The Catholic Church gives special care for formation to priesthood. Pope John Paul II’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992) pointed to the four dimensions of formation: spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral. This vision is further developed in the Ratio Fundamentalis (2017). St. Mary's Seminary seeks to form candidates for priesthood after the Heart of Jesus by integrating these four “pillars” or dimensions of formation.
The goal of priestly formation is to become configured to Christ. Pointing to Jesus our Lord and Saviour as our great example, St. Paul says: “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had.” Paul follows this exhortation with a strong reminder of the service-mindedness and humility of Christ (Phil. 2:5ff) who, though was God himself, emptied himself by taking the form of a slave. There is no question that if those who are in formation need to grow and mature into Christ-like character, they must progressively grow in giving of themselves in ministry to and for others. In this process of priestly formation, the candidates are called to cooperate by letting Christ transform their hearts. Pope Francis rightly says that “Priestly formation depends firstly on the action of God in our life… it is a work that requires the courage of letting ourselves be formed by the Lord, to transform our heart and our life.”
St. Mary’s Malankara Seminary focuses on forming priests who are ready to serve the people effectively following the example of Jesus Christ. According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the meaning of vocation is not privilege and power for oneself, but service to others. Vocation to priesthood is a call to serve others, and this service entails “an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God” (Deus Caritas Est, n. 6).
Seminary is the place where the candidates for priesthood gain a greater depth of theological understanding. Understanding the Christian worldview and exploring theological diversity is an incredibly valuable experience. The study of theology deepens their understanding of the nature of God, His revelation, the person of Christ, God’s design for humanity, etc. St. Mary’s Seminary has designed its priestly formation programme with the express purpose of preparing the candidates for priesthood to assume greater and more demanding pastoral responsibilities immediately following ordination. Community life, prayer, academics, pastoral experience, and spiritual formation all contribute in very specific ways to the formation of a priest who can be a good shepherd to the people of God.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our warm sentiments of gratitude to His Eminence Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and to His Grace Most Rev. Giambattista Diquattro, the Apsotolic Nuncio, India. We express our filial love and deep indebtedness to His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, Major Archbishop - Catholicos, the Father and Head of the Syro-Malankara Major Archiepiscopal Church and the Patron of the Seminary, for his constant support and paternal concern. The Seminary is deeply indebted to the members of the Holy Episcopal Synod of the Syro-Malankara Major Archiepiscopal Church and the Synodal Commission for the Seminary, Most Rev. Dr. Vincent Mar Paulos (Chairman), Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Mar Irenios (Member), Most Rev. Dr. Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom (Member) for their exceptional care and guidance.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to our Resident and Guest Professors for their sheer dedication and to our dedicated seminarians for their wonderful cooperation and generous response to the priestly formation imparted here. We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of goodwill and generosity of our well-wishers for their financial support and prayers. Our earnest gratitude to them.
Lastly, we raise our hearts in thanksgiving to Almighty God for His unfailing and abundant blessings throughout the year. May He bless each one of us so that we may continue His work with dedication and love! May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Heavenly Patroness of our Seminary, guide us along the way and teach us to believe, to hope and to love.
Fr. Sunny Mathew