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St.Joseph’s Church – Mira Road, Mumbai

One of the largest parishes in Mumbai Diocese is St. Joseph’s church Mira Road. But this church is still a child of 10 years! Having more than 25,000 catholic members most of whom are Konkani speaking either from Mangalorean or Goan origin the parish is unique in entire diocese.

History

Cut to 1985, as fast trains whizzed past a marshy land filled with salt water, were a few tiled and asbestos sheds and a few shanty offices where salt was sold. At the time trains did not halt at Mira Road. It was only in 1986 that a few trains stopped at Mira Road, after the halt at Dahisar, to facilitate those working in the salt pans of Mira Road. With the exception of a single bungalow at Naya Nagar and a few buildings just coming up there, Mira Road was a virtual lake.

In response to a huge building plan and advertising blitz people from South Mumbai started migrating to this place. On 22nd October 1987, the Mira Road Catholic Association was founded. Late Bishop Simon Pimentha was contacted to meet the religious needs of the people. In 1987, Christmas Mass was celebrated from Goregaon Seminary.

1 acre 23 guntas land was located for the church and a boundary wall was constructed. A small chapel was built for celebrating the Mass. In the year 1988 Carmelites were contacted and Fr. Richard Castelino took up the responsibility to mee the spiritual needs of the people.

In 1988 Fr. Michael Morris Shenoy was transferred to Mira Road. He toiled a lot to protect the land, to plant, to irrigate, to fill and to make this water-filled, mosquito-infested land more habitable. On 1st June, 1988 a flat in Sheetal Dahra building was taken for rent and Fr. Michael Morris Shenoy began his pastoral ministry there. By then, approximately 100 Catholic families were present in Mira Road. In the same month, the foundation stone was laid for the new Church, on the present church foundation. The foundation stone was also dedicated to St. Joseph. By December of 1990, the Chapel was ready and the Christmas celebration was held in the new Church.

On August 27th, 1990 the Church was officially registered at Thane as a Trust, and in 1991, the first Parish Pastoral Council with Fr. Michael as President, Mr. Armando Aquino as Vice-President and Mr. P. X. Swami and Mr. Joe Rodrigues as Secretary and Jt. Secretary was formed. As soon as Carmelite Fathers took full charge of the Church, the Mira Road Catholic Association, having done their share of the work, Indianized the name as KRISTA SHANTI DHAM and receipts for payments were issued on this name and handed over charge to the priests.

By now, parish life had begun to blossom with many associations being formed, including the Altar Boys and Women’s Sodality and the Youth Group.

In 1990, war broke in Kuwait. Consequently, lot of people from Kuwait – having heard from the Carmelites there of the growing parish and economical housing – rushed to Mira Road to buy flats. Besides it was a safer destination for investment and residence. Rates in other parts of Mumbai were also skyrocketing. News also went around that the Sisters of Holy Cross had taken up construction of their School. The year was 1992.

In 1993 the Church at Mira Road was in the news with a live tabloid of Christmas, live music, cards and Carnival and hundreds of participants making news about it.

In 1998, as part of the fund-raising activities, the idea of the popular Mira Fest was born and took shape. In 1999, the Church edifice came to a shape, the residence of the fathers was ready, and a provision was made for a Community hall.

Archbishop Ivan Dias inaugurated the new Church on 5th December, 1999, the year dedicated to the jubilee year of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the symbol of “A New Beginning”.

Till date Fr Richard Castelino (1988), Fr Michael Morris Shenoy (1988), Fr Berchmans Pinto (1989), Fr Peter DSa 1990), Fr Gabriel Dias (1991), Fr Antony DSouza (1992), Fr Alfred Menezes (1995), Fr John Alex Pinto (1995), Fr Melvyn D’Cunha (1996), Fr Alexander Braganza (2000), Fr Rudolf V DSouza (2001-2002 Assistant, Priest incharge) Fr Antony DSouza (2002), Fr Henry Praveen (2002), Fr Elias DSouza (2003), Fr Boniface DSouza (2003), Fr Deepak Tomas KJ (2006), Fr Peter Rebello (2007), Fr Michael Morris Shenoy 2007)

