Khrist Premalaya Theologate (KPRT) Ashta
Form seminarians who are sacraments of Christ’s love
Aims to form suitable priests for north India to enter into dialogue with people of other faith, cultures and the poor and the marginalized.
The context of a priest’s life and ministry in north India is difficult and poses different challenges. Catholic communities are small and scattered. Most of the people living in the rural areas of north India are economically and socially backward. Literacy levels are below the national average. Further, the region has experienced much communal tensions and growth in fundamentalist attitudes. Several of the state governments have passed legislations that is definitely directed at curtail and contain the evangelization activities of Christians.
To turn these challenges to opportunities and to adapt priestly formation to the pastoral and evangelization needs of the area in which the ministry is to be exercised, the bishops of Madhya Pradesh decided to set up their own seminary. The seminary was officially named, Khrist Premalaya meaning “abode or temple Christ’s love”. The theologate section of Khrist Premalaya was started in Bhopal in July 1982. A short time later, it was shifted to the outskirts of Ashta, then a village, 85 kilometers from Bhopal towards Indore. The institution is affiliated to the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome from 1997.
From its beginning the theologate Ashta under the administration of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI). They served the institution until April 1994 when the Pallottines, society of the Catholic apostolate took over the administration. They in turn discontinued their services on April 09, 2008. At the request of the bishops of Madhya Pradesh – Chattisgarh, the society of the Divine word (SVD) took over the administration from April 09.2008.
The emblem enshrines the ideals of the seminary. The inmates are expected to experience the depth of Christ’s love and eventually impart it to others as its authentic apostles. In this sense, each seminarian is expected to become the symbol or sacrament of Christ’s love. The cross at the centre of the emblem stands for this love of Christ.
The outer frame of the emblem originates from the cross and culminates in the leaf of a pipal tree, the tree of divine wisdom and enlightenment. The pipal leaf in its triangular shape stands for the Trinitarian Mystery of salvation , eternally hidden in the bosom of the Father, but revealed in the person of Jesus Christ at the end of times (Eph.1:3-12 ). Thus the emblem signifies a double movement – the Trinitarian love flowing outward and being purified and manifest in the love of the crucified Lord; human love being purified and elevated by Christ’s redeeming love, eventually returning to its source, the Trinitarian love.
The motto, “Sevan: Gyan – Bhakti- Sadhan” envisages an integral training of the candidates, combining praxis and theory of action and reflection which will be the product of Gyan (philosophy- theology) and Bhakti (Prayer, devotion and liturgy), both being articulated and expressed in terms Sadhan (dedicated) Seven (services). In other words, service or liberative action for others as well as for oneself will be the index or all study, teaching , reflection and prayer of the inmates.
Aims and Objectives
- Khrist Premalaya Regional Theologate aims to form suitable priests for the Ecclesiastical Province of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh without however, limiting its scop to offer its services to other dioceses and institutes of consecrated life of India.
- It aims to equip future priests and leaders with the ability to offer Christian ministry, in a society consisting dominantly of people of other faiths, amidst those who live in the poverty and deprivation of villages and in the squalor of the fringes of cities and in a socio – political environment, which is closed to and even reactionary and inimical towards Christian Mission.
- Preferential option for and solidarity with poor, proficiency in the vernacular and inculturation shall be the triad along which the formation programme is to be oriented. The simple life- style and the persistent exposure of the students to the surrounding society are to be constant expressions as well as reminders of these goals.
- Action-Reflection-Action shall be the formation technique used in the seminary. Employing this method the seminary will endeavour to form priests and leaders who will be spiritually mature, intellectually competent, and affectively wholesome and with a missionary enthusiasm and pastoral proficiency adapted to the needs of the area in which their ministry is to be exercised.
How it all started:
Krist Premalaya Regional Theologate, Ashta has crossed an important milestone with the celebration of 25 years of its existence. It has certainly taken deep roots in Ashta and has grown perhaps beyond recognition and has born fruits in plenty. Today Krist Premalaya Theologate, Ashta us the proud Alma Mater of more than 550priests who were moulded and motivated, trained and shaped as Shepherds after Jesus the Good Shepherd. They are working in the different parts of India in different capacities and responsibilities.
This institution has been the fruit of a prolonged and serious search, study and struggle for a relevant and effective formation programme best suited to the context of M.P & C.G. The founding fathers led by Archbishop Eugene D’Souza, Bp. George Anathil SVD, Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara, Archbishop Pascal Topno, Bishop Theophane Thannikunnel, Fr. John Perumattam and others very closely accompanied and guided the formation programme.
