We have traveled through the winding roads of the history of the Bombay Seminary – a route brimmed by obstacles – personal and political, the dreary Double Jurisdiction, disunity, rebellion, and lack of facilities. In 1900 this jarring journey took a temporary halt. The dreams for a ‘proper’ Seminary seemed to drown amidst the drooping uncertainty.
Twenty-eight years later the dawn of a new hope was well witnessed through the much-awaited abrogation of the Double Jurisdiction. By an agreement signed by the Holy See and Portugal in 1928, parts of the then Diocese of Damaun (Bassein, Salsette, Karanja, Chaul, the Padroado parishes of Bombay) and the Archdiocese of Bombay were integrated into one ecclesiastical whole. It is important to note that at the time of the merger the idea of an independent Seminary received great priority. Finally, eight years later the Parel Seminary was inaugurated by Joaquim Lima, S.J., the first Archbishop of the integrated Archdiocese of Bombay.
But what ensued during those twenty-eight years that ensured the need for a local Seminary?
Intriguingly it was the Bombay Government! In 1917 the Government recommended the establishment of a local Seminary for reasons both political and social. They noticed the sad state of the Catholic community due to a lack of leadership. Moreover, the Government did not prefer priests trained abroad especially in Goa.
The yearnings for a local Seminary were also echoed in the pages of The Examiner by the laity (cf. for example in 1925: Aug. 15, Aug. 29, Sept. 5, Sept. 12, Sept. 19). With regards to the clergy, in 1926, Fr. James dos Remedios started an Apostolic School attached to the School at St. Teresa’s Girgaum. Fr Bettran S. J., then the Apostolic Administrator of Bombay endorsed this initiative enthusiastically and so did the Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda.
In September 1927, Msgr Edward Mooncy, Delegate Apostolic in India, informed Fr Bertran that Propaganda had proposed to establish a major seminary at Nagpur. Would such a Seminary, the Delegate asked, be useful to Bombay? In reply, Fr Bertran stated that Bombay could send three or four students a year to Nagpur. Further, he added: ‘A Seminary on the Salsette Island would be more useful…because the Catholic people of Bombay and Damaun are anxious to have a Seminary of their own…’
The need of the hour was felt in the ecclesiastical air. With the integration of the two jurisdictions, nothing seemed impossible. The time for the Bombay Seminary had come!
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