THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: The Parel Problem

 The Seminary at Parel was the Village in the Valley, the new Seminary at Goregaon is surely the Castle on the Hill. The way up-hill is never easy. It involves unchartered territories, strenuous strides, fearless faith, and quiet perseverance. The journey to Goregaon was similar but what set the Bombay Seminary on the road again? Here are a few factors to consider:

The Space Crunch  

This is vividly vouched for by the statistics. Nine seminarians in 1936; thirty-four in 1940; seventy-one in 1945; eighty in 1950; ninety-eight in 1955 and over one hundred and ten in 1960. As the number kept increasing there is no denying that the Lima Seminary faced a huge space crunch. In 1940, a hastily constructed wing was added to the old one-storeyed building at its south side but to no relief. The question remained ‘What about the years to come?’ It was Parel and yet, not Parel!

The Seminary cum Parish set-up

On April 22, 1877, the Parel Convent Chapel was opened. As the Catholic population in the environs grew, several Portuguese Church parishioners preferred to attend services at the Parel St Joseph’s Chapel. Thus when the Seminary was inaugurated in 1936, the Chapel continued to serve the faithful especially with regards to Sunday worship. Soon the Seminary Fathers organized catechism classes and attended to the pressing needs of the people. This paved the way for the creation of a full-fledged parish at Upper Parel dedicated to St. Paul on March 12, 1941.

The Rectors of the Seminary Fr. Valls S.J. and Fr. Lamolla S.J. were also appointed Parish Priest from March 1941 to April 1944. A Parish school was soon opened in the shed alongside the main seminary building. The Parel Seminary found itself amidst several activities of the Parish. It is not surprising then that the ecclesiastical authorities, anticipating future developments of the two institutions, recognized the need to move the Bombay Seminary again.

The Introduction of Philosophy and Theology

The need for a new Seminary was mooted when the Seminary Staff discussed with the newly-appointed Archbishop Roberts the feasibility of introducing Philosophy and Theology courses in the seminary curriculum. It is important to note that the Seminary graduates from Minor to Major on the introduction of the above courses. The decision was not easy. During the War, the Archbishop sent his seminarians to Kandy and Mangalore. However, he insisted that in the long run, his theology students be trained in Bombay by the Jesuits themselves!

A Paper Proposal

Under these circumstances, a solution was found in the motivating spirit of the Vicar General, Fr. M. M. Balaguer S.J. In 1940, plans for a future seminary were tentatively drawn. The pattern was that of a splendid University City. However was a site in sight?

Stay tuned as we explore the way out!

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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