The priestly formation should remove the gap that exists between the seminary and the social realities of the community, otherwise it becomes irrelevant, meaningless and non-contextual. Our seminary training, following the example of our Master Jesus, attempts, an existential involvement in many social problems of the community, so as to answer the divine call. Pope Francis defines Catholic Church as the 'Church of the poor'. By this we mean that every priest and every seminarian could do much in both inside and outside of the church through various apostolates in the Seminary.
Apostolate of social action (ASA) is a dynamic and vibrant movement of the seminary. Here all the seminarians join hands in helping the needy through their prayers and efforts of sacrifice, following the modal of Jesus Christ. The aim and dream of this movement is to be a helping hand to the poor in their daily needs by sharing our energy and money to alleviate their suffering and build a sharing and caring attitude in the minds of the future priests.
This year the action plan of ASA was inaugurated on 3rd July, 2014 by Hon. MLA. Shri. K. Muralidharan and the motto of this year is "finding oneself in the service of other" was declared Rev. Fr. Isaac Parappallil, Director of ASA. After having a small discussion and deliberations on the previous years' activities, all the brothers volunteered to various departments of ASA, and a core team also was selected to guide its activity. The core team makes frequent meetings and discussions with each group and members; so as to enhance productive results. The following are the departments that function under the ASA in the year 2014-2015.
Special Task Force (STF): The brothers efficiently conduct programmes such as mission Sunday mega auction, Christmas Carol etc. They collect money from auction and give it to various activities like housing aid, medical aid, education aid etc. This year the Christmas carol collection was handed over to His Beatitudes project for the homeless (Snēhapōrvam oru Veedu).
Amicos Mart: A shop functions to provide stationary items, greetings cards, Christmas cards etc., to the seminarians at reasonable prices.
Public Relation: This group takes care of those who come to the seminary for financial help. The members of this group meet and talk with those who come for help and, after understanding their situation, give them due service.
Snehaveedu: This department functions to co-ordinate the service of the seminarians at the nearby shelter, named Snehaveedu. Every Sunday, a team of brothers from philosophy batches spend their time and energy to do services like cleaning and washing at Snehaveedu, where the mentally retarded people live. This year brothers conducted onam celebrations in the Snehaveedu and that served happiness and joy to the people in the home of love.
Ironing: This department renders their service to iron the cassocks of the priests and give the income to ASA. There are ten members included in this team.
Hair Cutting Section: This department is responsible for cutting the hair of priests and seminarians and give the sum to ASA.
Mushroom Cultivation: This department helps to leach the art of cultivating mushroom. They cultivate chippikkoon (austere mushrooms) a type of mushroom which is very nutritious and delicious. They give the fruit of their hard work to the seminary
Medicinal Garden: This department helps to plant several medicinal plants and trees in the seminary campus.
Book Binding Section: The book binding department binds the common books of the seminary, notes of Rev. Fathers, dissertations of the seminarians, class notes and also articles received from outside the seminary.
Blood Donation: This department oversees the requests for the blood donation. Brothers willingly and freely donate their blood to the needy and the poor people in various hospitals.
Social Awareness Team: This department works to present contemporary issues to the seminarians to inspire them and thereby increase their knowledge about the world around them.
Dhrisya Creative Studio: This is a department of media and documentation. Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos inaugurated this department on 14th August, 2011. On the same day an audio - visual program' Hamara Bharath' was conducted in connection with the Independence Day. ASA has begun a website under the name www. aposlolateofsocialaction.co.in which hails the service of our seminary in the cyber world.
Art and Craft: This is also a new venture from ASA in order to develop the talents of our brothers in the fields of art and craft work. The creative products are given to STF and they use it for mission Sunday auction and for sale.
Jesus Fraternity: This is another department for Jail ministry. A team of brothers used to go every Sunday to Juvenile Home, Poojappura to take classes for the interested inmates. The Jesus Fraternity members arranges also Volley Ball match. Cartoon Competition....etc. during the Onam season and special Christmas Eve programmes including carol night. This group also arranges prayers for the inmates on every Monday, at the seminary chapel and send personal letters to selected inmates. ASA always stretches out its hands to the society through which it helps financially backward families, give home for the homeless, financial help for the patients, educational helps and financial help for the marriages. Through its activities ASA feels the pulse of the society and forms young seminarians to feel the pain of the neighbor.
To get acquainted with the need situation of the mission areas of our church, the seminary provide ample opportunities to the seminarians through Pastoral ministry. It helps everyone to know the real atmosphere of the faithful and to inoculate a missionary attitude. Students of theology go for pastoral ministry on Sundays and engage themselves in various activities of the parish such as praying for the sick and the needy, house visits and organizing different pious associations and apostolate. The brothers try their best to support the vicar in leading the people to God. It is joyful to say that the services of brothers are very much appreciated and welcomed by parish priests, religious and lay people in mission stations. The mission experience helps the brothers to apply their theoretical knowledge into real life situation by visiting different families and interacting with them. Brothers through their house visits of faithful get a chance to read the minds of the people about their expectations of priests and priesthood which would really help the future priests in many ways. Pastoral ministry is a great boon for the brothers to have a real passion for mission work for which we are specially called by Lord Jesus Christ.
As part of the human, intellectual, pastoral and spiritual formation of our seminary formation, every year we conduct an exposure program entitled 'Exodus' to have an comprehensive approach, views and insights towards these areas of formation. This year's 'Exodus' program was organized and coordinated by the leadership of Very Rev. Dr. Shaji Thomas Manikulam (Rector), Rev. Dr. Isaac Parappallil (Vice-Rector) and Rev. Dr. Mariadasan. The entire seminary community is divided into 10 teams and each team was assigned a particular parish for their study and survey. We had the 'Exodus' program at various 10 centres of the Eparchies of Trivandrum, Tiruvalla, Māvēlikkara, Pathanamthitta and Marthandom. The 'Exodus' program extended from 4th to 8th October. The main thrust of the program was to impart the theme of the Extra Ordinary Synod held at Vatican from 5th to 19th October of 2014 on Family and the Modern Challenges'.
