College General

College General
Foundation of the Seminary of Saint Joseph in Ayutthaya, Siam, in 1665.

The College General (Malay: Seminari Tinggi Katolik) is a Roman Catholic seminary located in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia. The college's foundation can be traced back to the 1665 establishment of the Seminary of Saint Joseph in Ayuthia which was then the capital of Siam (now Thailand).



Ayuthia (1665 - 1765)

The Seminary (letter "G") was located in the western part of Ayutthaya, in the Cochinchinese quarter.

The College General traces its history to the establishment of theSeminary of Saint Joseph in Ayuthia, Siam in 1665 by the Vicars Apostolic Bishops Pallu and Lambert de la Motte of the Paris Foreign Missions Society. They officially requested the establishment of the Seminary to the Siamese king Narai on 25 May 1665, who granted them a large spot on the river Menam, and the Cochinchinese quarter named "Banplahet".[1] King Narai requested that ten Siamese students be incorporated in the Seminary so as to learn European knowledge. Otherwise, the students of the Seminary came from Goa, Macao, Cochinchina and Tonkin.[1] In 1675, Mgr Louis Laneau, who had been nominated Vicar Apostolic of Siam two years before, became Superior of the Seminary.[1]

Among the first two priests that graduated was François Pérez (Francis Perez), born of a Manila father and a Siamese mother, who was later consecrated a bishop and named Vicar Apostolic of Cochin-China in 1691.[1][2]

In 1680, the Seminary was moved to a larger location in Mahapram, also near Ayutthaya, and was named Seminary of the Holy Angels.

The events of the Siamese revolution in 1688 saw the ousting of French forces from Siam, and the imprisonment of Louis Laneau and half of the students of the Seminary until August 1690, but the activities of the Seminary could resume from 1691.[3]

Chanthaburi, Hon Dat, Pondicherry & Melaka (1765 - 1782)

The Burmese invasion of Ayuthia in 1765 forced the relocation of the seminary to Chanthaburi and later to Hon Dat in Cambodia (now in Vietnam). Pigneau de Behaine, who was to have a great destiny in Vietnam, was put in charge of the Seminary.[4]

The political instability of that period resulted in the seminarians to live in poverty and although a new building was built, it was razed to the ground by rebels. The deteriorating political situation and constant persecutions forced the search for a more tranquil location for the seminary.

India was chosen and in 1770, 2 professors and 41 seminarians arrived at Pondicherry, India by sea after stopping for 2 months in Melaka. The Seminary was established at Virampatnam.[4]

Despite its peaceful calm, Pondicherry proved unsuitable as it was too far from China and Indo-China where most of the seminarians came from. As a result, the seminary was temporary closed in 1782 until a more suitable place could be found.[2]

Pulau Tikus, Penang (1808 - 1914)

College General in Penang, 1866.

The island of Penang, a British colony since its occupation by Francis Light in 1786 was eventually chosen due to its political stability and geographical proximity to the other mission lands. In 1808, a new Superior, Fr. Lolivier arrived with 5 seminarians from Macau and the seminary was revived with its current name the following year in Pulau Tikus, Penang with 20 seminarians from China. The college had prominent members take on the role as teaching staff, including Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert and Jacques-Honoré Chastan who served from 1821–1822 and 1827-1830 respectively. Both were martyred in Korea and later beatified in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Both were canonised in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. The college also was a sanctuary for the Vicar General of Annam and scores of seminarians during the persecutions of 1834-35 and among the number included Philip Minh Van Doan who was martyred and later canonised in 1988.[2]

In 1885, the buildings were expanded to cope with the additional seminarians that came to Penang due to persecution in other territories in the region. With peace returning, enrollment was reduced with a large majority of the seminarians coming from the newly established missions in Rangoon and Mandalay in Burma.[2]

Pulau Tikus, Penang (1914 - 1983)

Mariophile, Penang (1984 - present


Rectors of the College General

The is a list of rectors who have served the College General since it was revived in Penang in 1808.[5]

Name Affiliation Year
Michael Lolivier, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1808–1833
Francois Albrand, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1833–1839
Claude Tisserand, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1839–1848
Auguste Thivet, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1848–1849
Victor Martin, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1849–1868
Joseph Laigre, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1868–1885
Edouard Wallays, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1886–1917
Justin Pages, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1917–1931
Marcel Rouhan, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1931–1951
Rene Jean Davias, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1951–1960
Francois M. Ledu, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1960–1966
Jean-Marie Bosc, M.E.P. Missions Étrangères de Paris 1966–1971
Achilles Choong 1971–1975
Anthony Soter Fernandez Diocesan 1975–1977
Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam Diocesan 1978–1988
James Gnanapiragasam Diocesan 1988–1994
Francis Anthony [5][6] Diocesan 1994–2005
Edwin Paul [7] Diocesan 2005–2010
Gerard Theraviam [7] Diocesan 2010–present


Many of the college faculty and alumni were martyred over the years and some have eventually been canonised [8][9]:

