THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: Ordinations
The Sacerdotal Ordinations marks the climax of Seminary formation. ‘It is this goal which sustains the students through his ups and downs, through his mountain and valley experiences, through the bright mornings and the dark nights of his soul!’
During the sixty years of its existence, the Goregaon Seminary has contributed to the training of several hundreds of diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of Bombay. So does this ‘Seminary Graduation’ also hold a history? Let’s explore this story of the Bombay Seminary.
On December 21, 1946, at the Church of St. Peter’s Bandra, Valerian Gracias, the then newly consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay conferred the Sacred Priesthood on Fathers Andrew Dias, Jonathan Dias, Rudolph D’Souza, and Blaise Nazareth. Factually this was the first batch of seminarians to complete all their ecclesiastical studies in the Diocesan Seminary of Bombay.
In the Parel-Bandra Era, due to the inadequacy of space at the Parel Seminary, the annual Sacerdotal Ordinations were held at several venues. The extensive and impressive St. Peters’s Church, Bandra was most often chosen for the ceremony (1946, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1957). However, the interplay of several factors also shifted the venue to other sites. For example – the Gloria Church, Byculla (1947, 1956); St Francis Xavier Church, Vile Parle (1948), St. Andrew’s Church, Bandra (1952), St Mary’s High School Grounds, Mazagaon (1959) and the then Pro-Cathedral (1950).
In the Marian Year (1954), the Ordinations were held at the Basilica of Mount Mary, Bandra, and in the Lourdes Centenary year (1958) they were held on the St. Xavier’s High School Grounds, Dhobitalao. It is interesting to note that the Parel grounds also held an open-air ceremony in 1942 wherein five priests were ordained by Archbishop Thomas Roberts.
The Goregaon Seminary is blessed with a beautiful and spacious Chapel. And so from 1960 to 1963 ordinations were held in the Community Chapel. It is important to note the names of the first group of seminarians ordained in the Community Chapel at Goregoan, The Ordination Ceremony was held on December 12, 1960. Valerian Cardinal Gracias conferred the Sacred Priesthood on Fathers Percival J. Fernandez (now Bishop Emeritus), Noel C. Britto, Bento Cardozo, Casimiro D’Mello, Anthony V. Dsouza, Brian E. Fernandes, Sydney C. Fernandes, German Lemos, Dominic F. Pereira, and Anthony Vaz.
On December 2, 1964, during the 38th International Eucharistic Congress, nine deacons of the Bombay Seminary (seven for Bombay) along with deacons from different seminaries of India were ordained priests on the Oval Grounds by the first African Cardinal, Lucien Rugambwa. Interestingly, this was the first evening Ordination service ever held in Bombay – a reflection of the liturgical changes of Vatican II. Thereafter, the Ordination ceremony is held in the evenings.
In the following year, due to a large group of thirteen men, the Ordination Ceremony was moved from the Seminary Chapel to the lawn outside the Seminary building. In due course, the Ordination Ceremony has become a proper ‘diocesan event.’ However in 1971, due to the Indo-Pakistan hostilities, the Ordination Ceremony was shifted to the Seminary Chapel.
Ordinations, in the past, were usually held between December and April, around the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle or at the end of the Academic year i.e. between the month of the student’s last year in the Seminary and his last month in it. However, since 1975, the Sacramental Ordinations in the Seminary have been permanently shifted to April at the end of the student’s formation in the Seminary.
In conclusion, let us whisper a prayer for all our ordained priests and our deacons ordinatus namely Deacons Cedric Rosario, Cliffton Mendonca, Frankie Crasto, Godfrey Malu, Joseph David, and Kelvin Santis.
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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