A copy of the letter dated 1.5.1872 expressing loyalty and devotion
to the Holy See which was sent by the seminarians and staff to Pope
Pius IX at the conclusion of the First Vatican Council.
place where College General is located is called "Mariophile", meaning
Lover of Mary. This land was purchased in 1849 by the Paris Foreign Mission
Fathers (MEP). They later built a country villa which served as a
holiday villa for seminarians and professors during the holidays. Mariophile
is located about 3 km. from Pulau Tikus (where the old College General
was) and covers an area of about 34 acres.
Before our present name, the seminary was known as the Seminary of the Holy Angels. The reason for the change to College General was not because there were no more angels left in College but because of the vast variety of nationalities that had studied in the College. However in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the seminary is officially listed as St. Joseph's Catholic Major Seminary, Penang.
Our chapel which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is 111 years old. In it are kept the holy relics of our Martyrs, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus and the remains of Fr Paul Chau.
remains of Fr. Paul Chau were accidently discovered by some workers who
found them buried under the old College chapel at Pulau Tikus. They were
later interred under the chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Mariophile
during the centenary celebrations on 12 June 1984. On the way to his persecution,
Fr. Paul Chau requested that his crucifix be sent to his alma-mater. It
is a very unique crucifix in that the figure of Christ has oriental features
and the cross is decorated with beautiful Vietnamese floral designs set
in mother-of-pearl. At the base of the crucifix were etched the objects
associated with the passion of Jesus i.e. a pillar; a cloak with the words
'Ecce Homo' (Behold the Man); hyssop, spear, whip and staff; mallet, nails,
crown of thorns, pliers and a set of dice.
A total of 87 dioceses used to send their seminarians to College General to study for the priesthood. Some of the countries were Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Korea, Japan, Mexico , Macao, China, Cambodia, Laos, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and not forgetting Malaysia.
College General was officially affiliated to the Pontifical Urbania University in Rome in 1965. Seminarians after completing their theological studies would have to sit for a 5 hour written examination and an oral examination in order to obtain a Bachelors degree in Theology. It was in 1960 that English was officially acknowledged as a possible language in College General but it was only in 1966 that English was used in all lectures. Before this, Latin was used. And for the first time, on 3rd. of October 1967, the Mass was celebrated using the Canon in English.
Most of our bishops were in one way or another lecturers in College; beginning with Archbishop Vendargon (who was the first local professor), Archbishop Gregory Yong, Archbishop Soter, Bishop Anthony Lee and Aux. Bishop Pakiam.
Formerly in the old College, seminarians made their own basketball and badminton courts. They also did book binding on their own. 3rd. of December (Feast of St. Francis Xavier,Co-Patron Saint of Missions) is an important date for College General. It used to be the date for ordinations (in the College Chapel) before they were allowed to be held in the parishes later.Since then the date has been kept aside for the annual institution of lectors and acolytes.
For many years the annual College Feast was celebrated on 2nd. of October since the seminary was originally named College of the Holy Angels. But the date was changed to the 19th. of June in 1988, in order to celebrate the Feast of our Vietnamese Martyrs who studied in College.
In January 1984, College General was moved to Mariophile. The seminarians and priests were housed in the old buildings (where the present office block is situated).
The first Mass celebrated by the community in the new College grounds was presided by Fr. Francis Anthony (our present rector).
It was only on 31st. of July 1989 that the students and fathers moved into the new hostel. The new block of classrooms and administrative block was only ready on 27th. of April 1995.
The New College General consist of 3 blocks of 4 storey hostels with 72 students and 12 fathers study cum bedrooms, a football field; basketball, volleyball and sepak takraw courts; a multi purpose hall with 3 badminton courts in it; an administrative block; a block of classrooms; lecture theater and a communications resource center. Since its establishment 330 years ago, about 2000 seminarians have studied in College General and about 950 have become priests.
Although College General is a regional diocesan seminary, it also accepts external students from religious congregations for its academic courses. For example, the Redemptorists were hre from 1978-1983 and the Capuchins (OFM) from 1973-74, 1979-1983 and 1990 onwards.