With every passing year, the challenges at the Parel Seminary increased. Besides, Parel too had ceased to be Parel. The once quiet grounds were now a twenty-four-hour rendezvous of all kinds of folks. The area was congested and noisy. Above all, due to the soot and dirt of mills, the situation was dangerously unhealthy. The future seemed bleak.
However even amidst the edging uncertainty, a ray of hope flickered. The appointment of the first Indian Archbishop in 1950 and subsequently the consecration of the first Indian Cardinal in 1952 yielded fortunes for the Bombay Seminary. Valerian Cardinal Gracias was utterly predisposed to shepherd his Seminary into the Promised Land.
A little over a month after receiving his red hat from Pope Pius XII, the Cardinal called for a special meeting of the Diocesan Council on February 26, 1953. The purpose was to discuss and, if possible, to resolve once and for all, the future of the Bombay Seminary.
The meeting was eventful indeed. It included onboard the right persons namely the Treasurer of the Archdiocese, the Jesuit Superior, the Rector of the Seminary, and some leading members of the Staff. The advantages and disadvantages of Parel were meticulously analyzed and it was finally decided that the Seminary needed to move to the suburbs. Andheri was no longer an option and for the benefit of all, this procedure had to take its due time.
However, a solution was to be found to relieve the present congestion in the Parel Seminary. It was suggested that part of the Seminary be provisionally shifted to a convenient place immediately. It was at this juncture that Msgr. Placidus Edward Fernandes, then Rector of Mount Mary’s Shrine, stood up and placed an astonishing yet benevolent offer – the Seminary was welcome to use the recently constructed Pilgrim House opposite the Shrine.
‘When they saw that the Monsignor was not talking lightly, the Council members quickly lapped up the offer, before he could have second thoughts about it the next morning.’ (Ratus, Leslie, 1986)
And thus in June 1953, the whole Theological Department, students, professors, and part of the library was moved to Bandra Pilgrim House which soon came to be called the ‘Theological College.’ The Rector resided at Parel and had two Ministers under him, one for the Parel community and the other for the community at Bandra, and each resided in his respective domains. A few members of the teaching staff had to commute between Parel and Bandra to conduct lectures at both places.
During these years (1953 – 1960), the two communities of the Bombay Seminary also had their reunions: for the Rector’s Picnic, the Sacerdotal Ordination and Lunch, the Annual Pilgrimage to the Mount, and at Khandala for Diwali vacations.
Before closing the eventful meeting of February 26, 1953, the Diocesan authorities pledged to scout the suburbs and evaluate the proposed sites. After seven years the final destination was reached. No prizes for guessing where!
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