Posts Tagged ‘Francis Xavier’

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752)

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on December 7, 2012

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752)

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752)

Martyr Blessed Devasahayam Pillai was born in the year 1712 at a village called Nattalam to Vasudevan and Devahiammai in a nair community which was considered a high caste in a caste divided society.

His original name was Neelakandapillai. He married Bargaviammal. From his early childhood he was a learned man well versed in Malayalam Tamil and Sanskrit. He was an expert in the ancient Indian martial arts.

As a young man he was employed at Padmanabapuram palace when King Marthanda Varma was ruling the state. He was very loyal to the king and as a result he was holding number two position in the palace. He was entrusted with the responsibility of supervising the construction of Udyagiri Fortress. He was held in high esteem by the King Marthanda Varma and the people of the country.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blessed
Devasahayam Pillai
தேவசகாயம் பிள்ளை

Devasahayam Pillai
Martyr
Born April 23, 1712
Nattalam, Kanyakumari District, India
Died January 14, 1752 (aged 39)
Aralvaimozhy
Honored in Catholic Church
Beatified 2 December, 2012, St. Xavier’s Church, Kottar, Tamil Nadu by Angelo Amato (On behalf of Benedict XVI)
Major shrine Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier
Feast 14 January[1]
Attributes Tied up in chains, praying on knees before execution
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Blessed Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752), born Neelakanta Pillai in southern India, is a beatified layman of the Catholic church. Born into a Hindu family in the 18th century, he converted to Christianity and is considered a martyr of the Christian faith.[2] Pillai was an official in the court of the king of Travancore, Maharaja Marthanda Varma,[3] when he came under the influence of Dutch naval commander, Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, who instructed him in the Catholic faith.[4] He is believed to have been killed by the then Travancore state for upholding his Christian faith.[2][3]

In 2004, at the request of the diocese of Kottar, Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) recommended Devasahayam Pillai for the process of beatification to the Vatican.[5] This initiative was objected to by some Hindu groups that there was no evidence of religious persecution in Travancore during that period, and that Pillai was executed for sedition.[6] However, documents dating back to the period of Devasahayam Pillai show that conversion of court officials to Christianity was not tolerated.[7]

On June 28, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree regarding the martyrdom of Devasahayam Pillai and he was referred to as “Venerable“.[8]

On 2nd December, 2012, a ceremony of beatification and declaration of martyrdom was held in Nagercoil, in the Roman Catholic diocese of Kottar in Southern India presided by Angelo Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, acting as papal delegate. Devasahayam Pillai is the first lay person to be elevated to the rank of “Blessed” in India (the step preceding raising a person to Sainthood under the Canon Law of the Catholic Church).[9]

Contents

Account of life according to Roman Catholic tradition

Early life

Devasahayam Pillai (named Neelakanda Pillai at birth)[3] was born into an affluent Naircaste family at Nattalam in the present-day Kanyakumari District, on 23 April 1712.[10] His father Vasudevan Namboodiri, hailed from Kayamkulam, in present-day Kerala state, and was working as a priest at Sri Adi Kesava Perumal temple in Thiruvattar in present-day Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. His mother Devaki Amma hailed from Thiruvattar in Kanyakumari District. In the Nair matriarchal traditions of the day, Devasahayam Pillai was raised by his maternal uncle, and was inculcated with Hindu beliefs and traditions early on.

Devasahayam’s family had much influence in the royal palace of Maharaja Marthanda Varma, king of Travancore, and Devasahayam went into the service of the royal palace as a young man.[11]:12 His capabilities and enthusiasm did not go unnoticed in the palace, as he was soon put in charge of state affairs as an official under Ramayyan Dalawa, the Dewan of Travancore.[12]:55-56

Conversion to Christianity

In 1741, Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, a Dutch naval commander, was sent on command of a Dutch naval expedition by the Dutch East India Company to capture Colachel, a port under the control of Travancore, and establish a trading post there. In the battle (Battle of Colachel) that followed between the Travancore forces and De Lannoy’s men, the Dutch forces were defeated and the men were either killed or captured. Eustachius De Lannoy, his assistant Donadi and a few other Dutch soldiers were captured and imprisoned.[13]

De Lannoy and the Dutchmen were later pardoned by the king, on condition that they serve in the Travancore army. De Lannoy later earned the trust of the king and went on to become the commander of the Travancore armed forces, winning many battles and annexing various neighbouring territories to Travancore.

It was during their influential roles under the King of Travancore that Devasahayam Pillai and De Lannoy became well acquainted. De Lannoy’s Christian faith interested Devasahayam and De Lannoy enlightened him on the faith, leading to his conversion in 1745.[3]

Baptism

On Devasahayam’s acceptance of the Christian faith, he was baptized at the Roman Catholic Latin Rite church at Vadakkankulam village (in the present Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu), where the Jesuits had a mission under Rev. Fr. R. Bouttari Italus S.J.[14]:281 Neelakanda Pillai, his name at birth, was then changed to Lazar, although he is more widely known by the Tamil & Malayalam translation Devasahayam (meaning God’s help).[15] Pillai was married[3] by this time to Bargavi Ammal of Travancore. She was also persuaded and converted to Christianity by her husband. His wife was given the baptismal name of Gnanapoo Ammaal (equivalent to Theresa in Tamil & Malayalam). Fearing reprisal in Travancore against her religious conversion, she chose to be a migrated-resident of this village. Some of Devasahayam Pillai’s immediate family members also received baptism later, after being converted to Christianity.[12]:68-69

Orders based on accusations and charges

Church chroniclers say that the Brahmin chief priest of the kingdom, the feudal lords, members of the royal household and the Nair community brought false charges on Devasahayam to the Dewan, Ramayyan Dalawa.[14]:282 Pillai was divested of his portfolio in the administration and was later accused of treason and of divulging state secrets to rivals and Europeans. He was later arrested and tortured for three years.[9] After his execution orders were passed, he was initially ordered to be taken on a buffalo to Kuzhumaikkad, where he would be executed.[11]:41-42 [16] But the original Royal order was altered later to finally to be taken on a buffalo back to Aralvaimozhy border for a meaningful punishment of banishment after carrying out a series of tortures by ten different karyakkars on the advice of the ministers.[11]:42-65

Other traditions and beliefs

Devasahayam Pillai was marched from Padmanabhapuram Palace to Aralvaimozhy by soldiers, over the period of a few days. Pillai was treated like a cruel criminal and as was customary in those days for very cruel criminals, his body was painted with red and black spots, and was intentionally marched through populated areas, sitting backward on top of a water buffalo[14]:283 [17] (the mythical vehicle or vahana of Yama, the lord of death in Hinduism) through the streets of South Travancore. As a method of torture, he was beaten everyday with eighty stripes, pepper rubbed in his wounds and nostrils, exposed to the sun, and given only stagnant water to drink.[17]

While halting at Puliyoorkurichi, not far away from the Padmanabhapuram Palace of the Travancore king, it is believed by Christians that God quenched his thirst by letting water gush through a small hole on a rock, the very place where he knelt to pray. The water hole is still found in the compound of a church at Puliyoorkurichi, about 15 km from Nagercoil.[11]:54 [14]:285

It is also believed that the leaves of a neem (Margosa) tree in the village of Peruvilai, to which he had been tied while being marched to Aralvaimozhy, cured illnesses of sick people in the village and around. Many more miracles are attributed to Devasahayam Pillai.[14]:286

Death

Tomb of Blessed Devasahayam – St. Xavier’s Cathedral, diocese of Kottar

In 1752, the original order of the King and his Dewan was to deport him from Travancore, into the Pandya country, at Aralvaimozhy. He was let off in the forested hills near Aralvaimozhy. There, he is believed to have begun deep meditations, and the people from the adjacent villages began visiting the holy man. Christian sources allege that at this time, high caste Hindus plotted to do away with Devasahayam.[12]:134

Some people believe that the soldiers went up the forested hills and tried to shoot Devasahayam, but were unable to fire; after which he took the gun in his hands, blessed it and gave it back to the soldiers to shoot him to death, if they wished to. The soldiers took the gun back and fired at him five times. His body was then carelessly thrown out near the foothills at Kattadimalai.[14]:285 [18]:83

It was at Kattadimali in Kanyakumari district that Devasahayam Pillai died on 14 January 1752.[3] His mortal remains were interred near the altar inside St. Xavier’s Church, Kottar, Nagercoil, which is now the diocesan Cathedral.[14]:285

Canonization efforts

According to the report submitted by the then Bishop of Cochin (under whom Kanyakumari church was then functioning) in 1756 CE, the Christian martyrdom of Devasahayam Pillai was promptly intimated to Vatican. Prominent witnesses to his saintliness and martyrdom include Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar.[19]

In 1780, Kariattil Ouseph Malpan submitted a petition to the Vatican for canonization of Devasahayam Pillai.[18]:94-96 [20]

The church historian C. M. Agur concluded in 1903 that although apostasy was never considered illegal in Travancore, it was not viewed indifferently, particularly in the case of the King’s palace servants, and this led to the martyrdom of Devasahayam Pillai.[14]:285

In 1984, a group of lay persons from the diocese of Kottar, especially members of Nagercoil Catholic Club, once again took the initiative to seek the beatification of Devasahayam.[21] This is unusual for a layman,[3] but he is regarded as one who was totally devoted to Christ.[5] Since the days of the interment of the mortal remains of Devesahayam Pillai in St. Xavier’s Cathedral of the diocese of Kottar many Christian pilgrims visited his tomb and offered prayers[5]

