Mangaluru: Bishop of Mangalore Most Rev. Dr Peter Paul Saldanha convened a meeting of the leaders of the Catholic community on November 29 at 10 AM in St. Anthony’s Ashram, Jeppu. The meeting was attended by the Vicars Forane plus one priest of all twelve deaneries, with at least three lay faithful from each of the deaneries and superiors from various religious congregations.
The meeting commenced with the Holy Mass and later continued with the presentation on possible proposals and options available. Rev. Fr. Onil D’Souza, Director of the St. Anthony’s Ashram, introduced the guests and the Bishop formally welcomed the gathering. In his opening note, the Bishop said that all invitees including lay faithful, priests and religious sisters of various Congregations are already involved in the service of the poor in one way or the other. St. Anthony’s Charity Institutes, the abode of the poor, was the venue of this meeting to initiate into the housing project is a blessing to all. The housing project requires collective thinking, planning, cooperation and wholehearted support of all the invitees.
On behalf of the Diocese, former MLA J R Lobo presented the proposal for discussion. In his presentation, he said that the Diocesan Finance Committee has been looking forward to ways and means to support the underprivileged people of the Diocese especially attending to their housing needs, as a matter of priority. Housing is a continued requirement of the poor. Therefore it is necessary to have a dedicated professional institution at the diocesan level to look after various housing needs and accomplish the task within a specific period which must include government subsidies and grants. Housing needs of the poor comprise of the repairs and extensions, a house for the homeless or development of a layout in rural areas for the poor etc.
A few who are already in the service of the poor in this area shared their views and experiences. Eric Correa from Vamanjoor, Rev. Fr. Clifford Fernandes, Parish priest of Jeppu Church, Joseph Crasta of Snehalaya Trust, Prof. Edmund Frank from Vishwas Trust, Sr Cecilia Mendonca BS, Provincial of the Bethany Congregation and Sr. Juliana Mascarenhas AC, from Apostolic Carmel congregation, shared about the work done in providing shelter.
In the time allotted for the discussion, many expressed their views and clarified their doubts. All invitees unanimously agreed to support the project and requested the organizers to expand the scope of this project to help the poor in other financial needs as well, wherever appropriate.
The Bishop in his concluding remarks said that the Diocesan Socio-Economic Pastoral Survey has revealed that, there are nearly 400 thatched-roof or tin sheet houses, and more than 850 households ask for help for repairs or to have a new one. The data invites all to give priority to this particular need of our brethren. Some philanthropists, especially Michael D’Souza from Dubai and Walter Nandalike from a Mangaluru-based news portal have come forward to support the project.
Additionally, Heads of Associations have promised their financial support wherever appropriate, which indicates that an internal build-up has already started. He requested the Deans, Parish Priests, Superiors of Religious Congregations, Heads of Associations and all prominent leaders of the Church to come together in progressive thinking. He invited all to put forth their thoughts and support and make sure to realize the housing project for the poor and needy with a definite vision. A collective effort of all is needed to move forward, and the Bishop requested the support of all.
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