Rev. Dr. Dominic Charles Vaz who has the Doctorate in Philosophy from Mysore University and was a Superior of Infant Jesus Shrine, Mangalore for 3 years is serving the church as Parish Priest of St. Josephs Church Mira Road and Director of Anubhav spirituality inter-religious centre since 1999. Fr Michael Morris Shenoy (1st Councillor of the carmelite province), Fr Deepak K J Thomas, Fr Ivan DSouza, Fr John Pinto serve the parish as Asst Parish Priests.

St Joseph’s Church, Mira Road at the threshold of decennial celebrations

As the new church was erected and inaugurated on Dec 6 1999, this year is the decennial year of the church which bring back the memories of all events, the tears of joy and happiness of the inauguration of the church.

AS the decennial year of the church is celebrated, it is proposed to hold a Inter-religious diologue to mark this event 17th January 2010.

“Inter-religious harmony and peace is the present needs of India” says the young dynamic parish priest Fr. Dominic. “Inter-religious dialogue is a unique platform where the spiritual leaders and people of different faith come together to share their experiences. Organising of such event is for telling the world that differences don’t need to lead to disputes. The tragedies we have experienced throughout history were not the fault of religious but because of the extremism that has been adopted by some followers of the religions, and of political systems.” he says.

“In this direction dialogue is the best way for mutual understanding and co-operation in human relations as well as in peaceful coexistence among all the peoples. It is an effort of bring together the members of different religions under one umbrella and to build a peaceful Mira road and promote communial harmony. In this direction we would like your supports and cooperation.” he pleads.

Various church leaders are called for this inter-religious dialogue to be held on 17-Jan-2010 at 7pm at the church premises. Cardinal Oswald Gracias will preside over the function. Provincial Fr. Archibald Gonsalves ocd will release the souvenir. Pandit Prahalladacharya R Nagarahalli (Sarvajna Vidyapeeta Virar), Maulana Sayed Ather Ali (President All India Ulema Council) and Giani Sardar Satnam Singh Ji (Head Granthi, Gurudwara, Borivli) will speak during this occasion. Mr. Gilbert Mendonca MLA, Mr Muzzaffar Hussain, MLC, Mr Sanjeev Ganesh Naik MP, Mira-Bhayander Municipal Commissioner Shiv Murti Naik, Mayor Narendra Mehta, and the Corporators of the corporaton will participate in the function.

To mark this auspicious event a shrine dedicated to Infant Jesus will be also inaugurated by the Cardinal Dr Oswald Gracious. Fr Dominic expects thousands of people to witness this unique event.

Parish Feast of St Joseph’s Church, Mira Road Celebrated

Annual parish feast was celebrated with great devotion at St Joseph’s church Mira Road on Sunday December 7. Nine days of novenas which preceded the feast were attended by thousands of devotees.

Mira Road which is the largest church of the Mumbai Archdiocese has witnessed a great renewal among people of all castes and creed towards prayer and silence. The feast day on Sunday began with the festal mass at 6.30 am. In all four solemn festal Eucharistic celebrations were offered on the feast day. 

The main celebrant for the solemn festal mass was Fr Michael Morris Shenoy, Superior of St Joseph and Anubhav communities. Br Alvito Fernandes (Deacon) preached a fiery sermon attracting all the parishioners for a deeper reflection on how to liberate oneself from inner terrorism that all of us subjected to owing to anger, jealousy, hatred, competition, lust, greed etc

Fr Rudolf V D’Souza, the parish priest thanked all those who contributed their share in making the feast, a memorable one. Maxima Mathias, managing director of Little King Group of Hotels provided delicious snacks to around 3000 devotees present for the celebration, in honour of his newly-inaugurated Little King Restaurant at Bhayandar (W) near Our Lady of Nazareth Church.

