Ecclesiastical Institutions

Seminary On Wheels:

Historians have traced the first Seminarians way back to 1851. Quite often the Seminary consisted of just one Seminarian and a Rector.  There was no Seminary building; the classes were conducted in a bullock-cart!  Fr. Maurice Domenge, MSFS, is the first known Seminarian. He came out to India as a deacon in 1851.  He traveled from Yanoon (on the Godavary) to Jaulnah (now Jalna) in a bullock-cart with Bishop Neyret. The journey took many months.

Later the Seminarians were housed in one of the rooms of the Presbytery in Kamptee, where the Rector was also the Military Chaplain.  But even that did not last long.  The brothers were later brought to Nagpur, while some had to go to Jabalpur.

A building : The idea of a building was first nurtured in the year 1886, when the Rt. Rev. Dr. Riccaz was appointed as the first Bishop of Nagpur In 1890, a plot of 39 acres, in two installments, was purchased from Raja Bhonsle.  (Later on, more land was bought by Bishop Francis Coppel and the total acreage amounted to 50 acres).  Bishop Pelvat's great popularity brought him a generous response to his appeal for funds, and on 8th September, 1896, the anniversary of the death of Bishop Riccaz, the foundation stone of the first Seminary building was laid.  This was the Red Building.  Two years later, on the same day, Bishop Pelvat had the privilege and the joy of blessing the new Seminary chapel which was located in one of the rooms. The building was planned on the model of the MSFS Apostolic School in Evian (France). Fr. Hippolyte Gaydon, MSFS, was appointed as the first Rector. 

In 1922, however, just two years after the first reopening, the Seminary was very reluctantly closed for lack of funds.  The Seminarians were sent to St. Joseph's Seminary, Mangalore,   Trichinopoly, Allahabad and Kandy (Sri Lanka).

Bishop Coppel wished very much to reopen the Seminary once again.  However, this wish was fulfilled only in the time of Bishop Louis Gayet (1935-1950). on 15th August, 1935, the portals of the Seminary were once more thrown open.  Fr. Damian Fernandes was the Rector.  The Seminary grew steadily until it received a severe setback again.  On 26known June 1942, the Government of the then Central Provinces requisitioned the Seminary building for emergency war purposes. Within just 48 hours, the Seminarians had to quit the place, with bag and baggage, and take shelter in the Apostolic School, situated near the Cathedral. For want of proper accommodation and also a lack of Professors, the Philosophy and Theology sections of the Seminary had to be discontinued

A New Building : Seeing the difficulties of formation due to the constant movement of the Seminarians from place to place, Archbishop Eugene decided to build a new Seminary building.  Accordingly, on 3rd October 1955, the foundation stone of the present building was laid and blessed.  In July 1957, even though the building was not yet complete, 32 Seminarians moved in.  The Apostolic School Boys moved in one year later.  On 1st February 1959, when the chapel was blessed and the new Seminary dedicated at the hands of the Inter-Nuncio, Cardinal James Knox, there were 43 Seminarians and 45 Apostolics residing in the Seminary. 

The Dominicans:  Archbishop Eugene invited the Dominicans of the Irish Province to whom he entrusted the administration of the Seminary.  They began their new apostolate of training priests in June 1960 with Fr. Gerald Cussen, O.P. as the first Dominican Rector. 

The Sisters of St. Joseph: In 1963 at the request of Archbishop Eugene, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery undertook to look after the needs of the catering department and the infirmary.  After being cramped in a few rooms of the Seminary, a well-furnished convent was built attached to the Seminary.  From the inception of the new St. Charles Seminary until 1994, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery (S.S.J.) served in the Seminary.  From 2007 the Franciscan Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, Coimbatore, consented to offer their services to St Charles Seminary.

Expansion: As the years went by, the number of students steadily grew.  The double course of Philosophy and the B.A. attracted many, and the Seminary, from being initially only for the Nagpur diocese soon opened its door to other dioceses. The extra number of Seminarians required extra space.

In 1970, Archbishop Leonard Raymond blessed and inaugurated the new block of classrooms and the Aula Magna.  Then in 1981, Archbishop Leobard blessed the new wing of 60 rooms for the theologians.  The new water-tank was completed in 1984.  Development of the campus is still going on in various spheres.  In 1998, a new library cum auditorium building was blessed by the Nuncio, the Most Rev. Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri.

