Diocesan News 

International Women's Day

To mark International Women's Day, the Archdiocesan Commission for Women has organised a function on Sunday, March 3, 2024, at Canossa Secondary School Hall, Mahim, from 9:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The theme is: "Invest in Women: Accelerate Growth". The function will include the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. We invite women and men to join us to celebrate, connect and collaborate.

Registration is Rs 100/- per head (inclusive of breakfast and lunch). Entry from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 am.

St John the Evangelist School, Marol, along with the Archdiocesan Women's Commission, will be hosting a football tournament for girls in the under-14 and under-16 age categories on March 8, 2024 at St John the Evangelist Church, Marol.

To register, call: Maureen 98336 67824, Rufiana 98208 20322, Agnes 98215 19926; Jennifer: 98203 38462, Josephine 98904 12265; Lucy 97692 42813; Veera 98202 87807. Last date for registration is February 25, 2024.

Grace John felicitated for service to Youth at Risk

The Salesian Provincial Conference of South Asia (SPCSA) felicitated Mrs Grace John on her 25 years of service in the Youth at Risk (YaR) sector on February 8, 2024. The Regional Councillor, Fr Biju Michael SDB, honoured Mrs John with a citation from the Cardinal Rector Major Ángel Fernández Artime.

Mrs John joined Shelter Don Bosco in 1999, and has ever since been an integral part of the staff. She has often gone beyond the limits of her working hours, and treated the boys and youth on the streets of Mumbai as her very own, available at their beck and call. She is fondly known as the 'Mummy of the Streets of Mumbai'.

When the Regional Councillor visited Shelter Don Bosco last year, he was taken up with the work of the institute. He then recommended that the dedicated staff who had worked for many years should be acknowledged, especially Mrs John. On February 4, the Provincial of the Province of Bombay, Fr Savio Silveira, felicitated Mrs John and four other staff who had completed 25 years of service to the institute. Mrs John, however, deserved special recognition for her complete dedication to the YaR Ministry.

Fr Lester Fernandes, the Rector of Shelter Don Bosco, mentioned to the SPCSA gathering that Mrs John has been a sister, mother, counsellor, banker, friend and doctor to countless young people who were unfortunately abandoned on the streets. She has seen some of them in their darkest moments of substance abuse, and even accompanied some on their final journey.

Fr Biju Michael remarked that he had experienced her work first-hand during his visit to Shelter Don Bosco, and was taken up by the rapport she had with the youth on the street. She was indeed a 'Mamma Margaret' to the many without a mother or a family to go back to.

A short video as a tribute to Mrs John was screened at the gathering, giving them a glimpse of her work. It was met with thunderous applause from the Salesians. Addressing the gathering, she said that it was indeed God and Don Bosco who chose her for this work, and till her dying breath, she would continue to work for the most vulnerable and marginalised at Shelter Don Bosco.

                         Br Aliester D'Souza for BIS Mumbai

Hope and Life Association Annual Day

Over 700 widows of the Hope and Life Association, Mumbai, attended the 39th Annual Day on Sunday, January 28, 2023, at the Community Hall of the Church of St Joseph the Worker, Bandra East. The theme was 'Journeying Together to Listen, to Learn and to Love."

A meaningful Prayer Dance was elegantly presented by St Joseph unit, Juhu. Fr Vernon Aguiar, our Spiritual Director and Rector of Mt Mary Basilica, gave a beautiful message on the importance of reaching out to invite many more lonely widows to the Association to bring them solace and encouragement.

The President, Joyce D'Cunha, reminded the members that everyone has that Spark to LOVE and the grace to move on in life. But when faced with misunderstandings, conflict, health issues and financial problems, that spark is lost and needs to be restored. She urged them to listen, to learn and love each other, as they have a responsibility to instill hope and confidence in all their sisters.

The Guests of Honour, ex-Presidents Dr Jeanette Pinto and Ms Lorna D'Souza, were presented with a shawl in gratitude for their support. Educational Scholarships and certificates were awarded to two students, who are members' children, who scored over 80% at the March 2023 Secondary School Certificate Examination.

This was followed by an enjoyable tableau and dance by the unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Orlem and a dance performance by St Anthony unit, Malwani. St Michael unit, Mahim, gave an interesting explanation of the negative and positive meaning of each letter of the word "WIDOW" with a Retro Dance.

The Reach Out To Others (ROTO) Awards to ten parishes were an appreciation of their extra efforts. St John the Baptist unit, Thane brought the house down with their lively presentation of an East Indian folk song and dance.

The Report of the Year by Corine Noronha listed the work done by the Association. The Annual Bulletin was a collection of the thoughts and views of several members. The final item "Golden Memories' by Our Lady of Health unit, Sahar, rekindled a lot of memories. Every item was a glimpse into the life of the resilient widow!

