In this article, we delve deep into the diary of one of the most-challenged Vicar of Bombay, namely Bishop Anastasius Hartmann. He saved the Bombay Seminary from shipwreck and the Church from stagnation. Here’s a sneak peek into Bishop Hartmann’s Hassles:
March 28, 1850 – Bishop Hartmann takes over as the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay. On arrival, he finds the Seminary in a chaotic mess. It had no rector, no professor, and five students on the roll!
May 1850 – Hartmann recalls the Carmelites to Bombay and appoints Fra Mauritius, Rector of the Seminary. The new Rector was fairly good and the Bishop was well-pleased. Unfortunately, Fra Mauritius’s services ended prematurely for he was deputed to Belgaum.
November 1850 – The situation worsens. The Seminary is exposed to the rebellious spirit of Fr. Braz Fernandes who had taken possession over the Salvation Church by simony. Within a few months, the Church moves over to the Padroado camp.
April 1851 – Amidst turmoil, Bishop Hartmann refused to shut down the Seminary. He appoints the Spanish Carmelite, Fr. Joseph Lopez, Rector, and Vicar of the loyal remnants of the Parish of Salvation Church.
April 16, 1852 – Archbishop Hartmann notes with relief, ‘Things are beginning to take shape. There are now twelve students in the Seminary and Father Thomas of the Passion is doing quite well as its Rector.’
August 30, 1852 – The Archbishop continues to state optimistically ‘I have admitted seven new Seminarians…There are two professors in the Seminary, one for Latin and the other for the remaining subjects so that the Seminary is really improving.’
But Alas! Good times hardly seemed to last for the Seminary!
October 6, 1852 – Six senior students of the Seminary sent the Bishop an impertinent Memorial, listing their grievances with immediate redress. They demanded that the defamed pro-Padroado, Rebel Rector – Fr Rozario be reinstalled and the Carmelite professors expelled.
Bishop Hartmann was in for no-nonsense. He dismissed the six students immediately. In order to save the Seminary from the Padroado – Propaganda conflict, the Bishop transferred it to Surat, 176 miles north of Bombay to a little Carmelite Convent then near the banks of the Tapi River.
In exile, would the Bombay Seminary survive? Stay tuned as we traverse through its troubled waters.
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