St. Thomas Parish, Shahabad :
Shahabad is an industrial town well known for cement and stone. It is ideally located in the Chittapur Taluka of Gulbarga district, touched by main railway line and watered by two rivulets, the Bhima and Kagina on either side.
Turing the pages of history for a quick flash back Shahabad Parish was originally looked after by Hyderabad. The Bellary mission was started in 1928 and our parish benefitted a lot under the Pastoral guidance of Bishop John Hogan, Bishop Ambrose P. Yedonopalli and Bishop Joseph D’Silva of Bellary Diocese. Initially the Priest looked after the Railway line stations Chittapur, Wadi, Shahabad and Gulbarga. From 1948 Fr. Anil Pinto served from Chittapur followed by Fr. Joseph Kunju in 1951 and Fr. Augustine of Raichur from 1956, followed by Fr. Antony Puthenkalam who served this Parish from Chittapur in 1961.
Shahabad became an independent Parish on March 8th 1963. Fr. Antony Puthenkalam fondly remembered as the Apostle of Gulbarga district, lived at a rented place and laid solid foundation of the Parish, while the cement colony was blessed with St. Antony’s Chapel provided by then ACC management. Holy Masses in the town were offered in the house of a Catholic railway office Mr. Alex till 1962 and later in the Railway Primary School building. Thanks to the efforts of Fr. Antony, a generous Parish lady, Mrs. Doulat Bai Irani for a minimum sum donated a plot with an old building to be used as church, working tirelessly and blessed by the generosity of a contractor from Raichur, Mr. V.L. Gomez, Fr. Antony reconstructed the Church with a small residence attached for the Priest. The new Church was blessed and dedicated by Msgr. Pinto on 21st Dec 2965 and formerly named after St. Thomas the Apostle of India. 30th May was a sad day, when people of Shahabad bid adieu to their beloved pastor Fr. Antony Puthenkalam who was transferred as the administrator of the Cathedral of Bellary. Later in 1996 and 1997 the Presbytery was remodeled and expanded and a few rooms for renting out were constructed by Fr. Charles D’Souza, a Priest of wisdom and experience.
Devoted and dynamic Parish Priests of Bellary Diocese served the following tenures till 2005.
1965-1967:Fr. Antony Puthenkalam
1967-1970:Fr.Cyril V. Silva. SJ
1970-1971:Fr.Ambrose Staskumas OFM
1986-1994:Fr. Joachim Tinney OFM
1999-2003:Fr. P.Pushpa Raj
The new Diocese of Gulbarga was formed on June 24th 2005 and Rev. Robert Michael Miranda was consecrated as its first Bishop, Shahabad belonged to Gulbarga Diocese from then on Fr. Joachim, with his great zeal to live with and work for the Kannadigas continued to serve the down trodden till old age and health related problems, forced this saintly Priest to return to his home Diocese at Bellary in 2006.
Fr. Thomas D’Souza then took over as the Parish Priest on 20th May 2006. A religious minded and disciplined Priest, he set all the records of the Parish in order during his short tenure.Fr. Elias Martis served as The Parish Priest from 1st June 2008 to 23rd May 2013. It is to the credit of Fr. Elias Martis supported by Bishop Robert Michael Miranda that the long dream of starting a Parish School took shape with opening of St Thomas School on 1st June 2009 and with an extra class being added on progressively every year. This year we have classes from LKG to STD III. Fr. Salvadore Fernandes is our Parish Priest from May 2010 young and enthusiastic he is doing good work as we experience.
Spiritual Life of the Parish :
The Parish is very lively and witnessing. Devotional activities like regular BCC meetings, Adoration of the Blessed Eucharist, reciting the family Rosary at every home during the months of September and October with the statue of Our Lady, retreats in preparation for Christmas and Easter, Carol singing , Celebration of Family day, St. Antony’s feast, along with the youth wing and women cell. All contribute to the Spiritual growth and unity of the Parish.
It gives us great pleasure to share the good news that our parish has been blessed with four vocations so far.
