The effectiveness of a Priest’s mission can be gauged by the kind of formation in the seminary. The type of formation can be measured by its relevance in today’s pluralistic society. The more relevant our seminary is the more will our priests able to cope up and face the challenges of the modern world. The modern world needs priests with leadership qualities, zeal, initiative, courage but above all men of God. St. Michael’s seminary,
In the mind of Bishop Michael Rodrigues the first Bishop the Minor Seminary was to be combined with an apostolic school. This is what he wrote to
The Minor Seminary as envisaged by Bishop Coutinho was different. It made its humble beginnings in three buildings ‘Nirmal Niketan, Shanti Bhuvan and Bethania’ next to the Bishop’s house and the Cathedral on June 5, 1965. It was founded by the last Bishop Fortunato da Veiga Coutinho and named St. Michael’s Minor Seminary in memory of the first Bishop of Belgaum, Michael Rodrigues. That morning there was a solemn mass at the Cathedral at 8 a.m. celebrated by the Inter –Nuncio to
Gradually there was a steep increase in vocations and the need was felt for a more spacious building. Fr. Alvares had procured in 1966 eight acres of land strategically located at Mache for the seminary. In the early evening of December 8, 1966, Valerian Cardinal Gracias, the then Archbishop of Mumbai, who had come to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception church, Belgaum, blessed and laid the foundation stone of the new building at Mache. The plans were prepared by R.S Beri, Architects and Engineers of Kholhapur. The construction was carried out by Msgr. M. Alvares with the financial support and guidance of Bishop Ignatius Lobo. By March 1970 a good bit of this edifice was complete. So before going home for the holidays the belongings to the seminarians were transferred to the new building in Mache. At the end of May the remaining things of the Seminary were moved there permanently. When more funds were available, Bishop Ignatius ensured that the building of the seminary was not only completed but also extended to accommodate students whose number was increasing.
However, within ten years of starting, the numbers began to drop till there only about six left in the seminary. Then during the long tenure of Fr. Luician Miranda as Rector a big effort was made to get more vocations for the seminary. The number climbed by leaps and bounds till there were almost sixty students. A new wing had to be built. Later there was an urgent need felt to have a new chapel. The plans were drawn up by Mr. Anthony Lobo, architect and engineer, Bishop Ignatius Lobo’s brother, who has designed many a church in the diocese. He offered his service free. The foundation stone was laid by the Rector, Fr. Maurice Mascarenhas, on November 16, 1992 and the chapel was inaugurated and blessed by Bishop Ignatius Lobo on September 29, 1993. In preparation for Yesu Christa Jayanti 2000 and the Diocesan Golden Jubilee some major repairs works were carried out while Bernard Moras was Bishop, which included the construction of two big halls above the present dining room, store rooms and kitchen, two extra guest rooms and a compound wall around the property.
The Seminary Today (Environment): The land around the seminary is filled with a cluster of trees, thanks to the initiative of Archbishop Bernard, then Bishop of Belgaum and the generosity of Fr. Cyril Fernandes who executed the project of planting 2000 teak saplings. Besides there are coconut trees, chikoo trees, jackfruit trees with their counter parts of silver oaks and the acacia which give the seminary shade and freshness of air in the midst of a heavy and polluted industrialized area. Fr. Peter Viegas, the former Rector, spared no efforts to preserve the environment to date.
Formation and Formators:
The main aim of the seminary formation is to help candidates make a free and matured choice for the priesthood. The candidates are helped to remove wrong nations about the priesthood and bring them to grips with the existing reality. In this manner they are able to understand the joys and struggles common to every priest. This ensures they have chosen the priesthood after having thought carefully about all other possibilities of living a meaningful and faithful life.
The seminary staff is a wonderful team- a combination of wisdom of the old and robustness of youth. They have always been inspiring and committed. The contribution of each one of them is unique and special. The students get the maximum from each staff member. The student staff relationship is very cordial. Students can approach a staff member with confidence. They are given the opportunity to build a healthy self- image through their interaction with the staff.
