A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR MOUNT ROSARY CHURCH…
History of Mount Rosary Church is equally deep rooted as its Mother Church, Milagres Kallianpur, which took its birth in 1678 and the present geographical areas, though thinly populated, in those days, now under Mount Rosary jurisdiction, were under religious care and custody of Milagrians. In other words, our ancestor Rosarians about 200 years ago and earlier, were parishioners of present Milagres Cathedral.
Of course various hearsay stories are making round to explain why within a furlong a new Church was formed in the year 1837. After a fairly careful, systematic and impartial study we can summarise the history of our forefathers and our beloved Church as below:
Legends and folk-stories:
Legend has it that Christianity was spread in Coastal Karnataka, by two of Christ’s Apostles, viz, St Thomas and St Bartholomew, after the Master’s resurrection and ascension to heaven, who arrived by sea route and landed near Tonse, hence the place eventually named after him and Bartholomew who accompanied him all the way, later finding it difficult to continue his mission and journey with the former, down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, for he kept poor health and opt to stay back in Colombe island and spread the good news at and around Kallianpur. The estuary embracing Arabian Sea with both Swarna and Seeta rivers together was an ancient maritime port. In this surrounding they spread the good news and baptised many. At that point of time, the faith in Almighty God was propagated as a way of life, than a new found religion. It is said that he worked extensively in Barkur, healing sick hence the place was given his name Bartho-lomew-ooru, Barakuru. While discussing with a few elders of the parish, we feel proud to claim that it is our Coastal Canara was first to receive warm reception to the disciples of Jesus Christ, who were the live witnesses, to live, dine and taught by Him some 2000 years ago…..!!
Arrival of European Missionaries in Konkan region and Portuguese influence from Goa over Canara:
With above in mind and lot many folklore stories, one can infer that Christianity was in existence in this place in the early Christian era. It was given a proper shape or form by the Europeans especially by the Portuguese Missionaries in the 15th Century having their political as well as religious head quarters located in Goa. Migration of these Konkani speaking Konkans down to Coastal Karnataka, due to various socio-economic reasons in large number received overwhelming reception by the then rulers of Canara, especially Keladi Kings, for their hard work, honesty and enterprise. When these settlers increased by number as years rolled on, the Catholic faith and Mother Mary’s special devotion they brought with them needed Sacraments to enrich their faith and pass it on to generation next. There were visiting Goan Priests arriving to Canara to preach and pray especially during Lent, feast of Nativity of Blessed Mother and Advent to celebrate Holy Mass and practice and celebrate Sacraments and religious activities.
It was around this time, some community leaders approached Rani Chennammaji for royal patronage and Queen generously gifted spacious land to establish its Milagres Church in Kallianpur in the year 1678. (Now almost 340 plus years gone by) The community prospered and secured for almost a century, with no considerable threat or uncertainty. Many households had their business in agro-based produce like, coconuts, areca, rice cereals, spices etc and islands or Kudru’s so far left un- explored were developed as coconut groves and paddy fields etc.
Atrocities of Tippu’s soldiers and infamous captivity of our ancestors on 24th February 1784:
Tippu the son of Hyder Ali was then the Sultan of Mysore, with whom British were having wars, suspected that the Christians in Canara were attached to English. On the 30th January 1784, English lost war with Tippu at Bidanore, and surrendered to Tippu’s forces. He gave secret order to his Commanders to seize all Christians in Canara and take them captive to Srerangapattana, Mysore. It was an unexpected and sudden strike on that fateful Ash Wednesday on the 24th February 1784, wherein the soldiers of Sultan carried out Tippu’s secret orders and arrested Christians en-masse, throughout Canara simultaneously. Kallianpur being the nerve centre of Catholics in Northern Varado, hundreds of families were arrested and marched to Mysore by barefoot. It is said a few ran away by that night by boat, some hide in forests and a few took shelter in Hindu and Muslim friends’ houses. Exceptionally a few families were untouched and in Tonse, Thottam, Kemmannu these families were located. Along with Milagres Kallianpur, then existing Churches in Barkur and Petre too were either destroyed or damaged….. It needs pages to narrate this ordeal of suffering. Only after the death of Tippu in 1799, in the last Battle of Mysore, very few survivors returned back to Canara to see their belongings and property in the hands of others.
