As discovered in the earlier articles the Bombay Seminary, in its gypsy life, travelled from Fort to Dadar, Surat to Bandra and from Cavel to Mazagaon. In 1870 it struck camp at Dhobitalao. What led to this sudden change in campsite?

The answer is more practical. On January 30, 1869 St Mary’s, Mazagaon was recognized as a College of Arts by the Bombay University. But its affiliation was granted under the name of ‘St. Xavier’s’. When a major portion of the Jesuit Institution along Carnac Road (now Lokmanya Tilak Marg) was ready, the makeshift school at Cavel as well as the ‘Young Gentlemen’s School’ at Fort were transferred to this building.

St. Xavier’s was a dream come true for the Jesuits and hence they also decided to transfer the ‘College Department’ and the ‘Matriculation Class’ of St Mary’s Mazagaon to the new location at Fort. For the next thirty years the Bombay Seminary was a part of the St. Xavier’s institution but at two locations i.e. from 1870 to 1891 in what is now St Xavier’s High School and from 1891 to 1900 in what is now St. Xavier’s College.

At the Seminary at Carnac Road, the minor seminarians followed the school or college curriculum and wore lay clothes. The major seminarians wore cassocks and had classes early in the morning or late in the evenings since the professors had their hands full during the day. From 1888 one priest was exclusively set aside for the Seminary.

The disadvantages of combining the Seminary and the College were recognized by the Jesuits. Owning to the small number of students and staff, it was decided to admit candidates to the major seminary only every five or (later) six years. It is noted that at the time of Bishop Meurin’s departure from Bombay in 1886, the minor seminary ceased to exist.

When the extension of St Xavier along Cruickshank Road (today Mahapalika Marg) was ready in January 1891, the first to move there was the Seminary. It was situated in half a dozen rooms on the upper floor of the present College building that faces Azad Maidan. The arrangement was better but still not satisfactory.

Soon the discussions for an inter-diocesan Seminary surfaced. In 1886, it was Rome who took the initiative and sent Msgr Zaleski to sound the Bishops of India on this matter. The outcome was the Papal Seminary at Kandy, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Thus in 1900 the Bombay Seminary was closed for the second time in its long and torturous journey and six seminarians were moved to Kandy.

The dream for the ‘proper’ Bombay Seminary was yet to be realised ‘in His Time’.

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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