St Anthony’s Ashram – a New Home for the Homeless and Destitute
Nine-day Novena in preparation for Feast of St Anthony’s Tongue, which started on February 6 at Milagres Church, ended on February 14. Today, February 15 the Feast was celebrated with a Mass in Konkani by Fr William Barokas at 8.15 am at Milagres Church with prayers for the sick. At 11 am, there was a Mass by Msgr Denis Moras Prabhu at St Anthony Charitable Institutes. A Mass in Malayalam will be held by Fr Jerome Chingathara from Mahe at Milagres Church at 4.30 pm. A con-celebrated Festal Mass by Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, the Bishop of Mangaluru will be at 6 pm at Milagres Church.
Mangaluru: I still remember those days, when I was studying at St Aloysius College, and as part of CLC and AICUF we used to visit St Anthony’s Poor Homes located near Jeppu and interact with the destitute and the disabled there, distribute food and fruits to them, and also entertain them with music and skit- that was during the 80s and 90s. When I visited this place couple days ago I was surprised to see the enormous progress, and the Director Fr Onil D’Souza was kind enough to take me around and show the various homes, and buildings in the premises.
At this ashram, Saint Anthony’s solidarity has reached out to those who need it most. Although St Anthony has left the world with a great legacy of teachings, and has set the priests a glorious example of charity, of what it means to be there for the poorest of the poor. The Priests and the management at St Anthony’s Charity Institutes are daily engaged in the task of practicing this great mission which the Saint has enjoined upon them: to spread the Gospel and to practice Charity.
Fr Onil, Director-Saint Anthony’s Charity Institutes
Thanks to the dear donors, St Anthony’s Charity Institutes have reached greater heights in serving the destitute and disabled. The Institutes assist those suffering loneliness and deprivation – In the Saint’s name, they reach out to the remotest, most forsaken everywhere, forsaken even by hope itself. This has been made possible through the solidarity of countless friends. At the heart of each project is Saint Anthony’s driving force. This is why they act with the will to promote the well-being of every person, to restore them dignity and the power to forge a brighter future for themselves.
Saint Anthony is known for his thirteen miracles. But everyday he performs a number of miracles for his devotees. Saint Anthony’s Charity Institutes, Jeppu is a living proof to his miracles. Saint Anthony provides shelter and peaceful living at the Institutes to four hundred destitute who are unwanted in the society. If this is not a miracle what else is? Saint Anthony does this miracle through his devotees. Everyone is welcome to join hands in carrying forward this miracle.
A Miracle in itself……..Though it is not quite possible to pinpoint exactly when it all started, a feast was being annually celebrated in honour of St Anthony on the 13th of June for several years at the Altar of St Anthony in the Church of Our Lady of Miracles, Milagres, Mangalore. However, there were no other special devotions as such in his honour.
All those who came to the feet of St Anthony never returned empty handed. Even to this day thousands come to him seeking his favour and no one goes back disappointed. It was on 12 June 1898 Msgr M. P. Colaco the then Asst Vicar at Milagres Church started novena to Saint Anthony. On the following day 13 June the feast of Saint Anthony was celebrated solemnly. Thereafter, Msgr Colaco started celebrating Holy Mass every Tuesday at the altar of the Saint and conducted novena prayers. The response from the people was beyond all expectations. Not only the parishioners of Milagres, but many faithful from other parishes in and around Mangalore and even from places beyond the town limits, began to flock to these Tuesday devotions.
St Anthony’s Poor Homes:
The devotees of St Anthony used to make their ‘Thanksgiving Offering’ in cash and kind with a grateful heart for the favours received through the intercession of St Anthony. The collection made through such offerings was used initially in the form of ‘Alms Giving’ to feed the poor, the sick and the destitute and wipe away their tears. Thus began the work of ‘Saint Anthony’s Bread ’ in Mangaluru. In the year 1911 some houses were put up near Milagres Church to accommodate the waifs, the orphans, the old and the disabled and those who had no one take care of. These houses were known as St Anthony’s Poor Homes”.
It is said that during the two World Wars, when there was extreme scarcity of food, hundreds of poor used to wait in long queues at the Milagres Church to satiate their hunger and ‘St Anthony’s Bread’ provided meals for all of them. As the need to house the destitute increased and the space available in the city was limited, 28 acres of land belonging to the Brittos at Jeppu was purchased in an auction for Rs.45,000 in 1934. In 1936 the Saint Anthony’s Poor Homes were shifted from Milagres to this place, presently known as Saint Anthony’s Charity Institutes. At the moment 400 destitute (residents) live at the Institutes. Those once admitted are taken care of till they complete their journey of this earthly life. All their needs are met free of cost.