Once again they had to start everything by scratch and the hardworking community first built the damaged Church in the year 1806. The Goan priests were serving in Kallianpur.
The conflict of Padroado and Propaganda Mission of Verapoly:
One has to study, political history, social status and religion together to understand the ups and downs in the long voyage of Catholicism during the past 350 years or more, in Kallianpur and its surrounding. Similarly, the very birth, of our Rosary Church, and later its struggle to survive and establish as an independent parish, sacrifices of both laymen and clergy, challenges within and external, hardship to keep the flock together and continue the faith in one Almighty Lord etc is worth a mention and understanding.
The influence of Hindu Caste system was deep rooted even in the minds and dealings of newly converted faithful, though Church never entertained such discrimination. Diminishing political power compared to British resulted in loosing hold or clout of Portuguese in colonial India, with the dawn of seventeenth century. Holy See during the reign of Pope Gregory XVI started appointing Bishops, in 1832. Earlier practice was Crown enjoyed influence to appoint and Pope normally used to endorse. It so happened the Arch Bishop Antonio Feliciano Carvalho chosen by Portuguese King not consecrated and approved by the Pope, arrived and took the administration of the Goan diocese on the 20th September 1836.
Churches in Canara till then served by Goan priests under Pedroado Jurisdiction. Since long the religious needs were well taken care by Goan priests, the majority of the faithful preferred to continue with the Arch Diocese of Goa. On the other hand Holy See was entrusted with the responsibility of serving the then existing Churches in Canara to Vicariate of Verapoly. In this confusion, there formed two groups, one insisting to keep the status quo with the Goan Arch Diocese and the other showing affiliation to Verapoly Mission directly reporting to the Holy See in Vatican, Rome.
The construction of a separate Rosary Church in 1832:
Now coming to Kallianpur Milagres Church, a section of few households, aware of this dual jurisdiction by then made links with Vicar Apostolic of Mission Verapoly, tried to convince the majority but not succeeded and eventually revolted and came out and started the process to establish a separate Church just opposite to Milagres Church in the year 1832. Mr Antony Rebello of Tonse donated a part of his landed property in front of the Milagres Church for the erection of the new Church. A rickety shed, with a thatched roof got ready for the celebration of the first parish feast, at about the beginning of January 1837. Internal feud and misunderstanding was continued for almost 50 long years till the year 1878, Rev. Fr Albert D’Souza was appointed as first Parish Priest over here. In one sentence, it was in subordination but no ideology or doctrine was involved, in this war of one up-man-ship…..!!
We find no authentic records to explain how this temporary thatched roof Church served, maintained or continued its existence. There are some hearsay reports to state, once in a while some visiting priests from Verapoly Mission used to visit this place and offer Holy Mass. The structure was not safe and secure to keep the Sacrament and there was no resident priest.
We feel proud to state here, the land on which early ‘Rosary Church’ was standing later given to Board High School on rent. It was our valuable Church property, with provision of shops earning a small income and in the year 2020, this plot measuring 85 Cents was donated by our Mount Rosary Church to the Diocese of Udupi, for its developmental work.
New Mount Rosary Church in the present location on Nejar Hills in 1882:
After almost half a century of uncertainty, 1832 – 1878, probably first resident Priest Rev. Fr Albert D’Souza, was appointed to look after the Rosary Church, just a furlong away from Milagres Church in Kallianpur.
A man of far sight, devotion, specially chosen to make peace, by the then Propaganda Mission, Rev. Fr Albert D’Souza, took the flock together and convinced politely to look for a new location not to hurt their feelings to remain independent and a vast 17 acres of land was procured on Nejar Hills, where today our present Church stands. The present site, which was then a piece of barren wasteland was obtained from the Government on darkas by Mr Ignatius Joseph Fernandes, Potail of Tonse East and West and one of the Moktesars of the church. It was acquired in his name and later on transferred to the Church.
