Brief Sketches of the History

The quite reliable Parish History Book gives a succinct account of the historical background of the beginning of our Church in following words: “From times immemorial there was only one Catholic Church at Kallianpur dedicated to our Lady of Miracles.The jurisdiction (was) from Airody north and Udyavara river south on the sea coast. After the Concordat in 1857 between Portugal and Rome there was erected one Church close to the mother Church. Later a chapel was built at Barkur under the control of Kallianpur Milagres Church with the united help of all the parishioners, even Udyavara parishioners inclusively.


The Udyavara parishioners who formed one ward belonging to the Kallianpur Church underwent many hardships and inconveniences to perform their religious duties… Seeing their difficulties one of the parishioners of Udyavara named Domingo Gabriel Pereira Son of Peter Pereira, persuading Mr Philip Fernandes, a wealthy landlord and also one of his friends Louis Lobo met together with several other co-parishioners in Mr Fernandes’ house, held a meeting there and resolved to send a petition to His Grace the Rt Rev. Metropolitan Archbishop of Goa to grant them permission to build a Church at Udyavara and give a resident missionary priest to provide for the needs of their soul, at the same time craving aid from the mother Church of Kallianpur. The Muktesar of Kallianpur then was Balthazar Lewis, who was uncle to Domingo Pereira. The Vicar too was very friendly to Domingo Pereira. Hence they evinced much interest in this affair and promised their cooperation. According to the resolution, Domingo Pereira accompanied by Louis Lobo and started from Udyavara to Goa travelling by land, a journey of about 6 or 7 days. The Oriental Archbishop Dr Amorin Passoa after hearing all their grievances was pleased to grant permission to build a Church at Udyavara and allowed a priest to reside there, recommending the Portuguese Government to sanction a congrua of Rs.30/= per month to him, understanding that there were only a few families in his parish.

On receiving the order, they tried to purchase a good plot of ground to build the Church. After many hardships they succeeded to get land on the road side and erected a temporary thatched shed and temporary lodging for the Vicar. Having finished the required accommodation they again went to Goa to call the priest. In the year 1866 and in the month of January the Vicar said Mass for the first time in the temporary shed. The name of the Vicar was Rev. Fr John Louis Marian D’Souza of Bardez. He was Vicar from 10.1.1866 to 30.12.1879. During his vicariate the chief Muktesar Domingo Pereira and Louis Lobo together with other co-parishioners tried their utmost to build a church in honour of St Francis Xavier as patron. They sought advice from Rev. Fr Ferandes, the Vicar of Karkal… They began to build a beautiful Church in those days and succeeded to finish almost all. But to their disappointment the site of the place being sandy and damp, the building did not last long. Gradually it turned into a dilapidated condition… In 1884 the facade which was erected high, collapsed and day by day rafters of the roof were eaten by worms.”

From the above account, we can establish following facts:
1. After initial steps, Udyavara Parish was founded on 10.1.1866 as the first Vicar offered Mass.
2. Till then Udyavara was one of the Wards of Kallianpur Milagres Church.
3. St Francis Xavier was its Patron.
4. First Parish Priest (Vicar) was Rev.Fr John Louis Marian D’Souza of Bardez.
5. Domingo Pereira and Louis Lobo are considered as Muktesars (founders) of the Church.
6. The location of the first Church is near the rock temple in Melpete, Udyavara,.

Now, with these facts, we can lay to rest the contrary claims that Udyavara Church started in 1863 (?). May be the starting of Barkur Church that year inspired the leaders of Udyavara to think of a new Church here. The other often cited evidence of a wooden Altar with the statue of St Francis Xavier and having the inscription of “1865” found in the old house of Gratian Pereira S/o Late Dominic Gabriel Pereira in Bolje and the claims of Masses being offered in the upper room of this house, do not suffice to establish the foundation of a Parish in Udyavara before 1866 as such. That apart, in the succeeding years the centenary of the Parish was planned in 1966 and celebrated only in the year 1967 confirms that this Church was founded in 1866 !

