BHALKI MISSION (1983)
HOLY REDEEMER MISSION CENTRE, BHALKI
Socio Territorial Ecclesial Context :
Bhalki Town is the capital of Bhalki Taluka which comes within the District of Bidar, and is situated in the northern part of Karnataka State in South India. Socially and economically it is a backward area. The greater part of the population consists of the Hindus. Dalits of several categories abound. Lingayats and Moslems are in considerable numbers.
This area had been under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad. But due to language barrier priests of the Archdiocese found it difficult to meet the needs of the people of Bidar and Bhalki. Therefore, in 1979 the Archbishop of Hyderabad proposed to the Bishop of Mangalore the idea of adopting this area.
Bishop Basil S D’Souza the Great :
So in 1982 the then Bishop of Mangalore Rt Rev. Basil S D’Souza took the bold step to adopt the whole Bidar District for evangelization. On 17 June 1982 Bishop Basil personally brought to Bidar the first batch of missionaries: Rev. Fr Robert Miranda, Br Ronald Serrao, and Br Francis Lewis. Bidar Mission was formally inaugurated on 18 June 1982.
Bhalki was chosen to be the next Taluka to have the second Centre of the Catholic Mission. Bishop Basil along with Fr Benjamin D’Souza, Br Peter D’Souza and Br Louis D’Sa came to Bhalki on 5 June 1983. Bhalki Mission was inaugurated on 7 June 1983. The Mission house was named YESU NILAYA. The Patron: The Most Holy Redeemer. Fr Benjamin was appointed the Director. In October 1983 the Mission Team was strengthened with three Sisters of three different congregations: Sr Edmund (SCCG), Sr Evangelista (BS), and Sr Rennie (SRA). The Sisters took up the medical ministry.
These pioneering missionaries inaugurated the New Mission in Bhalki in a small rented house of a Lingayat family – Gurunath Swamy and Sugulamma – near Basaveshwar Chowk. Thereafter, Fr Benjamin visited the people in the town and villages, and rapidly built very good rapport with all. After studying the place the Mission Team carefully made plans for the Evangelization of the people.
From the very beginning Bishop Basil took very keen interest in this Mission, and closely monitored every step and development. He put his heart and soul in it. He would often travel from Mangalore to visit this Mission. Whenever he came here, he would stay with the missionaries for sufficient number of days. While coming, he would bring fruit tree saplings and home-made food items for his mission collaborators who, he knew, would love to get some home delicacies occasionally! It was said that Bishop Basil had planned to reside in Bidar-Bhalki Mission after retirement. But the great soul was called up to the eternal abode too soon!
Fr Benjamine the Visionary :Fr Benjamin& Team made a study of the socio-religious reality of the people of Bhalki and the surrounding area. The guidance of Fr Zeitler SVD of Ishvani Kendra, Pune, was sought to make a fruitful study. After three months of visits to different places, contacts with several resource persons, and study of some books, a Report was prepared. The following facts are some of the heads in the Report: » Basaveshwara and the socio-religious revolution in the 12th century in Basavaklyan, and its impact on the people of Bhalki. » The Lingayats at present. » The non-catholic Christian communities in Bhalki, namely: a) The Methodist Church. b) The New Apostolic Church. c) The Seventh Day Adventist Church. d) The Church of Christ. » The Catholic Church. » Observations and Recommendations. Copies of the Report were circulated among persons interested in this Mission, with a request to give their suggestions. The following are some of the 18 suggestions received:
- Recruit and train Catechists.
- Contact the neglected non-catholic Christians.
- Identify responsive non-Christian groups and villages for evangelization.
- Hold prayer services in common for the Christians of all denominations.
- Have a mobile medical team visiting villages.
- Work with the Government agencies for leprosy eradication.
- Participate in the village celebrations.
- Attend family celebrations.
- Send dedicated missionaries with sufficient psychological preparation.