Vocations to Priesthood and religious life :
On October 28th 1967 Fr. Subash Anand Alvarez was ordained by Bishop Ambrose Yedanapalli at St. Antony’s Chapel Shahabad. Fr.Subash a well-known Professor and a Theologian served at Papal Seminary Pune and now serves at St.Paul’s Institution at Udaipur.
Sr. Ernestine Fernandes joined the congregation of the Sisters of St. Ann of Providence Secunderabad in 1980 and presently serves as the Mother General of the congregation being posted in Rome since 2002.
Fr.Anand Prakash was ordained in 2010 and serves at Maski in Raichur District. Fr.Gerald son of Jagnath Johnson who belongs to Redemptorist congregation was ordained
Lay Participation in the Church :
There is a single Parish Pastoral Council. Its vice-president, Secretary Treasurer and members assume full responsibilities of conducting festivals and associated activities. They offer timely and precious suggestion to the Pastor always and especially at the monthly meetings. They also carry out different fund raising tasks and accomplish different material works. They are always exhorted to be leading examples in matters of Spiritual level.
Social life of the Catholics :
The Catholics be they Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi or Hindi in their dealings both among themselves and with the Hindus, Lingayats and Muslim are exemplary. This factor has made them well accepted in the open society. There is good inter religious interaction with regard to social dealings, and there is a practical fusion between the Catholics and other Christians of Shahabad at social and religious levels.
Convents and Education :
The Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa (CSST) have been imparting quality education ( in the English Medium School) since 1964. Their MCC educational Institution is prestigious amidst the Shahabad Society. The Sisters provide employment to several women and men as teachers or otherwise. The Catholic Children are offered generous monetary concessions by the sisters. The citizens of Shahabad respect and esteem MCC very highly. The Sisters take active part in the Church programmes. They also visit the Catholic families and their students and impart Cathechism classes regularly to the Children.
St. Joseph of Chambery congregation Provincial Sr Flavia and her team of the Tanmaya Province Bhopal agreed to send sisters to work in this parish at the repeated request of the Most Rev. Dr. Robert Miranda. The team looked at it as a privilege to begin work in this challenging mission and felt it as God given call; so on July 3rd 2012 sisters had the official opening of the community. Here the sisters work in the educational and Pastoral apostolates. They render their selfless service and their presence is appreciated all around. They regularly visit the Catholis families and encourage family prayers; they also visit non- catholic families in their area.
Past and future :
The Parish community is full of admiration and gratitude to the past Bishops of Bellary, the Missionary Priests who slogged to bring up this Parish, the persons who sheltered amd supported the Priests and faithful who responded to the call of faith. The Parish annals have recorded how the Parish grew up; how its people lived their faith, how they worked in Holy Childhood society, Legion of Mary, Youth group, Altar servers group ect.., and how they celebrated the Post- Vatican II changes, the Eucharistic Congress in Mumbai, Jubilee 2000 and the formation of the New Diocese in August 2005.
The further holds promise for our Parish. His Lordship Bishop Robert Miranda has just laid the foundation stone for the construction of the new church building. With blessings from above and support from generous benefactors we hope that this dream will take shape according to God’s plan for us.
We hope and pray that today’s celebration will be glorious witness of our Catholic Faith, Love and Unity.
MT .CARMEL CONVENT,SHAHABAD :
God’s love is beautiful and abiding, Mt.Carmel Convent Shahabad, has successfully completed 50 years of fruitful service.
The need for a good school and the untiring help of many devoted good willed persons, paved the way for the establishment of Mt.Carmel in the year 1963, we gratefully remember the pioneers involved in this magnanimous venture.
The parish priest Rev. Fr. Antony Puthenkalam played a key role ,along with the late Rt,Rev.Bishop Ambrose P. Yedanapalli of Bellary Diocese, Mother Alponsus, the then Mother General of the CSST congregation, Sr. Carmela, and the education department helped in starting Mt.Carmel School.
The first batch finally landed in Shahabad on 24th May 1963.The Sisters were accommodated at a residential quarter behind St. Antony”s chapel and the same was also used for the school, which officially started functioning from June 20th 1963 with 40 students on the roll.
