Saturday, 10 September 2011

160th Anniversary of the founding of the Parish Church

The Parishioners of St John the Baptist Church, Bhingar united together in an auspicious and significant Eucharistic Celebration at 5.30 pm. around Fr Bhausaheb Sonsare, Provincial of the Jesuit Province of Pune  on September 16th Friday. The Catholics of the parish have a proud statement to make. “ We are oldest Catholic Parish in the area and second built church structure after Kendal,  the starting point of 130 year old Jesuit mission. Today we celebrate a milestone of our existence in this region.” This historic church has existed for 160 long years and previous to this, 185 years ago the Bhingar Parish was securely founded with the forming of the parish. The archeological Department of India also invites visitors to the nearby fort, hoisting the second largest size National flag in India, to spend time in our Church and when people do come they are  briefed about the transition of pastoral service  from Diocesan, Carmelite, Jesuit to Salesian these last decades.  
In the introduction it was mentioned that this church has been built on mud and stones. In the homily the Preacher, Fr Sonsare stated that inspite of this church being built on mud and stones, it embodies the faith on which the people‘s lives were founded and also the martyrdom of  past  apostles. Under the shadow of such a structure of mud, walls and roof, the faith of people has been sustained.

Ten priests belonging to the two charisms, the ancient Jesuits and modern Salesians joined together in prayer and concelebrated worship. It was historical moment where two giants in the church exchange batons and look back with nostalgia in responding to the cry of the church in dealing with the ethnocentric pastoral care of souls.

From this Mother Church, four other institutions have grown, St Anne’s, Collectors’ office,  Don Bosco Saved School Boarding Parish & Junior College, Bosco Grameen Vikas Kendra, Khedgaon and Our Lady of the Rosary Community Chapel,  Jeur, on the Aurangabad Road.  St John the Baptist Bhingar has been the fountainhead of new developments in the area, by its immersion in the lives of the people at the grassroots in different areas and variety of services.  The words of Bible ring round and clear as warning and a threat to complacent and mediocre missionary endeavour: “If you will not serve the poor, others will come in your stead and serve my people.”

St John Bhingar provides significant services of the people on the planet. Fr Anton D’souza recounts  that an Irishman came in search of the 1904 baptismal records of his Irish grandfather and ancestry and was successful in tracing the death  of a son from the remarks . D’Souza also records that the gravestone of the four year old was never traced. Needless to say, Baptism certificates are issued in fifteen minutes and people need not wait a day long for the certificate as in other municipal offices. The Irishman documented a film of the search for his lineage.
Brief History: Back ground of the Bhingar Mission : Founder church of the Nagar Area.
Three diocesan parish priests worked here from 1833 to 1854.
Then, From 1852 – 1854 the Carmelites took charge.
Twelve Jesuits Parish Priests then entered from worked from 1854 -1878. Then, it became a Jesuit Marathi  Mission with 30 parish priests ministered to the people from 1878 – 1986 and the last three Jesuits were Baptist D’Souza, Swami Vijayanand and Jacob Felix. Then the baton of command changed hands.
In 1986, under the leadership of Fr Chrysanthus Saldanha, Provincial,  dynamic Fr William Falcao was sent to pioneer a new Salesian missionary vision and venture. The most outstanding task he did was to uproot stable city bred urban settlers and transplant them into a new sprawling residential settlement which became Prem, Daya and Shanti thus feeding his new parish, boarding and school complex. No one today has achieved such a phenomenal and ambitious developmental mission strategy single-handedly to promote a new educational Project, DB Savedi to date. This year 2012,on December 3rd, Provincial Community Day,  we will witness the inauguration of the new Junior College in Savedi, the plum on the Nagar pudding & the climax of the Silver Jubilee celebrations.  

The Salesian stalwarts that lifted this mission to its present status and glory have been: Nelson , Lloyd, Dominic, Xavier, Anton, Ivan  and finally now Michael Bansode. Now St John the Baptist is shinning and flying to new heights of community bonding, mobilization and accomplishment under its ‘son of the soil’ artist, painter and Parish Priest Michael Bansode. Keep the flag flying high, Parish of Bhingar. You  have long way to Go!

At the end of  the Mass, a Satkar of the Jesuit Provincial was held in Church. After the Eucharist, a huge cake with the logo of the Bhingar church and spire was cut. A musical  hip hop dance by the youthful football team was followed by an Agape fellowship meal, that brought the memorable day to a close.

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