Mangaluru : Addressing the media persons during a press meet held at the Urwa church hall, Rev Fr Victor D’Mello said, ” Post centennial celebrations (150 years) of Immaculate Conception Church-Urwa, which is the third oldest church in the coastal district, will be held in a glittering ceremony on Friday, 1 May 2015 at the Urwa Church ground”.
The programme will start at 4.15pm with welcoming the Bishops from various towns; Inauguration and Blessing of the newly built Belfry and Grotto will be at 4.30pm; at 5.30pm-the Thanksgiving Eucharist will be concelebrated by Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’souza- Bishop of Mangaluru; and the Homily will be delivered by Rev Dr Francis Serrao- Bishop of Shivamogga.
The Post Centennial Golden Jubilee will kick off at 6.45pm, where the Bishop of Mangaluru will preside over. Guests of honor for the occasion will be: Rev Fr Francis Serrao-Bishop of Shivamogga, Rev Dr Robert Miranda- Bishop of Gulbarga, Rev Dr Pius thomas D’Souza- Bishop of Ajmeer, Rev Sr Linette AC- Provincial, Apostolic Carmel-Mangaluru Province, MLA JR Lobo, MLC Ivan D’Souza, Rev Fr JB Crasta- Vicar Forane Episcopal City Deanary, and Jacintha Alfred-Mayor of Mangaluru City Corporation.
The “Invitation” of the Post Centennial Golden Jubilee Celebrations was also released during the press meet by Parish Priest Rev. Fr. D’ Mello On 26 April there will be “Hore-Kanike” (offering of various vegetables) brought in a procession to the church by the members of 14 wards belonging to the parish.
Fr Jeevan Sequeira- asst parish priest, Mrs Jeneview Mathias- Secretary PPC, Hilary D’Souza-Vice president-PPC and others were present during the press meet.
Brief History of the Church :
The Urwa Church originally was situated at Derebail. The Catholics were caught during a Sunday Mass here and led into the captivity to Srirangapattana by Tippu Sultan. The Church was completely destroyed and all records were burnt and the parish families got scattered. After the death of Tippu Sultan in 1799 many captives returned back but found all their lands were occupied by others. In 1864, Fr Lawrence D’Souza lived in a hut and offered Mass in a small building.
The people united together to built a small chapel near the present Church. It was served from the Cathedral. In 1865, Fr Emmanuel Salvadore Vas was put in charge of the chapel. Urwa was formed into a Parish in 1866 with Fr Salvadore Vas as the first Parish Priest. The Parish was dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Rt Rev. Michael Antony ocd, the Vicar Apostolic, paid the first pastoral visit on May 5, 1870.
In 1889, Fr Balthazar Rebello received Rs 1,000 from the Bishop and some loan from Mr B S Saldanha of Bolar Coffee Works and the local Catholics bought the present site. Fr J.B. Rossi, the Vicar General, laid the foundation stone for the present Church on October 7, 1890. To construct the Church building, Fr. Rebello sold his ancestoral property.
By facing great difficulties and with his sustained hard work of three years, the Urwa Church was blessed and inaugurated in 1893. Fr Camillus Rego added the portico in 1901. Fr A.J. D’Souza (1915-1930) started the devotion to Our Lady of Pompei and the altar was declared a Privileged Altar by Pope Pius X on December 6, 1904. Fr A.J. D’Souza also started a monthly magazine, “The Trumpet Call”.
Fr T.A Lobo (1951-1971) added new wings to the Church. The entire western wing of the Church building was donated by Mr G.A. Rodrigues. He built the Centenary Hall in 1964. Fr Valerian D’Souza (1971-1978) constructed an open air stage, built the belfry. Fr John Dâ€™Souza constructed the present new Church building and it was inaugurated on May 1, 1991.
Rev Fr. Fred Pereira and Rev Fr. Dennis Prabhu also served the community as Parish Priests and guided the parishioners. Mr H.E.W. Fernandes donated the High School building. Fr Valerian D’Souza started an English Medium Nursery School.
Rev Fr Andrew Lewis who was the Parish Priest from 2001 to 2008 gave a new shape to the Church campus. He extended the English Medium School Building. He also did renovation of the Centenary Hall, built the present Presbytery and above all did a lot for the spiritual growth of the Community. Since November 2008 Fr Victor D’Mello is the Parish Priest of this Parish. Being young and energetic he is fully involved in the Parish activity and continues the ministry of guiding the Community.