Welcome to
St.Joseph Pontifical Seminary
Priestly Formation

Pope John Paul II describes priestly formation as “a continuation in the Church of the apostolic community gathered about Jesus, listening to his word, proceeding towards the Easter experience, awaiting the gift of the Spirit for the mission” (Pastores dabo vobis, 60). Inspired by this motive, in the year under review, there were conscious efforts to improve the quality of priestly formation of the seminarians. Both the formees and formators put their heart and mind to this goal in various ways. The pastoral messages of Pope Francis to priests and seminarians were often brought to the attention of the formees. The messages of the Major Archbishop, bishops and pastors, directives from the Synodal Commission for the seminary, aspirations of the faithful, etc. were the guiding light leading us towards the goal of quality priestly formation.

The Synod proposed that Church the ecumenical directory issued by the Church be used in the class room. The Synod also wanted to make use of the CBCI text on gender equality as a pedagogical tool.

A joint meeting of the Major and Minor Seminary Rectors of the Syro-Malabar Church was held at Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kunnoth. Suggestions received in that meeting were subjected to deliberations in the staff council for further actions.

The seminary council and staff meetings on various occasions, especially at the beginning of the year discussed specific dimensions of priestly formation and drew practical directives for the seminary community.

As a part of the evaluation of the seminarians, peer group evaluation has been arranged. Each seminarian writes an evaluation of three of his batch-mates chosen by lot. Seminarians are prepared for it by Fr. Rector with a short instruction and prayer service in the chapel.

Seminarians are evaluated by the respective team of Animators together with the council members at the end of the first semester for an initial assessment. Important remarks are brought to the attention of seminarians. Yearly evaluation at the end of the academic year shall review the response of seminarians to the remarks made.

The major activities of seminary life in the year under review are presented in a thumbnail fashion under five clusters or five principal pillars: spiritual, intellectual, human, pastoral and missionary formation.

Spiritual Formation

Realizing well that “For every priest his spiritual formation is the core which unifies and gives life to his being a priest and his acting as a priest” (Pastores dabo vobis, 45), spiritual formation of seminarians captures prime attention in the overall formation program. Both community spiritual activities and private spiritual exercises are given due weight in spiritual formation. As external inputs, there are spiritual instructions given by the spiritual fathers and individual spiritual guidance given by personal spiritual fathers. Following the monthly recollections, Fr. Rector also gives regular input sessions on priestly formation. Spiritual activities or events of the year are mentioned below:

Holy Qurbana, Divine Office and meditation constitute the major spiritual acts of daily life. Special occasions, major feasts and the feast day of staff members are solemnised with concelebrated Holy Qurbana. Masses are offered also in Latin and Syro-Malankara rites every month. Every week four Holy Masses are offered in English, while the rest in Malayalam. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and benediction are practiced regularly. Seminarians generously make use of the opportunities for Eucharistic adoration in groups and individually. Praying the Rosary, the Way of the Cross and devotion to the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph form part of spiritual formation. Feast days of Apostles Thomas, Peter and Paul, saints such as Alphonsa, John Maria Vianney and Francis Xavier are celebrated with due solemnity.

Seminarians are exhorted to make spiritual reading. In order to help philosophy students in this regard a good collection of books for spiritual reading is made accessible to them in their study halls.

Frequent and regular confession is practised by a very good number of seminarians. Facilities for confession are ensured by spiritual fathers every morning. Every fortnight special opportunity for confession is provided. On the day of monthly recollection external confessors are made available. Once in a semester, batch-wise monthly recollection is arranged. Seminarians are free to arrange preachers of their choice from outside or inside the seminary.

There were three full-time resident spiritual fathers. In addition, other staff members were also available as spiritual fathers. It provided sufficient opportunity for personal spiritual direction. Spiritual fathers used to give batch-wise spiritual conferences every month.

Holy Mass, meditation, rosary and prayers are done in batches at different intervals. Fr. Animators, Spiritual Fathers and Fr. Rector used to celebrate Holy Qurbana with different batches. It helps seminarians imbibe spiritual formation in a more focused and personal way.

The feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated on 15th June. Expressing adoration and worship to the Eucharistic Lord, there was an hour long procession carrying the Blessed Sacrament inside the house on a floral carpet prepared by seminarians.

Celebrating the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the seminary was consecrated to the Sacred Heart. Subsequently the entire seminary buildings and premises were blessed. All the staff members blessed various parts of the Seminary campus.

In the first phase of the first semester, Fr. Jose Jacob SJ gave practice for meditation following the Ignatian method. The second and third year theologians attended a special retreat from 25 to 30 May, conducted at Marian Renewal Centre, Dhoni, Palakkad. Rev. Fr. Reny Pullukalayil was the main preacher.

The rosary devotion was solemnly concluded on 31st October 2017 with a procession followed by benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The annual retreat of the philosophy and theology students was conducted from 15 to 19 October 2017. Rev. Fr. Dominic Valamnal, director of Marian retreat centre, Anakkara, an alumnus of Mangalapuzha preached the retreat.

