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Institute of Theology St. Joseph's National Catholic Major Seminary Affiliated to the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome
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St. Joseph’s National Catholic Major Seminary (Institute of Theology) is the third institute for priestly formation to be established on the soil of Myanmar. Since the beginning of September 1957 it has been providing priests for all the Dioceses of the Catholic Church in Myanmar.

In 1769 an educational institution aimed at training catechists and potential priests was started in Monhla by Bishop Giovanni Maria Percoto, a Barnabite. It was moved to Nabet in 1780 but there is no record of any success resulting from the courageous efforts of this distinguished Barnabite.

Another Barnabite priest, Fr. San Germano, founded a College for boys in Yangon. By 1783 three priests had been ordained for the Church in Myanmar. They were Fr. Joseph Maung Gyi of Chaung Yoe, Fr. Andrew Ko of Chanthaywa and Fr. Ignatius de Britto of Yangon. These priests were both the first and the last to graduate from this College.

Since that time and up to 1957, priests from Myanmar were all trained at the General College of St. Joseph (College General) in Penang, Malaysia. Reading the signs of the times the bishops of Myanmar under the leadership of the Most Rev. Victor Bazin, M.E.P. , first Archbishop of Yangon, decided to open a Major Seminary in Myanmar itself. This decision proved to be providential a few years later, when the sending of seminarians to Penang became impossible.

The foundation stone of the National Major Seminary in Mayangone, Yangon was laid by Cardinal Valerian Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, on February 4, 1956. Initially it was set up to offer courses in Philosophy as well as in Theology. However in 1983 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar received a directive from Rome allowing the separation of the two sections due to lack of suitable accommodation at this location [and a Philosophate was set up in Pyin Oo Lwin].

The 1984-85 Academic year was the Seminary’s Theologate first academic year with the name of Institute of Theology of the National Major Seminary. The National Major Seminary, Institute of Theology, was founded for the specific purpose of educating candidates for the priesthood of the Catholic Church in Myanmar. Its responsibility therefore encompasses the intellectual, human and pastoral formation of its students. The Academic courses comprise four years of professional study with almost exclusive concentration on theology and allied disciplines.

The Congregation for Catholic Education granted Affiliation to the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome on 20th March 2006 “ad quinquennium experimenti gratia”.

Affiliation to the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome

The Seminary celebrated its Golden Jubilee in December 2007 at the time of its Diaconate Ordinations. It was organized by the Episcopal Seminary Commission and seminary staff.The celebrations included a Vocations Exhibition, a Symposium on Seminary Formation in the context of Myanmar. They were concluded with a Jubilee Eucharistic celebration while the first B.Th. degrees from the Pontifical Urbaniana University were conferred on 28 graduates on December 1, 2007 by His Grace Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Delegate to Myanmar.

To maintain its affiliated status with the Pontifical Urbaniana University the Seminary complies with the latter’s guidelines and instructions by submitting annual reports. The Seminary has made steady progress in meeting these requirements during the first five years. Teaching positions in the various disciplines are gradually being filled by lecturers with ecclesiastical doctorate and licentiate degrees while the numbers of students enrolled for the B. Th. examinations have steadily increased.

After reviewing the improvements made to staffing as well as student performance in the Seminary the Congregation for Catholic Education renewed our Affiliated Institute status “ad alterum quinquennium”, i.e. for a further five years (2011/12-2015/16) on 4th March 2011. However the matter of stable teachers (Professors) remains a major problem in our Seminary. According to the Norm (Article 4) of the Congregation for Catholic Education the Seminary should have 7 Professors with a canonical degree congruent to the specific theological discipline, be it doctorate or licentiate, giving courses in their specialized areas. The National Bishops Conference (CBCM) and the Episcopal seminary Commission have therefore a grave responsibility to ensure that this requirement is met, in order to continue the official affiliation of our Institute of Theology at the National Major Seminary.

Following four years of formation in the seminary our students are deemed to have undergone adequate training, broadly classical in scope and scientific in method, to equip them for ministry.

They then return to their respective Dioceses, where their Ordinaries will decide on questions relating to their vocation and priestly Ordination.


We envision that seminarians become integrated persons, efficient shepherds, and Christ-entered and Spirit-filled ministers.


St. Joseph’s National Catholic Major Seminary is an Institute of Theology which is committed to provide the seminarians with an integral formation that will equip them for the mission and ministry.


In relation to our mission to provide an integral formation, we desire that seminarians will be holistically developed and equipped for the effective minion and ministry. In keeping with this mission, our objective is that each seminarian will meet the following outcomes:
• Becoming a man of integrity with the personality necessary for priestly ministry in the Church
• Growing in his relationship with Christ through prayer and contemplation
• Growing in his understanding of Christian faith through critical reflection in the light of the Teaching Office of the Church
• Becoming educated and self-reflective minister of the Good News, being sensitive to the varied needs and vulnerabilities of those to whom he is sent.