A few historical connecting details now: Fr John Marian, the first Vicar returned to Goa in 1897 and in his place Fr Aprezius Loyola Deniz was appointed as Parish priest. He was vicar from 30.12.1897 to 31.05.1903. Following the Concordat between the Pope and the King of Portugal, in 1886 when the new Hierarchy of the Church in India was established which abolished the double jurisdiction of Padroado system, Kallianpur and Udyavara protested. Fr Aprezius had to leave the Church and stay at Shirva. Lordship N.Pagnai SJ Bishop of Mangalore promised some privileges and asked Fr Deniz to retake the charge of Udyavara. Hence the Church was reopened in 1889 under Propaganda jurisdiction. Fr Deniz was vicar till 1903. He wanted to rebuild the dilapidating Church and started to collect funds, bought 20,000 tiles from Mangalore and got ready 6,000 stones. But old age prevented his work. On 03.3.1903 he resigned his vicarship.


Venerable Monsignor RFC Mascrenhas and the second new Church

The young Assistant Priest of Kallianpur Rev. Fr RFC Mascarenhas was appointed to Udyavara and he took charge on May 31, 1903. The work of building the church was the greatest need. He was earnest about it, and applied to his friends for help to build a new Church. But the site of the Church at Melpete being sandy and damp, he was unwilling to build on the same site. He tried to procure from the Government one ‘peramboga’ site. After many hardships, he finally succeeded in getting 3 acres of land on condition of exchange of the old site for the new. The old plot of one and half acres was auctioned by the Government and bought by the parishioner for about Rs.500/= Later on it was bought back for the Church. Eye witnesses say that Fr Mascarenhas worked day and night with ardent zeal both to collect funds from friends and to enthuse the parishioners for ‘sarthi’ work. Within two years he succeeded in getting ready a beautiful artistic church. It was blessed by Bishop A.Cavadini SJ on 06.1.1909. He also built the presbytery. Fr Mascrenhas was transferred to Agrar and Rev. Fr J.M.Vas succeeded as Parish Priest on 03.3.1910.

The Significant Events in Succeeding Times

Fr J.M.Vas was Vicar for 9 years. He built the Church portico and introduced the Lenten ceremonies by procuring the required things. The list of Parish Priests denotes the succession line in Udyavara. (See the Tab). Besides the works of Priests, it is also important to note the contribution of some of the lay leaders. Mr Evangelist D Silva in Bombay organized funds to raise one more building for the school. During the tenure of Fr D.S.P.Coelho, the single Sodality was divided into three, for men, women and girls separately. Of course, without counting the Sodality of Altar Boys. When Fr A.F.Pinto was the Assistant, he opened a Union for the youth of the Parish called “Catholic Action League” which commenced on 15.2.1938.

Mr Leo R.Pereira started in 1881 a primary school near the Church campus at Melpete. In 1926 it was raised to higher primary. It was handed over to the Church during Fr Gregory Lobos’s times. The school was not self-supportive and it had incurred debts. There was a plan to hand it over to the District Board. However some parishioners came forward to manage it by forming a Managing Committee with the Vicar as president for one year. Even then it was found difficult to manage. So it was finally handed over in 1955 to the Catholic Board of Education of the diocese. To mark the Centenary year of our School 1981, Kannada medium High was started near the Church.

It is worth noting the existence of St Ann’s School in Bolje. It was started in 1925 as Primary school by Mr Kistodio Fernandes for the children of the Bolje locality. At some point of time, for a year, the school was handed over to the Parish Priest of Udyavara, but soon it went back to the same family. In 1980 it was raised up to 7th Standard with almost 2 sections in each class. In 1992 Kistodio’s grandson (from maternal side) Mr John Berty Lobo took over the management. Unfortunately, with the number of children’s getting reduced and parents seeking admissions in English Medium schools, this School was too had to be closed down in May 2014.