The formation programme of the seminary is patterned on the orientation programme of minor seminaries of the ‘Charter of Priestly Formation for
As we walk down memory lane it is good to place on record the Rectors who were in charge from it’s inception to the present day.
1. Msgr. Manuel Alvares 1965- 1971
2. Fr. J.L.C. Pinto 1971-1975
3. Fr. Luciano Miranda 1976-1983
4. Msgr. Evarist Mascarenhas 1983-1988, 1996-2001
5. Fr. Maurice Mascarenhas 1988-1996
6. Fr. Lucio Mascarenhas 2001-2002
7. Fr. Peter Viegas 2002-2009
8. Fr. Fidelino Araujo 2009-
Besides the Rectors, young priests are regularly appointed to the staff to teach and help in the formation of the seminaries. We remember with pride and gratitude the self-sacrificing services of all these priests, professors who have served the institution with dedication and commitment and moulded our seminaries to take this institution to great height.
An added feature has been the number of lay people and Sisters who have either taught or conducted courses in the seminary. Special thanks are due to them. It is their enthusiasm, generosity and diligence that have shaped this institution.
However a much greater debt of gratitude is due to some who have helped the formation of the individual seminaries in a very unobtrusive way. Over the years they were first and foremost Fr. Agapito Monteiro who served the seminary from 1965 to 1987. He suffered a broken hip and a broken left leg when he was in the car in which Bishop Fortunato crashed and died. Despite the serious injuries he suffered, once out of hospital he refused to be bed- ridden and dragged him to the lecture hall to take his classes. He may have been of the old school and taught subjects that today seem irrelevant like Latin, but he did leave a lasting mark on all those who passed through his hands for the many years he was spiritual director. He was followed by Fr. Albert Weber S.J. who has on the staff as Spiritual Father from 1976 to 1982 when he was diagnosed with cancer of the throat. After treatment he returned to his work but he retired from his job in 1984 only when he could no more speak because the cancer had flared up again. He literally died in harness, one might say. Many a seminarian learnt from him when in cheerfulness he bore his suffering in silence. At this stage his spiritual direction was through his own example of bearing the cross of suffering, an important lesson for the young seminarians.
Our Crown: The Silver and Ruby Jubilees were important landmarks in the history of the Seminary. These events were joyful home-comings for many former alumni. Today we look with pride, great satisfaction and gratitude to God that this institution has given to the Church two Bishops viz Bishop Peter Machado, our present Bishop, and Bishop Derek Fernandes, Bishop of Karwar. Bishop Fortunato had made a wish or prophecy that one day the Bishop of the diocese of
Our Thanks: Above all we cannot forget our generous benefactors who have helped us in the seminary. They have supported and continue to support us both spiritually and financially. Without their help it would be have been extremely difficult if not impossible to carry us thus far. To all of them we have to say a big thank you and God bless you for your support and generosity.
(1965) Xavier Training College
C/o. St. Paul’s Jesuit House
Camp, Belgaum - 590 001.
Novice Master : Rev. Fr. Trinidade Lawry. SJ
Tel. : 0831 – 2930093, 2930094
(1987) VIDYA NIKETAN
Vidya Niketan, Nirmal Nagar, Dharwad - 580 003.
Superior : Rev. Fr. Anthony Joseph, SJ
Cell : 9481528711
Resident : Rev. Fr. Louis D’Souza, SJ
Cell : 9481929959
Tel. : (95) 0836 – 2747690
(1987) CLARET NIKETAN (MINOR SEMINARY)
Piranwadi - 590 014, Dist. : Belgaum.
Rector : Rev. Fr. Varghese CMF
Tel. : 0831 – 2412157
(2000) GYAN NIKETAN, DESUR
C/o. St. Joseph’s Convent
Camp, Belgaum - 590 001.
Superior : Sr. Olive D’Silva,Fdcc
Tel. : 0831 – 2930102, 2821118
E-mail : email@example.com