The retreat for the deacons as immediate preparation for their priestly ordination was held from 14th to 19th December 2017. Mar Thomas Tharayil, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Changanassery, preached the retreat.

The “Divine Mercy Adoration Chapel” continued to attract people from outside as well as seminarians for daily adoration. The chapel also provided opportunity for confession three days a week and weekly opportunity for spiritual counseling realized mostly with the help of the staff members. Rev. Fr. Antony Nettikat CM continued to offer his valuable service as confessor once in every week.

Once in each semester brothers were given opportunity for night vigil and Eucharistic adoration; one in September 2017 and another in February 2018. It was very well received by seminarians.

Seminary observed one-day Eucharistic adoration on the feast of Denha, on 6 January 2018 in the Divine Mercy chapel. On 15 February, as part of spiritual exercise, a pilgrimage to Malayattoor was organized. Almost all brothers and a good number of staff members opted to make this pilgrimage on foot. The pilgrimage ended with Holy Qurbana in St Thomas Shrine at Kurisumudi at midnight.

A retreat for theologians in preparation for receiving minor Orders marked the last formal spiritual activity of the academic year. Rev. Fr. Antony Vettiyanickal from the archdiocese of Tellicherry was the preacher.

Intellectual Formation

Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy Alwaye (PIA) constituted at both Mangalapuzha and Carmelgiri Seminaries take care of the intellectual formation of seminarians. Both these seminaries provide the infrastructure and basic amenities for the functioning of PIA. The seminaries and the PIA work coherently in imparting intellectual formation.

The high academic authority of the PIA includes His Grace Archbishop Soosai Pakkiam (Chancellor), His Excellency Yoohannan Mar Chrysostom (Pro-Chancellor) and His Grace Mar Mathew Moolakattu (Vice-Chancellor).

With an aim to enhance the intellectual quality of seminarians, mentoring system was introduced. Accordingly, all students were entrusted with the academic mentoring of different staff members. Each formator shall take care of the intellectual formation of about 15 seminarians, closely accompanying them. Mentors and mentees were given handbooks outlining a general format for mentoring. This venture has proved a big success thanks to the generous cooperation of the staff members and the receptivity of seminarians. A good number of staff members attended the bishops-theologians colloquium organized by the KCBC in August at Mount St. Thomas Kakkanad.

The Institute Day Celebrations were held on Mangalapuzha Campus on 9 August, 2017. Fr. Zacharias Memorial Lectures were held on 30 August 2017 on Carmelgiri campus in collaboration with POC and the KCBC commission for Ecumenism and dialogue. Lectures centred on the general theme “Bridge for Unity,” Ecumenical Dialogue: A Methodology for Christian Unity.

Correspondence course in Theology organized by the PIA flourished over a period of one year. It attracted about two thousand participants from different parts of Kerala. There were occasional contact classes in the Seminary conducted by the PIA. The staff published more than thirty textbooks in Malayalam for this course.

Expressing greater concerns towards intellectual formation, meeting of the Rectors and Superiors of the study houses and the resident teachers formulated new proposals to enhance the quality of intellectual pursuits. This meeting served as a platform to share the views of different Superiors and Rectors who work in the same field.

The convocation ceremony of the PIA was held on 14th December 2017, on Carmelgiri campus. Mar Sebastian Adayanthrath, auxiliary bishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese inaugurated the function. Rev. Dr. Augustine Vallooran, Director of English & Other Language Retreats, Divine Retreat Centre, gave the keynote address.

On 31 July 2017 there was lecture on cyber security and cyber-crimes by Mr. Arun from cyber cell, Kottayam, Kerala police from 2.00pm to 4.00 pm in the auditorium. On 16 August 2017 an extension lecture was given in the auditorium by Dr. Stephen Van Erp from KU Leuven, Belgium on the theme ‘Relationship between Fundamental Theology and Political Theology.’

On 22 November an intercollegiate seminar in Carmelgiri campus was held on the topic “Demonetization and GST.” On 23 January 2018 a public lecture by Rev Dr. Jacob Kattackal was arranged in the main auditorium. Dr Kattackal, a prolific author, spoke on how to cultivate taste for intellectual work.

Students of both Mangalapuzha and Carmlegiri campuses of third year theology together attended a few courses in both the campuses. It serves as a much appreciated opportunity for seminarians to mingle with their counterparts in the Latin tradition.

On 29, 30 January 2017 PIA organized its Triennial International Conference on the theme “Virtues: Perspectives and Practices.” His Beatitude Mar George Cardinal Alencherry, His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Soosa Packiam and Most Rev. Abraham Mar Julios, Archbishop of Muvattupuzha blessed the function with their presence and words.

Speakers of the Conference included: Rev. Dr. C.D .Sebastian, Rev. Dr. Keith D’Sousa SJ, Rev. Dr. Aldo Vendemiatti, Rev. Dr. Vincent Kundukulam, Rev. Dr. Joseph Valliyattu, Rev. Sr. Bince Maria FCC, Rev. Dr. Clement Vallussery, Rev. Dr. Joseph Nalpathilchira, Rev. Dr. Petr Marecek, Rev. Dr. Thomas Kalariparambil MSFS, Rev. Dr. Veenus Joseph Karmullil, Rev. Dr. Thomas Kuzhuppil, Rev. Dr. Sujan Amurutham, Rev. Dr. Sebeesh Jacob, Rev Sr. Dr. Mercitta Kannampuzha SABS, Rev. Dr. Jobi Thomas Thurackal CMI, and Rev. Dr. Saju Chakkalckal.