After a series of initiatives by the diocese of Kottar and much deliberation, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC), later in 2004, duly recommended his beatification, following scrutiny of available historical evidence, in consultation with others.[5] Bishop Chrysostom said that the CBCI did not intend any controversy whatsoever in moving this forward.[5]

However, Professor A. Sreedhara Menon (1925-2010), a noted historian and writer on Travancore, said that no cases of persecution in the name of religious conversion were recorded in the history of the kingdom.[6] P. Parameswaran, president of the Hindu spiritual organisation Vivekananda Kendra, accused the CBCI of an attempt to hurt Hindu sentiments. Referring to the Travancore state manual, he insisted that Devasahayam was a palace employee who was executed after confirmation of sedition, because he had tampered with palace records and passed them to De Lannoy.[6]

Catholic records of the time state that the kingdom of Travancore did not tolerate palace officials converting to Christianity.[7]

In June 2012, Pope Benedict XVI officially recognized a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints stating that he lived a life of “heroic virtues” – a major step towards beatification – and Pillai was then referred to as “Venerable“.[22]

Beatification and declaration as a martyr

Devasahayam Pillai was declared a Martyr and Blessed on December 2, 2012, at a solemn ceremony held in the Diocese of Kottar at Carmel Higher Secondary School Grounds, Nagercoil, near the place of his burial. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Angelo Cardinal Amato presided at the function as Delegate of Pope Benedict XVI.

Several cardinals, archbishops and bishops from India and elsewhere, as well as numerous priests, religious men and women and over 100,000 Catholics[23] from all over India participated in the grand ceremony which included a Solemn Pontifical Mass.

Among the dignitaries officiating at the altar were Angelo Cardinal Amato, Oswald Cardinal Gracias (Archbishop of Mumbai), Telesphore P. Cardinal Toppo (Archbishop of Ranchi), George Cardinal Alencherry (Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church), Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos (Major Archbishop of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church), Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio (Apostolic Nuncio to India), and Bishop Peter Remigius (Bishop of Kottar).

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai is the first lay person from India to be canonised by the Catholic Church.

On the same day as Devasahayam Pillai was declared a Blessed in the Diocese of Kottar, India, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the pilgrims gathered in Rome. During his Angelus Message the Pope mentioned the event in Italian and English.[24] He said in Italian:

“Today in Kottar, India, Devasahayam Pillai, a faithful layman, who lived in the 18th century and died a martyr, was proclaimed Blessed. Let us join in the joy of the Church in India and pray that this newly Beatified sustain the faith of the Christians of that great and noble country.”

Then he addressed the crowds in English:

“I welcome all gathered here today to pray with me. I especially greet the people of Kottar who celebrate today the beatification of Devasahayam Pillai. His witness to Christ is an example of that attentiveness to the coming of Christ recalled by this first Sunday of Advent. May this holy season help us to centre our lives once more on Christ, our hope. God bless all of you!”

Places of interest

Devasahyam Pillai is buried in the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier at Kottar in Nagercoil.[3][15]Devasahayam’s tomb in St. Xavier’s Cathedral of the Diocese of Kottar has been restored and beautified in view of the declaration of martyrdom and beatification.[25]

Devasahyam Pillai’s clothes and other belongings are kept in a church in the small town of Vadakkankulam in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu State, India. They are exposed at the church on 15th of August every year, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. His wife was buried in the cemetery there.

Puliyoorkurichi, location of the water fountain believed to have quenched Devasahayam’s thirst, is on the NagercoilTrivandrum highway.

Aralvaimozhy, where Devasahayam was killed, is on the NagercoilTirunelveli highway. At that spot on the hillock (called Kaattadimalai), devotees believe that rocks fell and were broken at that moment. One rock at the place makes bell-like sounds when knocked with a stone.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Devasahayam Pillai

References

  1. ^ Terry Jones, Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, Star Quest Production Network. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Syro Malabar Church, 1 July 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h CBCI report, The Hindu, 10 January 2004. Retrieved 27 Sept 2009.
  4. ^ De Lannoy
  5. ^ a b c d e “CBCI report”. NewIndPress.com. 13 January 2004. Archived from the original on 30 August 2004. Retrieved 27 Sept 2009.
  6. ^ a b c Balram Mishra, “Deafening silence?” Daily Pioneer, 20 January 2003. Cited at HinduWisdom.com. Retrieved 27 Sept 2009.
  7. ^ a b Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo (1748-1806), Voyage to the East Indies, 1800 (original Italian, 1796). He writes: “The king of Travancore threatens with imprisonment and death every nobleman who shall quit his court to become a Christian, and who shall afterwards fall into his hands; and indeed Nilampulla, an officer of a noble family, was shot at Arampalli because he refused to renounce the religion of Jesus Christ. In the year 1787 I saw four Nayiris or noble Shudris, thrown into prison at Tiruvandaburam, because they would not apostasise from the Catholic Church.” (pp. 207-208).
  8. ^ Vatican Decree on martyrdom of Devasahayam Pillai
  9. ^ a b Church beatifies India’s first ‘lay’ martyr, Business Standard, 2 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  10. ^ Amalagiri Anthonymuthu, “Vedasatchi Devasahayam Pillai Virivaana Varalaaru” (Tamil), Nanjil Book Stall, Nagercoil, 1988, 3rd Edn.,2006, Page:15.
  11. ^ a b c d Pushpa Raj P, “Devasahayam Pillai: The Martyr”, Nanjil Book Stall, Nagercoil, 1988, 2nd Edn., 2005
  12. ^ a b c Rosario Narchison J, “Martyr Devasahayam: A Documented History”, Bishop’s House, Nagercoil, 2002.
  13. ^ V. Nagam Aiya, The Travancore State Manual Vol. 1, 1906
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Agur, C. M., Church History of Travancore, Madras, 1903, Reprint: Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1990, Part II, Chapter V. ISBN 81-206-0594-2
  15. ^ a b History of the Diocese, Roman Catholic Diocese of Kottar, 2010. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
  16. ^ Stephen, A.P., “Retham Chintha Chintha” (Tamil), Kottar Diocese, Nagercoil, 1975, page 29.
  17. ^ a b Samuel Mateer, Native Life in Travancore, London, 1883. ISBN 81-206-0514-4. Page 291.
  18. ^ a b Thangasami M.S.J., “Vanjinaattu Vedasaatchi Devasahayam Pillai Varalaaru” (Tamil), Nanjil Pathippaham, Nagercoil, 1989.
  19. ^ Gover Nethor Parammakkal Thoma Kathanar, “Vathamana Pusthakam” (Malayalam), First Travelogue in an Indian language & Malankara Catholic records, edited by Most Rev. Fr. Thomas Muthedan, published by Janatha Book Stall, Thevara, Ernakulam, 1778–87.
  20. ^ Kariattil Ouseph Malpan
  21. ^ Process of beatification on devotees’ website
  22. ^ “Two Indian laymen placed on sainthood road”. ucan india. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  23. ^ Indian Express News
  24. ^ Pope Benedict on Devasahayam Pillai’s Beatification
  25. ^ Bishop Peter Remigius, “Circular Letter on the Martyrdom and Beatification of Devasahayam Pillai”, Kottar Newsletter, August 2012, Bishop’s House, Nagercoil, India.

Further reading

  • Leita, Clement Joseph C. Martyrdom of Devasahayam. An Extract from the Report submitted to Pope Benedict XIV on the occasion of the Ad Limina Visit by Most Rev. Clement Joseph C. Leita, S.J., Bishop of Cochin, 15 November 1756. Canonization Committee, Diocese of Kottar, 2009.
  • National Symposium on Devasahayam Pillai. Department of History and Tourism & Historical Commission for the Cause of Martyr Devasahayam. Nagarkoil, 2008.
  • Mathavadiyan, A. Devasahayampilla Charthram. [Malayam. History of Devasahayam Pilla.] Trivandrum: City Press, 2006.
  • Ferroli, D. Jesuits in Malabar. Vol. II. Bangalore, 1951.
  • Ibrahim Kunhu, A.P. Marthanda Varma: The Rise of Modern Travancore. [Malayalam.] Thiruvananthapuram: Cultural Publications Department, Govt. of Kerala, 2005.
  • Kottukapally, Joseph. “Devasahayam Pilla: Convert, Apostle, Revolutionary, Martir [sic], I.” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 76/1 (2012) 27-42.
  • Kottukapally, Joseph. “Devasahayam Pilla: Convert, Apostle, Revolutionary, Martyr, II.” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 76/2 (2012) 108-120.
  • Antonimuthu, Amalagiri. Viswaa Deepam. Daivadasan Devasahayam Pilla. 3rd ed. [Malayalam translation of Tamil original.] Nagarkoil.
  • Narchison, Rosario J. Martyr Devasahayam. A Documented History. Nagarcoil: Canonization Committee, 2009.

