The long road to Goregaon commenced amidst conflict, confusion and controversies rooted in history and fostered by politics.
It is important to note that up until 1720 the Catholic Churches on the Islands of Bombay, Salsette and Bassein came under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Goa. The priests serving these territories were either trained in Goa or abroad. The ‘seminaries’ that existed at Bassein, Thane, Bandra, Karanja and Mount Poinsur were far from the modern sense of the word.
The Bombay Island was passed into the hands of British in 1665. On May 24, 1720, the British issued a Decree expelling the Portuguese Franciscans (the sole missionaries) from Bombay Island thus ending the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Goa. The British then approached the Vicar-Apostolic of the Great Mogul, the Italian Carmelite Bishop Fra Mauritius to take charge of the four churches on the Island namely – Our Lady of Hope, Our Lady of Glory, Our Lady of Salvation and St. Michael’s. This political action was met with great resistance by the pro Portuguese Catholics in Bombay.
The English reversed their decision and re-reversed it until in 1794 they introduced what is called the Double Jurisdiction of the four Bombay Churches. The Church of Our Lady of Glory and Our Lady of Salvation were under the Archbishop of Goa namely Padroado while the Church of Our Lady of Hope and St Michael’s came under the Vicar Apostolic or the Propaganda.
But how do these factors affect the Bombay Seminary? Well, while the Padroado Churches were provided with the necessary personnel the Propaganda Churches faced a shortage of clergy. This disparity is turn worsened the woes of the Double Jurisdiction. It prompted the Vicar to consider building ‘their own seminary to form their own clergy’. The attempts abounded for several years, resulting in still-born or inadequate institutions. By Divine Providence in 1960 the Church in Bombay finally gave birth to the Goregaon Seminary!
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Fr. Warner D'Souza is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Bombay. He has served in the parishes of St Michael's (Mahim), St Paul's (Dadar East), Our Lady of Mount Carmel, (Bandra), a ten year stint as priest-in-charge at St Jude Church (Malad East) and at present is the Parish Priest at St Stephen's Church (Cumballa Hill). He is also the Director of the Archdiocesan Heritage Museum and is the co-ordinator of the Committee for the Promotion and Preservation of the Artistic and Historic Patrimony of the Church.