Name Martyred Place Beatified Canonised
Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert / St. Imbert [10] 1839 Korea 1925 1984
Jacques-Honoré Chastan / St. Chastan [10] 1839 Korea 1925 1984
Philip Minh Van Doan / St. Philip Minh [11] 1853 Annam 1900 1988
Peter Quy Cong Doan / St. Peter Quy [12] 1859 Annam 1909 1988
Paul Loc Le Van / St. Paul Loc [13] 1859 Annam 1909 1988
John Hoan Trinh Doan / St. John Hoan [14] 1861 Annam 1909 1988
Joseph Luu Van Nguyen / St. Joseph Luu [15] 1861 Annam 1909 1988

Notable alumni

The college has produced many notable alumni both in the religious and secular vocations [16][17]:

Saints and martyrs


Archbishop Tan Sri Datuk Murphy Pakiam, current Metropolitan Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur
  • John Joseph U Win
Auxiliary Bishop of Mandalay, Burma (1954-1959); Archbishop of Mandalay, Burma (1959-1965)
  • Dominic Vendargon
Bishop of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1955-1972); Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1972-1983)
  • Gabriel Thohey Mahn-Gaby
Coadjutor Archbishop of Rangoon, Burma (1964-1971); Titular Archbishop of Staurapolis, Asia Minor (1964-1971); Archbishop of Rangoon, Burma (1971-2002)
  • Aloysius Moses U Ba Khim
Archbishop of Mandalay, Burma (1965-1978)
  • Gregory Yong Sooi Ngean
Bishop of Penang, Malaysia (1968-1977); Archbishop of Singapore, Singapore (1977-2000)
  • Anthony Soter Fernandez
Bishop of Penang, Malaysia (1977-1983); Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1983-2003)
Archbishop of Thare and Nonseng, Thailand (1980-2004)
  • John Lee Hiong Fun-Yit Yaw
Bishop of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (1987-2008), Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (2008-present)
Auxiliary Bishop of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1995-2003); Titular Bishop of Chunavia, Epirus Nova (1995-2003); Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur (2003-present)


  • Jean Baptiste Tran-Huu-Duc
Vicar Apostolic of Vinh, Vietnam (1951-1960); Bishop of Vinh, Vietnam (1960-1971)
  • George Maung Kyaw
Bishop of Bassein, Burma (1955-1968)
  • Francis Chan
Bishop of Penang, Malaysia (1955-1967)
  • Sebastian U Shwe Yauk
Bishop of Toungoo, Burma (1961-1988)
  • Paul Nguyen-Dình Nhien
Coadjutor Bishop of Vinh, Vietnam (1963-1969); Titular Bishop of Gisipa, Carthage (1963-1969)
  • Joseph Mahn Erie
Bishop of Bassein, Burma (1968-1982)
  • Abraham Than
Auxiliary Bishop of Kengtung, Burma (1968-1972); Titular Bishop of Tortibulum, Italy (1968-1972); Bishop of Kengtung, Burma (1972-2001)
  • Lawrence Thienchai Samanchit
Bishop of Chanthaburi, Thailand (1971-present)
  • James Chan Soon Cheong
Bishop of Malacca-Johore, Malaysia (1973-2001)
  • Joseph Devellerez Thaung Shwe
Bishop of Prome, Burma (1975-present)
  • Simon Michael Fung Kui Heong
Vicar Apostolic of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (1975-1976); Titular Bishop of Catabum Castra, Mauretania Caesariensis (1975-1976); Bishop of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (1976-1985)
  • Anthony Lee Kok Hin
Bishop of Miri, Malaysia (1977-present)
  • Anthony Selvanayagam
Auxiliary Bishop of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1980-1983), Titular Bishop of Giru Mons, Mauretania Caesariensis (1980-1983), Bishop of Penang (1983-present)
  • Dominic Su Haw Chiu
Bishop of Sibu, Malaysia (1986-present)
  • Cornelius Piong
Bishop of Keningau, Malaysia (1992-present)


  • Martin Jalleh
Social commentator and a former activist with the Consumers Association of Penang


  1. ^ a b c d Les Missions Etrangeres, p.327
  2. ^ a b c d College General: A Brief History of College General
  3. ^ Les Missions Etrangeres, p.329
  4. ^ a b 'Les Missions Etrangères, p.329
  5. ^ a b College General: Rectors of College General
  6. ^ Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Penang: History
  7. ^ a b Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur: College General
  8. ^ College General: Martyr Saints of College General
  9. ^ a b College General List of Martyrs of College General
  10. ^ a b Catholic Online: Sts. Imbert and Chastan
  11. ^ Catholic Online: St. Philip Minh
  12. ^ Catholic Online: St. Peter Quy
  13. ^ Catholic Online: St. Paul Loc
  14. ^ Catholic Online: St. John Hoan
  15. ^ Catholic Online: St. Joseph Luu
  16. ^ College General: Alumni promoted to the Episcopate
  17. ^ College General: Treasuring the Past


  • Les Missions Etrangères. Trois siecles et demi d'histoire et d'aventure en Asie Editions Perrin, 2008, ISBN 9782262025717

External links

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