Divine Word. The SVDs served as formators from 1925 to 1987 during which time, the seminary experienced significant progress. The whole seminary compound housed the three departments: Minor, Philosophy and Theology.
Old folks in Vigan still remember with nostalgia the old seminario with its veladas, the famous Orchestra, the Schola Cantorum and the once-a-week paseos.
Soon after the war, the construction of a new seminary building began. A sprawling four-hectare lot in Pantay Daya, Vigan was chosen as site for the new seminary. In 1952, the Philosophy and Theology departments were transferred from the old to the new seminary. However, it was only in October 7, 1953 during its inauguration that it was given the new name, Immaculate Conception Major Seminary. The old seminary continued to house the minor seminarians until 1965. On January 7, 1968, the old and venerable seminary was gutted down by fire after 146 years of serving the needs of the Northern Luzon Church.
In 1976, the Philosophy Department was transferred to San Pablo Seminary in Baguio City which carried the original name given by Bishop Alban.
In 1982 the Seminary became the Immaculate Conception School of Theology and a Regional Seminary for Northern Luzon.
In 1985, the Immaculate Conception School of Theology requested to be affiliated with the Faculty of Sacred Theology of the University of Santo Tomas, Manila for the granting of the degree of Bachelor in Sacred Theology. Through the initiative and efforts of the Most Rev. Jose T. Sanchez, DD, then Archbishop of Nueva Segovia (representing ICST in the “Conventio Ad Affiliandum”) and the Very Rev. Fr. Norberto Castillo, OP, Rector Magnificus of the UST, Manila (representing the Faculty of Sacred Theology of the same university), the Congregatio Pro Institutione Catholica granted the affiliation of ICST with UST, Faculty of Sacred Theology “Ad Quinquennium Experimenti Gratia” on the 5th of October 1985.
Two years after in 1987, the SVD Fathers handed the seminary over to the care of the Diocesan Clergy. The SVD’s stay of 62 years was the longest of all the religious congregations who served the seminary.
Since the take over of the diocesan clergy, different innovations have already been made. A vision-mission statement was formulated in 1990.
The Spiritual Formation Year (SFY), which was begun in the 70’s, became a non-academic year in 1994. And in the Formation Year 2006-2007, the seminarians were grouped into communities according to region, this shift in seminary program was called the Paradigm Shift.
On February 13, 2009, ICST was granted by the Commission on Higher Education a Government Permit (GP) to conduct and operate the Master of Arts in Theology Major in Systematic Theology (Thesis Track) and Master in Pastoral Ministry Major in Pastoral Management (Non-Thesis Track) Programs effective School Year 2009-10. Later, on April 30, 2010, Government Recognition (GR) was granted effective School Year 2010-11.