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THE SYRO-MALABAR CHURCH AND CATECHESIS

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on August 16, 2012

THE SYRO-MALABAR CHURCH AND CATECHESIS

The catechetical heritage of the Syro-Malabar Church seems to be as old as this
Church itself. But the scarcity of historical data poses a great problem with regard to
catechesis among the St. Thomas Christians in ancient times. We have to depend on
traditions and the post fifteenth century historical data to see the evolution of catechesis.
History of the Catechetical Developments in the Syro-Malabar Church
We divide the history of catechesis into five periods corresponding to the different
phases of the existence of the Church in Kerala. These periods are (1) the early apostolic
Period, (2) the Indo-Chaldean period, (111) the Indo-European period, (1V) the modern
period and (V) the contemporary period.
1. The Early Apostolic Period (AD 52- 4th Cent.)
When we think about catechetical developments among the St. Thomas Christians
in the early apostolic period, the following questions may come to our minds; did any
catechetical system exist at all in the Church founded by the Apostle Thomas? What was
the nature of catechesis in those days? Traditions force us to believe that St. Thomas
might have preached the Gospel and initiated a simple form of worship which grew on
the Indian soil. We are neither sure about the indigenous nature and development of the
form of worship nor about the nature of the catechesis they followed. The general history
of catechesis teaches that the ancient form of catechesis was different from that of our
times. It was mainly directed to adults and was catechumenal or mystagogic. In the
earliest known catechetical system, catechesis was given generally in the framework of
liturgy. Tradition holds that the apostle had founded seven communities in Kerala. This
shows that he was moving from place to place from one local Church to another. So there
might have been someone to lead the community in his absence. It is not possible to
guide a worshipping community without proper instruction. All these points lead us to
think that there might surely have existed some system of catechetical instruction in those
early days of Christianity in Kerala. That the Syro-Malabar Christians kept their faith
intact for nineteen centuries among the overwhelming non-Christian majority is the proof
that there existed a handing over of faith. The scanty allusions to the faith instructions in
the Christian community during the first fifteen centuries of Christianity in India seem to
indicate the absence of a regular form of religious instruction. Therefore, as a conclusion
we can say that in this period a regular form of the religious instructions may not have
existed as today, but someway or another they transmitted their faith in the past.
2. The Indo-Chaldean Period (4th Cent. -1498)
While analysing the system of religious training among the St. Thomas Christians,
we can see that they had a tradition of learning. They were interested in scholarly
discussions and study. As early as A.D. 190, Pantenus of Alexandria, a philosopher, had
been invited by the Malabar Christians to defend their theological discussions and dispute
with the Brahmins. The Portuguese missionaries who landed in Malabar in the beginning
of the sixteenth century could see a flourishing Christian community with its own
ecclesial and liturgical traditions. Melchior Nunes Barretto, who was the rector of the
Jesuit College at Cochin in the sixteenth century (1563), reports, in a letter written to his
confreres in Europe, “I cannot tell you, my dear brethren, how much I am consoled in the
Lord when I see and speak to these Christians who from the time, when St. Thomas had
been in these parts, as it is believed, have kept faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of
the fact that they had been deprived of instruction, sacraments and other means, they have
always preserved the veneration, obedience and faith of the Holy Cross and the memory
of the mysteries of the Catholic Faith”. So we can say that it is an accepted fact that the
St. Thomas Christians kept the faith intact. They might not have had a catechesis as a
school or parish based systematic training, but they transmitted the faith from generation
to generation and this may mainly have been through the public worship of the liturgy.
The priests, who had considerable training under the Malpans (a senior priest who gave
the necessary instruction to the aspirants to the priesthood), preached during the liturgy.
They used to preach two or three hours continuously, explaining the fundamentals and
dogmas of the Church. The faithful liked these sermons very much. Hence they were
even called lovers of sermons by the early Portuguese missionaries. A community that
lives its faith is the best proof of a sound catechesis. So regarding the time of the Indo-
Chaldean period we can come to the conclusion that religious instruction was not
unknown to the St. Thomas Christians. They had their own way of faith formation in the
community either through their own clergy in the parish church or by the village school
teachers or by parents at home.
3. The Indo-European Period (1498- 1887)
An organised ministry of catechesis developed in Kerala during the Indo-European
period. European missionary activity began in Kerala when Vasco da Gamma came from
Portugal and landed in the harbour of Calicut in Kerala on 21 May 1498. Strictly
speaking it was only with the arrival of the Portuguese, that the conventional catechetical
history of India had its beginning.
Francis Xavier remains the greatest of all of European missionaries to come to
India and he reached Goa on 16 May 1542 and started his missionary activity in Kerala in
1544. From history we know that Francis Xavier had close contacts with the St. Thomas
Christians and his missionary activities had their influence on them. He visited many
villages like Puvar, Kollanked, Vallavilai,etc. all these places are in Kerala. In his letter
to St. Ignatius he extols the great devotion of the Goan Christians to St. Thomas, their
apostle. He requests St. Ignatius to obtain from the Holy Father the grant of a plenary
indulgence for these Christians on the occasion of the feast of the Apostle Thomas.
According to the Goan philogist, H.O. Mescarenhas the Christians about whom Francis
Xavier speaks in his letters to Ignatius were the descendants of the St. Thomas Christians.
Francis Xavier had initiated the systematic effort of catechizing the people. He had
his own faith formation methodology. Going around the streets ringing a small bell, he
used to invite all to attend his instructions in the nearby chapel where he taught them
basic prayers and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. “One of the greatest
contributions of Francis Xavier to the Church in India is the institution of lay catechists
envisaged as collaborators in the missionary endeavour”. He introduced for the first time
text books in the ministry of catechesis. Thus Francis Xavier gave a new orientation to
the catechetical ministry of the Church in India and thereby inaugurated a new phase in
the history of catechesis in India. In this period we see a shift from family centred
catechesis to catechisms.
Catechetical Renewal of the Synod of Diamper
The Synod of Diamper was convoked by the Goan Archbishop Alexis Dom
Mensis from 20-26 June 1599 for the Thomas Christians. It was a turning point in the
catechetical ministry of the Thomas Christians. All the clergy who attended the Synod
were given a copy of a catechism in Malayalam, the local language. The priests were
reminded of their duty of teaching catechism to their parishioners. Both the method of
teaching and the content to be taught were indicated in the decree of the Synod. Regular
catechesis was decreed for every Sunday. The faithful were to be taught before the
Sunday Mass, their interests and knowledge in religious matters were to be checked when
they came for confession. The parents were asked to teach their children the elementary
prayers at home in the evening. Every parish church had to possess a copy of the
catechism in Malayalam. The Malpans and the village school teachers were also exhorted
to continue teaching catechism. The decrees of the Synod were put into practice by the
first Latin Bishop of the Thomas Christians, Archbishop Roz. One of the outcomes of the
Synod of Diamper was the shift from the informal way of handling down the faith to
formal and systematic one. But it caused for another effect, the importance of the liturgy
centred catechesis was shifted to instruction oriented one.
By the second half of the 17th century, the Carmelite missionaries had taken up
missionary activities in Malabar. They were officially entrusted with the pastoral care of
the St. Thomas Christians and there was a renewed effort at promoting catechesis at that
time. Catechisms either in the form of manuscripts or in the printed form began to
dominate the catechetical field. They introduced Malayalam catechism. The Carmelite
missionaries of the 18th century were greatly interested in the catechetical apostolate.
They had opened many catechumanates in different parishes and were diligent in
catechizing the people. They had also introduced many western devotional practices such
as tridums, novenas, devotional months, etc. Devotions based on the Passion of the Lord
increased during these days.
4. Modern Period (1887- 1992)
The systematic development in the field of catechesis among the Thomas
Christians began with the erection of the two Syro-Malabar vicariates apostolic, Trichur
and Kottayam. Later, the indigenous leadership gave an added impetus to the growth of
the Church through the ministry of catechesis. An important development during this
period was the introduction of catechesis in the schools. In fact, the St. Thomas
Christians came very late to the field of education. The first two apostolic vicars and their
Indian successors were pioneers in promoting English education among the Catholics of
Kerala. They encouraged their flock to open schools attached to every parish. In these
schools the catechesis was given by teachers, most of whom, obviously, were lay people.
The Catechism gained a definite place together with other subjects. The children were
given instructions in religion according to their age groups as they were already divided
in the secular regular classes. This new organizational set up demanded an appropriate
content and an apt teaching method. From this time onwards the Church began to think
seriously about the formation of catechists in Kerala. During this period the system of
Sunday schools was also introduced in all the parishes of Kerala. This was an organized
effort at the catechesis of children. The Bishops of Kerala were keen on instructing the
people about the importance of faith formation at home, in the schools and in the parish.
Prior to Vatican II, each diocese had its own text and syllabus for the Sunday school
catechesis of children. During this period almost all the dioceses in Kerala started a
separate catechetical department with a director for coordinating various catechetical
activities
The establishment of the “Pastoral Orientation Centre” (POC) in 1968 at
Palarivattom (Cochin) is a landmark in the history of catechesis in Kerala. It was a joint
venture of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council. Following the model of NCLC at the
national level, the POC coordinated catechetical activities in Kerala. In 1967 an inter
diocesan-committee was formed for catechetical renewal in Kerala. Under the initiative
of this committee a catechetical seminar was organised from 25-28 October 1967 at
Aluva. Fr. Hofinger was the main speaker and 130 priests from all 16 dioceses
participated. The POC organized the first regional catechetical seminar in 1969. In 1978,
an Episcopal commission of three bishops, representing the three rites was formed under
the KCBC. This commission coordinated the catechetical activities in Kerala till 1999.
5. Contemporary Period (1992 – )
With regard to the catechetical ministry of the Eastern Churches the Code of
Canons of the Eastern Churches states, “Each Church Sui Iuris and particularly their
bishops have the serious duty of providing catechesis, by which faith matures and the
disciple of Christ is formed through a deeper and more systematic knowledge of the
teachings of Christ and through an increasingly stronger commitment to the person of
Christ” (CCEO 617). The same Code again points out that “ The Synod of Bishops of the
Patriarchal Church or Council of Hierarchs is competent to issue norms on catechetical
formation arranged in a catechetical directory, within the territorial boundaries of their
own Church; they are to observe those things prescribed by the supreme authority of the
Church” (CCEO 621§ 1).
In the meeting held in January 1999, the KCBC, having taken into account the
mind of the universal Church and following the provisions in the Code of Canons of the
Eastern Churches (CCEO 621 § 1, 621 § 3), decided to entrust the responsibility of
catechesis to the catechetical commission of each Individual Church. The Synod of
Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church, held in November 1999 formed a catechetical
commission with three Bishops as its members and one priest as its secretary. An expert
committee of priests, religious and lay people is assisting its function. In 2003 the
Synodal Commission for Catechesis published a catechetical directory “Call And
Response”. Today the catechetical commission of the Syro-Malabar Church is
responsible for the co-ordination and animation of catechetical ministry in the Syro-
Malabar Church. The Syro–Malabar Church has constructed its catechetical centre near
the Major Archiepiscopal Curia, in Cochin. This centre at present coordinates the
catechetical activities of the Syro-Malabr Church. The text book for Sunday catechesis
has already been published.
The catechetical system of the Syro-Malabar Church is organized in four levels:
Synodal, Eparchial, Forane/ regional, and Parochial. At the Synodal level the
organization system has three main factors: 1 Synodal commission for Catechesis 2. the
Syro-Malabar Catechetical Committee which serves as an advisory body to synodal
commission and 3. the catechetical centre which functions as the catechetical office for
the whole Syro-Malabar Church. Actually it is at eparchial level that the catechetical
ministry is in its real action. At the eparchial level also it is organized under a department
headed by a director and a council which assists the director to co-ordinate the
catechetical activities of the eparchy. Within the eparchy, catechetical activities can be
further organized under the forane /regional levels as per the need and size of the
eparchy. At the parish level, catechetical activities are organized under the directorship of
the parish priest. In order to assist the parish priest in the co-ordination and animation of
the catechetical activities, every parish should have a team of zealous and competent
catechists. In the same way, every parish should have also a Headmaster or Headmistress
in order to facilitate the catechetical activities of the parish. The parish priest and all
catechists together form the staff council of the parish.
At the parish level, catechesis through Sunday schools is well organized in all the
dioceses of the Syro-Malabar Church. Classes are divided from 1 to 12, and in some of
the dioceses there is a senior section for youth catechesis. This programme is compulsory
for all the children in the parish. A director, a headmaster, some animators and a team of
teachers can be found in every Sunday school. The duration of the Sunday classes in each
diocese varies. But almost all the dioceses in the Church have an average one and a half
hour of classes every Sunday. The Sunday school year is divided into three semesters, at
the end of which exams are conducted. Questions for the same are prepared by diocesan
centres. There is a special examination conducted for those completing standard ten and
certificate books are distributed.