14th May, 1882, is the day written in Golden letters in the history of Rosarians. A new Church was built and probably it is one of the earliest to come under Propaganda Mission of Verapoly. Around this time Vicar Apostolic of Mangalore Msgr Pagani was promoted to the grade of new Bishop of the Diocese of Mangalore, and consecrated on 25th November, 1885 and on 25th January, 1887, Mangalore was declared as an independent diocese.
Once the Mount Rosary Church was erected, its boundaries were not based on geographical landmarks, which was an accepted practice. People and families surrounding Mount Rosary, had an option to choose their parish. It is said competition leads to confusion and our parish was smaller in size, less number of parishioners with a single priest serving over a period of next 50 years.
A royal and loyal flock of Mother Mary of Mount Rosary – with determination, self respect and independence:
Our ancestors in Mount Rosary parish were highly devout over the decades and devotion of Rosary was very close to their heart. Various priests led the flock to divinity and a life of prayer.
VICARS OF MOUNT ROSARY CHURCH, KALLIANPUR – AT A GLANCE
- Fr Albert D’Souza 1878 – 1890 Vicar
- Fr Maffei S.J. 1890 – 1916 Vicar
- Fr John S. Mathias 1916 – 1924 Vicar
- Fr Severine P. Tellis 1924 – 1931 Vicar
- Fr Faustine Aranha 1931 – 1931 Vicar
Fr Julian D’Souza In-charge
- Fr Piedade Saldanha 1931 – 1938 Vicar
- Fr Valentine Gonsalves 1938 – 1940 Vicar substitute
- Fr Leo D’Souza 1940 – 1946 Vicar
— 1946 – 1947 —
- Fr R. D’Lima 1947 – 1951 Vicar
- Fr Denis Sequeira 1951 – 1957 Vicar
- Fr Joseph Lobo 1957 – 1957 Vicar
- Msgr. R. D. Sequeira 1957 – 1967 Vicar
- Fr Antony Noronha 1967 – 1971 Vicar
- Fr Lawrence Monteiro 1971 – 1973 Vicar
- Fr Peter Theodore D’Souza 1973 – 1982 Vicar
Fr John Cornelio Socius’
Fr Lawrence D’Souza Assistant
- Fr Rosario Fernandes 1982 – 1987 Vicar
Fr John Mendonca Assistant
Fr Clement Mascarenhas Assistant
Fr Wilson V. D’Souza Assistant
- Fr Victor Saldanha 1987 – 1991 Vicar
Fr Jacob Crasta Socius’
- Fr Jacob Crasta 1991 – 1995 Vicar
Fr Lawrence D’Souza Resident
- Fr Godfrey Saldanha 1995 – 2002 Vicar
- Fr Joe Mary Shenoy 2002 – 2003 Vicar
- Fr John Noronha 2003 – 2010 Vicar
- Fr Philip Neri Aranha 2010 – 2017 Vicar
- Fr Naveen D’Souza, O.F.M.Capuchin Assistant
Fr Elias Martis In charge
- Fr Mahesh D’Souza 2015 – 2016 Assistant
- Rev. Fr (Dr) Leslie D’Souza 2017 – 2022 Vicar
- Fr Clany Antony D’Souza 2017 – 2020 Assistant
- Fr Steevan Fernandes 2020 – Assistant
- Rev. Fr (Dr) Roque D’souza 2022 – Vicar
Urbanisation, development of NH17, Santhekatte a commercial nerve centre:
Our Church located at strategically convenient place. Its proximity to market, Schools, Hospitals rightly attracted new families to settle down in Nejar Hills in large numbers. Huge land belonging to Shiroor Mutt was converted into sites around Gopalapura and new houses were constructed. One example, in 1980 the whole area from left side of Kemmanu Road till Malpe Road and beyond was one ward with handful of families, now divided and subdivided into six wards (Holy Family, Velankani, Infant Jesus, St Anthony, St Lawrence and today housing around 250 families. Interestingly, most of them once parishioners from neighbouring Churches of Milagres, Kemmannu, Thottam, Shirva, Moodubelle, Pangla, Barkur etc. Likewise previous Nejar Ward too progressed and other wards too attracted new residents to settle down. Since last two to three decades, Mount Rosary family just doubled in size and the expansion remains an ongoing process.
