PATRIARCHAL SEMINARY OF RACHOL
GOOD SHEPHERD INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY
A BRIEF LOOK INTO HISTORY
The Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol is situated in the village of Rachol. The village was a pre-Portuguese fortress built either by the Muslim Kingdom of Bijapur or the Hindu Kingdom of Vijaynagar. The Portuguese took possession of Salcete in 1543 and fortified the ruins of the fortress and turned it into a military base. The Jesuits entered Rachol in 1566 for the purpose of’ evangelization.
In 1574, the College of the Holy Spirit was founded in Margão, attached to the Church. However, for security reasons, it was decided to shift the College in Rachol. Hence, the foundation stone to build a Church and a College was blessed and laid by the Jesuits on 1st November 1606. The Church and the College were inaugurated on the Vespers of the Solemnity of All Saints, 1st November 1610 and were dedicated to All Saints, and named as All Saints’ College.
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 press, which was the third in Goa, functioned for almost sixty years in the College. It printed/published sixteen books, the chief ones among them by Thomas Stephens being the Khrista Purana (in Marathi, 1616), Doutrina Christam em Lingua Bramana Canarim, Ordenada a maniera de dialogo para ensinar os meninos (in Konkani in 1622) and Arte da Lingoa Canarim (Konkani Grammar in 1640).
On November 10, 1618, a Jesuit priest and astronomer Venceslaus Pantaleon Kirwitzer from Bohemia and resident of Rachol Seminary used a telescope for the first time in Asia to see a comet from the Rachol Seminary campus.
After the canonization of Ignatius of Loyola in 1622, the Church and the College were dedicated to and named after him. In 1759, the Jesuits were expelled from Goa. Hence in 1762 AD, Archbishop-Primate Antonio Taveira da Neiva Brun e Silveira, by his decree of 4th January 1762, erected the Archdiocesan Seminary for the formation of diocesan clergy. 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 Goan Oratorians directed the Seminary from 1762 to 1774. In 1781, it was entrusted to the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians or Lazarists). From 1793, it was once again entrusted to the Oratorians. In 1835, when all Religious Institutes were expelled from Portugal and from all its territories, the Seminary was handed over to the diocesan clergy. In 1886, the Seminary came to be known as the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol.
Apostleship of Prayer was started for the first time in India in the Rachol Seminary on August 31, 1884 by the Director of the Central Apostleship of Prayer, Mons. Louis Prosperi in the presence of the Archbishop Dom Antonio Sebastião Valente and the local Director of the Apostleship of Prayer, Rev. Fr. Jose Joaquim Lourenço de Souza.
Swami Vivekananda visited the Seminary Library (15-17 October, 1892) in order to learn the basic tenets of Christianity and had discussions with the professors before he proceeded for the World Congress of Religions, Chicago in 11-27 September 1893).
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. In 1887, Pope Leo XIII, by his Apostolic letter Quum Venerabilis Frater, granted to the Seminary, the faculty of bestowing the academic degree of Bachelor in Theology. To accommodate increasing number of Theology Students, Archbishop Valente built (1890-1894) a two storeyed new wing with forty single rooms and a dormitory-cum-study hall for beginners (camarata), over which he put up a Library Hall. For the convenience of the students from North Goa, a Preparatory Course was also started in Mapusa. Students, called externos, were housed in nearby rented cottages (comensalidades) under a Prefect of Discipline, from where they would come to the Seminary for Mass and Classes. With the opening of the Minor Seminary of Our Lady, Saligão-Pilerne in 1952, the Preparatory Course at Mapusa as well as the comensalidades ceased. In 2002, an Academic Block with an Auditorium was inaugurated.
In 2021, a new entity, under the name of “Good Shepherd Institute of Philosophy and Theology”, for the direction and administration of the Theology and Philosophy Programme of the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol was established by Archbishop-Patriarch Filipe Neri Ferrão.