- Give importance to the reading of the Bible.
- Have an integrated approach with Education and Health care; let preaching the Word be primary.
- Start Ecumenical movement.
- Find time to read Missiology, Church History, etc, and be up-to-date and competent.
The First Crop: the Four Apostles :
There were in this area Christians who belonged to the New Apostolic Church (NAC). But they were disappointed with NAC, and so they expressed their desire to be received into the Catholic fold. Accordingly, Rev. Luke (Shepherd), Dasharat, Ganapati, and Galappa, (all Pastors), took the initiative to join the Catholic Church. They were duly examined about their motive, given an intensive training in the Catholic practice at DBCLC of Mangalore, and received into the Catholic fold at Codialbail Chapel, Mangalore on 29 May 1984. They were renamed as Luke, John Dasharat, Mathew Galappa, and Mark Ganapati, after the four Evangelists. They were called ‘the apostles’ of Bhalki Mission- the first catechist.
These four apostles accompanied the Team of YesuNilayaand went from village to village sowing the seed of the Catholic faith. Soon in the year 1985, the villages of Mural, Nagaral, Beeri-B, Hupla, Nideban, Honnalli, Gowndgao, Dadgi, and Kumar-Chincholi were brought under regular Faith Formation Programme. The Team contacted twenty other villages which included Ghor-Chincholi, Kotgera, Lada, Ghat-Boral, Siddeshwar, Hunaji, Othgi, Chalkapur, Hulsoor, Santpur, Jalasangvi, Halbarga, and Nittur.
In October 1985 the catechumens of Mural village were thefirst to be received. In 1986 the first chapel was built in Kumar-Chincholi. On 10 June 1990 Holy Redeemer Church of Bhalki was blessed and dedicated.
The Bicycle Missionary :
Mission iteneraries of Fr Benjamin on bicycle: In order to know the ground reality of the whole district of Bidar, Fr Benjamin had travelled by bicycle to all the five Talukas: Aurad, Basavakalyan, Humnabad and Bidar, starting from Bhalki. Besides, while Fr Benjamin and his teamof priests, sisters and catechistic regularly visited various villages, Catechist Emmanuel Hanumant of Ucchavisited the Marathi speaking villages like Lada, Halsi, Lakhangao, Shivni, Davargao, Christapura, etc.
Fr Benjamin and Interfaith Dialogue :
Right from the start, Fr Benjamin made a deep study of Basaveshwar and his ‘Work Is Worship’ and ‘All Humans Are Equal in a Casteless Society’ teachings. He also studied the essence of the teachings of each and every other Creed. In the meantime he went back to Mangalore and served in a few parishes. Again he came to Bhalki. This time he launchedthe Interfaith Peace Forum which became very fruitful in the subsequent years.Finally Fr Benjamin accepted retirement and was reached to Mangalore on 4 May 2017.
‘Daughters’ of Bhalki Centre :
Today’s Mission Centres in 1. Jalasangvi, 2. Santpur, 3. Muchalamba, 4. Hulsoor, 5. Halbarga (and 6. Nittur) are the daughters of the Mother-Centre of Bhalki.
Nittur, Mural, and Nagral were separated from Bhalki, and ‘Nittur Centre’ was formed in 2015, with Fr Wilbert Vinay Lobo as its Director. But in 2018 Nittur Centre ceased to be a Centre for lack of priests, and the three villages came back under Bhalki Centre.
Religious Sisters :
Bishop Basil invited the Congregation of Sisters of Charity (SCCG) to join the Bhalki Mission. On 9 June 1985 Arogya Maata Ashram was started. On 28 Dec 2002 theCommunity was bifurcated. While the Ashram Community is taking up Teaching and Pastoral ministries, the freshly formed Arogya MaataSevaKendra takes care of the Healing Ministry, and gives pastoral assistance as well.
