St. Joseph’s Regional Seminary completed 93 years of its existence in February 2012.
Situated in the heartland of Hinduism, Indian culture and traditions, it has so
far trained nearly 808 indigenous priests who are working in North India. As the
Church in the Gangetic plains is very much missionary, the Seminary has always given
a missionary slant to the formation of priests.
It was venerable Bishop Angelo Poli, OFM, Cap. who started the Seminary with just
two students in 1919 at Kurji, Patna. Three years later, when Patna was established
as a separate diocese, Bishop Poli had the Seminary shifted to Allahabad. From 1919
to 1942 the Capuchin Fathers of the Bologna Province administered the Seminary and
contributed to its gradual growth. Frs. Bartholomew, Fidelis Mary,
Jeremiah and Conrad de Vito (later became the Bishop of Lucknow), all Capuchins,
were the Rectors under whose care the Seminary progressed in the formation of diocesan
From 1942 to 1949, the French Canadian Capuchins saw to the administration of the
Seminary and the formation of the future priests. Fr. Jerome Malenfant (later to
become the Prefect Apostolic of Gorakhpur – Varanasi), Fr. Bernard and others, with
the collaboration of the diocesan clergy on the staff, gave a missionary dimension
to the priestly formation.
In 1944 the Seminary celebrated its Silver Jubilee. During all these years the Capuchins
alone were working in the Northern territories. Since the suppression of the order,
no Jesuit had come to work in the North. Bishop Leonard Raymond invited the Society
of Jesus to take up the rectorship and spiritual care of the Seminary. Fr. M. D.
Archangelo, SJ is one of the rectors of the Seminary remembered the most. From 1949
to 1973 the Jesuit Fathers looked after the Seminary.
The year 1969 marked the Golden Jubilee year. Day scholars from Society of St. Paul,
the Indian Missionary Society and the Norbertine Order came to the Seminary as they
had their study houses in the vicinity.
In 1973, under the Chairmanship of Bishop Alfred Fernandes, St. Joseph’s Seminary
was raised to the status of the Regional Seminary and new statutes were drawn up
by the Bishops of the Region. Since then the Seminary has been governed by the Board
of Bishops of the Agra Ecclesiastical Province and administered by the diocesan
clergy. Msgr. Vincent Castellino, Fr. Dhiranand Bhatt, Fr. Henry Patrao, Fr. Joe
Castellino, Fr. Joseph Kaithathara (Bishop of Gwalior), Fr. Roque D’Costa, Fr. Raphy
Manjaly (Bishop of Varanasi) and Fr. V. Sebastian were the diocesan priest-rectors
the Seminary has had so far. Presently it is headed by Fr. Francis D’Souza.
It was Fr. Joe Castelino who was instrumental in getting the Seminary affiliated
in April 1989 to the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. Therefore, the students
of this Seminary have the opportunity to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology.
The Seminary is fully committed to the Church’s mission of dialogue and proclamation.
For the past 93 years it has been the endeavour of this Seminary to make the prophetic
words of Pope Leo XIII: “Filii tui, India, administri tibi salutis”, a reality.
Fulfilling the long awaited need of the diocese to have its own Minor Seminary for
the formation of the fresh seminarians who come forward to become priest for Allahabad,
Rt. Rev. Isidore Fernandes, Bishop of Allahabad gave a green signal to have the
seminary in Hartmann Mission, Phaphamau in 2010. Hence, Rev. Fr. Isidore D’Souza
was appointed the pioneer rector of St. Xavier’s Minor Seminary while requesting
Fr. Joseph Francis D’Souza to be the Vice-Rector and help out with his vast experience
of handling the seminarians in Masih Vidyapeeth, Etmadpur Agra. Thus, the first
minor seminary of Allahabad came into existence in the existing structure of the
parish house in Phaphamau with a few internal modifications done by Rev. Fr. George
Madathikudiyil, the then mission in charge.
The seminary was inaugurated and blessed on 3rd July 2010 by the bishop in the presence
of a big gathering consisting of priests, sisters and laity with nine new candidates
for priesthood in its roll. When the number of candidates in the second year increased
they had to occupy the upper portion of the Hartmann Hospital as their dormitory.
Regular electricity was only a dream there due to which there was a problem for
pumping water too. Besides, sending the seminarians for the Intermediate Studies
was a major problem as there was no English Medium Intermediate College in the close
vicinity. So, the seminarians were sent to St. Antony’s Inter College, Pratapgarh
to stay as Boarders in St. Antony’s Boarding and to pursue their academic studies.
Later, Fr. Fredrick D’Souza who was constructing a boarding in the same compound
was asked by Rt. Rev. Isidore Fernandes to convert the same into a seminary. Thus
the seminary was shifted to Pratapgarh, the inauguration of which was done on the
1st of July 2012 by the then Bishop. Rev. Fr. Leslie Cutinha was the new Vice-Rector
as Rev. Fr. Francis D’Souza was called back in Masih Vidyapeeth, Etmadpur in 2012.
The work for extending the building of the Seminary began in August 2013 as it seminary
lacked rooms for various day to day activities.
The seminary aims at the integral formation of the seminarians leading them to grow
spiritually, physically, intellectually and psychologically.