The Dream Unfolds
This seminary is the fruit of the extraordinary foresight and apostolic zeal of her Father and Founder, the Most Rev. Louis Mathias Sdb. On taking charge of the pastoral leadership of the Archdiocese in 1935, one of his top priorities was to begin a seminary to train future pastors. As this was made known to the public, the then administrator of the Diocese of Mylapore, informed the Archbishop that there was “a ready-made seminary” available in the diocese. The Archbishop visited the place, inspected the building, and the sale deed was signed on 26 March, 1936, the feast day of St. Mathias.
The two-storied main building was a British military hospital, from whom the Bishop of Mylapore had bought it. It is nearly 100 meters long. The seminary was solemnly inaugurated on 8 September 1936. The minor seminarians from Pius XI Minor Seminary, Kondichetty Street, occupied the seminary on 21 July. They numbered twenty-one. The seminary campus consists of twenty-five acres of land, and the main building today is well over a century old.
The administration of the seminary was entrusted to the Salesians from its inception. There were, however, some from the diocesan clergy, on the staff always. The philosophy course in the seminary was started in 1938, with seven students and the theology course in 1940, with six students. In 1941, the seminary buildings were requisitioned by the military and it functioned in Yercaud for six long years. Life was really hard there. The seminary had the joy of giving five priests to the Church in 1943. Archbishop Louis Mathias ordained them in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Chennai 600 001.
The seminarians came from different dioceses, states and even from other countries: Siam and Sri Lanka. The students were given an all-round formation, with a specific focus on youth ministry. It is this, that gave rise to the beginning of Sunday Oratories in 1952. The seminary is particularly appreciated for its pastoral formation.
In 1998, the Salesians handed over the administration to the Archdiocese. The Salesians continue to help the seminary, with one of them residing and others coming to teach as visiting professors. In the past eight decades, the seminary has given to the Church more than 1550 priests and 19 prelates, of whom 2 are archbishops.