HistoRY & Legacy
The history of the Bombay seminary may be divided broadly into three periods:
The Pre-Parel Period (1770-1936):
The earliest record of a seminary in Bombay dates back to 1770 when the Carmelite bishop Dominic of St Clare housed and trained candidates for the priesthood in his residence attached to the Fort Chapel in Meadows Street (located in the present-day ‘Fort’ area of South Mumbai). The earliest recorded ordinations in the diocese are from the year 1775 when Bishop Charles of St Conrad “raised four students to the clerical state.” In 1777 the seminary moved out of the Bishop’s House to a rented house in the Fort area.
For the next century and a half, successive apostolic vicars strove hard to establish an independent seminary on a permanent basis. However, due to various factors, they were unable to achieve this. The formation of priests was entrusted to a few of the local clergy and the seminary was forced to shift location frequently. Records indicate that during this period the seminary was shifted to about a dozen different places in Bombay and even outside Bombay for a while (Surat: 1852-1855). Most of these movements occurred during the period of ‘Double Jurisdiction’ (1794-1928).
The Parel Period (1936-1960):
In 1928 Double Jurisdiction was abrogated and parts of the Diocese of Damaun and the Archdiocese of Bombay were integrated into a single ecclesiastical unit. The need for a stable seminary to serve the present and future needs of the newly-reorganized archdiocese was felt more urgently. The idea received an impetus with the arrival in Bombay of Archbishop Joaquim Lima SJ in December 1928. Archbishop Lima undertook various initiatives to provide for the proper training of diocesan clergy. Yet, in spite of his unflagging zeal and determination it took him a full seven years to realize the dream of a diocesan seminary. After considering many different locations, Parel was chosen as the best option.
The Parel Seminary was formally erected on 2nd May, 1936 by a Decree of Archbishop Lima. It was inaugurated on 13th June of that year and entrusted to the Jesuits according to a decision of the Diocesan Council. It was decided to place the seminary under the patronage of Saints Anthony of Lisbon and Francis Xavier because of the historical connection of the Franciscan and Jesuit Orders with missionary activities in these parts of India. During its first two years (1936-1938) the curriculum of the Parel seminary consisted of courses in languages (English, Latin, and Greek), apologetics and history. From June 1938 courses in philosophy were introduced. Separate departments of Humanities, Philosophy and Theology were created in 1943.
By the 1950s the seminary had grown appreciably in terms of numbers. The seminary chapel had developed into a full-fledged parish with an attached school. In order to decongest the overcrowded building, the Theology students were moved to the Pilgrim House in Bandra (opposite Mt Mary Church) in 1953. This arrangement soon proved inadequate. Recognizing this, and conscious of the pressing need for providing better facilities for the training of diocesan clergy, Cardinal Valerian Gracias initiated the process of acquiring land in the suburbs with the intention of building a seminary large enough to accommodate the growing number of seminarians. His efforts culminated in the acquisition of a 30-acre plot in Goregaon and the building of the magnificent edifice which stands today as a fitting tribute to his vision, foresight and dynamism.
The Goregaon Period (1960-present):
The seminary began functioning at Goregaon from July, 1960, under the title of ‘St Pius X College’. The official inauguration of the new seminary building was held on October 5, 1960.
During the sixties the seminary continued to be administered and staffed – with a few exceptions – exclusively by Jesuits. The year 1971 witnessed a significant shift when Msgr Simon Pimenta was appointed Rector – the first diocesan priest from Bombay to hold this office. Ever since then the seminary has been administered and staffed increasingly by diocesan priests, but the close link between the Society of Jesus and the Bombay seminary continues even to this day. As members of the teaching and formation staff the Jesuits continue their role of forming priests in Bombay – a tradition that goes back over 150 years.
St Pius X College has hosted many distinguished visitors over the years. Chief among them were Pope Paul VI who visited the seminary on December 5, 1964 when he came to Mumbai for the 38th International Eucharistic Congress, and Pope John Paul II who stayed at the seminary on February 9-10, 1986 on the occasion of his state and pastoral visit to India.
The year 1986 was also marked by double celebrations commemorating the golden jubilee of the Parel Seminary and the silver jubilee of St Pius X College, Goregaon. Further landmarks – the platinum and golden jubilee respectively of these institutions – were reached and celebrated in 2010.
The student body of St Pius X College numbers nearly a hundred, comprising seminarians for the archdiocese of Bombay, seminarians for other Indian dioceses, members of religious congregations, candidates for the permanent diaconate as well as the laity. A significant step was taken in 2006, when the Congregation for Catholic Education (CCE), Rome, approved the seminary’s request for affiliation to St Peter’s Pontifical Institute, Bengaluru. Eligible candidates on successfully completing their theology studies are now awarded the B.Th. degree. The B.Th. affiliation was renewed in 2011 for a period of five years.
In 2016 it was decided to affiliate our seminary with the Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV) in Pune for the B.Th. Our application has been approved by the academic authorities of JDV. We are awaiting the final approval from the Congregation for Catholic Education.