Celebrating the Fourth centenary of Rachol seminary

 Somehow time becomes intense as one enters the portals of the great Rachol Seminary.  The ancient Seminary overflows with spirit and grace and embraces everyone with serenity and peace. It is a place where the sound of silence is heard and the depth of spiritual insight glows bright.  Blessed with splendor and majesty, it nurtures  all its inmates with maternal love and care. Its angelic   spiritual ambience and brilliant intellectual climate produces a synergy that draws all her sons to become ever more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

Its sheer architectural grandeur and  amazing institutional glory, artfully witness the engaging encounter of the east and the west. As it  mutely shares a piece of its dynamic history, one is filled with awe and moved to a hymn of thanksgiving. Its  bold endurance of the changing fortunes  in response to the ravages of history and polity is certainly inspirational.  As one comes into the seminary one is inevitably led into a pilgrimage of the past while experience the radiance of grace in the present. 

As one stops and listens to its story, one is greeted with the warmth of the glow of grace. The four hundred years of its existence has indeed become a sacramental encounter in our society. Beginning as a college of the Holy Spirit in Margao, it came to safety and security of the then fort of Rachol only after staging two earlier returns to Margao from Rachol. The Jesuits in Margao were compelled to transfer the Holy Spirit College permanently  to Rachol to protect it from the rampaging Marathas.  

The foundation stone for the permanent College of Rachol was laid on the feasts of all saints in 1606 and four years from then the college was inaugurated and dedicated to All Saints. The college took  multiple roles and the Jesuits opened a Konkani school, a Portuguese school, a Moral theology school, the school for the catechumens and hospital and a printing press. With the canonization of the Ignatius of Loyola in 1622, it came to be called as Loyola College. 

The college of all saints soon became a temple of learning and its pioneering contributions to the systematic study of Konkani and publication of the first books in Konkani has been immortalized in our society. The most illustrious among the exponents of Konkani is Fr. Thomas Stephen S J,  who studied  both Konkani and Marathi and published the first Konkani book Dourina Krista and a grammar of Konkani Arte de Lingoa Canarim . He is celebrated for his Krista Purana, a Marathi presentation of the story of Christ in the motifs of the  Hindu Puranas.  After him, many other Rectors of the college carried the touch of Konkani. The college sowed the seeds of a Konkani dictionary through the formulation of Konkani- Portuguese vocabularies. The printing press of the college can boast of the publication of  at least sixteen books in the vernacular.

The college functioned as the mother house of the Jesuit missionaries and became the hub of missionary activities in salcete.  One of its Rectors  Blessed  Fr. Rudolfo Aquaviva along with his companion even joined the ranks of Martyrs in Goa. Unfortunately with the suppression of the society of Jesus, the Jesuits were expelled from Goa and consequently from the College in 1759.  

    Three years later the  Archbishop –Primate Antonio Taveira  da Neiva Brum e Silveira erected it into the Archdiocesan Seminary for the formation of the diocesan clergy through his decree of 4th January 1762.  It was the first diocesan seminary erected in Goa after the council of Trent. The college of Ignatius Loyola then become the seminary of Good shepherd and was put under the direction of the Goan Cogregation of the Oratory. The  Oratorians  led the seminary for twelve years from 1762-1774 and closed it due to financial constraint.  In 1781 it was re-opened and handed to the Vincentians, who continued in the helm till 1790. Come 1793 the seminary once again came in the hands of the Oratorians who took control of the affairs till 1835.  With the withdrawal all Religious Institutes in Portugal and all its procession, the seminary came under the administration of the diocesan clergy. From that time till today it is ably and intermittently  run by the diocesan clergy for 175 illustrious year. 

The college as an Archdiocesan Seminary continued its glorious academic legacy and at one time even conferred ecclesiastical degrees in theology. Today the seminary offers a three-year  philosophy course with graduation from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and a four-year theology course.  After four hundred glorious years of its existence,  it time to recognize the academic, cultural and missionary heritage of the great institution. Many of its Alumni have brought laurels to its name across the globe, while others have tirelessly given their life in service of Christ and their brothers and sisters both in Goa and our mother India. The priest trained at Rachol Seminary took the torch of Gospel to places like Karachi, Mozambique, Venezuela, Cabe Verde , Timor outside our  country and Belgaum, Milapur, Darwad, Kochi, Vassai, Mumbai, Canara, Manglore, Karwar in our country. 

As one counts the multifarious blessings of God in and through this great institution, one cannot fail to realize how this institution, has become a melting pot of an encounter of the east and the west. One can find copies of the celestial paintings of the renaissance masters like Rafael, Ruben and Murillo along side of the paintings of our very own Angelo Fonseca, the  dean of  Indian Christian Art. The distinctive three day visit (15 to 17 oct) of Swami Vivekanda in 1892, coming before his famous oration in the parliament of World Religions in Chicago speaks volumes of its engagement with society at large.  The revival of the then dying society of St. Franscis Xavier, popularly known as the Pilar society in 1939 through its alumni is another  great milestone in the illustrious history of the seminary. 

Along with its noble task of Priestly formation, the Seminary continues its engagement with our society. The glorious tradition of the promotion of our mother tongue was  revived with the organization of  Amchem Daiz , a  series of Konkani semelans in collaboration with the Goa Konkani Academy for the last five years. A special study on tourism was conducted with the assistance of alternatives, Equations and the Council for Justice and Peace and a book, Claiming the Right to say No was published. The study made both national as well as international headlines. The Choir of st.  Cecilia presented a scintillating concert of classical music under the dynamic leadership of Fr. Romeo Monteiro for last four years. This engagement becomes even more  visible when the seminary conducts inter-religious prayer meets  in its campus. 

As the seminary celebrates its 400 years, the staff and the students join in unison singing the hymn of praise and thanks to the triune God and joyfully extend the celebration throughout the year.  The celebration is marked with spiritual, cultural and intellectual exchanges.   The spiritual celebration began with the retreat in July and will reach its climax on 1st November the day of the foundation of the seminary with n offering of a solemn Eucharist by the Archbishop Patriarch, Right Reverend, Filipe Neri Ferrao and will end with an evening prayer in April 2011. The cultural celebrations involves the staging of the seminary day as well as the Konkani samelan in January and February 2011 respectively. The cultural celebrations will end the Musical concert in April 2011. The intellectual celebrations involves an essay competition for the seminarians across our country and the biblical course on the parables. The organization of an international seminar on theme “Catholicism in the World of science” in collaboration with Pontifical Council for Culture, Indian Institute of Science and Religion and the Department of humanities of St. Johns University New York is the climax of the intellectual celebrations. The special publication of Luceas, the seminary magazine and the publication of a book on Rachol Seminary by Rev. Fr. Mousinho de Ataide will add research dimension to the celebration.  

The elaborate celebrations planned for the 400th anniversary of our Institution in Rachol is a fitting tribute to the multiple roles it played down the lanes of history. While we celebrate this great jubilee, we thank God for the graced history of our institution and remember every Racholites who somehow played his role as the faithful servant in the Gospel. May God Bless Rachol Seminary.   

Fr. Victor Ferrao 

Golden Verse

1Korintkarank 7:38

Mhonnttôch aplê ankvar hoklê lagim logn zata to borem korta; ani logn zaina to odik borem korta.