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Lay Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on August 16, 2012

Lay Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church

Dr Antony Nariculam

The Church or the ecclesial community is the basic agent of catechesis. Besides the Church as a whole, all the members of the Christian community are called to share in this ministry by being witnesses to the faith in a special way. Together with priests, religious and parents, a good number of lay catechists are also rendering valuable whole hearted service in the field of catechesis in the Syro-Malabar Church. The Church considers their service with great respect and recognizes them as special ministers of the community. The vocation of the laity to catechetical ministry springs from the sacrament of baptism, and they are strengthened and sent for the same by the sacrament of confirmation (GDC 231). Through these sacraments, they participate in the prophetic, priestly, and kingly ministries of Christ. According to St. Paul, the Lord has established different ministries in the Church. All the ministries in the Church are for the building up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13). Therefore, by their valuable service lay catechists are actually participating in the building up of the Church. In the early times of the Church, faith was handed down from one generation to the next mainly through community and family centred catechesis and by means of liturgical celebrations, catechetical instructions, and customary practices. Catechetical instruction was given to adults along with the liturgical celebrations, while children were given special instructions either before or after Holy Mass and this was done by the parish priest himself. They were asked to recite and memorize the basic prayers of the Church. Among the liturgical celebrations, the celebration of feasts also played an important role in the transmission of faith. Feasts were celebrated at community and family level. The instruction on the importance of the celebration of the feasts was given by the parents. Therefore the term catechist or lay catechist was not familiar among the St. Thomas Christians at this period. After the arrival of the Western missionaries, the catechetical system of the St. Thomas Christians began to develop into a formal and systematic one. The informal way of handing down the faith was changed to a formal and systematic one, and the liturgy centred catechesis was changed to an instruction oriented one. From then onwards the demands for catechists rose in the Syro-Malabar Church.

Actually it was St. Francis Xavier who introduced the term lay catechist in India for the first time. One of the greatest catechetical contributions of Francis Xavier to the Church in India was the institution of the lay catechist, as a helper of the missionaries. In fact, it was about this time that the qualification “lay” was applied to the “catechist”. The training of the local catechists was one of his main concerns wherever he went. The absence of expected missionary reinforcements, led Francis Xavier to organize an institution of catechists to care for the small, scattered Christian communities. These catechists were an invaluable help. He was very conscious about their training and gave them all the necessary religious instructions. With a view to uniformity in catechetical method, Francis Xavier published the “Instructio pro Catechesis” (1545), in which he described his method of teaching the catechism and gave it as a rule to his helpers. Thus the role of lay catechists was officially inaugurated in the ministry of catechesis in India. We have already seen that St. Francis Xavier had a close contact with the St. Thomas Christians and his missionary activities had an influence on them. Therefore there may also have been lay catechists among the St. Thomas Christians. But unfortunately there is no historical evidence available pointing to the service of the lay catechists adopted in the ministry of catechesis in the Syro-Malabar Church till the beginning of the 20th century. This was a new adaptation in the ministry of catechesis in Syro-Malabar Church. Therefore this may not have had much influence among the St. Thomas Christians. “Syro-Malabar Church can boast of having one of the best catechetical systems in the entire Catholic world. Organized efforts for the catechesis of children are made in all the parishes of the Church.” As we have seen earlier, attached to every parish there is a school to give catechetical formation to the students. This school functions on Sundays.  “Among the St. Thomas Christians the term “Catechist” is understood in its narrow sense-the religion teachers of Sunday school. Therefore they are usually called Sunday School Teachers”. The role of the catechist in the Syro-Malabar Church is to give formation to the students in this school. They are a group of unpaid teachers, with or without formal systematic training. In the KCBC meeting of January 11, 1968 there was a discussion regarding the lay catechists. The main suggestions raised in the discussion were regarding the salary of the catechists and their basic training. This was the first Church level discussion conducted in Kerala regarding the catechists. The suggestion regarding the salary was never materialized, and now catechists render their services voluntarily to the community. From this discussion onwards the Kerala Church began to think about the formation of her catechists.

Formation of Lay Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church

Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church are usually selected by the parish priests. They are to be from practicing Catholic families, and must have a good reputation in the parish community. For their selection the common criterion followed is whether they are practicing their faith than their theological studies. Most of the catechists come from good families. So they are people who experience the life of faith in their families. This does not mean that they do not need any formation for their catechetical ministry. In former days they were given sufficient training by the parish priests themselves or experts were arranged to come to the parish church to give the necessary guidance to the selected candidates for the ministry. Later it becomes the shared duty of the diocesan catechetical director and the parish priests. The parish priests would ask the diocesan director to send persons to train the catechists. Later catechetical formation centres and animation teams came into existence in almost all the dioceses. After the establishment of the POC, the training of the catechists has taken on a new shape. Courses are offered to make the catechists competent for their catechetical ministry. Appreciating the progress in Kerala, Fr. D. S. Amalorpavadass, the pioneer of the Indian Catechetical movement, said: “It is no flattery to say that a miracle is happening in Kerala. The Church has started moving resolutely towards a radical renewal of Christian life in the region”. One of the decisions of the All Kerala Catechetical Meeting of 1968 was that “the best scholars available in the dioceses and religious congregations should be secured to staff the POC”. Thus POC offers a one year course in scripture, theology, philosophy, liturgy, catechetics, sociology…etc. Media education programmes and various psychological training programmes are also conducted here. As we have seen earlier the Kerala Church is somewhat unique. Here there are three particular individual Churches. Hence there was criticism that in the training programme of the POC, there was no stress on the heritage, liturgy and spirituality of any of the particular Churches of Kerala. Though the idea of the pioneers was to have a common training institute for all the three Churches in Kerala, some bishops later did not show interest in sending their students to the POC. Gradually the formation of catechists became more of a diocesan affair. At present all the dioceses have well equipped catechetical centres with trained resource teams, under the guidance of a diocesan director. These centres organize two types of training programmes for catechists, basic training programmes and ongoing formation programmes. The ‘Basic Catechetical Teachers Course’ (BCTC) or ‘Catechist Training Programme’ (CTP) is mainly intended for beginners. Ongoing formation is given with the intention of helping the catechists to meet the day to day needs in their catechetical ministry.

