The Church is fully aware that the desired renewal of the whole Church depends in great part upon the priestly ministry animated by the spirit of Christ and it solemnly affirms the critical importance of priestly training (OT). The hopes of the Church and the salvation of the souls are thus committed to this priestly formation.
As the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church grew considerably under the able leadership of His Grace Mar Ivanios it had the objective of reuniting various Christian denominations. With the erection of the Hierarchy, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church was totally endowed with this mission. But found it difficult to execute this mission due to the lack of sufficient priests and missionaries. With this view in mind, His Grace Mar Ivanios decided to start a Minor Seminary for the Archdiocese of Trivandrum so that the Church could promote priestly vocation and form young men for priesthood in its proper ecclesial millieu.
The seminary was formally inaugurated under the patronage of St.Aloysius Gonzaga, on 21 June 1934, the feast of the saint, the universal protector, patron of youth especially seminarians. Archbishop Mar Ivanios, appointed Fr. Mathew Pothnammuzhy as the first Rector, Professor and Spiritual Director. He hailed from the Archdiocese of Ernakulam and the Archbishop of Ernakulam, the Most Rev. Mar Augustine Kandathil lent laudable service by providing enthusiastic young men imbued with genuine missionary zeal from the Syro-Malabar Church to work in the Syro- Malankara Catholic missions. After four valuable years of service Rev. Fr. Mathew Pothnammuzhy went back to his native Diocese and the Holy See later appointed him as the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Kothamangalam.The Seminary started functioning in a temporary building adjacent to the Little Flower Parish Church, Pattom. This piece of land was bought on 26 Nov, 1932. The Seminary lacked proper infrastructure due to the initial strains of the Archdiocese.
Shifting of the Seminary His Grace was in a dire need to buy a plot of land as the Government had asked him to evacute “Saravanakunnu” (The present Archbishop’s House – Thirusannidhi) where he was living in a rented home. His Grace brought nine acres of land comprising the plot where now stands the St.Mary’s Cathedral.When the number of Seminarians increased, the Seminary was shifted to the St.Mary’s Cathedral Compound.
Seminary at Pattom
In 1938 the construction of a stable building for the Archbishop’s residence and Seminary started in the newly acquired plot. The work was completed within a year and both the Archbishop’s House and the Seminary were shifted to the new apartment forthwith.
His Grace Mar Ivanios made it a point to celebrate Holy Qurbono and to recite the prayers of the Hours with the Seminarians whenever he was in the House. Rev. Fr. Benedict OIC, later Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios came everyday to the Seminary from the Bethany Ashram to teach Latin Fr. John Elanjileth and Fr. Phlip Thuruthiyil were the first Malankarites to become diocesan priests for the Archdiocese in the year 1937. In 1938, Zacharias Polachirackal, later the Bishop of Tiruvalla Zacharias Mar Athanasios joined the Seminary for the Diocese of Tiruvalla as the Diocese had no Seminary at that time.In 1938 Fr.Thomas Nangachiveettil returned from Rome after his studies and was appointed as the Rector. Since then the Seminary has been guided under the outstanding leadership of many priests who acted as Rectors, Vice – Rectors, Spiritual Directors and as teaching staff.
The Establishment of the Major Seminary and the Shifting of Minor Seminary
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Hierarchy under the leadership of His Grace Benedict Mar Gregorios decided to start a Major Seminary for training priests in our ecclesial background and tradition and Trivandrum was chosen as its seat.In 1983 as a temporary arrangement, the Major Seminary started functioning as St.Mary’s Malankara Seminary in the buildings of the St.Aloysius Minor Seminary, Pattom. Consequently, the Minor Seminarians were temporarily shifted to two places, the First Years to the Archbishop’s House, Pattom, and the Second and Third Years to the Pastoral Orientation Centre at Kuravankonam. In 1989 as the construction of the first phase of the Major Seminary building at Nalanchira was completed the Major Seminary was shifted to Nalanchira and the Minor Seminary could resume functioning in its own house again at Pattom.
His Grace Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios (1953-1994) of happy memory had given prime importance for the formation of the Seminarians during his life time. Even in his busy schedule he often found time to be with the seminarians and to pray together with them.
