Delhi Province

History Of The Province


In the early fifties Fr. Assuncao D’Souza and Fr. Gustavo Alvares worked with much zeal in Hisar and shimla formerly parts of the Archdiocese of Delhi. In the late fifties Bishop John Burke invited our Society to send four priests to work in his new Diocese of shimla Chandigarh. Having the General Chapter of 1959 considered the request it was resolved that the Society would send priests provided that they were not employed in parish work but in the missionary field. With this aim in view, in 1960 Fr. Mariano Pereira and Fr. Ovidio D’Cunha landed in Sirsa and established the first community of Pilar

Fathers in the area. In 1964 Fr. Anselmo D’Sa and Fr. Antonio D’Sa teamed together to establish another local community in the new residential mission station of Bathinda. On 6th January 1970, Fr. Filomeno Almeida and Fr. Agnelo Pinto proceeded to Mandi-Dabwali to start the third local community in a virgin area. In 1972, Fr. M. T. Anthony emnbarked on a new missionary venture in Rania which in the course of years developed into another local community.

The Mission of Punjab Haryana suffered a set-back in the period of 1977-79 when some members abandoned their mission posts and the people they had evangelized and baptized. The mission took some years to recuperate from this severe blow. In the meantime a number of English Schools were opened in the mission stations, which made the Region of Punjab-Haryana financially stable. On 10th December 1989, Fr. Cristo Rei Rodrigues proceeded to Hisar to lay the foundation of a new residential mission station and soon after, in March of 1990, with the arrival of Bro. Peter D’Souza another local community of Pilar Fathers came into existence. The Pilar Fathers lived in a rented quarters and looked after the spiritual needs of the faithful also in Hansi and Ganga village. In the same year, Most Rev. Angelo Fernandes, the then Archbishop of Delhi opened the Narnaul mission station on 9th March 1990. There was no Christian presence here and Fr. Jesuino Almeida began the pioneering work by conducting English tuitions for college students for nearly two years. In April 1992, Mata Mariam Jan Seva Vidyalaya was opened. In 1993, Fr. Eusebio Gomes joined him, besides a Regent, as Principal of the School.

In April 1992, the Pilar Fathers opened a School in a rented premises at Hisar. The Nursery class had just one student for the first eight days. Like all pioneering ventures, the task involved a lot of struggle and difficulties. Meanwhile the Society had bought a plot measuring 15 acres at Talwandi Rana, Hisar. Fr. Menino Gomes and Fr. Peter D’Mello were deputed to envision a master plan for the development of the plot. On 17th October 1993, Bishop Gilbert Rego laid the foundation stone for the new school building in the Society’s 15 acre plot. The school was inaugurated in July 1994.

In 1993, the Pilar Fathers were invited to work in the Archdiocese of Agra and were entrusted with the administration of St. Mary’s Church. Fr. Shivaji Henriques was its Parish Priest. He was assisted by senior theology students Norman D’Souza and Rupert Travasso. Later, Fr. Eusebio Gomes and Fr. Rosario Antao took over.

The Pilar Fathers entered Rampuraphul, 30 kms away from Bathinda, in 1994. Fr. Menino Gomes and Fr. Agnelo Gomes at the behest of Rampuraphul Education Society were invited to take up a former St. Joseph School that was on the verge of closure and reversed the downward trend of the school by re-structuring and re-naming it as St. Xavier’s School. An additional 2.5 acre of land was bought to further develop the school.

The Pilar Fathers had purchased a farmland of 6 acres at Talwandi Sabo, 31 Kms from Bathinda. Since 1984, a small community hall with two rooms existed to serve as dispensary for the villagers. The Fathers and Sisters used to visit the centre from Bathinda. The Regional Superior, Fr. Diogo D’Souza and his Council decided to open the new mission station of Talwandi Sabo and Frs. Saturnino Mascarenhas and Fr. Marden were deputed in 1995 to do the pioneering work. Shortly after with the inauguration of the Bal Niketan building, Talwandi Sabo had a full-fledged residential unit. Regular Sunday services were held for the neighbouring villagers.

The Pilar Fathers opened a unit in Mansa in the late 1990s. Fr. Marden Pereira was sent to do the spade work of locating a suitable land and ended up purchasing an 8 acres plot. The kindergarten school began in rented rooms under the charge of Fr. Seby Rodrigues and Fr. Rosario Antao. The former also supervised the construction of the first phase that was completed in the year 2000.

The transit House at Jangpura, New Delhi was opened on 7th October 1999. It was blessed by the late Archbishop of Delhi, Rt. Rev. Allan De Lastic and inaugurated by Fr. Diogo D’Souza. Fr. Menino Gomes was the Regional Superior of the Northern Region.

In the year 2000, at the request of Bishop Peter Celestine, OFM. Cap., the Pilar Fathers ventured in the missionary Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar, keeping in mind the vision of expansion and to strengthening the missionary endeavors. In 2001 the Bakshinagar parish was handed over to the Pilar Fathers to cater to the spiritual needs of 800 odd people who were basically municipality workers. Fr. Amaro Martins was appointed the Parish Priest. Fr. Amaro Martins and Fr. John Fernandes took upon themselves the responsibility of constructing a Church which was inaugurated on 19th December 2004. Attached to this parish are two more mission stations Battoo (about 135 kms from Jammu) and Mandal (15 kms). The parishioners are basically farmers. Plans are on to build up more Churches and Schools in the area. Pilar Fathers in the person of Fr. Peter Fernandes, as the Assistant Parish Priest also served at the Cathedral Church of St. Mary’s, Jammu for nearly two years.

In the year 2001, with the concern of concentrating on evangelization, and developing the mission of Dholpur, the Pilar Fathers were relieved of St. Mary’s and given the charge of the small flock at Dholpur in Rajasthan. Fr. Eusebio Gomes and Fr. Rosario Antao explored the area to obtain a plot of land for the Society of Pilar. A centre for English Speaking Course for school and college students was opened which helped to interact with the people of all walks of life. The catholic community was very small with just 45 families. Three sub-stations were opened at Bari (35 kms away), Baseri (46 kms) and Raja Khera (40 kms away). Fr. Marden Pereira explored the nearby villages and identified areas for the implementation of Caritas sponsored projects. After residing for three years in four different rented houses, the ‘Pilar Niwas’ residence was blessed by Archbishop Oswald Gracias and inaugurated by late Archbishop Emeritus Cecil D’Sa. Fr. Paixao, the parish priest along with Fr. Marden Pereira undertook the arduous task of the construction the new Church building which was blessed and inaugurated on 5th February 2005 by the Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Agra.

It must be noted that since 1993, the Province had been sending young priests to serve Parishes in Jalandhar Diocese in order to have pastoral experience and to learn Punjabi language and culture. They acquired sufficient knowledge of the local Punjabi language during their stay in the Parishes. Bishop Symporian Keeprath and the people of the diocese appreciated the services of the priests. Fr. Dominic Dias was the first Pilar priest to be sent to Jalandhar diocese and he worked at St. Patrick’s Church, Amritsar. Fr. Seby Rodrigues and later Fr. Franky D’Cunha served in the capacity of Parish Priest in Punga (3 kms away from Pakistan border) till 2006.