It is true that to a certain extent the above said BCTC and CTP programmes help the catechists to get formation in the ministry of catechesis at the diocesan level. But there is no organized system or programme for their formation for the whole Church. The result is that some of these catechists are not so much capable of explaining the catechism and also the faith formation of the growing generation. The recently published catechetical directory of the Syro-Malabar Church, ‘Call and Response’, also points to the importance of the basic formation of catechists in the Church. Though the structure of the synodal commission for catechesis is formed, its functioning is not yet started.

Issues and Challenges Regarding the Formation of Lay Catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church Today

Everybody agrees that it is important to give at least a basic formation to the catechists either before one is appointed as a catechist or in the first year of service. But it is not an easy task to give sufficient training to them. Here, I will try to mention some issues and challenges regarding the formation of the lay catechists in the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala. I have had an opportunity to work as a forane/regional catechetical director for two years. During this period I tried to conduct some kind of training programmes for the catechists. On the basis of that experience and also the contact with various diocesan directors we are drafting the existing challenges in the formation of lay catechists.

1. Economic problems:

It is not an easy task to raise funds for the training of the catechists. Catechists may not have interest to paying for their training programmesbecause after this training they are to give voluntary service for the community.

2. Non-availability of time:

In the Syro-Malabar Church there are no full-time catechists. They are occupied with their own job and other duties. Therefore it is not an easy task to find time for their formation.

3. Disinterest on the part of some trainees:

In the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala all the catechists are giving voluntary service. Therefore they may not have any interest to participate the training programmes. Moreover, they are not so much conscious of the importance of this formation in their ministry.

4. Disinterest on the part of some Parish priests:

Though not all, there are a few Parish priests consider these training programmes useless. They think that the catechists are teaching the children and they have more knowledge than the children; therefore a special training programme is not so important. Hence, to a certain extent disinterest on the part of the parish priests is also a problem for this training programme.

5. Disinterest of the parish community:

To a certain extent it is true that the parish community is also not fully serious about the catechetical ministry and the training of their Catechists.

6. Diversity within the group of the catechists itself:

Sometimes there is much diversity among the catechists themselves in the same parish, regarding the intellectual abilities, education standards, age level, social status, etc. Because of this diversity some of them are not so interested to participating with others in the training programmes. It is not an easy task to conduct training programmes for the catechists as in the case of secular teachers.

7. Non availability of resource persons:

It is not an easy task to find well educated resource persons to conduct training programmes in every region.

8. Motivation:

All the catechists are not really motivated for this ministry. Some are coming with some prior ambitions.

9. Lack of a systematic approach:

It is true that to a certain extent there are different kinds of training programmes for the lay catechists in almost all the dioceses. But most of them are not well organized. So, after attending these training programmes the participants may not be happy. Therefore the parish priests may not show any interest in sending others to attend these training programmes.

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History of Mangalapuzha Seminary

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on July 13, 2012

A Glance Through Its History

(Dr Pallipurathukunnel (+2011) was a professor of Church History at the Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Alwaye. The article by him is a brief history of the priestly training programme in Kerala from the ancient to modern times. It also traces the growth of the Mangalapuzha Seminary and highlights the contributions which the Carmelite Missionaries have made in this field.)

St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Mangalapuzha is a Major Seminary of the Syro-Malabar Church of the St. Thomas Christians. It is the continuation of several Seminaries and the outcome of the centralization of the priestly formation in Kerala. It has a long history of untiring service and selfless sacrifice of several missionaries, native clergy and laity.

Until the sixteenth century the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala followed the general system of education of Malabar known as ‘Gurukulavasam’, which means living with the teacher. Such a system of the formation of the clergy was known as Malpanate.

Seminaries under European Missionaries

With the arrival of the European Missionaries in India in the sixteenth century Seminaries, after the model of the formation houses of Europe according to the prescriptions of the council of Trent, were started by the missionaries belonging to different Religious Orders. These Seminaries helped much in raising the standard of the clergy. With the opening of such Seminaries the Malpanate system gradually died out.

1. The Franciscan Seminary At Cranganore: 1541

A Portuguese Franciscan missionary, Frey Viacente de Lagos started a college /Seminary at Cranganore in 1541. He had the support of the bishop of the St. Thomas Christians, Mar Jacob (1502-1522) and of Fr. George, a St. Thomas Christian priest who studied in Portugal. St. Francis Xavier in his letter to the king of Portugal praised the attempt of Frey Viacente. There were about 100 students in this seminary when the saint wrote this letter.

This seminary was a failure because the missionaries did not take care to teach Syriac, the liturgical language of the St. Thomas Christians. Hence those who studied there could not administer the sacraments in the parishes of the St. Thomas Christians. The priests, who were ordained here, were disowned by them. They served the Latin diocese of Cochin. Mar Joseph, the successor of Mar Jacob, refused to ordain anyone who had studied in this seminary because of the lack of the knowledge of Syriac.

This Seminary was under the jurisdiction of Goa. The college continued to be under the Franciscans even after the establishment of Vaippicotta Seminary by the Jesuits. This college was a success in the sense that it produced well trained and good Latin priests from the community of the St. Thomas Christians. But in another sense, it was a failure since those trained there could be of no use to the St, Thomas Christians themselves. So the St. Thomas Christians stopped sending their children to this seminary and thus it came to an end.

2. The Jesuit Seminary At Vaippicotta: 1581

The Jesuits started a seminary at Vaippicotta in 1581 for St. Thomas Christians. Fr. Francis Roz S.J. was the Rector and the he taught Syriac in 1584. The excellent teaching in the seminary really attracted the St. Thomas Christians and they sent their children to it. It was under the jurisdiction of Mar Abraham, the bishop of the St. Thomas Christians.

This seminary became very famous. It was staffed by the Jesuits. There were 50 or 60 students who were taught the Humanities, Latin, Chaldean, the case of conscience, the rudiments of catholic faith and liturgy.

In 1627, the yogam at Edapilly decided to suppress Malpanates and to give instructions to send the students to Vaippicotta seminary. The following directions were given to the seminary :

To limit the number of admissions to Vaippicotta seminary

To select candidates from noble families

To select only the best to priesthood

To reach others to live as good Christians

Regarding the piety and exemplary life of the students of this seminary, there is a report of 1597. They increased more and more every day in number as well as in diligence to piety. Every fifteen days they receive the sacraments, sometimes more frequently. They do various penances and fasts. They are taught Syriac and Latin. They recite prayers at fixed hours every day. They speak about divine things with ardour.

When the Dutch captured the Portuguese possession of Cochin in 1663, the Jesuits were expelled from Vaippicotta and the seminary was turned to an asylum for lepers. They shifted the seminary to their house at Ambalakad, which was started in 1662. At Ambalakad the seminary for the Syrians was different from the Jesuit house of studies. This seminary was closed down legally with the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773. It was destroyed in 1789 during the raid of Tippu Sultan.

3. The Dominican Seminary At Kaduthuruthy: 1624

Fr. Francesco Donati, a Dominican, started a seminary at Kaduthuruthy for the St. Thomas Christians in 1624. He built a church dedicated to Our Lady and the seminary was attached to it. In the seminary Syriac was taught and Donati celebrated Holy Mass in Syriac and spoke Malayalam, the language of Kerala. The Jesuits opposed the entrance of the Dominicans to Kerala. The Jesuit archbishop Stephen Britto S.J. wrote to the Jesuit General and the Propaganda congregation to ask the Dominicans to withdraw from Kaduthuruthy. The Archdeacon favoured the Dominicans. In 1628 the Archdeacon wrote to the Pope against the Jesuits and recommended Fr. Francesco Donati to be appointed coadjutor bishop of Angamaly. Rome was in favour of such a step. Fr. Donati was called to Rome but on the way he has killed by the Moors. We do not know how long this seminary continued to function and when it ceased to exist.

4. The Discalzed Carmelite Seminary At Verapoly: 1682

Fr. Peter Paul of St. Therese OCD, a Carmelite missionary, started a seminary at Verapoly for the St. Thomas Christians in 1682. He appointed Bartholomew Anna, a Maronite priest to teach Syriac there. He requested the Propaganda to grant certain privileges and favours for the new seminary. This seminary ceased to function on account of the fight between the Propaganda and the Padoado and financial difficulties.

5. The Seminary At Verapoly And Alengad Under Propaganda: 1766 – 1866

After the Coonan Cross Oath in 1653, the Catholic St. Thomas Christians – the Syrians – became divided under two jurisdictions, i.e. Padroado and Propaganda. They could choose to be under any of these jurisdictions. In 1766 a seminary under Propaganda was instituted at Verapoly for the Latins and another at Alengad for the Syrian Catholics. In 1774 both the Latins and the Syrians were put together at Verapoly. Due to the dissension between the Carmelite missionaries and the Syrian clergy, the Syrians demanded separation of the Syrian students from the Latins. Therefore the unification was postponed to a suitable time. The Syrians were trained separately and mostly in the Malpanates and in the seminary at Alengad until 1854. Therefore there was no uniformity in the training of the clergy.