BECOMING A PRIEST……
Pope Francis says that the joy of the truth is expressed in the yearning of every heart for an encounter with its maker and to dwell in it. The vocation to Priesthood is a call of service to help the searching soul to encounter the Living God. Nemo dat quod non habet, the formation period is a time to encounter the Living One (cf. Rev 1:18) and the Firstborn among many brothers (cf. Rom 8:29), experience Him in the vicissitudes of history, united with the brothers and sisters in the common home of creation. (cf. Veritatis Gaudium n. 1). Pope Francis says that the most urgent and enduring criterion is that of contemplation and the presentation of a spiritual, intellectual and existential introduction to the heart of the kerygma (cf. Veritatis Gaudium n. 4a). The seven-year seminary formation period is based on four pillars of overall formation: Human, Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral. So that every seminarian is impelled by Jesus to bear witness to and to proclaim Him.
HUMAN FORMATION helps the seminarian to accept himself and the others with one’s strengths and weaknesses but at the same time grow in the human values of honesty, sacrifice, service, healthy relationships, respect for authority, which leads him to be integrated in the community as a person. In order that the seminarian may grow in human maturity and discipline as well as healthy relationships, he is helped with sessions in self-discovery, emotional and affective maturity, etiquette, psycho-spirituality; besides community activities like sports, cultural, group-wise outings/recreations as well as love for manual work through gardening, farming, different house work, etc. The goal of this formation is to help the seminarian to be truly human with himself and with others as a future priest.
SPIRITUAL FORMATION is aimed at helping the seminarian to grow in the personal knowledge and experience of Christ and in the Christian values and principles. In order that the seminarian may grow in spiritual maturity, emphasis is laid on personal and communitarian prayer, scriptural and spiritual reading, prayer of the church, organization and participation in the Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration, spiritual direction, monthly recollections, annual retreat, Psycho spiritual growth groups, silence, etc. At the end of the First Year of Theology the seminarian will take part in a 30-day retreat. The goal of the spiritual formation is to help the seminarian to be a person of God experience, who lives Christ’s values of intimacy with God, love of neighbour, detachment from material comforts, and value the gift of celibacy as a future priest.
INTELLECTUAL FORMATION: At present the Seminary academic curriculum includes: a Two-year Philosophy Course and a Three-year Theology Course. At the end of the third Year of Theology, they answer the Comprehensive Exam in Theology. The Fourth Year is a Pastoral Enrichment Course cum Diaconate Ministry at the Pastoral Institute, St. Pius X, Old Goa.
Pope Francis says, “What distinguishes the academic, formative and research approach of the system of ecclesiastical studies, on the level of both content and method, is the vital intellectual principle of the unity in difference of knowledge and respect for its multiple, correlated and convergent expressions” (Veritatis Gaudium n. 4c). The Intellectual Formation is aimed at helping the student to develop his intellectual abilities. The philosophical subjects help him to perceive, judge and acquire a deeper understanding of the reality and truth. The theological subjects help him towards a firm foundation in the matters of faith as espoused by the Church Magisterium.
In order to achieve this goal, the seminarian attends regular classes, answers exams, presents research papers and participates in seminars, symposia, etc.
The goal of the intellectual formation is to help him to be a learned person who can present, explain and defend the teachings of Catholic faith and morals as a future priest.
REGENCY: A second guiding criterion for reviving ecclesiastical studies, expressed in Veritatis Gaudium, is that of wide-ranging dialogue, not as a mere tactical approach, but as an intrinsic requirement for experiencing in community the joy of the Truth and appreciating more fully its meaning and practical implications (cf. Veritatis Gaudium n. 4a) The Archdiocese of Goa and Daman comprises people of different cultures especially in the mission of Daman. After the Two-year Philosophy Course, the seminarians have a year of pastoral praxis in parishes called Regency, during which they (individually and in groups) under the guidance of the Seminary and respective parish-priests are given a foretaste of the future priestly pastoral ministry.
- i) Missionary Formation: The Rector of the Seminary, being the Coordinator of the Pontifical Mission Organization (Goa), involves the seminarians in the World Mission Sunday in the Archdiocese in the following way:
— the seminarians organize the distribution of the Mission Sunday Material to the different parishes and institutions in the Archdiocese (e.g. Posters, Calendars, Envelopes, copies of the Mission Sunday message of the Holy Father, a copy of a special liturgy is prepared and organized for the Mission Sunday celebration, etc.).
