State’s first boat-shaped Stella Maris Church Kalmady dedicated to the people
Udupi: The long-standing dream of Stella Maris Church parishioners, Kalmady became a reality when the newly constructed church was inaugurated, blessed and dedicated to the people in the presence of three bishops, many priests and religious men and women from the diocese on Saturday, January 6.
Dr Gerald Lobo Bishop of Udupi Diocese along with Dr Francis Serrao Bishop of Shivamogga and Dr Robert Miranda Bishop of Gulbarga inaugurated the new church by cutting the ribbon tied across the main door of the church.
Bishop Gerald Lobo blessed and sanctified the water which was used to bless the people and the structure of the newly built church.
The solemn inaugural mass was concelebrated by the bishops and priests with Bishop Gerald Lobo as the chief celebrant.
Bishop of Shivamogga Dr Francis Serrao in his homily briefed on the building of the ‘House of God’ from the Old Testament. The Bishop stressed the significance of the church and pointed out how it is very closely associated with the lives of the faithful.
Soon after the homily, the Litany of Saints was recited. Thereafter, Bishop Gerald Lobo anointed the main altar with the Chrism oil and sanctified it while Bishop Robert Miranda anointed the walls of the church at the four main points. Bishop Gerald Lobo then recited the prayer of dedication of the church. Bishop Gerald Lobo handed over the lighted candle to Fr Alban D’Souza who in turn lighted the candles on the newly blessed altar. Meanwhile, all the lights within the church were switched on and the solemn mass continued.
At the end, after the distribution of the Holy Communion, the Tabernacle was blessed and sanctified and the ciborium containing the Holy Eucharist was placed reverently inside the Tabernacle.
After the mass, A public felicitation function was held at the church premises presided over by Bishop Gerald Isaac Lobo. Other dignitaries on the dais included Bishop Robert Miranda, Bishop Francis Serrao, Fr Valerian Mendonca, Chancellor Udupi Diocese, Pramod Madhwaraj district minister in-charge and Minister for Fisheries, Youth and Sports, Government of Karnataka, Ivan D’Souza chief whip Legislative council Karnataka, Oscar Fernandes MP Rajya Sabha, Meenakshi Madhava Bannanje president Udupi CMC, Hormis Noronha standing committee chief CMC Udupi, Narayana Kundar councillor CMC, Sanjay Andrade Vice President, Parish Pastoral Council, Shobha Mendonca – Secretary and Louis Lobo convener church building committee.
Following the prayer song sung by the choir of the Church, Fr Alban D’Souza parish Priest of Kalmady welcomed the guests as Sanjay Andrade extended a floral welcome to the guests on the dais.
A message and Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis was read out by Louis Lobo convener of the church building committee.
The donors, contractors and engineers were honoured at different intervals by the guests on the dais. In a special occasion, Six children who had donated their pocket money to the church building were honoured by the bishop.
Oscar Fernandes and Bishop Robert Miranda in their message congratulated Fr Alban D’Souza and his team as well as the parishioners for erecting such a beautiful church through their donations and hard work. They recalled the contribution of Christians in various fields and highlighted the fact that Kalmady has been a confluence of religious harmony.
Pramod Madhwaraj district minister in-charge and Minister for Fisheries, Youth and Sports, Government of Karnataka, released the Souvenir produced on the occasion of the building of the new church.
Pramod Madhwaraj in his message said that there is a close relation between Udupi Shri Krishna Math and Malpe as the statue of Shri Krishna was found in the Malpe sea. Besides, Malpe being the main centre for the fishing community, the boat-shaped Stella Maris Church has created a record for communal harmony in this area.
Ivan D’Souza, the chief whip of Karnataka Legislative Council in his address said that though Christians form a mere 2 percent of the population in India, they have contributed in a huge way in their service with love and dedication and has been an example of service to 97 percent of the Indian population. He further said that the Karnataka Government under the chief ministership of Siddaramaiahj has allotted Rs 175 crore for the development of the Christian community and Rs 2750 crore for the development of the minority communities.
Bishop of Udupi, Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo in his presidential address, complimented Fr Alban D’Souza and people of Kalmady for their efforts in erecting such a beautiful church building within a short period. He said that the people of Kalmady have poured their love, sacrifice and labour into the construction of the new church building. It was their dream which has become a reality. Temples are those places which manifest the presence of God and as such preservation of the sanctity of such holy places is the responsibility of each and every faithful.
The dream of many Catholic Christians of Kalmady and neighbouring villages was realized following the inauguration and blessing of the church dedicated to Stella Maris, the Star of the Sea, a name ascribed to Mother Mary. The church has been growing as the shrine in honour of Our Lady of Vailankani. The Bishop said that besides Catholic Christians people belonging to other religions also visit the church and get favours from Our Lady of Vailankani. The Bishop further said that in our culture temples have special meaning. Temples are the symbols of developing a special bond between God and human beings. Temples provide spiritual satisfaction and God’s blessings. Christians believe that Churches are the gateways to heaven. In this way, people can experience the Divine power. The Bishop hoped that temples and churches become symbols of our unity and provide us lessons of tolerance and brotherhood.
On behalf of the Diocese of Udupi, Bishop Gerald Lobo honoured Fr Alban with a shawl and garland. Ronald Olivera compered the entire programme.
Fellowship community meal was served to all those who attended the inaugural function.