A Cosmopolitan Parish of the Diocese of Udupi:
Our parish in the Udupi Diocese is the best example for cosmopolitan outlook and modern approach. Passionate and narrow thoughts to provoke, original or migrated one, hardly be seen or felt over here. Our Lady of Holy Rosary took all of us in her holy arms and shelter. Involvement, participation and co-operation in Church related obligations, celebrations, developmental works, is the secret or mantra for its life in the Church.
Construction of a new spacious, artistic Church in 2015:
A few decades ago, some sections of our faithful had a feeling that, our parish is a neglected one from Church hierarchy and have a few reasons to think on those lines. The whole of such attitudes changed once we had Millennium Hall, a modern English Medium School and a New Church structure.
Necessity of having this Church long felt for two main reasons – the old Church became too small to accommodate ever growing faithful and more than half of the parishioners were standing in the portico not able see the holy altar. Secondly the building has seen its age and leaking at various points during Monsoon, maintenance cost was increasing found to be beyond economical.
Rev. Fr John Noronha instilled the idea to have a new Church into the minds of then parishioners and wonderfully executed by young and energetic Rev. Fr Philip Neri Aranha. Again it needs pages together to jot down all these details and to cut the long story short, today we have one of the most beautiful, spacious, artistic houses of God stands. Practically every day there are visitors, not only Christians but also people from all faiths, to pay their respects, pray and feel divinity in its serene surrounding.
Today, Mount Rosary Church campus is not only a place to pray but a spot to relax, with elders have their brisk walk and youngsters occupied in their playground. From the artistic entrance arc till the Church, the adjoining parochial house, the new belfry with melodious chiming bells to herald all that happen around it, almost 24X7 open private prayer room, even the cemetery the ultimate resting place of our forefathers are attractive to hold any visitor in its fold for a while……! Today in short our Church is the landmark structure in New Udupi, Santhekatte.
At the forefront for the development of the Diocese:
Growth of our parish and the erection of new Diocese of Udupi have a special bond. Well organised Diocesan Annual Eucharistic Procession from Cathedral to Mount Rosary is one such example. Our spacious neatly maintained open ground and the Millennium Hall are the most favoured locations to host many large scale events in the past. Our Mount Rosary School is the venue for conducting various recruitment tests for Government job seekers in Police and civil service departments etc. There are parishioners from neighbouring Church’s wish to have their nuptials in this holy altar of God. The Mother Mary’s Grotto with its scenic beauty and its surrounding garden has magnetic attraction to newly wedded couples, for its artistic design and divinity.
The above were just within the Campus of our Mount Rosary Church. Many may not aware its contribution towards the needs of the infant Udupi Diocese.
The much needed land to construct Diocesan pastoral Centre 1 Acre and 3 Cents was donated near Ambagilu by our proud parishioner and a known philanthropist Mr John B. Cornelio. (Robert). A generous and handsome monetary contribution amounting Rs. 50 Lakh towards these projects by Dr Jerry Vincent Dias deservedly needs a mention in the above context.
Many will raise their eye brows to note that the Church of the St Teresa the Little Flower of Jesus at Kemmannu, once the property about 6 acres, belonged to Mount Rosary Church. The Church and all the initial constructions of the Church presbytery, cemetery, compound wall, and coconut garden was the result of the sacrifice made by the Mount Rosary Parishioners, and the hard work of Rev Fr Piadade Saldanha. The site on which the Carmel Convent and the School in Kemmannu too was a gift from Mount Rosary Parishioners.
It was our Church once owned the land where now stands the Ozanam House for the Aged. Even some adjoining sizable land, donated to our Church by its parishioners, was sold to economically poor, at a very concessional price to build their houses in the past.
