Synodal Mission Seminary
Already more than twenty-five years have passed since the beginning of our seminary. All these were eventful years in which young people moved by the Spirit learned to share their precious life to the cause of Jesus. This theological centre has been giving priestly formation suited to the context of the mission, a task which is of great significance for the Syro Malabar Church which is entrusted with several mission dioceses and areas in different parts of India and abroad.
St. Ephrem’s Theological College was inaugurated on 3rd July 1992, the Feast of St. Thomas, the Apostle, in the eparchy of Satna. It has been started as a diocesan institution by Bishop Abraham D. Mattam, the then Bishop of Satna, with the active support and co-operation of the neighbouring Bishops and Religious Congregations. This centre was intended to impart priestly formation to those who wish to serve primarily in the Syro-Malabar mission eparchies and the Religious Congregations in North India.
During the Mission Year celebrations of the Syro Malabar Church in 2011-12, there was discussion about the need of a mission seminary for the Syro Malabar Church. As the Syro Malabar Church is entrusted with the work of evangelization in North India and several dioceses were erected for carrying out this task, it is important that priestly formation is given in the context of the mission. The Archiepiscopal Synod discussed this matter and constituted a commission of bishops to study the matter and to see the possibility of making St. Ephrem’s Theological College the Synodal Mission Seminary. The commission was constituted of His Grace Mar George Valiyamattam, His Grace Mar Mathew Moolakatt OSB, His Excellency Mar Jacob Manathodath, His Excellency Mar Thomas Chackiath and His Excellency Mar Bosco Puthur, who was also the convener of the commission. On behalf of the commission Mar Bosco Puthur visited the seminary on 29th October 2012. He had several rounds of conferences with the Bishop of Satna, Rector, Dean of Studies and Finance Officer and also with the entire body of the Resident Professors. He also went around inspecting the infrastructure of the seminary and visited the different houses in the Ephrem Nagar. In the light of the study, the commission recommended to the Synod to go ahead with the process of making St. Ephrem’s Theological College, Satna, the Synodal Mission Seminary for the entire Syro Malabar Church. When all the requirements were met and the final approval from Rome was obtained, the Major Archbishop decided to visit Satna to declare the long awaited dream. Thus, St. Ephrem's Theological College was officially declared and elevated to the status of the Synodal Mission Seminary on 29th March, 2014 by His Beatitude Mar George Cardinal Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church, following the unanimous decision of the Major Archiepiscopal Synod of the Syro Malabar Church. It was an appreciation of the relevance and contribution of St. Ephrem’s Theological College and an affirmation of the need for forming the missionary personnel in the socio-cultural and multi-religious context of India, by the Major Archiepiscopal Synod of the Syro Malabar Church. Thus St. Ephrem’s Theological College has become the Synodal Mission Seminary for the entire Syro Malabar Church in 2012.
As the Synodal Mission Seminary, along with academic studies of theology, the students get ample opportunity to be in touch with the socio cultural realities of the people. Study of local languages, exposure programmes and various ministries are suitable to inculcate in them the spirit of service and identification with the struggles of the people. Remaining true to the Syro Malabar heritage they are equipped to undertake the work of evangelization among various cultural group, respecting their ways of life and religious beliefs. Various activities, small and great, have left their imprint on the minds of the students, enabling them to advance in their intellectual, human and spiritual and pastoral development.
This theological institute in North India is intended also to promote the study of Oriental Churches, the history, traditions, and theology, especially of the St. Thomas Church of India, called the Syro Malabar Church. Each individual or autonomous Church has its own spirituality, discipline and theology. The Second Vatican Council enjoins on all eastern churches that they should preserve their liturgical rites and ecclesial traditions. Placing emphasis on this aspect the seminary gives formation to those who are to work as missionaries. Study of the religious beliefs of the people and their socio-cultural traditions will be given importance in the curriculum. Study of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and tribal religions are given due emphasis. Inculturation of the Gospel is of special importance in the mission areas. As every Christian is a missionary, formation in the context is relevant for any priest wherever he may be working.
About three hundred students have completed their theological studies and priestly formation in this seminary and they are involved in the apostolate in various fields and parts of the world. Some of those who were part of our community through their studies or through their work as formators have departed for their eternal reward. Wherever we are the seminary will be a common ground that will unite us.
We are thankful to all those who have helped us through their patronage, cooperation and contribution. We are grateful to His Beatitude Mar George Cardinal Alencherry, the patron of this seminary, Bishop Emeritus Mar Abraham D. Mattam, the founder, Bishop Mar Mathew Vaniakizhakkel, and all the bishops for their patronage. We also thank the diocese of Satna and its clergy for their care for the seminary and also for providing facility for pastoral and missionary experience. Our sincere thanks go to our benefactors, CNEWA, Pro Caritate, Society of Sts. Peter and Paul and all our well wishers for their financial contributions and spiritual support.