“In 1953 as a desperate measure, the theologians were shifted to the ‘Pilgrim House’ at Mount Mary’s’, Bandra, but soon even this became too small. We have now reached a pitch when we can hardly wait anymore. At this distressing juncture, God has come to our aid.”
On June 13, 1958, as H.E. Valerian Cardinal Gracias penned down the above words at Archbishop’s House, he rested back in awe and gratitude at the wonders of the Lord. For centuries Bombay had fostered a dream that embraced the very life of the diocese. The struggle for the Bombay Seminary was real and the dream drifted along the deserted path. But who can fathom the ways of the Lord? Who can understand the time set for every purpose under heaven? As memories of the past flooded the room, the Cardinal silently repeated – ‘God has come to our aid.’
What was this divine assistance that the Cardinal referred to?
‘When in October 1955 His Eminence Cardinal Gracias went to the United States, accompanied by Msgr. V. Dyer, he got a wonderful reception all over the country from the American hierarchy who had invited him. A memento of this visit is the offer of help towards the building of our new seminary. Archbishop Cushing was so encouraging and generous that he put heart into the move, and gave very substantial aid. The most prominent names that come to mind are Cardinal Spellman of New York, Cardinal Mooney of Detroit, Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles, and the late Cardinal Stritch of Chicago.’
‘How did this donation to the Seminary come about? Our Cardinal was there on a purely social invitation. His absorption in the US Seminaries, when shown around, was natural. In every diocese, the Seminary occupies pride of place in the bishop’s heart. Tell us something about the Bombay Seminary, was how these visits wound up, and that led to this very noble offer of help.’ (Mascarenhas, 1958, 33)
The liberal contributions encouraged a new determination. The money at hand would defray only part of the building cost but the Cardinal was confident that his household, the Catholics of Bombay, would not lag in generosity. On return from the US, the Cardinal called for a meeting of the Diocesan Council (January 7, 1956) at which the proposed sites were considered and studied. These included Parel and an apparent plot of 135 acres situated to the west of Kandivali. But the Cardinal refused to rush and asked for a more careful study. Further explorations were to be made in the vicinity of Goregaon, Jogeshwari, etc.
One month later the much-awaited thrilling news was discovered and disclosed. Stay tuned to know more!
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