The Eucharist was celebrated by the Chief Guest, Bishop Allwyn D'Silva, and concelebrated by Fr Sunil Tirkey, Parish Priest of St Joseph the Worker Church, Bandra. Bp Allwyn's homily commented on the suffering we all go through, but as members of the Hope and Life Association, we should be torch-bearers of Hope and Joy to bring Life to others.

A Vote of Thanks by Rosalinda D'Souza expressed gratitude to all those who helped to make this Annual Day a very delightful and memorable one.

Please visit our website https://www.archdioceseofbombay.org/hopeandlife

         Reported by Cynthia D'Souza

NIHAR Special School celebrates Silver Jubilee

Children with learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, or emotional difficulties need special attention. The then Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Orlem, the (Late) Fr Hugh Fonseca and Vijaya Montero, Susan Rodriguez and Olga Pereira took it upon themselves to do something, and thus was born the 'NIHAR SPECIAL SCHOOL' on January 10, 1999. The school has now reached a milestone, celebrating its Silver Jubilee!

It was indeed a proud moment for the teachers, both past and present. Among those present, besides past teachers and volunteers, was Fr Gilbert De Lima, our former Parish Priest. Each of them was presented with a shawl as a token of appreciation for the services rendered towards the school.

The programme also included hymns and inter-faith prayers, well recited by the school children themselves. It was indeed a great feeling to see the excitement and the enthusiasm they displayed while performing the song and dance sequences. Present in the audience were the heads of the St Anne High School and Junior College & St Anne International School, representatives from the Community Centre, Bombay Catholic Sabha and parish communities who regularly organise programmes for the children.

Fr Reuben Tellis, the Parish Priest, thanked the teachers and volunteers for the good work they were doing in looking after these special children. He recalled the time when the late Fr Hugh Fonseca conceptualised the Nihar Special School way back in 1999, beginning with just five volunteers. He also hailed the contribution of past Parish Priests – the Late Fr Salvador, Late Fr Larry, Fr Gilbert and Fr Michael Pinto to this noble cause. He also thanked the parents for entrusting their children to the Nihar Special School. Fr Reuben also had a special word of gratitude for Nisha (Nishigandha) and her Team for their dedication and commitment.

                         Reported by Melville X. D'Souza

St Sebastian Goan High School, Dabul commences its Centenary Year

The Centenary celebration of St Sebastian Goan High School, Dabul, was inaugurated on January 23, 2024. The celebration marked a significant milestone in the history of the School, and the entire school community, including students, teachers, alumni and staff, came together to make it a grand success.

The celebration began with a festive Mass in St Francis Xavier Church, Dabul, celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, together with many priests and religious associated with the School. Cardinal Gracias spoke in his homily about the importance of the School and the role it has played in the life of many students in the vicinity. In attendance were many ex-teachers, ex-students, present teaching and non-teaching staff. The melodious choir led the congregation into a prayerful atmosphere.

Soon after the Mass, the congregation moved to the school ground for the programme, where the school band welcomed Cardinal Gracias and the dignitaries. The festivities commenced with the lighting of the lamp by the Cardinal, the School Manager and the Head Mistresses. Cardinal Gracias cut the ribbon, and displayed the school's special logo designed with the theme 'Excellence in Education and Holistic Development'.

A prayer dance was performed by the Secondary School students, followed by a welcome song by the tiny tots. A fascinating audio-visual presentation of the School's history with old photographs, videos, uniforms, and the changes in the structure, presented different eras of the school. The School Manager, Rev. Fr Leonard Noronha, addressed the gathering.

The Primary School students gave a foot-tapping dance performance on the hit song "Believer".

Cardinal Gracias, in his address, reflected on the School's journey over the past century. It was incredible to hear about the School's humble beginnings and how it has grown into a reputable institution of learning. He praised the School's significance as a beacon of knowledge and learning in an important cultural centre of South Mumbai.

Ex-students and ex-teachers who could not make it for the programme shared videos expressing their love and affection towards the School. Several cultural performances were put up by the students, showcasing their diverse talents, bringing smiles to everyone's faces.

The programme ended with a Vote of Thanks by the Head Mistress, Sr Swarna, who appreciated all those who were instrumental in making the programme a grand success. The grand finale of the celebration was the gala dinner, where students, teachers, alumni and guests mingled, reminiscing about their time at the School. The Centenary celebration was not only a moment to rejoice in the past, but also to look forward to the future and to continue its legacy of academic excellence and social responsibility.