The Sisters have been collaborating with the clergy in the pastoral and mission activities with cheer and a spirit of dedication. The Mission has an integrated two-pronged approach, namely, Faith drive and Social transformation. Sisters take very active part in visiting the villages, following up of people’s progress, teaching catechism, teaching in the school, conducting camps and celebrations, animating children’s and youth movements,women’s development activities, Small Christian Communities, Sponsorship programme, Church and Sacristy maintenance, Liturgy and singing. Fathers and Sisters work as one Team. Together they do the planning, the execution, and the evaluation.
Dr Sr Immaculate and Leprosy Eradication :
Leprosy was very rampant in Bidar-Bhalki area. At the request of Bishop Basil of Mangalore the Provincial Superior Very Rev Sr Raphael Gomes SCCG consented to open Arogya MaataSeva Kendra in Bhalki, and the Kendra was started on 9 June 1985. Dr Sr Immaculate Rodrigues (SCCG) who was holding the office of Hospital Administrator at Fr Muller’s, Mangalore, came, with two other Sisters,and opened a Dispensary for the sick in general as well as for the leprosy-infected in particular.
Dr Immaculate was visiting all the villages sitting in the back seat of the bicycle ridden by a social worker. In the villages she would identify the leprosy infected persons, and begin an ongoing treatment in their own villages. She and her team had conducted an extensive survey of all the leprosy infected persons in more than 1,110 villages. After sustained and effective treatment the over 1500 ‘lepers’ were healed . But since the healed lepers would not be accepted into their own homes, Sr Immaculate arranged rehabilitation and occupations for them. For her yeoman’s service at reducing the leprosy rate from 9:1,000 to near zero, she was honouredwith several awards at the District and Taluka levels and other forums.
Later Sr Immaculate had to return to Mangalore on retirement. Today she is no more, but certainly her noble spirit is moving about in Bhalki. Now the Dispensary has evolved into a full-fledged Hospital where the Arogya Maata Seva Kendra Community of Sisters are effectively treating people infected with all kinds of skin and other ailments.The Hospital is popularly known as The Christian Hospital. At the end of the year 2018-19 the Hospital staff is as follows:Sr Alice Tauro, Administrator. Sr Dr Sumi, Medical Officer. Sr Gracy, Nurse. Sr MaryRaffeiro, Pharmacist.Mr NL Vinod,Para medico. MsPrabhavati, Counsellor.Ms Sangeeta, General Nurse. And Basavamma, Nursing Aid.
The new Hospital wasinauguratedon 10 Nov 2002. Its Leprosy eradication project was funded by AMICI of Italy who also donated the land and provided funds for the Hospital construction. The old Dispensary building was handed over to the Arogya Maata Ashram Community.
The Seva Kendra Sisters also worked at CBR (Community-based Rehabilitation), for the physically challenged providing artificial limbs, wheel chairs, bicycles, medical care, and job facilities from the Government quota to the handicapped and those healed from leprosy. Some of them were trained to become cobblers, tailors, craftsmen, carpenters, etc.
Seva Kendra Sisters also conducted, from January 2011 till December 2013, ‘Ashodaya’ Community-based De-addiction and Rehabilitation Project. Some of the aims were the following:
- To reduce and eradicate alcohol addiction among the sponsored children’s parents, elder siblings, relatives, village youth, etc.
- To promote family integrity and neighbourhood solidarity.
- To reduce early deaths among chronic addicts, and early widowhood of their wives.
- To have quality education to children promoted by healthy and happy parents. Etc
Seva Kendra also ran Grihini (Home Sciences) Classes for the backward and less educated girls of the villages to help them stand on their own. They were taught crafts, tailoring, cooking, gardening, hygene and cleanliness. At the completion of the cource each girl was awarded Certificate and a sewing machine. This project has now expired.
Seva Kendra runs a Children’s Home for girls. There are 50 inmates in 2018-19. They go to attend Divya Jyoti School. These children also work as members of the MCA (Missionary Childhood Association).