He also thanked Shagird and Company for the infrastructure arrangements, executed by Sebastian D’Souza (Woodland Complex). Fr Rudolf also asked all the parishioners present for the celebration to spend a minute in silence offering tribute to the martyrs and victims of Mumbai terror attacks. He also conveyed wishes of Bakrid to all Muslim brethren.

Mira Road Church in Mumbai holds Decennial Celebrations held with the Inter Religious Dialogue

Mumbai, Jan 18: The anniversaries or the celebrations usually held by constructing structures of bricks. But the St. Joseph’s Church Mira Road held its decennial celebrations in a unique way. To mark this great event it organised an Inter-Religious-Dialogue  to build peace and harmony among the people of different religions in the locality. It was an effort of building the structure of hearts instead of of building the structures of bricks.

The Inter-Religious-Dialogue  held in the open ground of the church premises on January 17 from 7pm onwards.

Pandit Prahalladacharya R. Nagarahalli, Kulapathi of Sarvajna Vidyapeeta at Virar, Maulana Syed Ather Ali, President of All India Ulema Association; member of Muslim personal Law Board; Member of Milli council; General secretary of Darul Uloom Mohammadia, Giani sardar Satnam singh ji, Head Granti at Gurudwara, shri guru Nanak darbar Borivali, Rev Dr Gilbert  D’Lima, Professor at St. Pius X , Gorgegaon; member of the CBCI commission for Interreligious dialogue participated in the dialogue.

Most Rev Dr Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado, Bishop of Vasai, Fr. Archiebald Gonsalves, Carmelite Provincial, Rev Dr Dominic Charles Vas the Parish Priest, Fr. Michael Morris Sheonoy the First Parish Priest of the church and also the Superior of the community and Mr. Francis Araujo the Vice president of the parish pastoral council were also present at the dais.

Hindu Leader Pandit Prahalladacharya R. Nagarahalli said that  “Hindu religion is for the development of human religion. No religion instructs their people to cause harm to the people of other religion. ‘Dharma’ means the process for the development of physical, mental, spiritual development of human being. The one that gives happiness to the simple people and good natured people is also called as a ‘Dharma’. Hence let us love each other and give happiness to our fellow being and work for the security of people of all religion.”

Muslim leader Maulana Syed Ather Ali said that  “Islam speaks about peace to humanity. If a religious leader of any religion instructs his follower to harm the person of other religion or criticizes other religion, then he is not the true follower of his religion. That is wrong use of the religion. Let the events like 9/11 or 26/11 may not occur anytime anywhere in the world. Every religion speaks to respect the people of all religions.”

Sikh Giani Sardar Satnam Singh said that “We may split in different religion but our father is one. We may call him in different names but he is one. Sighting the example of water he said water is called in different names in different languages but water is the same. In the same manner the God remains the same for all of us.”

Christian leader Rev Dr Gilbert  D’Lima said that “God is a loving father. We all are brothers and sisters suppose to live with peace and harmony. We need to share with one other the gift of creation. The kingdom of God is fellowship, service, sacrifice, love and peace that is proclaimed by all religions. Terrorists have no religion. Indian culture is nothing but unity in diversity.”

Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado honoured Dr. Sanjeev Ganesh Naik, the elected MP of local Thane constituency. Sri Gilbert Mendonca the first elected MLA of Mira-Bhayandar, Mrs. Merlyn D’sa, the first catholic parish and woman corporator from Mira road parish were also honoured by the archbishop during this occasion with a shawl, Fruits, Flowers and a Momento.

Accepting the honours Dr. Sanjeev Ganesh Naik said that “I do not work for the people of particular religion but I always work for human being. He also promised his whole hearted support to Mira Road church.”

Speaking at this occasion Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado said that “Jesus never considered anyone as his enemy. He went with the people of all religions. Swamy Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi always respected people of all religion as brothers and sisters. God created every human being in his own image and likeness. Thus not only the people of one religion but the people of all religion are created with his image and likeness. 2nd Vatican council also instructs all Catholics to respect the people of all religion.”

