One serious problem the Diocese had to contend with was the shortage of clergy to take care of its thousands of Catholics in its growing number of parishes Secular priests from other dioceses, and even foreign priests were being welcomed as guest priests, and those who opted to stay for good were incardinated into the Diocese. However, this was only a stopgap solution and a more reliable way to make the Diocese self-sufficient in clergy had to be established. It is a truism that for a diocese to survive and grow it must produce its own priests. So the Holy See, in appointing Bishop Pedro N Bantigue as the first Bishop of the Diocese, made it his obligation Tonerato conscientio to establish a seminary to train and educate its clergy.
Following its canonical erection on November 28, 1966, the Diocese of San Pablo began its ecclesiastical functions and ministries under the leadership of its first Bishop Most Rev. Pedro Bantigue, J.C.D., D.D. In its early years of existence, the diocese established the San Pablo minor Seminary in response to the felt need for vocation to the priesthood. This site, with a total land area of 32,949 square meters, was donated by PAZ CORNISTA CATIPON to the ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC DIOCESE OF SAN PABLO on June 05, 1967.
In 1981, a major seminary was established. Named ST. PETER’S COLLEGE SEMINARY, to emphasize the bond of faithful obedience rendered by the diocese to St. Peter the Apostle and his successors. It was inaugurated on July 06, 1981 under the administration of its first Rector, Most Rev. Msgr. Elias O. Poblete, J.C.D., M.Ed., Ph.D., with 29 seminarians. In the first three years, the major seminary was housed at the back of Liceo de San Pablo building. In the school year 1985-1986, after the minor seminary was phased out, the College Department and the Institute of Formation were transferred to their present site.
It all began with the problem that no major seminary in the country could admit the graduates from Saint Peter’s College Seminary all at the same time unless they were housed elsewhere. For instance, the eleven graduates of batch 1985 who entered Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay were kindly accommodated by the La Sallete Fathers in their formation house in Silang, Cavite.
In that same year, the Diocese of San Pablo bought a one-hectare lot adjacent to the Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay, and the nipa vacation house bought along with the lot was remodeled and enlarged to accommodate the students. During the school year 1986 – 1987, the Diocese had twenty-one theology students in the new formation house.
The Formation house was first named after St. Paul the first Hermit, who is the Patron Saint of the Diocese. Later, in 1988, the house was named after St. Paul the Apostle who, as the first great theologian of the Church is surely a model for the theological studies of the seminarians. During the school year 1995-1996, the Spiritual-Pastoral Formation year (SPFY) started with Fr. Rey Hayag as SPFY director.