On 29 January 2018 PIA released a new journal Indian Journal of Philosophy and Religion. His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Soosa Packiam released the journal by giving a copy to Rev. Dr. Aldo Vendemiati, dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at Urbaniana University, Rome.

On 06 February Prof. Dr. Mathijs Lamberigts of Leuven University gave a lecture on Virtues.

Human Formation

As Pastores dabo vobis emphasizes, human formation is understood as the “necessary foundation” of priestly formation. The formators and formees try to imbibe the basic principle of human formation found in Pastores dabo vobis, no. 43: “the human personality of the priest is to be a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the human race. As the humanity of the Word made flesh was the instrumentum salutis, so the humanity of the priest is instrumental in mediating the redemptive gifts of Christ to people today.”

Seminary pays utmost attention to various aspects of human formation. To impart human formation, various steps are taken; different programmes are conducted. Some of them are listed below.

There was a class on etiquette and good manners by Rev. Fr. Abraham Thonippara.

Different offices assigned to seminarians function as platform to develop their human and moral qualities.

There are sufficient inter-seminary activities of various sorts to foster interpersonal relationship on a broader scale. For instance, matches, competitions, visits, etc. Occasional opportunities are also provided for mingling with students of secular colleges.

Sufficient attention is given to foster artistic talents and cultural capabilities of seminarians. For this end, different cultural programmes are arranged. Onam and Christmas, for example, are celebrated with due focus on community-building activities.

In view of Home Day celebrations, competitions in arts, sports and games were conducted. Sports and games form integral part of the life of seminarians.

Various forums like English academy, Malayalam academy, Quiz forum, Speakers Forum etc. are meant to promote soft skills of students.

Seminarians are generous in donating blood to patients in neighbouring hospitals whenever requested. Blood donation forum regulates and supports this service.

Mangalapuzha Social Service department arranged on a regular basis visits to orphanages, homes for the aged, children’s homes, leprosarium, etc. Seminarians rendered their services in government hospitals and slums in the city.

On 22 June Seminary community welcomed destitute children from neighbouring schools. The social service department took the lead in making children at home in the Seminary and giving opportunities for seminarians to mingle with them.

Building up the social awareness of seminarians, a lecture was given by Ms Aswathy, the founder of Jwala Foundation.

In the month of August a group of Seminarians volunteered to help haj pilgrims who reached Always railway station. It was hailed as an act of interreligious understanding and a signal against growing communal polarizations.

Seminarians used to distribute free lunch to street people on Thursdays. Every week about 50 lunch packs are distributed in Aluva town and nearby places, which is the fruit of the voluntary fasting of seminarians and staff members.

Social service group distributed Onam kit which contained provisions to the poor families.

On 29th June 2017 activities of Mangalapuzha Seminary Literary Association (MSLA) were inaugurated. Mrs Muse Mary, the HOD of Malayalam department of UC College, Aluva was the chief guest.

Each semester allows one one-day picnic for seminarians.

Mangalapuzha basketball team played in the tournament held at the Rogate Study House, Aluva.

Basketball and Volleyball matches between Mangalapuzha and Vadavathoor seminaries were held at Vadavathoor and Mangalapuzha respectively. Vadavathoor won both the matches. In order to facilitate the psychological wellbeing of Seminarians occasional opportunities for counselling were arranged.

On 06 December a team of staff and students the people in Chellanam who were badly affected by the Ockhi cyclone storm and provided them with rice.

Pastoral Formation

Mangalapuzha keeps pastoral formation as one of the well cherished anchor points in priestly training. Among many practices of pastoral formation, the following deserve special mention:

Deacons and theology students engage actively with Sunday pastoral ministry in various parishes of the neighbouring dioceses.

On 16 June Mar Sebastian Adyanthranth, auxiliary bishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, inaugurated the activities of Jesus Fraternity. Members of Jesus fraternity paid a visit to different jails in Malappuram, Calicut and Wayand in the month of November.

On 03 August the second year theologians spent a day with inmates of Daivadhan Old Age home at Malayattoor. They served the elderly people in different ways like cleaning the house, cooking for them and listening to them, praying with them, etc.

Missionary Formation

Defeating parochial visions, it has been stressed that one is formed priest for the universal church; therefore, the preparedness to be sent as a missionary to any part of the world in future priestly ministry.

Third year theologians went to Mandya mission for a ten-days hands on experience. They attended the course “Missiology” in the backdrop of the missions. It proved very much productive.

Mission day was celebrated in the Seminary with various activities, including the sharing a missionary priest from the North-East India. Money collected from the community was sent for missions.

Unity Octave was celebrated with due solemnity and importance. Most Rev. Dr. Mathew Mor Antheemos, Metropolitan Bishop from Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, gave the message.