Rev. Dr Joseph Martis is the new Rector of St Joseph’s Interdiocesan Seminary

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By Fr Francis Rodrigues, Raknno Weekly

Mangalore, 12 May 2010: Rev. Dr Joseph Martis has been appointed as the new  Rector of St Joseph’s Inter-Diocesan Seminary, Jeppu  by the  Congregation of  the Evangelization of Peoples, Vatican, of which Honorable Cardinal Ivan Dias is the Prefect at present. This was declared by Most Rev. Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, the Bishop of the Diocese of Mangalore on the 10th of May, 2010 at the Seminary and Fr Joseph  will take charge as the Rector on the 3rd of June, 2010.

Rev. Fr. Joseph Martis was born in Pangala on 4-6-1960 as the son of Late Baptist and Celestin Martis. He had his primary education in Pangala and Pre - university studies at St Aloysius College, Mangalore followed by priestly formation at St Joseph’s Seminary from 1977 to 1988.

After the priestly ordination on 3.5.1988,  he served as the  assistant parish priest of Bondel and Bendure parishes. Fr. Joseph completed his MA in Philosophy from Dharwad University together with Diploma in Formative Psychology and pursued his specialized studies from 1996 to 2003 with a Licentiate and a Doctorate in Philosophy from the Catholic University of Paris - France. He later joined the Staff of St Joseph’s Seminary, Jeppu in 2003 and played the role of a formatter   in different capacities as Minister of philosophers, Dean of Studies and Editor of ‘Unitas’ the annual magazine of the Seminary.

St Joseph’s Inter-Diocesan Seminary

The 131 years old Seminary established in the year 1879 was managed by the Society of Jesus for number of years.  In the year 1995 the administration was handed over to the Dioceses.  At present it is managed by the Board of Administration consisting of three Dioceses - Mangalore, Calicut and Kannur; the Bishop of the Diocese of Mangalore is the Chairman of the Board. 

In the year 2009-2010 it has formed 249 seminarians and religious sisters from 27 Dioceses and 9 Religious Congregations of men and women spread out all over the country.  Since last four years it has taken up the mission of  teaching Theology to the laity.  In the recent batch there were 25 lay students of Theology.  The Seminary accommodates 18 resident professors and more than two dozens of visiting professors as to teach different subjects.  It would  focus on the multidimensional and wholistic formation of the would be priests and religious with spiritual, human, intellectual, pastoral and missionary aspects and elements. 


Rev. Fr. Joseph Martis responded with definite answers when he was contacted after the declaration, with regard to some of the key issues on priestly formation, life and mission.

Do you see any change in the approach and orientation of a seminarian of  the past and of the present?

There is a drastic change in the orientation and approach of the seminarian of the present times when we look at the past.  The attitude of looking at every issue is different.  Because the present atmosphere is totally different and the  outlook of  youth regarding family, spirituality, church etc is different.  They come from that background.  Today the life experience is poor;  the hunger, work, cultivation, poverty of the past is not felt by the present generation.

What are the key elements / issues / challenges that are to be given maximum attention in the present priestly formation?

The wholistic formation is the need of the hour. The spiritual experience of Jesus, feeling and knowing the tensions and tresses of the common man, feeling of oneness with the suffering, sharing of Christ’s love with all are some of the key elements.  The spiritual and psychological formation towards these issues is to be focused in the present times. 

With the widespread structures of the Church,  most of the time of a priest has to be set aside for the administrative work. Whether this slows down the  missionary zeal and spirit?

It is a technical question.  The answer cannot be affirmative. Every   priest is called to become  a shepherd.  His attention has to be multifaceted.  He has to  heed to every aspect of human life like spiritual, human, social, economic etc and etc.  When a priest works in an institution he attends to these multifaceted needs and aspects of life and becomes a promoter of wholistic growth of the society. 

‘There is a huge structural growth in the Church’ – it is said. Whether there is a  parallel spiritual growth?

There is a huge spiritual growth around us.  Yet as it is not complete, much more is yet to be done.  There are a number of issues and responsibilities that are to be taken care seriously. 

Number of priests and religious serve in the cities. But it looks that there are no candidates for priestly / religious life from the cities. How would you respond?

These are facts and figures which are to be accepted and cannot be denied.  We need to create a great awareness in this regard and we have the responsibility as to concentize the people of the city with regard to the responsibility of every family as to foster good vocations.  The small number of children in a family is one of  the major deciding factor here.  Now as there are more and more colleges, English medium schools, traveling means and multimedia facilities are entering the rural set ups, in the years to come there would be a very narrowed down difference between  the cities and villages.  

There is a fear in the local Church as to work as a sincere Christian because of some of the fundamental groups. How this would affect the missionary Church?

The fear is a fact that cannot be denied. But it is good challenge to us as to prepare ourselves, prepare the present seminarians and  give them a right orientation.  It is a challenge as to prepare spiritually and psychologically.  With this, we would learn to be ready for any eventualities and sufferings in the future; we would train ourselves for a committed and courageous future; we would be better equipped spiritually and psychologically.


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Comments on this Article
Fr Paul sequeira, Moodubelle Fri, May-14-2010, 12:26
Rev Dr Joseph Martis,congratulations on your election as the Rector of St Joseph Seminary.As we are classmates, I know you are fit for the top job.You have the qualities of the Head @Heart.Let god bless all your efforts.My prayerful support to you....Fr Paul Sequeira, Moodubelle.
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