It was said that Kallianpur was the biggest Catholic centre after Mangalore. It was the dream and vision of our late Bishop Basil Peris to have a modern general Hospital in Kallianpur. He conceived the idea of opening a diocesan hospital. Msgr R.D. Sequeira, Parish Priest of Mount Rosary, lost no time in getting 8 Acres and 30 Cents land from the Mount Rosary Church and started the work building of hospital in collaboration with Msgr Denis Jerome D’Souza. The Diocesan Goretti Hospital was solemnly blessed on the 1st of June, 1958 and Very Rev Fr R.D. Sequeira became the first Director of the Hospital. The entire Management of the Maria Goretti Hospital was handed over to the Provincial of SRA Sisters of Banaras on 15th August 1962, with the consent of the local ordinary with an agreement between the Diocese of Mangalore and the Provincial with specific terms and conditions.
Growth of the Parish in the last decade 2009 – 2021
Mount Rosary Church always in the limelight especially for the last one decade and it’s an observation by those faithful feeling more comfortable to be regular to be part of its various religious celebrations, by neighbouring parishes.
It is said in the event of, there are good donors any good engineer can construct a new church but its maintenance is rightly a challenging responsibility, with absolutely no credit and recognition. Our Lady of Holy Rosary blessed our parish in that count. She has handpicked unique pastors to serve here and our heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of those great souls and living legends.
Since about four (June 2017) years, Rev. Dr Leslie C. D’Souza, very simple but a man of letters and thorough knowledge, leading us close to Almighty Lord. It’s always a divine experience to listen to his well worded sermons. His concern and love for children and youth of the parish simply amazing. A straight forward person, not hesitant to call a spade a spade, respected by all and sundries. He leads us by example. He walks an extra mile to reach to the economically poor in private. It must be a divine providence the parish was / is fortunate to have talented Assistant priests too in Rev Fr Clany D’Souza 2017 -2020 and at present Rev. Fr Steevan Fernandes; both were experts to read the pulse of the Vicar and needs of parishioners.
The Diocese got cemetery for priests adjacent to the Church, in 2020, again a kind and generous gesture of Mount Rosarians. School Building and all required facilities are in place to provide beautiful learning atmosphere. Its progress in the recent past spectacular, with value based quality education. Much needed Mini Hall always busy with some activities or the other. One of the few Churches where in almost all 20 Ayogs and its convenors / members encouraged to work in union. 15 ward Gurkars and representatives leading their units at right directions……The Pastoral Council, all pious organisations doing well within their allotted areas of yeomen service…..The choir of our parish is always at its best in the region.
Vision for future:
Sky is the limit for development. Our Millennium Hall needs a facelift to attract more events. It’s our Parish priest’s dream to make the Church self supporting…..A modern Mini Hall to serve small religious events, an open stage to have bigger events, more greenery around the Coconut garden, better parking and related facilities to the commercial complex, may be thought of in coming days.
Most importantly, the Diocesan Goretti Hospital was the most cherished dream and vision of the Late Bishop Basil Peris in 1956. The Hospital was started on 01-06-1958 with expectation to serve the people in general and the Catholic Community in particular in and around Kallianpur. The dream was to develop the Hospital with all modern required facilities and raise to a full-fledged flourishing Hospital like the Diocesan
Fr Muller Hospital, Kankanady, Mangalore. The dream and vision of Bishop Peris is not realized for the reasons best known to the persons concerned in spite of its 63 long years of establishment.
Today we Rosarians reap the fruits from the trees our ancestors grown, especially prime land it inherits worth crores, has the sweat of our hardworking forefathers and dedicated pastors…….Yes we received in abundance and we also reciprocate the same goodwill by contributing to the needs of the neighbouring parishes and the Diocese. We are also duty bound to maintain and take care of the rich legacy of faith, freedom and property as well as sanctity of this holy surrounding. It is our parish which has given birth to dozens of priests and religious devout people to serve in God’s vineyard in various congregations.
Our Lady of Holy Rosary – the patroness of our Church, leading us towards Almighty Lord, holding our hands, in her maternal care. Material wellbeing with spiritual nourishing coupled with love and concern for our neighbours not only propagated but practiced by our parishioners over the years, be the lamppost to spread the fragrance of unity in diversity in days / years to come in the society where we live in…..!!