THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: AT FORT: The First Failure

THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: AT FORT: The First Failure

 For seven years the Bombay Seminary shared its quarters with the Bishop’s House. However the Vicar, Bishop Charles, was dissatisfied with the arrangement. In 1775 he sought permission from Propaganda to build an independent Seminary. The reply dated September 28, 1776 listed the following instructions among others:

  1. Let a house be rented and Propaganda would pay the rent

  2. Antonio Pinto da Gloria (previously sent to Rome for further studies) would serve as a qualified professor

  3. If this initiative succeeded, Propaganda promised to envision a better plan to establish an independent Seminary.

Through this we can surmise that 1777 was the year when the Bombay Seminary moved out of the Bishop’s quarters and was lodged in a rented house on Meadows Street. Towards 1778 Fr Antonio returned to serve as the only full-time professional staff! His teaching stint lasted for around seven years. Fr Antonio was then appointed Parish Priest of Salvation Church, Dadar.

The Seminary, a day school, failed to flourish. It lacked good staff and students. The Vicar Apostolic was aware that the ordained were a ‘miserable lot’. This did not skip the eye of the Padroado camp as well. Goa felt the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay was shamefully lowering the dignity of priesthood.

‘An example…may be seen from the following. Since those were the days when Latin was regarded essential to the priesthood, the fact that the newly-ordained…struggled through the reading of their Latin Breviary was a scandal. In discouragement, Bishop Charles appealed to Rome that they be dispensed from reciting the Divine Office and allowed to say the fifteen decades of the Rosary instead! Rome promptly disallowed the petition; instead, the Vicar Apostolic was counselled: “As regards the ignorant priests who want to drop the Office for lack of education and ignorance of Latin, instruct them with patience; and in future, be careful to ordain only those who have knowledge as well as piety.”’ Ratus, Leslie, ‘Miles to go…promises to keep’, 1986, Examiner Press, Bombay

In 1789, the Bombay Church was reversed to the jurisdiction of Goa and the Carmelites were expelled by the British. Thus ended the first experiment of the Bombay Seminary.

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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