This place is indeed a “Home Away from Home” – How beautiful it is to see them living as brothers and sisters! From 1899 the feast of the Relic (tongue) of St Anthony began to be celebrated on 15 February. The beautiful statue of the Saint now adorning the altar of the shrine was blessed by Pope Leo XIII and brought all the way from Italy in 1900 and installed in 1902.
The medical needs of the residents are met with the support of Fr Muller Hospital, Kankanady and the Wenlock District Hospital, Mangaluru. Tasty and nutritious food is cooked in the central kitchen and from there it is distributed to different houses. Thrice a day all the residents come together for community prayer and to pray for the intentions of our benefactors. People have great faith in the intercessory prayers of our residents. Every day we receive a number of requests for prayers and the residents pray for them. To their beloved Saint, the residents are very dear and he hears them faster, so they say.
The residents are involved in many activities. The vegetables and fruits grown here with the help of the residents are harvested throughout the year and are used for their consumption. The Institutes provide opportunities to our residents to make use of their talents and abilities. As they make use of their skills they feel they are productive. Candles and funeral coffins are also made by the residents. Apart from agriculture, the residents also take care of few cows which provide milk for their daily use. Retreats and novenas are also held in regular basis.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean Fr Onil said, “Saint Anthony of Padua died in the year 1231. In 1263 thirty two years after his death when his grave was opened the assembled gathering had a surprise. Though the body of the Saint had turned into dust the tongue was fresh. Seeing this miracle Saint Bonaventure the then General of Franciscans said, “O Blessed Tongue! that always blessed the Lord and made others bless and praise Him; it is now manifest what great merits thou dost posses in the sight of God”. The fresh tongue of Saint Anthony is still fresh even after 800 years of his earthly life and is kept in the Basilica at Padua in Italy. A feast is being celebrated in honour of this Relic(tongue) of Saint Anthony”.
“Saint Anthony always used the gift of speech to praise God. He also used the power of his speech to preach the Word of God because of which many people who had deserted faith came back to the Catholic Church. He also used the faculty of his speech to perform many miracles but he did it for others. The in-corrupt tongue of Saint Anthony is a miracle bestowed on him by the Almighty for the miracles he had performed for others. There is message for all in this miracle. The message is– make use of the tongue to praise God and to build good relationship with the people around us. Never abuse it to pain others” added Fr Onil.
Fr Onil further said, “St. Anthony of Padua is one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints. Saint Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost and stolen articles, was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher. He’s typically portrayed holding the child Jesus, or a lily, or a book, or all three, in his arms. Many people give alms to St. Anthony Bread in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony. His life is what every Christian’s life is meant to be; a steady courage to face the ups and downs of life, the call to love and forgive, to be concerned for the needs of others, to deal with crisis great and small, and to have our feet solidly on the ground of total trusting love and dependence on God. St Anthony is beloved throughout the world and is responsive to all people and all needs. His intercessory powers before our God are awesome. Legends about Anthony abound”.
Concluding he said, ” Since the inception of Shrine of Saint Anthony at Milagres in 1898 scores of people irrespective of their religious affiliation have come to the feet of Saint Anthony and have obtained innumerable favours. And there is a belief that Saint Anthony doesn’t fail his devotees. Even now people in India and abroad ask us to pray for their various needs. As we celebrate this feast we invoke numerous Blessings of Almighty through the powerful intercession of Saint Anthony out Patron Saint. Happy Feast to all the devotees of Saint Anthony”.
I end this column with a Unfailing Prayer to St Anthony:
“Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.” O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, you love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore of you to obtain for me (state request here). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle, even so, you are the Saint of Miracles.
O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the Sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen. (Then say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be)
St Anthony’s Shrine- Milagres Devotion: Every Tuesday Mass at 8:15 a.m and 6:00 p.m followed by Novena.
You could send your petitions / offerings to:
The Director-Saint Anthony’s Charity Institutes, Jeppu, Mangalore 575 002. Karnataka, India.
Please Note: Cheques, Demand Drafts or Money Orders to be made in favour of “ Saint Anthony’s Charity Institute