6. The Seminaries Under Native Carmelites

In 1854 all the Malpanates were suppressed and all the Syrian students were sent to five seminaries, namely those at Mannanam, Pallipuram, Pulincunnu, Vazhakulam and Elthuruthu. They were run by Syrian Carmelites. The Latin students continued to stay at Verapoly.

7. The Seminary Under Padroado: 1867 – 1886

The Syrian Catholics under Padroado had no seminary of their own, while those under Propaganda had seminaries conducted by the Carmelites at Verapoly and Alengad. Besides, the Syrian Catholics also wished to reestablish the extinct seminary of Vaippicotta. Therefore, 55 Syrian Catholic parishes of Padroado Archdiocese of Cranganore contributed their share towards buying a plot for a new seminary. The sum was entrusted to Parayil Avirah Varkey Tharakan of Thaikkattusserry. Since the amount collected from the parishes was not sufficient, Varkey Tharakan added Rs. 2000 which his great grandfather had given for this purpose and thus brought a property, covering forty acres at Mangalapuzha, Aluva, together with a two storied Bunglow situated in the property, from a European who was the owner – Mr. Schoetlier of Fort Cochin. In 1866 the ownership of the property was transferred and put in the name of the Archbishop of Goa for the purpose of erecting a seminary for the Syrian Catholics.

In 1867 the seminary was duly begun and Syrian Catholic clerics were regularly trained there. It seems that this seminary was run by the diocesan priests. The priests of the Archdiocese of Cranganore used to assemble there for the retreats and conferences. By the conclusion of the concordat with Portugal on 23 June 1886 and the establishment of the Latin Hierarchy of India under Propaganda on 1 September of the same year, the seminary at Mangalapuzha under Padroada ceased to function. The administration of the property was entrusted to the bishop of Cochin who could not of his own accord legally make any transaction relating to this property. The congregation of Extraordinary Affairs decided that the property should be under the Congregation for the Oriental churches,. Since it had been donated by Syrian Catholics.

8. The Central Seminary At Puthenpally: 1866 – 1932

The seminary at Verapoly was shifted to the new buildings at Puthenpally in the year 1866. In 1888 the seminary of Puthenpally was constituted the Major Central seminary for the whole of Malabar and was placed under the immediate jurisdiction of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide. Important changes were made in the curriculum of studies as demanded by the exigencies of time and circumstances. It was during this time that the study of the languages such as Sanskrit, Greek, Hebrew and Malayalam was introduced in the curriculum.

9. The Central Apostolic Seminary At Mangalapuzha, Aluva: 1932

Owing to the increase in the number of the students and the unhealthy location of Puthenpally, a new seminary with better accommodation was built at Mangalapuzha, Aluva, the same location of Padrado Seminary. On 1 June 1932, the Theological section was transferred from Puthenpally to the new seminary which was still under construction. In December of the same year, when more accommodation was made available in the new seminary, the Philosophy section too was transferred to Mangalapuzha. The official inauguration of the new seminary was performed on 28 January 1933 by Most Rev. Dr. Leo P. Kierkels C.P., the then Apostolic Delegate of India. The seminarians at that time numbered 274. On 2 January 1951 the inauguration and blessing of the chapel of the seminary by Most Rev. Dr. Leo P. Kierkels took place.

The increase in the clerical vocations necessitated further extension. The strength of the seminary in 1954 was 486 even though the maximum capacity of the seminary with all the extensions made was only for 450 students. The problem was soon solved when on 24 November 1955 the new Philosophical Seminary later named ‘Pontifical College, Carmelgiri’ was solemnly blessed and inaugurated by His Grace Most Rev. Martin Lucas, the then Apostolic Internuncio to India.

10. Further Development Of Mangalapuzha Seminary : The St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary

In 1964 the seminary was raised to Pontifical status by the Holy See. His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. James Robert Knox read the Papal Brief at a public meeting in the seminary on 14 June 1964.The Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (K.C.B.C.) was entrusted with the direction and administration of the Seminary On 12 June 1976. On 27 October 1973, a formal request was made by the Superior General of the Carmelite Order for the transfer of the direction and administration from the Superior General of the Order to the Catholic Hierarchy of Kerala. On 12 June 1976 the Congregation for the Oriental Churches communicated to the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Conference the decision of the Congregation for the Oriental churches and the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples to transfer the direction of the seminary to the K.C.B.C. The letters of the Congregations recall the concern of the two Congregations for the well-being and progress of the Pontifical Seminary and its continuance as a model of inter-ritual cooperation. The statutes of the Seminary approved by the two Congregations state ‘St. Joseph’s Pontifical is a pluriritual institution, common to the three Rites, namely the Syro-Malabar, the Latin and the Syro-Malankara. The seminary belongs to the Holy See and its direction and administration is entrusted to the Conference of Bishops of the three Rites of Kerala, subject to the high authority of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples’.

The Church of Kerala is greatly indebted to the dedicated missionaries of the Carmelite Order for the excellent formation they had imparted to the clergy of Kerala for over three centuries. It is a matter of great joy and honour for the seminary that the Cause for the beatification of two of its former professors, Fr. Aurelian OCD and Fr. Zacharias OCD has been taken up. Fr. Aurelian had served the seminary for 51 years and Fr. Zacharias for 45 years.

Mangalapuzha Seminary: The Major Seminary of the Syro-Malabar church

The request of the KCBC to reorganize the seminary on the basis of the Rites was approved by the Holy See in 1996. Concrete steps for the implementation of the project were taken at the end of the academic year 1996-1997. With academic year 1997-1998 Mangalapuzha section started to function as the Major Seminary of the Syro-Malabar Church. Now the seminary is subject to the Holy See under the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and its direction and administration are entrusted to the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Synod.

The objective of the seminary is to provide priestly formation to the seminarians of the Syro-Malabar Eparchies. Members of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic life who are preparing themselves for priestly ministry as well as seminarians of other Eastern Churches may also be admitted according to the availability of accommodation.

The programme of formation given here aims at the development of a fully integrated priestly personality taking into account the human, spiritual, intellectual, pastoral and missionary dimensions of priestly formation. While giving this formation the seminary also gives particular emphasis to the study of traditions and heritages of the Church of St. Thomas Christians and of other Eastern Churches taking into consideration the religious and cultural context of India. The seminary also gives importance to inter religious dialogue particularly with the religions of India. There are also con-curricular activities as part of the seminary formation such as cultural academies to train the students in the art of public speaking, social work in order to create in them concern for the poor, the pastoral work for the Theology students to give them pastoral experience.

Mangalapuzha seminary has been blessed with the presence of about 22 resident members of the staff and almost an equal number of visiting staff. Regular staff meetings, prayer sessions and an exclusive annual retreat help to motivate and mobilize them in the desired direction of seminary life and formation.

The Pontifical Institute of Theology & Philosophy

On February 24, 1972, the congregation for Catholic Education issued a decree erecting a Theological Faculty in the Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye. The first step towards the realization of the plan for a Faculty had been taken on October 1959, when the Congregation issued a decree affiliating the theology department of the Seminary with the Lateran University. With this, the theology department of the Seminary became “Studium Theologicum” which was governed by norms given by the University and a convention between the Rector of the Lateran University and the Rector of the seminary. In April 1971, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council sent a petition to the Congregation for the erection of an autonomous Faculty. On February 24, 1972, the Congregation for Catholic education issued the decree erecting the Theological Faculty in the Pontifical seminary. The decree granted the new Faculty all the rights and privileges which were enjoyed by Theological Faculties. It also empowered the Faculty to confer suitable degrees to students who are successful in their studies and research. The power of conferring the degrees of Bachelor and Master (Licentiate) in theology was explicitly granted. On 15th February 1973, the Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Alwaye, was officially inaugurated by His Excellecy, the Most Rev.Dr.John Gordon, the then Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to India. On 25th April 1997, through a decree the congregation for Catholic Education separated the Pontifical Institute from the Pontifical Seminary. At present the Pontifical Institute functions at two separate campuses – Mangalapuzha and Carmelgiri, and offers simultaneously courses of theology and philosophy in both campuses

At present the Institute is empowered to confer the following degrees. Bachelor of Philosophy; Bachelor of Theology; Master of theology; Doctor of theology. For the degree of Master of theology Spiritual theology, dogmatic theology, Pastoral theology and Counseling and Biblical theology are offered by the Institute as branches of specialization

Though the St.Joseph’s Pontifical seminary has been reorganized on the basis of rites(the Mangalapuzha section for the Syro Malabar Church and the Carmeligiri section for the Latins), the Pontifical Institute remains common and is autonomous It is governed by the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council.(K.C.B.C.)

The academic community of the seminary is composed of two categories, namely the resident students and the day scholars. The latter have their religious study houses around the seminary and come to the seminary only for class. The resident students are mainly from the Syro-Malabar dioceses in Kerala and outside. There are also a few students belonging to the Syro-Malankara dioceses and a handful from religious communities having no houses nearby. The number of resident students is 280 and of the day scholars is 144 in the academic year 2006-2007.