— A Course on Missiology is conducted for the students of 2nd year Theology.
— Mission Academy is held on the occasion of the feast of St. Joseph Vaz on 16th January. A research paper on the missionary dimension of the Church is presented; skits on the life of St. Joseph Vaz, St. Francis Xavier, St. Theresa of Child Jesus and other missionaries are staged; and sharing of missionary experiences by a missionary form part of the Mission Academy.
— Mission exposure programmes are organized during the summer vacations.
— Participation in the annual National Assembly of the Diocesan Directors of PMS organized by the National Director of PMO-India as well as the CBCI Commission for Evangelization.
- ii) Liturgical Formation: Besides the Courses in Liturgy in the Academic Curriculum, the Animator of Liturgy forms the seminarians in the practical dimension for the animation of liturgy.
iii) Small Christian Communities: The seminarians are given opportunities to get involved the animation of the SCCs in the neighbouring parishes.
- iv) Catechetical Formation: The seminarians who are sent to the parishes for gaining experience in imparting catechesis and in other pastoral activities like altar server, etc.; The III and the IV Year Theology Seminarians go for weekend ministry, while the I and the II Year Theology Seminarians and the II Year Philosophy Seminarians go for Sunday Ministry. Besides, the Catechetical Unit of Rachol Seminary also organises formation programmes for the Catechists.
- v) Charitable Formation: St. Joseph Conference of Society of St. Vincent de Paul helps the seminarians to grow in the charitable dimension of their formation. They visit the poor, sick, elderly in their homes, hospitals, and old-age homes, every week. The economically poor are given financial help. The seminarians devise various means to collect funds. Besides, they also organise the annual Day of the Beneficiaries, Annual Visit to the poor and marginalised, etc.
- vi) Prison Ministry: A group of seminarians, together with their animator visit the prison and organize relevant programmes (sports, cultural, religious) for the prisoners, and get them involved.
vii) Musical Formation: Music is part of the seminary academic curriculum: during the Three-Year Philosophy Course, the seminarians learn notation and theory of music; and during the Theology Course, they learn Indian Music, Gregorian Chant and Liturgical Music for the first, second and third year respectively. Besides, the seminary is known for its TTBB “Santa Cecilia Choir”, started in 1897 and conducted by the Professor of Music of the Seminary. It is composed of around 16 seminarians as its members. The seminarians also have the opportunity to learn string-brass-woodwind and other musical instruments.
viii) Literary Formation: Literary and Cultural activities form part of the overall formation. L.A.C.A.R.S, i.e. Literary and Cultural Activities of the Rachol Seminary, helps the seminarians to discover and display their various talents, under the orientation of its Animator. Besides, L.A.C.A.R.S organizes Amchem Daiz (Seminar on Goan Heritage) wherein students from neighbouring colleges and schools take part.
- ix) Inter-Religious Dialogue Formation: The seminarians, under the guidance of the animator, are formed to dialogue with other faiths by organizing seminars and meetings as well as visiting and participating in the festivals of our brothers and sisters of other faiths. The seminarians visit our Hindu families during the Ganesh Festival. Every year an Inter-Religious Meeting is organized on Gandhi Jayanti (2nd October).
- x) Formation in Sports: The seminarians are motivated to actively engage themselves in sports activities both indoor and outdoor games. Various tournaments are organized, which culminate in the Seminary Sports Day.
- xi) Eco-Friendly Formation: The seminarians are initiated towards the love for nature by means of taking care of the gardens, flower-vases, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, rice fields, piggery, etc. They also manage the waste and garbage produced in the seminary.
In the Third Year of Theology, the seminarians receive the Instituted Ministries of Lector and Acolyte. In the beginning of the Fourth Year of Theology, the Rite of Admission to Sacred Orders is administered to them. At the end of the Theology Course, they are ordained Deacons. After which they do a year-long Diaconate Ministry-cum-Pastoral Enrichment Course at the St. Pius X Pastoral Institute, Old Goa, which is followed by the Presbyteral Ordination.