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The History of the Malankara Seminary

 

In the Providence of God, St. Mary’s Malankara Seminary was inaugurated on June 29, 1983. The desire to set up a Major Seminary had been voiced from several quarters in the Church and it gathered momentum at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Reunion Movement in December 1980. The Papal Legate to the celebrations, Wladyslaw Cardinal Rubin, the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, encouraged the starting of a Major Seminary for the Malankara Catholic Church.

In fact, the establishment of a Major Seminary for the training of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Clergy was clearly envisaged by the Holy See at the time of the Reunion of the late Archbishop Mar Ivanios and Bishop Mar Theophilos in 1930 (See letter of the Apostolic Delegation No. 2035/130, Bangalore, August 20, 1930; Apostolic Constitution “Christo Pastorum Principi”, June 11, 1932). Moreover, the Second Vatican Council advises: “in each nation or particular Rite, ‘a Programme of Priestly Formation’ should be undertaken” (Optatam Totius no. 1).

In accordance with this directive, the Syro-Malankara Hierarchy decided to start a Major Seminary in 1983 and Trivandrum was chosen to be the seat of the Seminary. The Holy See granted formal recognition to the Seminary by its letter of September 8, 1984 (Prot. No. 87/83). As a temporary arrangement, the Seminary started functioning in the buildings of the St. Aloysius’ Seminary at Pattom, Trivandrum, offering only a three-year Philosophy Course. The Seminary is governed by the Seminary Commission. The present Chairman of the Commission is Most Rev. Cyril Mar Baselios, Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum.

The Seminary was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. The motto of the Seminary is ‘To continue Jesus’ mission of love and service’. The Seminary is primarily intended for the formation of candidates from all the Syro-Malankara Eparchies and is open to the candidates of the Religious Institutes of the Syro-Malankara Church. It also welcomes students from Eparchies and Religious Institutes of the other individual Churches.

 His Holiness Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of his visit to Trivandrum blessed the foundation stone for the new buildings of the Seminary on February 8, 1986. In his homily at Trivandrum, the Pope addressing the Malankara Church said: “The establishment of the Major Seminary dedicated to Mary, the Mother of the Church, is a sign of your vitality. It offers great hope of further strength and consolidation” (See L’Osservatore Romano Feb. 17, 1986). The visit of His Eminence Simon Cardinal Lourdsamy, the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, to this Seminary on August 19, 1987 gave a new impetus to the development of the Seminary.

The construction of the first phase of the Seminary building was completed in May 1989. The clergy, religious congregations, institutions and the laity of the Malankara Catholic Church were all involved in this work. The Bishops of the Syro-Malankara Church, with Most Rev. Benedict Mar Gregorios, the then Archbishop of Trivandrum as the main celebrant blessed the newly constructed building on May 25, 1989. The Seminary started functioning in the new quarters from June 12, 1989. The second phase in the growth of the Seminary is marked by the inauguration of the Theology course on June 29, 1992. The Seminary Chapel was consecrated on February 9, 1996 and the Staff Quarters was inaugurated on June 22, 1998. The present Rector of the Seminary is Rev. Dr. George Kalayil. The former Rectors are Rev. Fr. George Mootheril (1983-85), Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Panicker (1985-87), Rev. Dr. Abraham Kackanatt (1987-90), Rev. Dr. Varghese Ottathengil (1990-97), Rev. Dr. Daniel Mangalath (1997-2000) and Rev. Dr. Stephen Thottathil (2000-2003)

The first batch of 19 students who successfully completed their formation was ordained priests in 1996. Since then, every year new batches of priests have passed out to carry on the mission of Jesus in various Dioceses and Religious Congregations. A total of 152 priests were ordained during the past years.

In the new Millennium, the Seminary looks forward to exploring new dimensions of a formative programme relevant to the time, for the future priests of the Church, enabling them to continue Jesus’ mission of unity, love and service for the glory of God.

The library of the Seminary is still in the initial stage of its growth. It has a collection of more than 30000 books, besides the major biblical, theological and philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries. There are about 3000 books in the reference hall. The library subscribes to more than 100 periodicals including 10 monthlies and 50 quarterlies. The library is fully computerized.


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