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Christmas comes early for College General

TANJUNG BUNGAH, Penang – Christmas came early this year to College General here on 3 Dec 2023 after the Covid-19 hiatus. 

Dubbed A Celebration of Christmas, the event consisted of a pageant play, carols singings, dances and fellowship for the seminarians, academic and non-academic staff, parents, benefactors, friends and other invited guests.  The performances were by the parishioners of nearby parishes of Holy Spirit Cathedral and Church of the Immaculate Conception, as well as by the seminarians themselves.  A notable item was the presence of live animals such as goats and cows for the pageant play.  Among the invited guests were the Franciscan Capuchin Friars and Franciscan Seculars, the Daughters of St Paul, and the Putri Karmel Sisters.

Currently, the college has 23 seminarians in first- and – second year Philosophy, 16 of whom are from East Malaysia: Sabah (12) and Sarawak (4).  They will leave for their two-week Christmas break on Dec 15.

The college traces its history back to the 1665 establishment of the Seminary of St Joseph in Ayuthia which was then the capital of Siam (now Thailand) by Bishops Pallu and Lambert de la Motte of the Paris Foreign Missions Soceity.  Political instability forced it to move a few times (Chanthaburi, Hon Dat Vietnam, Pondicherry India and Melaka) between 1765 and 1782 until it reached its present base in Pulau Tikus Penang in 1808. 

The college had prominent members among its teaching staff including Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert and Jacques-Honore Chastan, who served from 1821-1822 and 1827-1820 respectively.  Both were martyred in Korea, beatified in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, and canonised in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.

The college was also a refuge for the vicar general of Annam and many seminarians during the persecutions of 1834-1835, among whom was Philip Minh Van Doan who was martyred and later canonised in 1988.

Down the years, the college has produced several priests who became heads past and present in all nine arch/dioceses of the country.

The college is currently owned and managed by the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Diocese of Penang and the Diocese of Malacca-Johor.  Recently, the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia has decided to send all seminarians to this college for their philosophical studies and to Kuching for their theological studies. – Anna Yap fsp

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