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 to a rented house in the Fort area.
For the next century and a half, successive apostolic vicars strove hard, but without success, to establish an independent seminary on a permanent basis. 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 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, despite his best efforts, 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. 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 seminary curriculum 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. 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. Conscious of the pressing need to provide 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 purchase of a 30-acre plot in Goregaon and the building of the impressive edifice which stands today as a tribute to his vision 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 new seminary building was officially inaugurated on October 5, 1960. During its first decade, the seminary continued to be run by the Bombay Jesuits. A new era began in 1971 when Msgr Simon Pimenta was appointed as the first diocesan Rector of St Pius X College. Since then, the seminary has been administered and staffed mainly by diocesan priests, but the Jesuits continue to be actively involved with the seminary as members of the teaching and formation staff.
St Pius X College has hosted many distinguished visitors over the years, including two popes who were later canonized: Pope Paul VI visited the seminary on December 5, 1964 when he came to Mumbai for the 38th International Eucharistic Congress, and Pope John Paul II stayed here on February 9-10, 1986 during his state and pastoral visit to India.
The Diamond Jubilee of St Pius X College, celebrated in 2020, was an occasion to look back with gratitude to God for countless blessings and graces, as well as a moment to acknowledge the seminary’s significant contribution to the Church. For over six decades, St. Pius X College has formed hundreds of men and women for pastoral ministry, both in India and overseas.
From 2006-2016, St. Pius X College was affiliated to the Faculty of Theology, St. Peter's Pontifical Institute, Bangalore. Seminarians, on completing the prescribed curriculum of studies, were awarded a baccalaureate degree in theology (B.Th.) In 2016 the seminary authorities decided to seek affiliation to Jnana Deepa, the Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Pune. Our request for affiliation was formally granted on 4th June 2020 by the Congregation for Catholic Education (now known as the Dicastery for Culture and Education (DCE).
St Pius X Institute of Theology:
Since 2018, all ecclesiastical institutes of higher learning are regulated by new norms laid down in the documents Veritatis gaudium and Norms on the Affiliation of Institutes of Higher Learning. In line with the requirements of these two documents, an application was made to the DCE to erect the “St Pius X Institute of Theology” (SPXIT) as an ecclesiastical institute of higher learning, distinct from, but related to, St Pius X College, and with full responsibility for all academic matters. Our request was approved, and SPXIT was formally erected on 27 June 2023, and granted affiliation to the Faculty of Theology, Jnana Deepa, Pune, for a period of five years.