A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SEMINARY
In the Vicariate of Ernakulam, which was established in 1896, a petit seminary was founded by the first Vicar Apostolic Mar Louis Pazheparambil in the name of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on 3rd July 1901 for the preliminary stage of formation of seminarians. A part of the Bishop’s house was set apart for this purpose.
Fr. Augustine Kandathil was the first rector of the seminary, and he held this responsibility till he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop in August 1911. In 1905 the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith granted recognition to the seminary.
The various rules regarding life in the seminary were coordinated and introduced by Mar Pazheparambil in 1915 on the feast of the Sacred Heart.
As the number of the candidates increased a three-storied building, attached to the Archbishop’s House, was constructed in 1960.
Consequent upon the decision of the bishops that seminarians should pass Pre-Degree before they are promoted to major seminary, a study house was built close to the Bharatha Matha College at Thrikkakara. It was blessed on 3rd July 1968 by Mar Joseph Cardinal Parecattil and on the same day the Pre-Degree students were shifted to the place. The house was named ‘Sacred Heart Study House’. The first year seminarians continued to stay in the archbishop’s house. But in June 1970 they were also sent to the study house and thus the study house became a full-fledged minor seminary, namely, ‘Sacred Heart Minor Seminary’.
Later in 1972, after having considered the new situation, it was decided to have the Pre-Degree Course conducted in the seminary itself. This system was continued until the Plus - Two course was introduced in 2000, when the students began to frequent the Cardinal Higher Secondary School for the same. Again, in 2009, after having considered various formative aspects, authorities took a decision to give the students the Plus-Two coaching in the seminary itself.
At the time of Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, responding to the directions of the Synod of the Syro- Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church, the Fourth Year programme was introduced as part of the minor seminary in the academic year 2010-11. But later the Synod, having been keen and cautious about the emerging new situations and of the need to make formation during the Philosophy course more effective, decided that the candidates should do their degree before they go for the major seminary formation. In the light of this decision the fourth year was dropped and the degree course was introduced last year as a second phase of the minor seminary. The building adjacent to the Vijobhavan has been set aside for this purpose. The seminarians frequent the Bharatha Matha College for various degree courses. This change, we hope, will help the candidates to deeply discern their vocation, and develop greater vocational convictions as they get exposed to the campus experiences.
This year the II Degree students are sent to different neighbouring parishes where they will spend this whole year. Experiencing and cherishing the pastoral and spiritual support from the parishes they continue their degree studies.
The great patronage and paternal guidance of Mar Joseph Cardinal Parecattil, Mar Antony Cardinal Padiyara and Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil will ever be remembered in the history of priestly formation of our archdiocese.
Mar George Cardinal Alenchery, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly is the present patron of the seminary. Mar Sebastian Adayanthrath, Protosyncellus and Auxiliary Bishop and Mar Jose Puthenveettil, Syncellus and Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese are the Co-Patron. Their guidance and support help the seminary form the seminarians in a way responding to the emerging challenges and needs of the time.
Sacred Heart Minor Seminary owe much to the priests and religious sisters of the archdiocese and also to its benefactors who support generously by way of their prayers and financial assistance to the cause of formation of future priests of the archdiocese.