Mangaluru: A parish is a church territorial unit constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a parish priest, who might be assisted by one or more curates, and who operates from a parish church. Historically, a parish often covered the same geographical area as a manor (its association with the parish church remaining paramount). By extension the term parish refers not only to the territorial unit but to the people of its community or congregation as well as to church property within it. Then there are the faithful who belong to the parish known as Parishioners.
Parishioners who either live within the parish boundaries make their church as their spiritual home. Parishioners have a right to the sacramental ministry of the parish, including funeral or memorial services, marriage, or having children receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation). They are remembered in the daily prayers for the people (pro populo) and the benefactors of the church. They are included in all spiritual and educational events at the parish. They have the opportunity to participate in the ministry at the parish. They support the repair of the church and other church activities. And then comes one day when both the parish along with the parishioners join together to celebrate “Parish Day”, and join in the fun and thank each other for their active involvement in the church activities, along with Gurkars of various wards.
And one such “Parish Day”, along with ‘Small Christian Community Day” was celebrated at St Francis Xavier Church-Bejai on Sunday 22 February 2015. Prior to the formal and cultural celebrations held at the Parish Hall, a thanksgiving Eucharist was con-celebrated by Fr Walter D’souza- Director of Small Christian Community-Mangaluru Diocese/Parish Priest of Shakthinagar Church, along with Fr Wilson D’Souza-Parish priest of Bejai Church, Fr Sunil Praveen Pinto-Assistant parish priest, and Fr Alfred Ryan D’Souza-Resident priest, following which snacks/beverages were served to all parishioners who attended the mass in the church parking lot.
St Francis Xavier Church and parishioners cannot imagine parish day celebration without spiritual and cultural program to make it eventful and memorable. It was there in abundance tastefully and meaningfully delivered for a marathon long five hours, right from celebration of Eucharist to cultural program. The aroma of samosas/puffs/coffee/Tea was mingling with every breath of the parishioner as they exited out of the church- the parishioners did satiate their evening hunger with the sumptuous treat. There was plenty and abundance of these eatables on the tea counter towards which the parishioners flocked in a perennial stream. After having spent an hour in the inner precincts of the church attending the special service they were naturally hungry and thirsty.
Then it was time to move into the auditorium for the grand celebration. Dignitaries were then invited to occupy their seats- Fathers, sisters, trustees, powerful members of various parish/diocese councils and organizations were seated. Darkness and ignorance flee in the presence of light and knowledge. In the path of light we should lead our lives as the Lord has taught us. The 24 Gurukars of different wards who walked in a procession with a candle in their hand, following which they lit the traditional lamp along with the clergy to mark the inauguration of “Parish day” and ” Small Christian Community Day” celebrations. The audience stood up with reverence marking further beginning of the function in the traditional style.
The dignitaries namely Fr Walter D’souza, Fr Wilson D’Souza, Fr Sunil Praveen Pinto, Sr Ancilla- Superior of St Angela convent-Bejai, Sr Meera Albuquerque- Superior of Pauline Sisters/daughters of st Paul-Bejai, Sr Hilda of St Angela Convent, Nirmal D’souza- Vice President, parish council and Charlotte Patrao- Secretary, Parish Council.were then escorted to the dais. Nirmal D’souza extended the official welcome to all the dignitaries in his language of love and prayer, followed by Charlotte reading the Parish Annual Report of happenings/activities. In his inaugural address Rev. Walter D’Souza praised the beautifully organized and well managed program to display unity and togetherness prevailing in the parish. He emphasized the need for spiritual growth of the individual whose contribution to the parish is important.
He further said, ” Our ancestors/grandparents/parents didn’t lead a lavish and rich life. In spite of their busy schedule they always made time for prayers and practice their faith. They didn’t had health insurance, they had good health, all because of their prayers and trust in God. We need to follow in our ancestors footsteps, and try hard to practice our faith and involve ourselves daily in prayers. These days we pretend to be busy, and give excuses in order to skip prayers- but being Christians we should not do that, instead make time for prayers and adoration. We need God’s blessings to keep us going, we also need to appreciate and thank God for his love towards us and all that he has offered us. Let us live a good Christian life by following and practicing our faith and be proud of our Catholic religion”
Bejai church parish priest Fr Wilson quoting a example of a young student who had said to him once that after completing her college studies want to be doctor, then make good money, and later build a orphanage, Fr addressed the parishioners/audience saying” Just like this girl we should make money in whatever career we are in, but we should also share some of the income by donating generously for a good and needy cause. We need to help the less fortunate, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc etc, thereby being good Samaritans to our community people. We also need to respect our Gurkars, who are taking all the responsibility in making sure you get the all the benefits offered by your parish. We also need to practice our faith and engage ourselves in daily prayers, and follow our Catholic religion very seriously”. While stating the various functions, events and programs conducted in the parish, during the year, Fr Wilson pointed out the presence of sincere hard work and togetherness are behind the success, the hall marks of St Francis Xavier church. .
Parishioners and their children who got distinctions in their various academic career were honoured during the occasion. The vote of thanks was proposed by Doreen Patrao-an active member of the Parish council. Following a Parish report displayed through audio/video presentation, it was cultural extravaganza that began with a Parish Day song rendered by the children of the parishioners, who were well-trained by Church musician Ivan Mascarenhas. Fusion dance by a group of youngsters, a Konkani song by Patrao Brothers, humour acts by Melwyn Mascarenhas and party; and Ivy D’Cunha/Charlotte Patrao, own composition song on Bejai Parish by Julian D’Cunha, a thought-provoking skit “Badhlavan” written by Arun Raj Rodrigues-Valencia and acted superbly by Bejai parishioners, and Mando renditions by members of ICYM- the Young Christian youth enthralled the large gathering of parishioners and others for over two hours. It was indeed a great “Parish day” celebration well organized by the SFX Church parishioners. Kudos to compere Felcy D’Almeida for charging up the audience and professionally anchoring the show.
In conclusion, sorry to say that being a non-active parishioner of SFX church, I still feel proud to a parishioner of this historic over 100 years St Francis Xavier church, and compliment the active members of the various associations for keeping my Parish ” healthy and alive “. We need to emphasize togetherness- parishioners vision and power of virtue existing should be followed towards success in life. A pure life brings happiness in the family/parishioners which binds in love and unity. These attributes bring peace to the individual and the society in turn. Life is so divine and therefore to be preserved pure to attain peace and success. As parishioners of SFX, let us all live in unity, share our views and news, plan for a better church activities- and let us look forward for yet another “Parish Day 2016”. Peace, until then-Long live St Francis Xavier Church and its Parishioners!