THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: Howzat!

 The words ‘Seminary’ and ‘Sports’ can hardly be mentioned in the same breath. For isn’t the Seminary a supposed island of holiness, a field of prayer and a reservoir of theology? Can sports share any space in a pious place? The answer is a hearty yes! The formation of a seminarian includes over-all personality development and the Parel Seminary did believe that games provided not only healthy entertainment but also valuable insights into a seminarian’s character. Their motto was ‘mens sana in corpore sano’, Latin for ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’.

Games were compulsory for the Parel Seminarian. Volleyball, hockey, basketball, and football were played in the season. Long walks were mandatory on Thursdays. The seminarian had to enlist on the ‘Sport’s Board’ for the game of one’s choice. Even those who preferred the library to the playground were obliged to spend some time on the volleyball or the hockey field. For those who couldn’t play, regular physical exercises were highly recommended.

In the early years at Parel, some seminarians even played football with cassocks tucked around their waists. Republic day was usually celebrated with an annual Cricket Match. Very often the staff members also joined the seminarians in sports. During monsoons, the seminarians indulged in indoor games including badminton, table tennis, and carom.

The annual monsoon hike provided an excellent opportunity for adventure. The seminarians would often return with blistered feet but with a song in their hearts. Regardless of the time or circumstance, the Brother Infirmary would always be on his feet and treat the sick seminarians from scratch on the toe to fever in the brain.

Here is an interesting insight on the last cricket match organized at the Parel Seminary as recorded in its magazine ‘Fraternitas, 1960’ – ‘Republic Day was celebrated as usual with the flag hoisting ceremony followed up with a vociferous “Jana Gana Mana” – and then the annual Cricket Match. This year’s match was memorable in many ways. We played for the last time at Parel. The result, for the first time in history, was a draw. The number of causalities was almost as great as the score. Included among the casualties were two broken noses, a split-finger and a number of other things like broken window panes, cricket bats, bails, stumps, and so on…

As the Parel seminarians moved to the grander grounds of Goregaon the sports and the stories multiplied! Stay tuned as we unravel the storeys of stories!

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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