Bishop Basil S D’Souza Recalled as Missionary Shepherd & Pioneer of Vat II renewal in India 

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Bishop Basil S D’Souza Recalled as Missionary Shepherd & Pioneer of Vat II renewal in India 

Mangaluru: St Joseph Interdiocesan Seminary and Chair in Christianity, Mangalore University jointly organised ‘Late Bishop Basil S. D’Souza Memorial Lecture’ on the occasion of his 25-death anniversary on March 9, 2022, at the Centenary Hall, St Joseph Seminary, Jeppu here in Mangalore.

A theological discourse was held every year in fond memory of Most Rev. Dr Basil Salvadore D’Souza in the seminary. It resumed after two years. This year, Bishop Basil Memorial Lecture was on Bishop Basil himself. Rev. Fr Joseph Martis in his welcome address said, “It is an occasion to draw inspiration from a noble missionary, Bishop Basil S. D’Souza.” 

Most Rev. Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Bishop Emeritus and Msgr Denis Moras Prabhu, former Vicar General of Mangalore Diocese were the speakers. The first speaker, Rev. Fr Denis Moras Prabhu unravelled the historical background of the missionary works begun by Bishop Basil S. D’Souza in the diocese of Mangalore. He said, “Bishop Basil, a Bishop of Vatican II, gave new wine in new skins.”

Fr Denis Moras highlighted the role of Bishop Basil in implementing the changes brought in by the Vatican Council II. He said that the bishop was very much convinced of the renewal brought by Vatican Council II, he introduced all the changes in liturgy, music, faith and catechesis, evangelisation and administration of the local church. He was never discouraged over the resistance displayed by people and priests. Fr Denis said, “Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza and I are the eyewitnesses of the work and struggles of Bishop Basil S. D’Souza who steered the diocese tirelessly and dauntlessly. He made our work easy after his demise.

Bishop Emeritus Aloysius Paul D’Souza, speaking on the topic said, “Bishop Basil was a Missionary Bishop. Out of the 31 years as bishop, he spent 14 years as a missionary bishop. He was the first bishop in India to start the mission outside the diocese.”

Bishop Aloysius said, “Bishop Basil was a visionary and missionary bishop. He courageously took up the Bidar Mission to carry on evangelisation and proclamation. He took it as a call from the Lord. He supported this mission until his last breath with sacrifice and simple life.” Bishop Aloysius Paul emphasised that the development and evangelisation work of Bishop Basil was so impactful that he became an inspiration for others to carry out the work of evangelisation in India. He reiterated Bishop Basil’s words, “How are we and our flock repaying for the gift of faith that we have received? -a question which inspired the bishop to dedicate his life for missions and evangelisation.”

Bishop Aloysius further said that Bishop Basil’s zeal for the mission was manifested in establishing self-help groups, educational institutions and development centres in Mangalore and Bidar. Rev. Dr John Baptist Saldanha, Former Head-Chair in Christianity, Mangalore University and Parish Priest, Bejai, moderated the sessions. “Implementation of the Second Vatican Council renewal was a collaborative venture by Bishop Basil and religious men and women.”

A comprehensive summary of the implementation of Second Vatican Council Fr Rockwin Pinto introduced new publications by Rev. Dr Ronald Serrao and Rev. Dr Ivan D’Souza. Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha released both books. Br Lohith D’Souza compered the programme.

Report & Pics by Fr Anil Ivan Fernandes

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