Keeping faith alive for 125 years

Keeping faith alive for 125 years

The south Indian Catholic Diocese of Mangalore after yearlong memorials of post centenary silver jubilee of its inception is concluding the jubilee year on 11 and 12 February in the presence of Vatican officials.

The diocesan bishop, priests, religious and around 3,75,000 Catholic laity consider this jubilee as a celebration of growth of the church in Mangalore and its multi-dimensional contribution to the universal church.

“On September 1, 1886, Pope Leo XIII established the Indian Hierarchy. In virtue of this hierarchy, Mangalore ceased to be a Vicariate and took its place on the Indian Hierarchy as the independent diocese with the then Vicar Apostolic Italian Jesuit Maria Pagani being its first bishop,” said Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore Diocese.

“The new diocese brought in the feeling of “our own church” amidst the Catholics giving openings to multi-level growth and opportunities. Priests and nuns established number of primary schools in remote villages most of the time spending from their own pockets because of which many of our schools have celebrated centenaries by now,” he added.

While 9 bishops have led the Mangalore diocese, it has become an agent of change in last 125 years in the field of missionary activities, education, social awareness with emancipation, economic up-liftment with progress and cultural transformation.
 42 bishops Till now 42 bishops and archbishops of Mangalore origin have served different dioceses within India and abroad. The present nuncio of Ivory Coast, Archbishop Ambroze Madtha, hails from Belthangady in Dakshina Kannada district. Retired nuncio of Zimbabwe, Archbishop Peter Paul Prabhu Pinto, as well as Archbishop Emeritus Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore-Pakistan have Mangalore origins. 

“According to  a socio-religious survey conducted recently across the diocese, more than 4,000 priests and nuns of Mangalore origin have gone into different dioceses and religious congregations,” said Fr Onil D’Souza, the director of CODP, a diocesan NGO.

In 1982, the diocese adopted Bidar mission near Hyderabad, around 900 kms away from Mangalore. After 23 years of sponsored growth, the mission was carved out into an indepented diocese of Gulbarga in 2005. At present, 18 priests of Mangalore diocese serve in the Gulbarga diocese.

While 45 churches of Mangalore are century old, a number of socio-educational institutions have celebrated centenaries of their inception.  

1998 priests“St Joseph’s Inter-diocesan Seminary of Mangalore established in 1879 has so far formed 1998 priests for different dioceses and congregations across the nation in the last 133 years,” said Fr Joseph Martis, the Rector of the Seminary. 

According to him, presently 450 seminarians, nuns and lay people belonging to 30 dioceses and 9 religious congregations study philosophy as well as theology in the seminary.

Four religious congregations for women were originated in the soil of Mangalore. The Apostolic Carmel (AC) known for its mission of educating girls was originated in 1870. The 125-year-old Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS) founded by first parish priest of Cathedral church serve in 31 different dioceses across the globe today.

Bethany Sisters (BS) founded by a Mangalore diocesan priest Monsignor Raymond F C Mascarenhas in 1921 is spread in 43 dioceses today. Helpers of Mount Rosary, another congregation for women founded by a diocesan priest Monsignor Edwin Pinto in 1990 has many communities today.  

At present, 330 diocesan and 160 religious priests belonging to 17 different congregations serve the Catholic church in the diocese. Some 1,600 nuns of 57 congregations work across the diocese. It is estimated that some 1,50,000 students study at present in some 500 educational institutions run by priests and sisters in Mangalore diocese.  The Catholic Board of Education (CBE) of the diocese alone manages 259 such institutions from KG to PG.

“The Jesuit run St Aloysius College established in 1880 has 11,520 students on roll in 19 departments at present,” according to  Fr Joseph Rodrigues, its Rector. According to Sr Maria Kripa, the correspondent of St Agnes Educational Institutions run by AC nuns has 4,422 students and 253 staff in its campus at present. 

According to Kranti Farias, a socio-historian, St Agnes College established by the AC nuns in 1921 exclusively for women was the first Catholic college for women, and also first college in India for women under the private management and run entirely by Indians. 

Fr Muller HospitalThe Father Muller Hospital begun by Father Augustus Muller, a German Homeopathic missionary in 1880 is a 1,250 bed hospital today with three fifth free beds for the poor. According to the director Fr Patrick Rodrigues, it serves the patients through 300 doctors, 700 dedicated nurses and more than 2,000 duty staff. So far, the Fr Muller College of Nursing has trained around 4,500 nurses.