The mission major seminary of the Syro Malabar church celebrates silver jubilee

October 1, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Satna, September 26, 2017: St. Ephrem’s Theological College, Satna, M.P., completes 25 years of its existence and its Silver Jubilee Celebrations are planned for 3rd and 4th October, 2017. The Theological Seminary, started as a Mission Major Seminary in 1992, by Bishop Mar Abraham D. Mattam of Satna was taken over by the Synod of the Syro Malabar Church in 2014 and became the official “Mission Seminary” of the Church. It is the fourth and the only Synodal Seminary of the Syro Malabar Church outside Kerala. The administration of the Seminary is carried out by a Commission elected by the Synod. The Commission members are Bishop Joseph Kodakallil, Satna (Chairman), Bishop Mar Sebastian Vadakkel, Ujjain and Mar Raphael Thattil, auxiliary Bishop of Thrissur. The present Rector is Rev. Dr. Joseph Ottapurackal, a priest of the diocese of Satna.

The Seminary was inaugurated on 3rd July, 1992 at Edessa, the Pastoral centre of the Diocese of Satna and was later transferred to its present location at Barakala village, 15 km away from the city of Satna, on the Satna – Chitrakoot highway. The first advisory council for ETC consisted of Bishop Abraham D. Mattam, Bishop John Perumattam (Ujjain), Bishop Dominic Kokkatt (Gorakhpur) and Rev. Dr. Mathew Vaniakizhakkel VC (Provincial). The first Rector was Rev. Dr. Antony Plackal VC.  So far 299 priests have been ordained from the 22 batches of theology students. Most of them are from the Syro Malabar mission dioceses outside Kerala and Syro Malabar congregations. In 2005 ETC was affiliated to Parasthya Vidya Peetham at Vadavathoor, Kottayam, enabling it to confer BTh degree to those who successfully complete the four year theological studies at ETC. This year there are 25 deacons in the final year who are preparing for ordination. At present there are 68 seminarians undergoing formation under the guidance of six resident staff members and 25 visiting teachers. They are from Kerala, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra states, belonging to Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara Churches and congregations. The renowned Indian theological review, “Ephrem’s Theological Journal,” is edited by the staff members of ETC. It started its publication in 1996. Ephrem’s Publications from ETC has published hitherto nine books.

The focus of formation at ETC is on missionary training suitable for the cultural and religious ambience of the North Indian states. Contextual formation attuned to the Eastern Spiritual traditions and cultural ethos of the land is the hallmark of ETC. Weekly visits to some 20 villages around the seminary is very much part of the life of the seminarians. Almost 800 children from those villages take part in the “Ekta Diwas” conducted in ETC on every Republic Day. Besides, every year the seminarians  spend two weeks in the villages of MP or neighbouring states in small groups for sharing the life of the villagers so as to gather a realistic picture of the ground Indian reality. They also become well versed in Hindi.

Concluding sessions of the Jubilee will be conducted on the 3rd and 4th of October at ETC. The new priests of last academic year will celebrate the Holy Eucharist on the 3rd. All the alumni of ETC will take part in the Jubilee Family gathering on the same day. On the 4th, Mar George Cardinal Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church will preside over the Eucharistic celebration. Many dignitaries from religious and civic life will attend the public meeting to be held thereafter. A jubilee commemorative volume, “Mission and Contextual Formation,” will be released in the meeting. Convocation of the outgoing batch of students also will be held in the same meeting. As part of the Jubilee celebration, a seminar on “Challenges of Institutionalisation: Rethinking Evangelization,” was conducted on 8th September. An exhibition highlighting the ‘Syro Malabar Missionary World of the Syro Malabar Church in North India’ is arranged in ETC in connection with the Jubilee.

– fr rengith chakkummoottil

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