THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: The Return from Exile

The traversing Bombay Seminary was transferred to Surat by Bishop Hartmann. This exile is mentioned in The Examiner of December 16, 1852, in the following words: ‘On December 14th, the orphanage was opened at Parel, the ecclesiastical students having already re-moved at Surat, where our Seminary will henceforth remain.’

However, within two years the rolling stone found its way back home due to the changes taking place in the Vicariate of Bombay. Bishop Hartmann welcomed religious personnel other than the Carmelites – namely the Capuchins and the Jesuits. This favourable initiative led to some unfavourable events that ended the Carmelite administration of the Vicariate in 1853 (after more than a hundred years of service). The Capuchins too pulled out and left the Bombay – Poona Vicariate into the hands of the Jesuits in 1858!

Fr. Thomas of the Passion was the last Carmelite Rector of the Seminary. In April 1853, his post was taken by the Capuchin Fr. Fulgentius. Before the end of 1854, Fr Fulgentius was transferred back to Bombay to build the preaching ministry. The future of the Seminary now hung in the balance. On January 2, 1855, Hartmann in desperation wrote: ‘I have nobody (among the Capuchins) for the Seminary; I shall have to hand it over to the Jesuits, a number of whom are shortly coming.’

Thus a fresh chapter reopened in the history of the Bombay Seminary – this was its journey with the Jesuits.

In February 1855 the Bombay Seminary returned home to the little town popular to date in the annals of Catholicism – Bandra. The Seminary was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and was housed within St Peter’s Church building.

According to historian Hull (1930), the rooms in the upper storey of the Church were converted into the ‘Seminary of the Sacred Heart.’ The staff consisted of the rector Fr Anthony Pereira and Fr Serasset who earnestly devoted themselves to work. They aimed at a standard of scientific and spiritual training, unheard in the history of the Bombay Seminary. The number of students grew and so did the appeal for reinforcements.

Would this home-coming last long? Stay tuned as we explore the Jesuit Journeys of the Bombay Seminary.

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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