Update from the Rector: Fr Marreddy
‘In 2021, the seminarians returned to class in the month of January to continue formation. But in March, due to the increase in COVID-related deaths, the government imposed lockdowns and heavy restrictions in an attempt to overcome the pandemic. The seminarians were sent back to their respective dioceses, postponing their exams’.
A bleak year
‘The situation in our country was desperate. People had to stay in their houses because of lockdown. Many people were without work and experienced scarcity of food. There was a lot of migration and widespread poverty. Education was also affected as schools and colleges closed. Churches were also closed, but the Catholic channels telecasted prayer services and Masses, which the faithful attended in full numbers.
The reopening of the new academic year was conducted online in June by the Bishop of Nellore and regular classes began virtually on the Zoom platform. It was really challenging to teach virtually. Most of the seminarians are from rural backgrounds and could not access internet facilities or attend the classes on their mobile phones’.
Getting back to some normality
‘The government relaxed the regulations, and the seminarians came back in batches by September to continue their formation and we were finally able to restart activities in person.
The seminarians were involved in spiritual activities like Mass, morning and evening prayers, confessions, spiritual direction and other devotions, and the Most Rev Gali Bali, Apostolic administrator of Cuddapah Diocese, administered the Rite of Initiation.
We also held a Freshers Day, a one month lgnatian Retreat for fourth year seminarians, and an Annual retreat for seminarians in years I, II and III. We were also able to hold the semester’s exams’.
Signs of hope
‘One joyful event was that 19 seminarians were ordained as Deacons on 14 December by the Archbishop of Visakhapatnam.
The COVID-19 vaccination has provided hope for the people. The advent of different variants of the virus have made people fearful again, but the hope this year is that the Lord will end the pandemic and restore life to normal so we can continue His mission’.
Life at St John’s Regional Seminary
St John’s Regional Seminary is situated at Hyderabad – the ‘meeting point of north and south Indian cultures’. Around two thirds of the population in this area is Hindu, with a third being Muslim and a very small minority of Christians.
Interfaith tensions are a concern in this region, which is one reason why the Seminary places a great emphasis on learning Telegu (local) language and culture, including music. This helps them to reach out and identify with the community they are training to serve.
The Seminary ensures that the students undertake regular pastoral work in the nearby parishes, as well as providing a well rounded theological education and time in the day for manual labour and sport. Historically St John’s has been supported and guided by the Mill Hill Missionaries, and, although the Seminary was handed into the care of local clergy in the 1070s, the commitment to mission and the Church’s global dimension of evangelisation remains.
Message from a student
I thank God that I have a sponsor who helps me and prays for me to become a Priest. I am grateful to you for helping me to meet the basic needs for my priestly studies, food and medicine.
I feel that my sponsor is praying for me and for my priestly formation. The sponsor occupies the prominent place in priestly formation; my sponsor contributes time and energy even though you do not see me. You are always ready to extend a helping hand.
And I feel the prayerful support of the sponsor who is ceaselessly praying for me. In India, being a multi-religious country, there is a lot of need for Priests to preach the Good News of Christ and carry on His mission.