In 1948 Katapady Parish was carved out of the territory falling the other side of Udyavara bridge. Thus on 23.5.1948 Katapady Parish became our daughter. In 1966, the vicar Rev.Fr Antony Norohna took the leadership to commemorate the centenary year of the founding of the parish. A ‘Centenary Celebration Committee” was formed mainly to renovate the Church. Many parishioners working in Bombay supported the project. After the renovation of the work, the Centenary was celebrated in January 1967 with Bishop Basil D’Souza presiding over the celebrations. On the petition of some of the families within the territory of Udyavara Parish, who hitherto belonged to Udupi Church were made members of the Udyavara Parish from 1.1.1965 as per the decree of Bishop Basil D’Souza. It brought in the land of present Bolargudde Chapel in the custody of Udyavara Church.

The youth histrionics talents were well utilized for social and religious causes. Rev.Fr Frank Peres started on 15.9.1950 “Dramatic Union’ in the Parish and it staged many dramas. The great dramatists’ and musicians’ trope with Raan Udyavar (Late Henry D’Silva) as its mentor became one of the luminaries. He was felicitated with papal award “bene merenthi” in 1968. It is noted that on 28.3.1968 young girls of the Parish presented a drama “Maria Goretti” in honour of the Bishop Basil who was on pastoral visit. Rev.Fr John Fernandes from Udyavara Parish who was pursuing his doctoral studies in Germany got ready in 1970 a Bell for the Parish. Mr Charles D’Souza who was working in Qatar generously donated the cost of the belfry. On 30.05.1971 it was blessed by the Bishop. On 11.7.1971 “Catholic Youth Association(CYA)” was opened for the boys and girls of the Parish under the guidance of the energetic Assistant Rev.Fr Henry Fernandes. On 10.5.1973 for the first time in the history of the parish the Ordination of Rev.Fr Xavier Pinto of Piad ward (Ankudru) and his 2 companions took place in Udyavara.

Rev.Fr Aloysius Pinto had served in Udyavara after his ordination as Assistant from 30.4.1934 to 06.11.1943. He was appointed Parish Priest on 4.6.1967 worked hard till his death on 01.2.1976. He is the only Parish Priest buried in our Church Cemetery.

Post Vatican II Times

The spirit of renewal and inculturation envisaged by the path breaking II Vatican Council (1962-65) was percolating in Indian Church and in particular in the diocese of Mangalore. Great Bishop Basil S.D’Souza has pioneered many of the reforms proposed by the Council in the local Church. As a result, vernacular liturgy, people’s participation in Church’s affairs through Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Council, encouraging lay movements and association for Catholic apostolate have taken shape in many parishes of Mangalore diocese. Udyavara too has seen many of these aspects shaping up the parish life and activities. Mr R.A.F.Pinto was the first Administrator (Vice-President) to be elected and after him Mr John Berty Lobo from 1980 to 1991.Mr Ashelma D’Silva was the Secretary. In June 1991 Mr Antony Pinto was the Administrator from 1991, but resigned in 1993. Mr Cyril Lewis was Vice President from 1993 for 7 years. Thereafter Mr George Menezes was Vice President for 3 years from April 2001. Mr Godfrey D’Souza succeded him served as Vice President for 6 years from 2004 (He was Secretary from 1988 to 1991). Mr Lawrence D’Sa after being parish Secretary for 3 years in 2007, has been the Vice President from 2010. However, Mr John M. D’Souza who was first elected Parish Secretary in 1991, got elected for 6 terms, and held this post for almost 23 years. There was no term set for this post then. Under the new Constitution of Udupi diocese, In January 2014 Mr Lawrence D’Sa was elected Vice-Preisent and Mrs Anita Saldanha the Secretary. But after a year Mrs Anita Saldanha resigned from her post and Mr Michael D’Souza of Rozar ward was elected Secretary on 19.04.2015.

