The Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol

The sprawling quadrangular building, housing now the Seminary, was constructed by the Jesuits. The foundation stone in order to build a Church and a College was blessed and laid on 1st November 1606. On the Vespers of the Solemnity of All Saints, 1st November 1610, the Church was dedicated and the College annexed thereto inaugurated both under the invocation of All Saints.

The College was a multipurpose institution: a hospital, an orphanage, a catechetical school for catechumens, a primary school (in Portuguese), a Konkani school for European missionaries, moral theology school, and a printing press. The latter, which was the third one in Goa, functioned for almost sixty years in the College. It printed/published sixteen books, the chief ones among them being the “Khrista Purana” (in Marathi), which is a discourse in verse on Our Lord Jesus Christ, “Doutrina Christam” (in Konkani) and “Arte da Lingoa Canarim” (Konkani Grammar).

After the canonization of Ignatius of Loyola by Pope Gregory XV on 4th March 1622, the invocation of the Church and the College was altered to the Founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola. Some of the the well-known Rectors of the Jesuit College (and Church) of Rachol were Frs. Rodolfo Aquaviva (blessed), Thomas Stephens (Konkani and Marathi writer) and Francisco de Souza (author of Oriente Conquistado).

In 1759, the Jesuits were expelled from Goa (and other Portuguese territories), and their institutions and properties confiscated by the State. Hence in 1762, Archbishop-Primate António Taveira da Neiva Bruno e Silveira, by his decree of 4th January 1762, erected the Archdiocesan Seminary for the formation of diocesan clergy at the former Jesuit College at Rachol. It was the first diocesan seminary erected in Goa after the Council of Trent, 1563. The Seminary was erected under the invocation of the Good Shepherd (Seminario do Bom Pastor), in whose name the internal Chapel of the Seminary was blessed and whose picture is on the top of the retable of the altar. The Church, however, continued under the invocation of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The Goan Congregation of the Oratorians directed the Seminary from 1762 to 1774, when due to financial constraints, it was closed down. The first Oratorian Rector was Fr. Lourenço Mesquita, from Benaulim. In 1781, owing to a mass-petition by the people of Salcete taluka, it was reopened, and was entrusted to the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians or Lazarists), who continued at the helm till 1790, when it was once again closed down. The first Vincentian or Lazarist Rector was Fr. Manuel Correia Valente. From 1793, when it was reopened, upto 1835, it was once again under the Oratorians. In 1835 when all Religious Institutes were extinguished in Portugal and in all its territories, the Seminary was handed over to the diocesan clergy.

In 1886 when the Archbishop of Goa was bestowed the honorific title of Patriarch of the East Indies, the Seminary of Good Shepherd, Rachol came to be known as the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol.

The curriculum was gradually enriched and stabilized. Archbishop-Primate João Crisóstomo de Amorim Pessoa (1862-1874) and Archbishop-Patriarch António Sebastião Valente (1882-1908) re-organized and improved the academic level of the Seminary, which consisted of a Preparatory Course, a Philosophy Course and a Theology Course. The standard acquired such a height that Pope Leo XIII, acceding to Archbishop-Patriarch Valente’s exposition and request, by his Apostolic letter Quum Venerabilis Frater of 27-5-1887, granted the Seminary the faculty of bestowing the academic degree of Bachelor in Theology. The Apostolic Letter, having obtained the royal pleasure (beneplacitum regium), was executed in Goa only in 1894. The faculty stood abolished by virtue of the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XI Deus Scientiarum Dominus, 1931 however, thirty-five priests were granted the said degree.

During the tenure of Archbishop-Primate Manuel de S. Galdino (1812-1831) additional Preparatory Course was set up at Mapusa. To accommodate increasing number of Theology students Archbishop-Patriarch Valente built, in-between 1890-1894, a two storeyed new wing with forty single rooms and a dormitory-cum-study hall for beginners, over which he put up a Library Hall. Other students, called externos, were housed in nearby rented cottages around (comensalidades) under a Prefect of Discipline, from where they would commute to the Seminary for Mass and classes. With the opening of the Minor Seminary of Saligão-Pilerne in 1952, the Preparatory Course at Mapusa as well as the comensalidades ceased to exist. On 15th December 2002, a new Academic Block with a spacious Auditorium over it was inaugurated.

At present the Seminary academic curriculum includes a three-year Philosophy Course with graduation from the “Indira Gandhi National Open University” (IGNOU) and a four-year Theology Course. The graduation in Philosophy is followed by a year of pastoral praxis in parishes called regency, during which seminarians (individually and in groups), under the guidance of the Seminary and respective parish-priests are given a foretaste of the priestly pastoral ministry.  After the regency, the seminarians join the Theology Course.  At the end of the first term of the Fourth Year of Theology, the seminarians are ordained deacons and for the rest of the academic year, they go for weekend ministry to different parishes. At the end of the Fourth Year of Theology, they answer the De Universa exam theology; after which, they exercise live-in diaconal ministry in parishes for six months.

Besides the intellectual formation, the seminarians are helped to grow on the human, spiritual, and pastoral levels by means of spiritual-psychological talks, retreats, seminars, courses; by doing manual work in the agricultural fields; as well as by training themselves in sports, music, etc. The formative journey of every seminarian is constantly and continuously monitored and guided by the formators so that they are helped to discern, nurture and grow in their vocation to priesthood. Finally, after completing the necessary canonical requirements, they are ordained priests in the second half of October.