THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: Tribute to the Jesuits
To speak of the Administration and Staff of the Diocesan Seminary of Bombay necessarily leads one to speak first of the Society of Jesus. The association of the members of the Society of Jesus with the Seminary has over the centuries, been of a close and intimate character. Fr. Comes, son of Ignatius, though he did not employ the exact phrase, regarded that association in terms of a “love relationship”-the relationship of a mother for her child.
Expanding that analogy we see that love relationship between the Jesuits and Seminary as passing through three stages: (a) the first stage ended with the death of their adopted child; (b) in the second stage they brought the child they were entrusted with to the stage adolescence and (c) in the third stage, they have released the adolescent that it may develop toward mature adulthood under the direction of Diocesan Clergy.
The First Period of Jesuit Administration (1855-1900)
…the relationship between the Society of Jesus and the Seminary goes way back to February 1855, when the Seminary returning from Surat, was…entrusted to the Jesuits who housed it in the original St. Peter’s building at Bandra…it traveled from Bandra to Cavel, to Mazagon, and then to Dhobitalao all through the days of Fathers Anthony Pereira, Serraset, Meurin, Willy, Peterson, Leiter, and others whose names are unknown. They fed, nourished, and sacrificed for their child, at great costs, and with many tears, as they struggled to find it a permanent home…But notwithstanding all their diligence and sacrifice their adopted child died in 1900 when the Seminary was closed and its students sent to the Papal Seminary newly-opened at Kandy.
The Second Period of Jesuit Administration (1936-1971)
…With the location of the Seminary settled by the end of 1935…the Archbishop (Lima) approached Fr. Conget, the new Jesuit Superior, and asked him if the Society of Jesus was prepared to run the Seminary. Fr. Conget consulted his General in Rome who answered saying that he considered the work of the Seminary of such importance for the glory of God and the good of the Church that the Fathers should not hesitate to undertake it, even at the cost of any sacrifice. From hindsight now, we cannot but rejoice in the General’s wisdom and prophetic insight!
…It is to the glorious honor of the Society of Jesus that the Jesuits of the Bombay Mission did make the sacrifice and by June 13, 1936, did bring together five men (Fr. Valls, Fr. Claraso and Fr. Orobitg, Fr. Fortuny and Brother Raymond Fonseca) to open the Seminary at Parel.
From then on there was no looking back – hands were resolutely put to the plough!
The Third Period – the Transfer to the Diocesan Clergy
The transfer of administration has never been effected in an official and formal manner; it has taken place, however, as a matter of fact, and is regarded as such by both diocesan and Jesuit authorities. However till date together with the other members of the Seminary Administration, the Jesuits have borne the heat and burden of the day contributing to the life and growth of the Seminary in their humble and self-effacing way.
Here we wish to recall with immense gratitude the following Jesuit stalwarts who have given more than a decade of their lives for the good of the Seminary and the growth of the Church in Bombay: Fathers Francis Claraso (1936-1937, 1942-1953); John Arxe (1938-1954); Peter Garcia (1938-1948, 1962-1986); Aloysius Lamolla (1938-1949); Justus Serrano (1938-1939, 1944-1961); Henry Comes (1940-1944, 1955-1973); Marian Laguia (1948-1981); Aloysius Coyne (1949-1951, 1967-1977); John Marti (950-1967); Patrick Herne (1951-1986); Salvador Vilajusana (1952-1965); John Baptist Fernandes (1954-1972); Daniel Ferrando (1954-1986); Aelred Pereira (1955-1956, 1960-1972); Francis Ripoll (1961-1986); Joseph Feliu (1965-1986).
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© – Archdiocesan Heritage Museum
Please Note: The above article is derived in parts from the Golden Jubilee Souvenir, RATUS, ‘Miles to go…promises to keep’, 1986