The Rising Sun of the East

The presence of Oriens Theological College in the missionary fertile soil of Northeast India, is a clear proof of Church’s admiration and appreciation for the indigenous culture and her determination to form the future ministers of the Church in ‘loco,’ by taking into consideration the multi-socio-religious and ethnic realities of the people of the region. In the Church circles this part of the country is called a “responsive mission land,” because the people in general are open to the Gospel message and the region is blessed with many vocations to priesthood and religious life.

The Bishops of the region always felt the need to establish an Inter-diocesan Seminary to promote local vocation to priesthood and indigenous leadership. They were convinced that such venture would facilitate and intensify the work of Evangelization among the various tribes and ethnic groups of the region. Accordingly, Oriens Theological College was opened as a study house for the students of Theology.

To accommodate the increasing number of students and to give specific pastoral formation, the College began to hold lectures in its own premises and then the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples raised it to the status of an Inter-diocesan Seminary.

With the affiliation of the College to the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome, in 1993, Bachelor of Theology has been conferred on students who fulfill the basic requirements of 4-years of Theology. Over the years the College has grown immensely and it is one of the few Major Seminaries in India, having 141 students in the department of Theology. It is indeed a tremendous achievement and the College authorities gratefully acknowledge the hard work put in by the pioneers to make this possible.

One of the distinctive and conspicuous features of Oriens Theological College is the diversity of cultures and ethnicity; in every sense the College is a miniature India. Such rich diversity enables the candidates to appreciate and discern the “Seeds of the word” inherent in every cultural tradition. Thus the College already provides a suitable ambient for an “inculturated” and inclusive approach to future mission, which is essential for effective pastoral ministry.

The contribution of the resident and external students of various Religious Congregations to the life and activities of Oriens and the overall missionary and pastoral formation of the candidates to priesthood is commendable. Their specific charism adds flavour to the community. A healthy combination of religious and diocesan students in a Theological College has tremendous formative value. They learn to interact and respect, and appreciate each other’s specific charism and call to ministry. This may be the need of the hour in the region: genuine collaboration and mutual promotion of diverse charisms and ministries.

The College seeks to form priests who will continue the mission of Jesus, by sharing the Good News of love and forgiveness, mercy and compassion. Thus the academic and pastoral programmes and other related disciplines aim at promoting scientific research and serious scholarly work in conformity with the teachings of the Magisterium, as envisaged in Optatam Totius (16).

The Students who have gone through Oriens Theological College are fully involved in ministry and many have taken up responsible positions in various dioceses and provinces. The overall growth and development of this Theological College has positively contributed to the Evangelizing mission of the Church in NE India, which is very promising. During the past 40 years the College has remained faithful to its motto: To give Light, and has contributed much to the Theological formation of priests and religious and the lay faithful of the region.

It is a privilege for Oriens Theological College to be part of the big “Propaganda Fide Family,” and to facilitate the vision of the Church in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in the socio-cultural religious milieu of the people of the region and outside. May Oriens continue to shed its light.

Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Poovathumkudy