News Release

Roman Catholic Seminarians Meet Missionaries, Tour MTC

Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with theology students from the San Carlos Seminary Graduate School of Theology in a virtual interreligious encounter on July 27. This yearly interfaith event is part of a concerted effort to build good relationships between future leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ.

Headed by Reverend Father Richard James Babao, the third-year theology students had a meaningful ecumenical dialogue with 26 missionaries from the Philippines Quezon City Mission presided by President and Sister Welch. With this year's theme being "One Heart and One Mind: A Virtual Interreligious Activity", the goal of the activity was to create an atmosphere of increased understanding between the seminarians and the missionaries as fellow disciples of Christ. 

Speaking about the purpose of this interreligious encounter, Rev. Fr. Babao said, "This I believe, is one of the best things I have ever done in the field of ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. It is easy to speak about interfaith and ecumenical relations, it is different when you're facing them unprepared and not open to them. I don't want the seminarians to go out after their graduation without experiencing this most beautiful thing - meeting these good and beautiful people. This encounter is a blessing for all of us. Even with our differences, there's just so much to share."

The visit allowed the theology students to interact with the missionaries and learn about their basic beliefs.

Two sister missionaries, Sister Junio and Sister Moran introduced and testified about the Bicentennial Proclamation, a document that contains the core Latter-day Saint doctrine. This document was presented by the Church's president, President Russell M. Nelson during the 2020 April General Conference in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Prophet Joseph Smith's First Vision.

Following the testimony of the sisters, Brother Idris Francisco, a theology student, presented to the group the basic beliefs and doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Brother Patrick Luke, a third-year seminarian, expressed his appreciation to the participants. He shared, "On my part, hindi ko naramdaman na [iba] kami sa inyo. Yung mga activities niyo [has made us feel na] welcome na welcome kami. Nung una, honestly, kinakabahan ako kasi first time ko makaexperience ng interfaith dialogue. Yung kaba ko napalitan ng galak dahil as if hindi ko naramdaman na magkaiba tayo ng religion. Yung experience ko ay [parang] isang pamilya at magkakapatid [tayo] kay Jesucristo. (On my part, I did not feel that we were different from you. Your activities have made us feel very welcomed. To be honest, at first I felt nervous because this was my first time attending an interfaith dialogue. But my nervousness was replaced with joy because I did not feel that we belonged to different religions. Instead I felt that we were one family - brothers and sisters in Christ.)"

President Welch also shared the joys of hosting the seminarian delegation this year despite the pandemic. He said, "We [are] so grateful to have been invited to participate with you and your wonderful colleagues...  We are thankful that you would be so kind as to reach out to us in such a warm and heartfelt spirit of genuine friendship and love.  You both exemplify, as did each seminarian with whom we were privileged to interact, authenticity, goodness, and kindness.  We count you truly brothers in Christ and friends." 

The interreligious encounter was followed by a virtual tour of the Philippines Missionary Training Center (MTC) led by Brother Flores, an MTC teacher. Included in the tour were the missionary quarters, the salon, mailroom, laundry room, gym, the cafeteria and the famous NBA-standard-sized basketball court. 

Each year, Reverend Father Richard Babao brings graduating theology students to the Church’s Manila office to meet with full-time missionaries, tour the MTC and the Temple Grounds. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these visits are currently done virtually. This interfaith activity is a way to foster good relationships with other religious groups. This is the 6th year that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has hosted seminarian students for an interreligious encounter.

Interfaith Efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world’s faiths is one of the hallmarks of Latter-day Saint doctrine. From the earliest days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith elevated the principle of religious liberty and tolerance: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11).

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