A Major Seminary of the CMI Congregation
The foundation stone of Dharmaram College, the Study House of the congregation, was laid by His Grace Thomas Pothacamury, the then Archbishop of Bangalore, on July 16, 1955. Of the many distinguished guests who were present on that auspicious occasion was the late Cardinal Antony Padiyara, the First Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, that needs special mention.
The structure completed first was a small residence and it was blessed on October 7, 1955. Rev. Fr. Dismas Vadakkethala, who was entrusted with the construction work of the Study House in its initial stages, stayed there and supervised the work till he returned to Kerala on November 16, 1955.
Rev. Fr. Jonas Thaliath, later Bishop of Rajkot, the visionary behind Dharmaram College, took charge of the house on November 21, 1955. Dharmaram was his long cherished dream which took shape in his head to its minute details, and had it not been for his untiring labour, enduring spirit, and enterprising talent, it would never have acquired the present shape. With Fr. Jonas Thaliath at the helm and assisted by Fr. Kurian Palackal and Bro. Benjamin Muricken, the construction works progressed at a faster pace. Within a period of eighteen months, West Wing III with seventy-five single rooms, Refectory and Kitchen were completed.
Saturday, June 1st 1957 will ever remain memorable in the annals of the CMI Congregation. It was on this day that the Sacred Heart Study House founded in 1918 at Chethipuzha was shifted to Bangalore and was given the new name, Dharmaram, meaning 'the Garden of Virtues and Righteousness.' Dharmaram College was also raised to the status of a formed house, with the Rector of the seminary as its head on this very day. His Grace Thomas Pothacamury, Archbishop of Bangalore, blessed the new building and offered Mass for the community to solemnise the humble beginning of the central study house of the CMI Congregation.
Fr. Chrysostom Ponnumpurayidam was appointed its first Rector, and he took charge on June 1, 1957. Frs. Januarius Palathuruthy, Canisius Thekkekara, Paulinus Jeerakath, Jonas Thaliath, Lukas Vithuvattickal, Mansuetus Andumaly, John Britto Chethimattam, Eustace Thottan and Cosmos Madathil formed the pioneering staff members of Dharmaram College. This auspicious occasion was graced by the presence of Rev. Fr. Maurus Valiaparambil, Prior General, Fr. Athanasius Payappilly, General Councillor, Fr. Clemens Thottungal, Provincial of Devamatha Province and many CMI Fathers and Brothers.
Dharmaram College was formally inaugurated on February 23, 1958. The inauguration day was preceded by a day of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. His Grace Msgr. J. R. Knox, the Papal Internuncio gave the inaugural address. In his address Msgr. J. R. Knox depicted Dharmaram College as the culmination of a long dream of the Syro-Malabar Carmelite Congregation and concluded his address with the wish, “Vivat, Creascat et Floreat,” which means “May Dharmaram live, grow and flourish!”
Dharmaram has been blooming for the last forty-five years. It has at present training facilities for about three hundred residential students. The dream of Fr. Jonas Thaliath to make Dharmaram a centre for the Catholic education has been realized on January 6, 1976, when the Congregation for Catholic Education constituted a Faculty of Theology at Dharmaram.
By its decree of December 8, 1983, Antiquissima Indorum, the Congregation for Catholic Education, created the Faculty of Philosophy at Dharmaram Pontifical Institute on March 25, 1984, and established in perpetuity the existing Faculty of Theology and thus granted the institute the status of an Athenaeum which is known as Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, meaning the temple (kshetram) of wisdom (vidya) in the garden (aram) of virtues (dharma). In the context of the ever increasing importance of specialisation and research in Oriental Canon Law, a new Institute was erected at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram by the Congregation for Catholic Education, on March 29, 1999.
Realizing the call for integral development of the youth, Dharmaram extended and expanded its activities to many other fields. To nurture a creative interest in nature among students and as a source of income to meet the day-to-day expenses of Dharmaram College, stretches of farmland were purchased near Kengeri, one in 1962 and the other in 1964 to develop farms. Awakened by the realities of interdisciplinary approach at the intellectual level, Christ College was started on July 15, 1969. With the fond hope of enhancing experience in the pastoral apostolate of the students undergoing training at Dharmaram, a parish of the Syro-Malabar faithful was established at Dharmaram in 1983. To meet the needs of the people around, Dharmaram has taken initiative to open two schools, one with Kannada and the other with English as the medium of instruction in June 1984.
The development of Dharmaram into a multi-faceted educational institution, later, paved the way for a separate residence for some of the teaching staff. It was envisaged that this residence would improve the quality of various apostolates at Dharmaram College, especially the religious and intellectual training of the students. The foundation stone for the residence, Chavara Bhavan, was laid by Rev. Fr. Thomas Kadankavil, the then Rector of Dharmaram College on January 22, 1994. Rev. Fr. Thomas Mampra, the then Prior General blessed the Chavara Bhavan on December 8, 1994.
The dream of our bygone generation has found concrete expression in course of time through the establishment, growth, and the significant contributions of Dharmaram to the Church, the nation and the world at large.