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Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha is a Theological Seminary that prepares candidates for the Catholic priesthood. It admits candidates for the Catholic priesthood who have already obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. It trains them in Catholic Theology for four years, during which it prepares them for the priestly life and ministry according to the mind of the Church.
Blessed Iwene Tansi Seminary is built on the principle of familyhood. Our aspiration is to become a family marked by love, respect, cooperation and joy. The Tansi family is a relatively large family made up of the Board of Trustees, priest-formators, academic and non-academic staff, seminarians, alumni (priests and lay men), benefactors and benefactresses, and Friends of Tansi. All of these are united in the struggle to make the Seminary an authentic formation community. The various members of the family contribute, each according to his gifts and office for the good of future priests and thus, the Church in general. Nevertheless, like the apostolic community, the Tansi Family is hierarchically structured making it, already, an experience of the Church’s life of hierarchy and communion.
OUR PATRON SAINT
Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi
A Short History of Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary Onitsha
Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha, is a Theological Seminary that prepares candidates for the Catholic priesthood. It admits candidates for the Catholic priesthood who have already obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. It trains them in Catholic Theology for four years, during which it prepares them for the priestly life and ministry according to the mind of the Church.
The Seminary was inaugurated as a Regional Seminary on 15 November, 2000 with 91 Theology students drawn from the different Dioceses of the Ecclesiastical Province of Onitsha. Its establishment was the brainchild of the Late Archbishop Albert Kanene Obiefuna (January 30 1930- May 10 2011), the Archbishop Emeritus of Onitsha and the Metropolitan Emeritus of the Ecclesiastical Province of Onitsha (On February 25 1995- September 1 2003).
Its establishment was a response to the need created by the inability of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, the only Major Seminary of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, to accommodate the increasing number of Major seminarians in the Province. This problem became most obvious in 1996/97 academic year when the number of students rose to over 700. With such a large number, the authentic formation of seminarians was questionable. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples had also observed this and had advised the bishops of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province to strive to found more seminaries to decongest Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu.
The Late Archbishop Albert Kanene Obiefuna, the then Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Onitsha, responded to the advice with the establishment of this Seminary. Having discussed the matter extensively with the Onitsha Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and won the approval of the members, the building of the Seminary took off on 18 May, 1998, funded mainly by the Archdiocese of Onitsha (from which Nnewi Diocese was later carved out in 2002). Archbishop Obiefuna named the Seminary after Blessed Iwene Tansi, one of the pioneer indigenous priests of the Archdiocese and who had just been beatified in March 1998 in Oba, Anambra State. He, Blessed Iwene Tansi, would be the patron of the new Seminary. Furthermore, the plan for the building of the new Seminary was blessed by Pope John Paul II during the beatification Mass for Blessed Iwene Tansi at Oba, Nigeria in March 22, 1998.
In the spirit of collaboration, colloquially called Aha m di ya (My name is there), different parts of the various buildings were shared out to different parishes and organizations of the Archdiocese. Each parish or group of parishes and organizations provided a contractor for its/their building. Individuals and families also took their fair share. It was a seminary of many fingers! Currently, the Seminary has eight hostel buildings with 288 rooms for students and 32 flats for the lecturers, with a chapel and a meeting hall in each hostel; one classroom bloc; a multi-purpose bloc whose different parts currently serve as the temporary chapel, the refectory and the kitchen; a non-tutorial staff quarters which is still under construction.
Presently, the Seminary offers Theology courses, concerned as she is with seminarians in the last phase of their formation to the priesthood. But it is hoped that later it may offer courses in Philosophy. In all, the Seminary has produced … priests since her inception.
Currently, the Seminary serves the diocesan Seminarians from the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, made up of Onitsha Archdiocese, Abakiliki, Awka, Awgu, Enugu, Nnewi and Nsukka Dioceses. The Seminary also homes seminarians from other dioceses and provinces within and outside the country, as well as seminarians from religious congregations.
Hitherto, Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary was a campus of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu. As such, its dealings with Rome was mediate. But in 2012, she became an autonomous Seminary having successfully severed from Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu. On the 2nd of February, 2014, the Congregation for Catholic Education granted to Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary the Affliation to the Theology Faculty of the Pontificia Universitas Urbaniana “ad quinquennium experimenti gratia”.
The 14-year history of Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha (2000-2014) is the story of a struggle to build a family; the story of a strong determination to achieve so much even with meager means; it is the story of courage and faith.
Blessed Iwene Tansi is affiliated to Pontifical Urban University, Rome.