Legacy of 150: An Auditorium Restored

"Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it." (Marian Edelman)

A visionary will always echo these thoughts. Over the years, Dr Antonio da Silva High School and Junior College, Dadar has been serving the society through its unflinching dedication to the progress of education, and has been instrumental in laying promising foundations to the illustrious careers of thousands of alumni that crossed its portal. In 2021, our institution reached a significant landmark in its journey, as it marked its sesquicentennial anniversary. Our aim has always been to empower our educational goals through ever improving infrastructure which also serves the well-being of the community, and so our visionary management undertook the renovation of the Dr Antonio da Silva Auditorium to remember this grand occasion.

On February 2, 2024, the curtains rose in this revitalised venue and the newly renovated entrance porch. We honour our founder, Dr da Silva, and celebrate the rich legacy encapsulated within the auditorium. The careful precision in design, tenacity in overcoming obstacles, and a blend of customary practices with inventive elements guarantee that the Dr Antonio da Silva Auditorium doesn't merely represent a refurbished area, but serves as a cultural sanctuary ready for a fresh chapter of events, ranging from simple school gatherings to theatrical productions and musical performances.

The splendid evening commenced with a Thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration on the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord. The simple yet profound homily and the melodious choir contributed immensely to the solemnity of the celebration.

We were indeed privileged to have as our Chief Guest the charismatic and iconic Milind Soman. Milind Soman, a trail-blazer in the realms of fitness and modelling, is an ex-student of our school. His presence undoubtedly added a touch of colour, glamour and splendour to our gathering.

We were also delighted to have in our midst Prof Lilla, our Trustee, a distinguished educationist, whose profound impact on the realm of learning has been transformative.

In the company of stars, we were privileged to have a diverse array of distinguished guests whose invaluable contributions in various fields have left an indelible mark on our community.

The spectacular evening continued with a short cultural programme that showcased the talents of the students of the Secondary and the Technical school. It was an evening of shared insights, inspiration, and meaningful connections as we celebrated the diversity of accomplishments represented in this distinguished gathering.

The members of the Dr. Antonio da Silva Trust took up the intricate challenge of the renovation in 2019. During the process, they faced the unexpected challenge of the pandemic, but a dedicated crew weathered the storm, staying on campus with minimal external contact. Despite the hurdles, the restoration continued, incorporating ship-breaking yard timber and Burma teak to recreate the staircase, balustrade and refurbished trusses.

The wooden structure, marred by years of over-painting, underwent meticulous restoration. The auditorium's aesthetic flourishes include methodically replicated carved window pieces, restored stained glass, and bespoke fans and light fixtures designed to complement the revitalised 'Hammer Beam trusses'. A computerised lighting control and a state-of-the-art music system, with a dedicated control space, empower users to curate the ambience with a simple switch. The rich, vibrant sound environment, facilitated by strategically placed microphones and speakers to the reduction of reverberation through cleverly integrated fabric and grooved wooden panels - every detail contributes to a sensory feast.

Our auditorium cherishes tradition while embracing modernity. It is indeed a metaphor for these values that we want to inculcate in our students. While we want them to value their roots and respect their glorious past, we would like to give them wings to fly, to dare, to innovate and discover their potential.

The Hon. Chairman and Trustee, Mr Joseph D'Souza, and the Hon. Secretary, Mr Renzo Rodrigues, have been the architects of this transformation. Their tireless efforts have spearheaded the reconstruction of this grand auditorium. Their vision and dedication have breathed new life into this space, creating a venue that stands as a testament to their leadership and passion for excellence following in the footsteps of the founder, Dr Antonio da Silva, whose legacy lives on.

         Reported by Christabel D'Souza, Principal, Dr Antonio da  Silva High School and Jr College of Commerce

Visit to Swarga Dwar Ashram

14 OFS (Secular Franciscan Order) members of the third order from St Gonzalo Garcia Fraternity, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and Shrine in Sion visited the Swarga Dwar Ashram, Taloja, on Saturday, January 27, 2024, and were struck by the quiet and peaceful atmosphere. It was an eye-opening experience as it gave us a glimpse into the lives of those suffering from leprosy and destitute female inmates, and the challenges they face.

The inmates went about their activities calmly, and there was a sense of serenity in the air. We spent some time interacting, singing, dancing with them, and listening to their stories. They all shared their experiences, both happy and sad, and it was humbling to hear them. Spending time having breakfast with them made us realise the importance of valuing their human dignity and the impact that a small gesture of kindness can have on their lives.

After celebrating the Holy Eucharist with the Director, Fr John Bhaskar PIME, we departed from the Ashram with a sense of gratitude and respect for the residents and the congregations of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) and the Sisters of the Destitute from Kerala.

         Reported by Shirley Mascarenhas