New Apartment for the Seminary
When His Grace Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios (later Moran Mor Cyril Baselios Catholicos) took charge of the Archdiocese, the number of priestly vocations increased and the old building was insufficient to accommodate the Seminarians. Hence, the First Year Seminarians were again shifted to Kuravankonam in 1999. His Grace started constructing a three-storeyed building in the old compound of the Archbishop’s House and that of the Seminary and these block was given to the Seminary. The first phase of the building was completed and blessed on 29th January 2000 and the Seminary was shifted from Kuravankonam over to the new building at Pattom, In the year 2002 an additional fourth floor also was constructed.
Major Archbishop Cyril Baselios Catholicos desired to shift the Minor Seminary to Nalanchira and the foundation stone for the new building was blessed on 4th August, 2005 on the feast day of St. John Marie Vianney, the Patron Saint of the diocesan priests. St.Aloysius Minor Seminay’s new building was blessed on 14th May, 2007 by the Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the Head and Father of Malankara Major Archiepiscopal Church and Major Archbishop of Trivandrum.
In 2012 the Seminary was temporarily shiffted to Mar Gregorios Renewal Centre, Nalanchira and again it was shifted to the Pastoral Centre, Kuravankonam for a temporary period.
Seminary at Kesavadasapuram
The Minor Seminary from Kuravankonam was shifted in May 2016 to the building at Kesavadasapuram which was used for Clergy Home. The new Clergy Home was blessed on 16th March 2016 at Malankara Medical Village, Pirappancode. The building at Kesavadasapuram was renovated and furnished well to the needs of the Seminary. New facilities for Kitchen, Dining hall, Class rooms etc are furnished. Basket ball and Volley ball courts are getting ready. New Auditorium and Chapel are under construction. The Seminary has a property of 3.5 acres and sufficient land for Farming, Garden etc. The Seminary is now close to the Major Archbishop’s House and St. Mary’s Cathedral. It is also easy for the Seminarians to walk in to St. Mary’s H.S.S. for their Higher Secondary Classes.
Formation at Present
The Seminary aims at providing the candidates for priesthood, an opportunity to respond to their call and to freely decide their own state of life. Since Jesus Christ is the ideal Priest, it is above all, from Him that the seminarians should learn what exactly priesthood is. Therefore, they should always look upon Jesus Christ as the model and exemplar of priesthood.Thus, they should try their best to follow Jesus closely. Thus, as it is envisaged in both the Second Vatican Council and the Apostolic letter Pastores Dabo Vobis
the Seminary concentrates mainly on four levels of formation for the Seminarians namely:Spiritual, Intellectual Pastoral and Human.The Minor Seminary course extends for a period of four years. The first year is intended for acquiring sufficient knowledge in human and in spiritual aspects of priestly life. During this course they are also provided with sufficient knowledge in Spirituality, Bible, Liturgy, Church History, Catechism, Etiquette, Personality Development and Music. Besides these, they are offered ample opportunities to increase their skills in languages such as English, Syriac and Malayalam. The progress of the Seminarians in all these is closely accompanied and if found satisfactory, they are recommended for the Higher Secondary Course, to equip them better for studies in the Major Seminary.
After their formation in the Minor Seminary the Seminarians were sent to St.Mary’s Malankara Major Seminary for courses in Philosophy and Theology. Later, the Holy Episcopal Synod has decided to send the Philosophy students to various Seminaries in order to get a wide range of knowledge about different cultures, rites etc. The students are now sent to various Seminaries such as Pune, Bangalore, Ujjain, Kottayam, Trissur, Aluva and Makkiyad.
The Seminarians are provided with a ‘Hand Book’, the content of which are as follows: A glimpse into the life of St.Aloysius Gonzaga (the Patron), a brief history of the Seminary, Programme of general formation, important annual events, financial matters, guidelines (rules and regulations), and timetable. For the spiritual evaluation of the seminarians a ‘Spiritual Diary’
is given, in which they note down their spiritual growth in consultation with their respective spiritual directors. Likewise, Norms for the Regents and for the Vacation Bible Orientation Courses are also provided. The Seminarians are also given enough opportunities to promote their talents in arts, games and sports. Besides, there are the annual picnic, weekly evening walk, and monthly half/full day outings to help widen their vision in the fast changing modern world.
The formation in the Seminary is the combined effort of the formators, the seminarians and the members of their family. The expenditure of the Seminarians is partially met by the voluntary donations of our faithful here and elsewhere.