Releasing the souvenir of the occasion Fr. Archiebald Gonsalves, the Carmelite Provincial said that “Cities like Rome never change. They look the same always. But in just ten years Mira Road is changed a lot. He desired more changes among mira-road people to spread the message of love and peace in the locality”

The Parish Preist Rev Dr Dominic Charles Vas began the programme with the welcome address and the introduction to the programme. “India which was known for its spirit of tolerance and the spirit of accommodation is of late slowly becoming divisive on the basis of religious beliefs. A few recent incidents of religious fanaticism and violence which have affected the lives of thousands of people reflect the above facts. Hence the need of the hour is inter-religious dialogue. Dialogue is the best way for mutual understanding and co-operation in human relations as well as for peaceful coexistence among all the people.” He said.

The celebrations started at 4pm with the reception of Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado at the main arch of the church along with the traditional brass band. It followed by the Get-together with the Archbishop, MP Sanjeev Naik, corporator Merlin D’Sa, parish benefactors and the parish leaders in the community hall. Then the Archbishop along with the MP, Parish Priest and the Provincial inaugurated the newly built Infant Jesus Shrine. It followed by the celerbration of the Holy Eucharist and Inter-Religious-Dialog at 7pm

Sri Narendra Mehta – Mayor of Mira Bhayandar Mahanagarpalika, The Municipal commissioner Shiv Murti Naik, Sr. Jessica – Superior Holy Cross Convent, Infant jesus shrine and Chapel designer Mr Alphonse, Mr. Ram Bhat – Architect and Engineer of R.L.B, Mr. Peter Almeida, Social worker, Ganesahm the contactor, Mrs. Gilbert Marceline Baptist of Malaika group, Mr. Norbert and Mrs. Violet Mascharenhas,  Mr. Maxim Mathias, Mr Bhagavati Sharma – NCP Corporator, Mr Jayanth Patel – NCP corporator, Mr  Raviraj Suvarna – Tulunadu Samaj President, Mr Ashok Karkera -  Shanishvara Seva Samiti President,  Mr. R. Shetty – Bunts Sangh President and  Prof. Fr. S. M. Michael – Professor of Indain Culture department honoured with Flower Bouquet and Memento.

Asst Parish Priest Fr. Ivan R. D’Souza gave an impressive powerpoint presentation about the history and the activities of the church. He informed that till now there are 5801 registered families with the total population of 25000 people. Where as when Fr Michael Morris Shenoy took up the responsibility as first parish priest in 1988 there were only 100 catholic families in Mira Road.

Parish Clergy Fr. Dominic  C. Vas  OCD Parish Priest, Fr. Michael Shenoy OCD Asst. Priest, Fr. Deepak K.J. Thomas  OCD Asst. Priest, Fr. John B. Pinto OCD Asst. Priest Fr. Ivan R. D’Souza OCD Asst. Priest, Br. Ajay Nazareth OCD and the Parish Pastoral Council vice president Mr. Francis Araujo, secretary Mrs. Sophia D’Sa were also present at the occasion.

There were splendid dances and a mime presentation explaining the need for communal harmony. Welcome dance was presented by Holy Cross School Children. Folk dance was presented by St. Joseph School Children, Mime act was presented by Miss Natasha and group. Oath taking dance was presented by Holy Cross School Children. Jai Ho Dance presented by St. Joseph Scholl Children. The Parish Choir sang beautifully for the Eucharist and also for the prayer song of the programme.

The programme concluded with all people holding lighted candles in their hands and taking oath with the following wards “We join hands to save the earth and our environment not only for ourselves but also for our posterity. We shall uphold the values that promote justice and equality for all. We will collaborate with all movements and efforts towards communal harmony and building up peace in our neighbourhood.”

There was a huge gathering which ended by singing our National Anthem. Mr Ronald Vaz compered the programme beautifully.

(To view enlarged picture, double click on images below & then follow the arrow mark located at the bottom of each  picture to view all 59 pictures in 3 folder or alternatively visit our Pictorials section ).

News & Pics : Ancy Paladka

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