Before Parel surfaced as a viable location for the Seminary and became the subject of prolonged discussions and negotiations, other sites were considered and eventually abandoned by Archbishop Lima and his team. Some of these included St Stanislaus, Bandra; Kushroo Lodge, Mazagaon and a plot in Salsette midway between Malad and Kandivili stations atop the mining hills.
So when and how did Parel emerge as attractive possibility?
We receive a glimpse of this negotiation in August 1931. Fr Joaquim Villalonga, the Jesuit Superior attempted to persuade Archbishop Joaquim Lima to convert the two-storeyed Kushroo Lodge into the Bombay Seminary. But Archbishop Lima refused as he had his eyes fixed on Parel.
A quick throwback about the Parel property – As mentioned earlier, the Parel grounds, had been purchased by Bishop Fortini, the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay, way back in 1841. These nine acres were to serve the Bishop as a quiet country-place to withdraw from the bustling Fort and its pressurizing state of affairs. The property popularly came to be recognized as ‘The Bishop’s Villa’. Over the years, the serene villa and its surroundings, was put to several uses.
First in 1851- 1852 it housed the old Bombay Seminary amidst it’s many peregrinations. Soon the Seminary was transferred to Surat and the Bishop’s Villa came to cradle the little orphanage which later developed into St. Mary’s and St. Stanislaus’ High Schools. In 1865 the Parel property was made available to the Nuns of Jesus and Mary.
It was Bishop Hartmann who invited the Nuns to Bombay in 1850 to foster the education of Catholic girls. The Nuns had moved from place to place for fifteen years in search of a purposeful spot to build their boarding school. In 1865 they were offered the Parel grounds.
On January 29, 1865 the boarding school with around thirty girls and seven nuns came to Parel. They built a Chapel and enlarged the villa so that it could accommodate the Convent, Boarding and School. In the course of over seventy years, the Nuns had naturally developed a close bond with Parel and had indelibly placed their stamp upon the Parel property.
Could a Convent be converted into a Seminary? Stay tuned.
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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