As early as 1958, at a meeting of the Bishops of M.P, the Bishops had discussed about a training center that would meet the peculiar problems that were confronting the missionaries of M.P. after another meeting in September 1968, Bishops Simons of Indore prepared a memorandom regarding the difficulties faced by priests working in the region and suggested some novel forms of priestly training and submitted it to the CBCI requesting for an urgent consideration. Although it was forward to Rome as part of the Programme for priestly training in India. It was accepted in April 70, by the bishops of M.P at their meeting in Bhopal, after long and mature deliberations. They decided to take steps for the establishment of a new seminary for the Madhya Pradesh. The overriding reasons for this bold decision were:
- The increase of ecclesial units
- The need for thorough knowledge of the local language Hindi.
- The need for the study of cultural anthropology with the special reference to M.P
- Need for a professional training of priests. A special committee consisting of Frs. Cecil D’Souza, Gracian Aroojis, Raymond Carvalho and Anthony Das was appointed to chalk out the immediate and practical steps to be taken
The 20 year old dreams of the Bishops of M.P finally was realized when the Archbishop of Bhopal Most. Rev. Dr. Eugene D’Souza, made the final announcement in a circular dated July 26, 1987 on the feast of John Mary Vianney. The seminary was officially named Khrist Premalaya, M.P Regional Seminary. The dynamic and sacrificial love of Christ alone can motivate and strengthen the future priests in their apostolate hence the name itself reveals what the seminary aims and stands for.
To realize the dreams, vision and objects and for better administration and training, the Khrist Premalaya formation programme was divided into three. They are
- The orientation centers
- Philosophy cum graduation centers
- The theologate.
As the announced Orientation center began on the 14th of August 1977 at Ashta with 19 students and 4 priests in a temporarily constructed shed-rather in a converted poultry shed. In January 1979 the seminary was shifted to the new building. Since 1983 orientation course at Ashta has been shifted to various dioceses and then it was taken to Tindini in 1990.
The philosophy section began on August 1, 1978 in the Archdiocesan Social Service Center, at Bhopal and in 1979 it was shifted to the newly constructed buildings in the same campus.
Khrist Premalaya Theologate, Ashta is owned, supported and guided by the Bishops Conference of M.P and C.G. However, the core administration of the theologate was entrusted to the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate with Fr. Eustace Thottan as the first Rector. The theologate began functioning in July 1982 with six brothers. Fr. Louis Malieckal joined the staff and became the Rector from 1986 to 1994, under whom Khrist Premalaya Theologate, Ashta took a definite shape in the contextualized formation.
In 1994 the Pallotines took over the administration. Incidentally, the CMI in 12 years had 2 rectors and 13 staff members and the Pallotines in 14 years also had 2 Rectors. There have been 6 diocesans from Indore, Raipur, Raigarh, and Bhopal in the staff of the seminary.
With SVD administration there was three other staff in the first two-three years: one Jesuit Fr. Theodore Toppo – Spiritual Director, Fr. Antony Thattil of Jabalpur Diocese – Spiritual Director and Fr. Michael John of Indore Diocese- Scripture professor. At present, from this academic year, there is only SVD staff in the seminary.
During this year we have 67 students from 13 dioceses and 4 congregations. There are 5 resident professors and about 20 visiting professors. Khrist Premalaya Theologate, Ashta celebrated silver Jubilee on 27th and 8th November 2007. In the year 2008 Khrist Premalaya Theologate, Ashta was taken up by the SVDs.
1958 Meeting of the Bishops of M.P, the Bishops had discussed about a training center M.P.
1968 Bishops Simons of Indore prepared a memorandum Sent to CBCI and then to Rome which was rejected.
1970 The bishops of M.P at their meeting in Bhopal, took decision to begin a Regional theologate, a committee was formed.
1977 Khrist Premalaya orientation centre, Regional Philosophate, at Asha Niketan Campus, and Theologate at Archdiocese Social Service Centre, Bhopal
1982 Khrist Premalaya Theologate was shifted to Ashta
1983 Carmelite of Mary Immaculate, Fr. Eustace Thottan as the first Rector. Fr. Louis Malieckal joined the staff and became the Rector from
1986 to 1994, Fr. Louis Malieckal becomes Rector under whom Khrist Premalaya Theologate, Ashta took a definite shape in contextualized formation.
1994 Pallotines take the in-charge of the Theologate
2007 Celebration of Silver Jubilee
2008 SVDs take up the administrations of Khrist Premalaya Theologate, Ashta
Confreres who worked so far:
Name of the Confreres
Post / Assignment
Fr. Jesuraj Rayappan
Dean & Vice Rector
Fr. A. Savari Rayan
Dean & Vice Rector
Fr. Pius Lakra
Fr. Johny D’Souza
Lecturer and Procurator
Fr. Albinus Kujur
Fr. Sanjay Kujur
Fr. Charles Pinto
Professor, Spiritual Director
Fr. Clarence Srambical
Fr. Thomas Peringalloor