THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: From a Convent to a Seminary

 In the 1930’s Parel had emerged as the main thorough fare that crossed Bombay from south to north. It was accessible by bus, tram and rail. The ‘Bishop’s Villa’ was located in a charmingly quiet environ sans congestion. Above all the Parel property belonged to the Archdiocese. With a ready – construction, spacious buildings and chapel, Parel appeared as the perfect possibility for the Bombay Seminary.

Nevertheless a problem had yet to be ironed out. Archbishop Joaquim Lima, with good grace, had to get the property back from the nuns. The sisters were not tenants. They had occupied the premises rent-free for nearly seventy years and their attachment to the property was understandable.

However, in perspective, in the 1930’s the situation of the Parel Convent was far different than the 1860’s. In seventy years the Nuns had established other schools in the city with their main residence at Byculla which also included a large boarding. Besides only a portion of the Parel grounds was utilized while a majority seemed to lie barren. Thus it was not unreasonable that Archbishop Lima felt that the Parel Institution be closed and the boarders and pupils moved to other schools conducted by the same congregation in the city.

The question to be tackled was – What counted more – The good of a particular congregation or that of the whole Archdiocese? Also while the former had alternate avenues, the latter seemed lost in its long and tortuous journey. To make matters worse, the Cardinal Prefect for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome was extremely alert to every aspect of the problem. Explanations and re-explanations had to be submitted; difficulties and objections squarely faced and satisfactorily resolved. All of this took years – but finally victory was in sight!

On October 25, 1934, Archbishop Lima announced at the Bhuleshwar Cathedral: ‘It has been settled that the Diocesan Seminary should be (located) in the present Parel Convent, a diocesan property which the Jesus and Mary nuns at considerable sacrifice have agreed to vacate. The Seminary will not start till 1936.’(The Examiner, 1934:525)

Intriguingly the announcement met with some unruly outbursts. Some suggested that the obvious place for the Bombay Seminary was Mount Mary’s while a Bombay Doctor warned that Parel was notoriously malarious and that it would be a tragedy to place the Bombay priests there. False rumours spread against the Bishop and articles were published. However nothing could deter the logical roll of events. A convent was converted into a Seminary for the greater good of the Archdiocese!    

Please feel free to share this story with others and your story of the Seminary with us! You will get regular updates at this blog site on this exhibition.

© – Archdiocesan Heritage Museum





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