ORBIT (Organization for Bidar Integral Transformation) :
Fr Victor Machado, while serving at Bhalki Centre as the Director, launched the ORBIT for social transformation works among the people; he is the pioneer of social development works. ORBIT is a Registered Trust. It was initially supported and guided by CODP, Mangalore. ORBIT has been serving all people irrespective of caste and creed. It took up Women’s Development, Asha Kiran for the alcohol addicts, Vidya Vikas for the Government school students, CBR (Community Based Rehabilitation for the Differently Abled, etc.
Fr Santhosh Dias succeeded Fr Victor machado as the Director. In 2003 ORBIT Office was shifted from Bhalki to its own newly constructed building in Humnabad. But its sub-office continues to function in Bhalki. Fr Santosh Bapu took over from Fr Dias. Fr Anil Crasta, assisted by Fr Lawrence Arun, is the Director since June 2018.
Charity Sisters (SCCG) who served Bhalki Missionfrom 1983 till 2019 (for one year or more):
As Superiors (In alphabetical order)
1. Sr Alice Tauro 2.Sr Angela Mendonca 3.Sr Angeline Pink
4. Sr Emily Lobo 5. Sr Dr Immaculate Rodrigues 6. Sr Lucy Thundiyil
7. Sr Marian Varghese 8. Sr Nirmala D’Silva
b) The sisters who served at Bhalki Mission
1. Sr Alphonsa P 2. Sr Amala Mary 3.Sr Danny D’Souza
4. Sr Edmund D’Souza 5. Sr Dr Felly Gomes 6. Sr Genevieve
7. Sr Genevieve Mariappa 8. Sr Gloria Dias 9. Sr Gracy Thomas
10. Sr Irene D’Souza 11. Sr Irene Noronha 12. Sr Jaqueline D’Souza
13. Sr Janet Pinto 14. Sr Jnanamariamma 15. Sr Jnanasundaramma
16. Sr Josepha 17. Sr Jose Mary Joseph 18. Sr Josephine Xavier
19. Sr Juliana D’Souza 20. Sr Juliana Machado 21. Sr Kanti Carvalho
22. Sr Laura 23. Sr Laveena Fernandes 24. Sr LavinaKomar
25. Sr Lily Fernandes 26. Sr Lolita Fernandes 27. Sr Mabel
28. Sr Maria A Thomas 29. Sr Mariette 30. Sr Mary Raffeiro
31. Sr Mary Varghese 32. Sr Nancy 33. Sr Olivia
34. Sr Pauline Andrade 35. Sr Pratima D’Silva 36. Sr Reena Monis
37. Sr Regi John 38. Sr Shanti D’Souza 39. Sr Dr Sumi Sorkar
40. Sr Veena Monteiro 41. Sr Victoria D’Souza 42. Sr Vineeta Rodrigues
43. Sr Zenith Noronha
Four other Sisters who served the Mission:
1. Sr Evangelista BS 2. Sr Rennie SRA 3. Sr Adelcia AC 4. SrLinet SJC
The DSS Sisters of Halbarga are coming to Bhalki and conducting Women’s meetings.
Infant Jesus Shrine :
It was inaugurated in November 2000 with the Bishop of Mangalore Most Rev. Aloysius Paul D’Souza blessing it. Infant Jesus, as depicted in Lk 2:39-52, is set as the role model for the students. People visit the Shrine with fervor and pray with faith. People from near and far undertake Paada Yatra (Pilgrimage Walk) to the Shrine. Parents bring their babies for Jawala (the first shearing of hair) ceremony. Every Thursday special Mass and Novena prayer service is conducted.DIVYA JYOTI Primary & High School
The Primary School was inaugurated on 16 June 2003; it was blessed by Msgr Robert Miranda, Episcopal Vicar (now Bishop). In 2018-19 it entirely became English medium School. Fr Clary D’Souza as the Manager is taking very keen interest in the effective running of the Institute. Fr Praveen Joseph as the Headmaster is steering the School, the Staff, and the Hostel in highly skilled styles. The teaching faculty is15 members-strong against the student strength of 342.