Mangalapuzha seminary has been maintaining a close collaboration with other seminaries. A common “Programme for Formators” for the staff of the Syro-Malabar seminaries was organized under the auspices of the Syro-Malabar synod of bishops. Informal meetings of the staff of the seminaries were also held with sharing sessions. Such gatherings help the staff to know each other, to share the problems of formation in each seminary and eventually to arrive at solutions. As far as the students of various seminaries are concerned there are inter-seminary matches in Volleyball and Basketball, inter-seminary Quiz Competition, debate Competition, Homily Competition etc.

Mangalapuzha seminary has a cemetery chapel, which is a place of pilgrimage. The bodies of Venerable Aurelian OCD and the Servant of God Zacharias OCD of blessed memory rested there for decades. Their mortal remains were solemnly transferred to the special tombs in the Carmelite Monastery Church at Manjummel.

As regards the finance of the seminary the various papal agencies, namely CNEWA, Opus Sancti Petri and MISSIO have been rendering wonderful service to the seminary. The Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Congregation for the Catholic Education render special care and support to the seminary and its activities.

The undivided St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Mangalapuzha, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of its transfer from Puthenpally to Mangalapuzha on 9th and 10th of March 1983. This year 2007 the seminary celebrates the Platinum Jubilee of its transfer to Mangalapuzha. On this occasion the seminary remembers with gratitude all benefactors and the zealous discalzed Carmelite missionaries for their outstanding contribution to the Church in Kerala especially in the field of priestly formation. The statement of Msgr. Martin Lucas SVD, the then Apostolic Internuncio, on the occasion of the inauguration of Carmelgiri seminary on 24 November 1955, is the best compliment for them. “If the Carmelite Fathers had done nothing else for the Church in Kerala,but build these two splendid and magnificent seminaries, India would never forget them”.

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History of Mangalapuzha Seminary

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on June 23, 2012

Mangalapuzha Seminary

A Glance Through Its History

(Dr.Pallipurathukunnel is professor of Church History at the Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Alwaye. The article is a brief history of the priestly training programme in Kerala from the ancient to modern times .It also traces the growth of the Mangalapuzha Seminary and highlights the contributions which the Carmelite Missionaries have made in this field.)

St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Mangalapuzha is a Major Seminary of the Syro-Malabar Church of the St. Thomas Christians. It is the continuation of several Seminaries and the outcome of the centralization of the priestly formation in Kerala. It has a long history of untiring service and selfless sacrifice of several missionaries, native clergy and laity.

Until the sixteenth century the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala followed the general system of education of Malabar known as ‘Gurukulavasam’, which means living with the teacher. Such a system of the formation of the clergy was known as Malpanate.

Seminaries under European Missionaries

With the arrival of the European Missionaries in India in the sixteenth century Seminaries, after the model of the formation houses of Europe according to the prescriptions of the council of Trent, were started by the missionaries belonging to different Religious Orders. These Seminaries helped much in raising the standard of the clergy. With the opening of such Seminaries the Malpanate system gradually died out.

1. The Franciscan Seminary At Cranganore: 1541

A Portuguese Franciscan missionary, Frey Viacente de Lagos started a college /Seminary at Cranganore in 1541. He had the support of the bishop of the St. Thomas Christians, Mar Jacob (1502-1522) and of Fr. George, a St. Thomas Christian priest who studied in Portugal. St. Francis Xavier in his letter to the king of Portugal praised the attempt of Frey Viacente. There were about 100 students in this seminary when the saint wrote this letter.

This seminary was a failure because the missionaries did not take care to teach Syriac, the liturgical language of the St. Thomas Christians. Hence those who studied there could not administer the sacraments in the parishes of the St. Thomas Christians. The priests, who were ordained here, were disowned by them. They served the Latin diocese of Cochin. Mar Joseph, the successor of Mar Jacob, refused to ordain anyone who had studied in this seminary because of the lack of the knowledge of Syriac.

This Seminary was under the jurisdiction of Goa. The college continued to be under the Franciscans even after the establishment of Vaippicotta Seminary by the Jesuits. This college was a success in the sense that it produced well trained and good Latin priests from the community of the St. Thomas Christians. But in another sense, it was a failure since those trained there could be of no use to the St, Thomas Christians themselves. So the St. Thomas Christians stopped sending their children to this seminary and thus it came to an end.

2. The Jesuit Seminary At Vaippicotta: 1581

The Jesuits started a seminary at Vaippicotta in 1581 for St. Thomas Christians. Fr. Francis Roz S.J. was the Rector and the he taught Syriac in 1584. The excellent teaching in the seminary really attracted the St. Thomas Christians and they sent their children to it. It was under the jurisdiction of Mar Abraham, the bishop of the St. Thomas Christians.

This seminary became very famous. It was staffed by the Jesuits. There were 50 or 60 students who were taught the Humanities, Latin, Chaldean, the case of conscience, the rudiments of catholic faith and liturgy.

In 1627, the yogam at Edapilly decided to suppress Malpanates and to give instructions to send the students to Vaippicotta seminary. The following directions were given to the seminary :

To limit the number of admissions to Vaippicotta seminary

To select candidates from noble families

To select only the best to priesthood

To reach others to live as good Christians

Regarding the piety and exemplary life of the students of this seminary, there is a report of 1597. They increased more and more every day in number as well as in diligence to piety. Every fifteen days they receive the sacraments, sometimes more frequently. They do various penances and fasts. They are taught Syriac and Latin. They recite prayers at fixed hours every day. They speak about divine things with ardour.

When the Dutch captured the Portuguese possession of Cochin in 1663, the Jesuits were expelled from Vaippicotta and the seminary was turned to an asylum for lepers. They shifted the seminary to their house at Ambalakad, which was started in 1662. At Ambalakad the seminary for the Syrians was different from the Jesuit house of studies. This seminary was closed down legally with the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773. It was destroyed in 1789 during the raid of Tippu Sultan.

3. The Dominican Seminary At Kaduthuruthy: 1624

Fr. Francesco Donati, a Dominican, started a seminary at Kaduthuruthy for the St. Thomas Christians in 1624. He built a church dedicated to Our Lady and the seminary was attached to it. In the seminary Syriac was taught and Donati celebrated Holy Mass in Syriac and spoke Malayalam, the language of Kerala. The Jesuits opposed the entrance of the Dominicans to Kerala. The Jesuit archbishop Stephen Britto S.J. wrote to the Jesuit General and the Propaganda congregation to ask the Dominicans to withdraw from Kaduthuruthy. The Archdeacon favoured the Dominicans. In 1628 the Archdeacon wrote to the Pope against the Jesuits and recommended Fr. Francesco Donati to be appointed coadjutor bishop of Angamaly. Rome was in favour of such a step. Fr. Donati was called to Rome but on the way he has killed by the Moors. We do not know how long this seminary continued to function and when it ceased to exist.

4. The Discalzed Carmelite Seminary At Verapoly: 1682

Fr. Peter Paul of St. Therese OCD, a Carmelite missionary, started a seminary at Verapoly for the St. Thomas Christians in 1682. He appointed Bartholomew Anna, a Maronite priest to teach Syriac there. He requested the Propaganda to grant certain privileges and favours for the new seminary. This seminary ceased to function on account of the fight between the Propaganda and the Padoado and financial difficulties.

5. The Seminary At Verapoly And Alengad Under Propaganda: 1766 – 1866

After the Coonan Cross Oath in 1653, the Catholic St. Thomas Christians – the Syrians – became divided under two jurisdictions, i.e. Padroado and Propaganda. They could choose to be under any of these jurisdictions. In 1766 a seminary under Propaganda was instituted at Verapoly for the Latins and another at Alengad for the Syrian Catholics. In 1774 both the Latins and the Syrians were put together at Verapoly. Due to the dissension between the Carmelite missionaries and the Syrian clergy, the Syrians demanded separation of the Syrian students from the Latins. Therefore the unification was postponed to a suitable time. The Syrians were trained separately and mostly in the Malpanates and in the seminary at Alengad until 1854. Therefore there was no uniformity in the training of the clergy.

6. The Seminaries Under Native Carmelites

In 1854 all the Malpanates were suppressed and all the Syrian students were sent to five seminaries, namely those at Mannanam, Pallipuram, Pulincunnu, Vazhakulam and Elthuruthu. They were run by Syrian Carmelites. The Latin students continued to stay at Verapoly.

7. The Seminary Under Padroado: 1867 – 1886

The Syrian Catholics under Padroado had no seminary of their own, while those under Propaganda had seminaries conducted by the Carmelites at Verapoly and Alengad. Besides, the Syrian Catholics also wished to reestablish the extinct seminary of Vaippicotta. Therefore, 55 Syrian Catholic parishes of Padroado Archdiocese of Cranganore contributed their share towards buying a plot for a new seminary. The sum was entrusted to Parayil Avirah Varkey Tharakan of Thaikkattusserry. Since the amount collected from the parishes was not sufficient, Varkey Tharakan added Rs. 2000 which his great grandfather had given for this purpose and thus brought a property, covering forty acres at Mangalapuzha, Aluva, together with a two storied Bunglow situated in the property, from a European who was the owner – Mr. Schoetlier of Fort Cochin. In 1866 the ownership of the property was transferred and put in the name of the Archbishop of Goa for the purpose of erecting a seminary for the Syrian Catholics.

