THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: The Dark Ages
Post the treachery at the Fort Seminary, the new Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Fortini in 1841 appealed to Rome for a sound man to take charge of the Bombay Seminary. His precise prerequisites were –‘mature, discreet and of sound doctrine and good moral character.’ It is important to note that unlike his predecessors, Bishop Fortini took residence at Salvation Church, Dadar and not the Fort Chapel.
In 1846 the Fort Chapel buildings underwent renovation which compelled the transfer of the Seminary. The exact date of this transfer is not recorded and the exact location can be debated. However we do know that the Seminary was shifted ‘from Medows Street to the large and pleasant house, purchased as a villa house by Bishop Fortini in 1841 (at Parel).’ (Gense, 1960:161)
In 1849 Rome sent the ‘ideal’ Rector to Bombay in the person of Fra Carlos Giacinto but alas it was too late. Bishop Fortini was dead and was succeeded by the fractious Bishop Whelan. The new Vicar was determined to get rid of all the Italian Carmelites. Bishop Whelan rejected the Rector sent from Rome and procured his own Rector named Fr. Francis Menezes, a Redemptorist, possibly of Portuguese origin.
It is recorded that the Bishop ordained ‘seminarians wholesale’ without regard to learning or virtue and placed them in once responsible positions. His recall to Rome rendered no sigh of relief, for now the Bombay Seminary fell into the hands of the notorious Fr. Braz Fernandes who had taken possession of the Salvation Church by simony.
On March 28, 1850 Bishop Anastasius Hartmann took over as Vicar Apostolic of Bombay. He chose to reside at Fort. On May 9, 1850 he wrote to Propaganda stating: “The Seminary has neither Rector nor Professor, and everything is in such a mess that I do not know what to do.” The problems he faced were formidable. The melancholy of the Bombay Seminary surely merited remedial. Could Bishop Hartmann handle these hassles? We will find out in the next article.
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