The first community of sisters comprised of Sr. Elias, as superior, Sr. Leo,
Sr. Noeline and Sr. Roberta, the institution was named after Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and for the first time July 16th the feast of the Patroness was celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm.
As the classes progressed and the students grew in numbers, the need for a proper building was greatly felt. ACC had now joined ACC Babcock and the new colony was being built. The generosity of the company management resulted in the construction of a new school building and a convent for the sisters with a chapel, The new convent was blessed on 22nd May 1967, and the first mass was celebrated in the new chapel on that day .A couple of days later on 24th of May the new school building (to accommodate Nursery to VII standard on ground and first floor) was inaugurated by Mr. Shroff acting manager of the Engineering Works.
From a humble beginning the school made laudable progress in imparting value-based education, co-curricular activities and sports events. In 1972, the high school section was inaugurated and the first SSLC batch of 1975 secured 95% results.
The following Sisters were the Superiors:
- Sr. Ann Therese
- Sr. Angelita
- Sr. Marcelitta
- Sr. Leonora
- Sr. Lourdes
- Sr. Corona
- Sr. Lillita
- Sr. Nirmala
- Sr. Francelline
- Sr. Jesuita
- Sr. Pushpi
- Sr. Rochana
Sisters of Joseph of Chambery :
St. Joseph’s Convent Shahabad.
“I planted, Apol’los watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God alone gives the growth”. 1cor.3:6-7
Yes, this is true, St. Thomas School had began in 2009 and found it difficult to continue the administration of the school in 2012, So, there was a need of Sisters for the school Sisters Flavia, Tessy& Irene (St.Joseph of Chambary, Bhopal Province) considered to visit and study the place, though they liked the mission, because of lack personnels, Sr. Flavia, the Provincial superior refused the offer. But later on because of the persistence request of the Bishop Robert Miranda, Considered it as a Privilege to begin a new and challenging mission in 2012, the Bicentennial year of Chambery foundation. It was indeed a God given call and opportunity to mark this auspicious occasion of Chambery origin like the foundress mother Saint John Marcoux to serve the poorest in this new diocese which was struggling to find zealous missionaries.
Fr. Elias Martis, the then Parish Priest of Shahabad was instrumental for Sisters to begin the process of discernment in taking up this challenging mission.
Sisters were invited to teach in the School and to be involved in pastoral works of the parish.
Initially there was no house to stay for the Sisters .So 3 Sisters Stayed 1 full month of June in father’s house.
Finally, there was a house in the compound, which was used as classrooms for the students. Fr.Elias with the support of the parishners worked hard to get this place ready to welcome the sisters which would be served as convent for the Sisters for some years.
This is a red letter day for the Sisters and the parish as on 3rd July 2012 was the official opening of St. Joseph’s convent Shahabad. Being the feast of St. Thomas the patron of the parish. This day also marked for the parish as Bishop Robert Miranda officially inaugurated the golden Jubilee year of the parish church here. Bishop, blessed the convent before the simple and meaning Eucharistic celebration. 13 Sisters were present to witness this great day it is a simple dwelling which consists of 3 rooms and a Kitchen and 1st community members were Sisters Irene as the Superior of the convent Sr.Arpana the Head Mistress of St.Thomas School and Sisters. Maya & Gloria as Teachers in the School. Novice Jyothi stayed for 2 months as Sr. Gloria was attending a course.
The Sisters felt that the people were warm welcoming and friendly.
Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, were happy to sow the seed of their Charism of communion in Gulbarga diocese thus, Sisters began their mission zealously, giving a self- less service with a purpose to the people through education & pastoral ministry.
The presence of the Sisters is felt and recognized by the people and it makes a difference.
The Successive Superiors of St. Joseph’s convent Shahabad.
1) Sr. Irene Sequeira : June 2012 – August 2013
2) Sr. Helen Thomas : September 2013 – May 2015
3) Sr. Arpana D’Almeda: June 2015 – Continuation
Education Ministry :
Sisters are rendering their service for St.Thomas school from 2012 onwards. They have given their full energy, strength, love and contributed towards the progress of the school. Though school had began in 2009, only in 2012, the new school building was inaugurated, earlier classes were run in father’s house and presently where the convent is .Sisters were to take care of the academic administration of the school and the diocese was responsible for the ongoing construction development of the school. Sr. Arpana was appointed as the Head Mistress of the school. Their presence in the town made a vast change. This was for the 1st time shahabad witnessed St.Joseph of Chambery Sisters.