Carolian Bishops: We have had many prelates who did their studies in the first Seminary building.  Among them are the late Bishops of Vishakapatnam, Rt. Rev. Joseph Baud, MSFS (1947-1966) and his successor, Rt. Rev. Ignatius Gopu, MSFS, (1966-1981).  Other ex-Carolians Bishops include are Most Rev. Eugene D'Souza the first Indian Archbishop of Nagpur and later Archbishop of Bhopal, Most Rev. Cecil deSa, at first Bishop of Lucknow and later Archbishop of Agra, Rt. Rev. Joe Rosario, MSFS, first Bishop of Amravati and Rt. Rev. Ignatius D'Cunha, Bishop of Aurangabad. 

Among the ex-Carolians who passed out from the present building, we have Rt. Rev. Abraham Viruthakulangara, first Bishop of Khandwa who became the Archbishop of Nagpur in 1998. Archbishop Joseph Augustine of Raipur, Most Rev. Ambrose Madtha Archbishop, Papal Nuncio to the Ivory Coast,  Bishop Anthony Chirayath of Sagar, Bishop Alwyn Barreto of Sindhudurg, Bishop Victor Henry Thakur of Bettiah, Bishop Gerald Mathias of Lucknow, Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur, Bishop Thomas Macwan of Ahmedabad, and Bishop Franco Mulackal of Delhi Archdiocese.

Academic Degree: The Seminary is affiliated to the Pontifical University of St. Thomas, (Angelicum) Rome.  In virtue of this, our students with 60% marks in all theology subjects can qualify to present themselves for the Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.) Examination and receive the degree from the Angelicum.

Ex-Carolians' Re-Union: The Annual Reunion of ex-Carolians is one of the important events of the year.  Every year we invite two batches of ex-students to come to share their experiences in the field with us and also avail of an opportunity of meeting one another.   One batch consists of those who are celebrating the Silver Jubilee of their priesthood and the other batch consists of those who have passed out of the Seminary ten years earlier.  This is a unique feature of St. Charles' and it is a very good experience for both the students and the ex-students.

St. Charles' has indeed grown with its branches spread-far and wide.  Over 900 priests have been ordained since the new seminary began.  Go to any gathering of priests in North India, and you are sure to meet an ex-Carolian.  May St. Charles guide us still!

About seminary

Vocation, Priestly vocation is a wonderful free gift of God. To become a priest one has to undergo years of formation. We call this formation house as 'Seminary.'

Earlier those who wished to become a priest in the archdiocese of Nagpur, were sent to Lucknow, Uttarpradesh for their minor seminary studies. In the year 1992 i.e. 20 years ago our archdiocese started a minor seminary in the S.F.S. school Nagpur. Late Rev. Fr. Joaquim Fernandez was the first Rector of the minor seminary. He was followed by late Rev. Fr.Laurance Fernandez and late Rev. Fr. John Anthony.

In the year 1994 the minor seminary so called D.O.C. Diocesan Orientation Center was shifted to the Red building at the seminary hills. D.O.C. was in the Red building from 1994 to 1998. In the year 1999, Archbishop, Most. Rev. Dr. Abraham Viruthakulangara, shifted D.O.C. at Kamptee, Cantonment. It was given a new name ANKUR KUNJ. Rev. Fr. Brycle Cutinho was appointed as the Rector with late Rev. Fr. Ignatius Anthony as the Vice Rector.

After Fr. Brycle, Rev. Fr. John Monteiro took charge as the Rector. Late Rev.    Fr. Ignatius Anthony severed the second term as Vice Rector. In 2009 Rev. Fr. Sebastiraj became the Vice Rectr and in the year 2010 he became the Rector of the minor seminary. He was assisted by Rev. Fr. Joseph Polishetty and then Rev. Fr. Jojo Vincent.

The year 2011-2012, the new academic year was welcomed by two new formators. Rev. Fr. Jojo Vincent became the Rector and Rev. Fr. Sachin Peter became the Vice Rector. This is a blessing of God that to come back as a priest to where they began. And thus it is the 13th year of Ankur Kunj Minor Seminary.


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