In 1867 the seminary was duly begun and Syrian Catholic clerics were regularly trained there. It seems that this seminary was run by the diocesan priests. The priests of the Archdiocese of Cranganore used to assemble there for the retreats and conferences. By the conclusion of the concordat with Portugal on 23 June 1886 and the establishment of the Latin Hierarchy of India under Propaganda on 1 September of the same year, the seminary at Mangalapuzha under Padroada ceased to function. The administration of the property was entrusted to the bishop of Cochin who could not of his own accord legally make any transaction relating to this property. The congregation of Extraordinary Affairs decided that the property should be under the Congregation for the Oriental churches,. Since it had been donated by Syrian Catholics.

8. The Central Seminary At Puthenpally: 1866 – 1932

The seminary at Verapoly was shifted to the new buildings at Puthenpally in the year 1866. In 1888 the seminary of Puthenpally was constituted the Major Central seminary for the whole of Malabar and was placed under the immediate jurisdiction of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide. Important changes were made in the curriculum of studies as demanded by the exigencies of time and circumstances. It was during this time that the study of the languages such as Sanskrit, Greek, Hebrew and Malayalam was introduced in the curriculum.

9. The Central Apostolic Seminary At Mangalapuzha, Aluva: 1932

Owing to the increase in the number of the students and the unhealthy location of Puthenpally, a new seminary with better accommodation was built at Mangalapuzha, Aluva, the same location of Padrado Seminary. On 1 June 1932, the Theological section was transferred from Puthenpally to the new seminary which was still under construction. In December of the same year, when more accommodation was made available in the new seminary, the Philosophy section too was transferred to Mangalapuzha. The official inauguration of the new seminary was performed on 28 January 1933 by Most Rev. Dr. Leo P. Kierkels C.P., the then Apostolic Delegate of India. The seminarians at that time numbered 274. On 2 January 1951 the inauguration and blessing of the chapel of the seminary by Most Rev. Dr. Leo P. Kierkels took place.

The increase in the clerical vocations necessitated further extension. The strength of the seminary in 1954 was 486 even though the maximum capacity of the seminary with all the extensions made was only for 450 students. The problem was soon solved when on 24 November 1955 the new Philosophical Seminary later named ‘Pontifical College, Carmelgiri’ was solemnly blessed and inaugurated by His Grace Most Rev. Martin Lucas, the then Apostolic Internuncio to India.

10. Further Development Of Mangalapuzha Seminary : The St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary

In 1964 the seminary was raised to Pontifical status by the Holy See. His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. James Robert Knox read the Papal Brief at a public meeting in the seminary on 14 June 1964.The Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (K.C.B.C.) was entrusted with the direction and administration of the Seminary On 12 June 1976. On 27 October 1973, a formal request was made by the Superior General of the Carmelite Order for the transfer of the direction and administration from the Superior General of the Order to the Catholic Hierarchy of Kerala. On 12 June 1976 the Congregation for the Oriental Churches communicated to the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Conference the decision of the Congregation for the Oriental churches and the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples to transfer the direction of the seminary to the K.C.B.C. The letters of the Congregations recall the concern of the two Congregations for the well-being and progress of the Pontifical Seminary and its continuance as a model of inter-ritual cooperation. The statutes of the Seminary approved by the two Congregations state ‘St. Joseph’s Pontifical is a pluriritual institution, common to the three Rites, namely the Syro-Malabar, the Latin and the Syro-Malankara. The seminary belongs to the Holy See and its direction and administration is entrusted to the Conference of Bishops of the three Rites of Kerala, subject to the high authority of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples’.

The Church of Kerala is greatly indebted to the dedicated missionaries of the Carmelite Order for the excellent formation they had imparted to the clergy of Kerala for over three centuries. It is a matter of great joy and honour for the seminary that the Cause for the beatification of two of its former professors, Fr. Aurelian OCD and Fr. Zacharias OCD has been taken up. Fr. Aurelian had served the seminary for 51 years and Fr. Zacharias for 45 years.

Mangalapuzha Seminary: The Major Seminary of the Syro-Malabar church

The request of the KCBC to reorganize the seminary on the basis of the Rites was approved by the Holy See in 1996. Concrete steps for the implementation of the project were taken at the end of the academic year 1996-1997. With academic year 1997-1998 Mangalapuzha section started to function as the Major Seminary of the Syro-Malabar Church. Now the seminary is subject to the Holy See under the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and its direction and administration are entrusted to the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Synod.

The objective of the seminary is to provide priestly formation to the seminarians of the Syro-Malabar Eparchies. Members of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic life who are preparing themselves for priestly ministry as well as seminarians of other Eastern Churches may also be admitted according to the availability of accommodation.

The programme of formation given here aims at the development of a fully integrated priestly personality taking into account the human, spiritual, intellectual, pastoral and missionary dimensions of priestly formation. While giving this formation the seminary also gives particular emphasis to the study of traditions and heritages of the Church of St. Thomas Christians and of other Eastern Churches taking into consideration the religious and cultural context of India. The seminary also gives importance to inter religious dialogue particularly with the religions of India. There are also con-curricular activities as part of the seminary formation such as cultural academies to train the students in the art of public speaking, social work in order to create in them concern for the poor, the pastoral work for the Theology students to give them pastoral experience.

Mangalapuzha seminary has been blessed with the presence of about 22 resident members of the staff and almost an equal number of visiting staff. Regular staff meetings, prayer sessions and an exclusive annual retreat help to motivate and mobilize them in the desired direction of seminary life and formation.

The Pontifical Institute of Theology & Philosophy

On February 24, 1972, the congregation for Catholic Education issued a decree erecting a Theological Faculty in the Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye. The first step towards the realization of the plan for a Faculty had been taken on October 1959, when the Congregation issued a decree affiliating the theology department of the Seminary with the Lateran University. With this, the theology department of the Seminary became “Studium Theologicum” which was governed by norms given by the University and a convention between the Rector of the Lateran University and the Rector of the seminary. In April 1971, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council sent a petition to the Congregation for the erection of an autonomous Faculty. On February 24, 1972, the Congregation for Catholic education issued the decree erecting the Theological Faculty in the Pontifical seminary. The decree granted the new Faculty all the rights and privileges which were enjoyed by Theological Faculties. It also empowered the Faculty to confer suitable degrees to students who are successful in their studies and research. The power of conferring the degrees of Bachelor and Master (Licentiate) in theology was explicitly granted. On 15th February 1973, the Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Alwaye, was officially inaugurated by His Excellecy, the Most Rev.Dr.John Gordon, the then Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to India. On 25th April 1997, through a decree the congregation for Catholic Education separated the Pontifical Institute from the Pontifical Seminary. At present the Pontifical Institute functions at two separate campuses – Mangalapuzha and Carmelgiri, and offers simultaneously courses of theology and philosophy in both campuses

At present the Institute is empowered to confer the following degrees. Bachelor of Philosophy; Bachelor of Theology; Master of theology; Doctor of theology. For the degree of Master of theology Spiritual theology, dogmatic theology, Pastoral theology and Counseling and Biblical theology are offered by the Institute as branches of specialization

Though the St.Joseph’s Pontifical seminary has been reorganized on the basis of rites(the Mangalapuzha section for the Syro Malabar Church and the Carmeligiri section for the Latins), the Pontifical Institute remains common and is autonomous It is governed by the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council.(K.C.B.C.)

The academic community of the seminary is composed of two categories, namely the resident students and the day scholars. The latter have their religious study houses around the seminary and come to the seminary only for class. The resident students are mainly from the Syro-Malabar dioceses in Kerala and outside. There are also a few students belonging to the Syro-Malankara dioceses and a handful from religious communities having no houses nearby. The number of resident students is 280 and of the day scholars is 144 in the academic year 2006-2007.

Mangalapuzha seminary has been maintaining a close collaboration with other seminaries. A common “Programme for Formators” for the staff of the Syro-Malabar seminaries was organized under the auspices of the Syro-Malabar synod of bishops. Informal meetings of the staff of the seminaries were also held with sharing sessions. Such gatherings help the staff to know each other, to share the problems of formation in each seminary and eventually to arrive at solutions. As far as the students of various seminaries are concerned there are inter-seminary matches in Volleyball and Basketball, inter-seminary Quiz Competition, debate Competition, Homily Competition etc.

Mangalapuzha seminary has a cemetery chapel, which is a place of pilgrimage. The bodies of Venerable Aurelian OCD and the Servant of God Zacharias OCD of blessed memory rested there for decades. Their mortal remains were solemnly transferred to the special tombs in the Carmelite Monastery Church at Manjummel.

As regards the finance of the seminary the various papal agencies, namely CNEWA, Opus Sancti Petri and MISSIO have been rendering wonderful service to the seminary. The Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Congregation for the Catholic Education render special care and support to the seminary and its activities.

The undivided St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Mangalapuzha, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of its transfer from Puthenpally to Mangalapuzha on 9th and 10th of March 1983. This year 2007 the seminary celebrates the Platinum Jubilee of its transfer to Mangalapuzha. On this occasion the seminary remembers with gratitude all benefactors and the zealous discalzed Carmelite missionaries for their outstanding contribution to the Church in Kerala especially in the field of priestly formation. The statement of Msgr. Martin Lucas SVD, the then Apostolic Internuncio, on the occasion of the inauguration of Carmelgiri seminary on 24 November 1955, is the best compliment for them. “If the Carmelite Fathers had done nothing else for the Church in Kerala,but build these two splendid and magnificent seminaries, India would never forget them”.

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