The Sisters were extremely good to the people, understanding and compassionate. Admissions began to increase; poorer students were given concessions and other help. They encouraged the overall development of the students. Prime importance was value based education .Parents responded very well and co- operated with all the initiatives of the Sisters students began to grow more in Knowledge, strength, self-esteem, values, intelligence and to speak fluent English .
Sisters speak about Jesus to parents, teachers and students and show Christ based movies.
Parents are educated through seminars and meetings conducted at school.
Sisters take keen interest for the weaker students, teachers are up-dated and helped through Seminars, and through entrusting responsibilities. They happily work in the institution and are contented. Sisters.make it a point to visit the students houses.
Pastoral Ministry :
The Sisters are actively involved in the pastoral work of the parish- St.Thomas Church. Before Sisters arrived here this parish had no recognition and was not given importance, as more importance was given to Sub-Station- St. Anthony’s chapel. After Sisters arrival this parish gained essentiality as more activities began to take place here. Sunday masses became more meaningful Sisters Visited the catholic families, people began to come for Sunday mass.
People appreciate,respect and respond well to all the initiatives of the Sisters for the parish.
In the month ofseptember when Rosary crusade is held, Sisters make a point to go and pray for their families. In the year 2013 there was golden Jubilee of St.Thomas Church, Sisters Have given,the major contribution towards the activities and preparation. This resulted in a grand success.
From 2014 Sisters took up different commissions in the parish like
women’s commission :- Sr. Helen Thomas 2014-15
Youth Commission :-Sr.Arpana 2014-
Holy childhood association :- Sr. Gloria 2014-
Sr. Arpana worked hard to get the youth together, So she had arranged to strengthen the faith of the youth in the year 2015 to Divine Retreat centre. To mark Jubilee year of mercy pilgrimage to Dornahalli St. Anthony’s Shrine in 2016 for all the parishners. Through the encouragement of the Sisters, Night vigil once in 3 /4 months started in the Parish.
In 2015 from Shahabad youth commission Miss. Margret was selected as the girl representative of Gulbarga Diocese and as the Vice President of Karnataka Region. People young, and old have grown in faith and love for Jesus.
St. Joseph Sisters give full co – operation in the parish by preparing in the parish for liturgy, involve laity in the liturgy, SSC meeting, visiting the families and attending PPC meetings, Co – operate and arrange for parish programmes we show compassion to the sick & suffering through financial help.
Social Ministry :
Though Sisters do not have a set up institution to run social apostalate, theydo work for the social development of the place.
Sisters motivate the parents and others for hygiene living, helping the sick and the suffering financially, showing compassion towards the widows and the orphans,visiting the neighbourhood and non catholic families and showing their oneness with them.
St. Thomas Church F 28 C 139
Shahabad, Kalaburagi -585 228
Parish Priest : Fr. Salvadore Fernandes 9535707929
St. Anthony Chapel – 1954
a) St. Thomas Pre-Primary School
Manager: Fr. Salvadore Fernandes 9535707929
b) St. Thomas Church School
H.M: Sr. Reena John SAB 9900927710
Convents: A. Carmelite Sisters of St. Theresa (CSST)
Mount Carmel Convent
Shahabad, Kalaburagi 585 229
Superior: Sr. Rochana CSST 9901850454/08474-204654/9591292670
1. Mount Carmel Convent School
H.M.: Sr. Rochana CSST ( High School and Primary) 9901850454
2. Mount Carmel Nursery
H.M.: Sr. Helen Marie CSST 9986029226
Sisters of St. Anne’s of Bangalore
St. Anne’s Convent (2018)
C/o St. Thomas Church
Laxmi Gunj, Shahabadh -585 228
Superior: Sr. Reena John SAB 9900927710