Rev. Fr Thomas D’Souza started in 1981 the Kannada High School. He succeeded in getting the Charity Sisters of Mangalore Province for the School. St Francis Xavier Charity Sisters Convent was opened on 05.04.1981 at Melpete. Through his amiable ways he united the Parish community, put up the Parish Hall and marked the boundaries of the Church compound by enclosure wall. Rev.Fr Stanly R.Pereira noted for his histrionic and musical talents, and ably assisted by young dynamic Assistant Fr Denis D’Sa gave much fillip to the singing talent in Udyavara. Our Church Choir led by late Sri Richard D’Silva and thereafter by Sri John M. D’Souza is reckoned with repute. Fr Stanly introduced inculturation in liturgy, improvised the Parish Hall. He built a new Bolargudde Chapel in 1993 dedicating it to Mother of Sorrows. Rev.Fr Henry Fernandes, who was previously Assistant here, when succeeded as vicar in 1994 could befriend many youth and improve the economic condition. Rev.Fr Richard Coelho with his youthful and dynamic spirit galvanized the Community to start English Medium School in Melpete site in 2004. The massive structure of the school buildings and many infra-structure facilities have been path breaking. Fr Coelho also built the new house parish house. He was also instrumental in helping the Pallotine Sisters to found a Children’s Home and Pallotine Convent in the plot donated by Mrs Leena and Mr Albert Tauro in sampigenar. It was blessed on 01.01.2003.

Some Significant Aspects

On 24th June 1997 Rome announced the appointment Rev.Fr Gerald D’Almeida of Jabalpur diocese as its Co-Adjutor Bishop and on 16.05.2001 he became the Bishop of Jabulpur. He is our parishioner priest from Piad C Ward. V.Rev.Fr Dr Vincent Pereira from Saud A ward who moved to Canada and there did his higher studies and later was sent to Rome for doctorate in Canon Law in Rome. He has been serving Ottawa diocese of Canada in various capacities. Presently he is the Judicial Vicar of that diocese and also the parish priest of St Theresa’s Parish, Down Town. Dr Urban D’Souza from Ankudru is another academician who has secured a doctorate in Medical Sciences and currently Professor & Head of Federal Govt College, University of Malaysia. John M.D’Souza of Piad C ward is the Founder and Principal of Trinity Technical School started by himself.

Our parishioners in U.A.E. have founded “UDYAVARITES” Association on 08.01.2001 and help the members, as well as the need people back home in many ways. They have actively supported the project of our new Church by financial aid both individually and as an Association. The melodious Udyavara PINTO BAND has survived and endeared many for almost 2 generations.

Dream of a third new Church

God has blessed Udyavara Catholic community in many ways. There are 530 families grouped into 15 Wards. People of this parish are resourceful, pious and diligent. Many vocations to priestly and religious life have arisen here. 33 Priests, 6 Seminarians, 50 Women Religious (Sisters) till date are significant numbers. Parishioners take quite active participation in parish affairs. The access to higher education in Udupi and around has helped improve human resources. Employment prospects in Bombay and Gulf countries has improved the financial status of the community. The beautiful church built by Ven.Msgr Mascarenhas was becoming old, as well as too small and congested. Since long, strong desire was cherished to build a new Church. However, it was not easy to arrive at consensus about its shape and direction. Rev.Fr Charles Noronha with his goodness and experience ventured to start the project by collecting funds and stocking sand. However, due to dissention it could not be continued. Rev.Fr Cyprian Pinto was enthusiastic to build the Church. Meantime, the bifurcation of Udupi diocese from Mangalore came on his way, as he opted for Mangalore. Finally, the task fell on Rev.Fr Roque D’Souza to start afresh the project of the new Church. After some initial hurdles and hesitations, he has succeeded in arriving at consensus from all stakeholders about the shape and direction of the new Church.

Foundation stone of the new Church was laid on 22.05.2014 and the work progressed with much speed. The Bell tower, new Grotto, new mini Hall above the back rooms, and other works like the leveling of new ground, the reshaping front wall of the Church compound , the side wall of the cemetery, concrete rings for the well near the Grotto were done with people’s consent. One of significant works is the putting up of the Memory Altar in Melpete, where our first Church was located. It is due to be blessed on 17.04.2016. The additions of 10 KV solar power production panels and 7 pits around the Church for rain harvest project and inter locks around the church ground have been done in recent months with the generous financial contribution of our parishioners. The inauguration and blessing of the new Church is fixed for 28.04.2016 preceded by two events Hore Kaanike and Inter Religious Meet on Sunday, 24 April 2016. All these events will be new mile stone in the history of our parish.