MS Publications'- as the name indicates it is the publication wing of the St. Marys Malankara Major Seminary. It has become one of the most important wings of the seminary by bringing into light a number of serious and deep studies on the relevant and contemporary issues connected with both Theology and Philosophy. It has helped many to grow in their religious, theological, intellectual and faith life and has served the humanity at large and Malankara Catholic Church in particular. The publication has brought out a large number of books of renowned theologians and philosophers. It publishes a half yearly theological journal, named Aikya Samiksha which is a serious theological publication. It also brings out Vachanavirunnu which is a publication mean to help the pastors of the church in breaking the word of God on Sundays. Another important publication is the Liturgical Diary with all the details that a person should know in social and religious life.
In the second creation account (Gen. 2:4 - 3:24), we find the Lord placing humans in the garden to till and keep it. Human beings arc pictured as the tillers and keepers of the earth. It is a humble participation and co-operation with God as a co-creator. Our duty towards nature and creatures are essential part of our faith. We are of the earth, we are not somehow separate from the rest of creation.Seminary being the home of formation, provide ample opportunity for the students to cultivate this sense of belonging. Only work makes a man a real human being. 2 Thess 3:10 says, "Anyone unwilling to work should not eat." Human formation is most essential part in priestly formation. Taking into consideration all these facts, seminarians actively participate in the agricultural work. Each batch carries a separate plot and cultivate different types of vegetables, tapioca and plantain. The students, through the work, learn to love, care and protect the mother earth. They keep their relation with the soil and see it as their moral responsibility. There is no true spirituality without obedience to this mandate. Thus, the seminarians develop a deep sense in eco spirituality. The seminarians also helps by valuable corrections and guidance. In order to encourage the students at the end of the academic year, prizes and awards are given to the batches which produce more vegetables. Seminarians very proud in saying work is worship
Fellowship of seminarians in Trivandrum helps a lot of seminarians to build up in ecumenical relationship. The inauguration of the activities of FOST for the academic year 2014-2015 was held at K.U.T seminary, Kannammoola on 29th September 2014. Representatives from various seminaries participated in all the programmes. Rev. Fr. Thomas Shine was selected as Ex-Officio consultant(patron) and Dn. Jobin P. Abraham is the secretary of FOST for this year. FOST undertakes various kinds of programmes for social uplift. This years main programmes of FOST includes Cleaning day on 2nd October, Volleyball, basketball and badminton match from 10th to 20th November, Christmas Celebration on December 5th, seminar for seminarians on January 10th and Anniversary and General Body meeting on February 10th. All the representatives from each seminary participated in this Christmas celebration and shared the joy of heart and mind equally. All brothers enthusiastically co-operate in all the activities of FOST. Since our church is a church which stands for unity. We the members of FOST dedicate ourselves to enhance unity among different dominations of church. We pray that the activities of the FOST may help to increase unity in the church.
Pope John Paul II Book stall continues its successful service among seminarian's by providing current and substantial books from various publications in India. We are thankful to various publications such as D.C. Books, Sophia Books, Carmel Books, Theo Books, Media Books etc., for providing books. This year the inauguration of the book stall was made by Mr. Mitchell Alexandra (Elementary Vice-Principal, Kuwait) on July 3rd. The constant support from the seminary faculty and students, directions especially from Fr. Jacob Olickal (father in charge) makes the successful functioning of the book stall. The book stall helped to instil reading habit among seminarians and also in inspiring them to own books as treasure.
Extension lecture programmes are conducted as a part of academic arena to obtain knowledge from secular and religious fields. Personals from different walks of life are presenting their views on various topics. In this year, three lectures were conducted. The first was on The Liturgical visions of Servant of God Mar Ivanios. The lecture was given by H.E. Samuel Mar Irenios on 23rd July and Rev. Fr. Sheen Thakalayam conducted second lecture on Christian influence in Media on 27th August. Shri Ignatious Chakkalckal, (Rtd. Deputy Director, Vikram Sārabhai Space Centre, VSSC, Thumba) gave a lecture on An overview of Indian Space Exploration on 14th November.
Malankara Academy is a forum for the theological discussions open to priest, seminarians and lay people in a view to have a comprehensive a and balanced scholarship about theology. As an extension of Malankara Academy, Saint Marys Malankara seminary is conducting diploma course in theology for the laity. This is a two year course of theological studies. It offers a basic theological formation to the participants and aims at fostering faith formation. The course comprises of 200 teaching hours stretched out in a period of two years. It was commenced on 15th November 2010. This years Schola Brevis of the diploma course was inaugurated by Cor-episcopo Geevarghese Mannikkarottu on 7th July. Seminary was privileged to confer diploma to more than 25 diplomats.
Mar Gregorios Eco Friends (MGEF) is a voluntary association of altruistic and dedicated brothers who commit themselves to preserve nature and thereby to create an ecofriendly atmosphere in and around the seminary. The association sprouted on the 6th of January 2011. His Grace Benedict Mar Gregorios is our patron. The love towards nature inspires these brothers to jump into action. Now Br. Chenganamadhathil Varghese is the unifying factor of this group. This year the MGEF team was able to conduct the first inter-seminary Mar Gregorios Eco Quiz on 6th November 2014.