Arogya Maata Ashram Sisters are running LKG, UKG and Nursary classes since 2003. The student strength in 2019-19 is 60.
In 2018-19 there are 70 boys from various places staying at this Hostel and attending Divya Jyoti School. Three lady teachers are supervising the hostel affairs.
Annual Jatra Utsav – The Mission Festival :
It is organized and implemented by the entire Diocesan Team, with the Bhalki Team playing the host. The three-day Jatra festival is celebrated in the 2nd week of November. It is a public manifestation of people’s faith and fervor, irrespective of denominational plurality. The Jatra festival comprises preaching, Eucharist, confessions, adoration, healing prayer, Bhajan singing competition, cultural programmes, and a civic function. The Jatra begins with a public religious procession through the streets of the Town, and is concluded on the third day with the lowering of the Jatra Flag hoisted earlier on the first day of the Novena preceding the Jatra. The three-day event is a well planned and keenly worked out diocesan joint venture of the Bishop, Priests, Nuns and the Faithful.
Priests who served Bhalki Mission from 1983 till 2019
1. Fr Benjamin D’Souza 2.Fr Clifford D’Souza 3.Fr Robert Miranda
4. Fr Faustine Lobo 5.Fr Baptist Menezes 6.Fr Victor Machado
7. Fr Leo Veigas 8.Fr John Vas 9.Fr Fredrick D’Souza
10. Fr Antony Lasrado 11.Fr Ronald Lobo 12.Fr Joseph Rodrigues
13.Fr StanyGoveas 14.Fr Stany Lobo 15.Fr Clary D’Souza
As Members of the Mission Team
1. Fr RonaldCutinha 2. Fr Francis Lewis 3. Fr Louis D’Sa
4. Fr Peter D’Souza 5. Fr Gregory D’Souza 6. Fr ApolinarisCrasta
7. Fr Maxim Noronha 8. Fr Felix Monteiro 9. Fr Nelson Olivera
10. Fr Henry Mascarenhas 11. Fr Joseph Martis 12. Fr Peter Aranha
13. Fr Herald Pereira 14. Fr Michael D’Silva 15. Fr Mathias Pereira
16. Fr Stany Pereira 17. Fr Stany Monteiro 18. Fr Santhosh Dias
19. Fr Antony Pinto 20. Fr Edwin D’Souza 21.Fr Blaise Rodrigues OFM
22.Fr Santosh D’Souza 23.Fr Stephen Veigas 24.Fr Vincent Coelho
25.Fr Anil Joel Prasad 26.Fr Cyril Lobo 27.Fr Anil Crasta
28.Fr Wilson Fernandes 29.Fr Alban D’Silva 30.Fr Wilbert V Lobo
31.Fr Sunil Mankare 32.Fr Mathias MSFS 33.Fr Aneesh MSFS
34.Fr David 35.Fr Clevon Gomes 36.Fr Joseph Praveen
37.Fr Thomas D’Souza 38.Fr Lawrence Arun 39.Fr Deepak Furtado 40. Fr Roshan D’Souza
Also, several Regent Seminarians have served at Bhalki.
Six Lay Catechists have rendered their service. They are: Albert Crasta (later on ordained Priest), Prabhudas, Peter, Maruti Hupla, Maruti Mural, and Emmanuel Hanumanth.
Several lay leaders have assisted and are supporting the Mission Team during the times of need and special events. The present Vice President (MrTanaji) and Secretary (MrsSukeertaReshme) are cooperating well.
Todate, Fr Clary D’Souza is the Director of Bhalki Mission. Fr Joseph Praveen works as the Headmaster of the School. Fr Deepak Furtado bears the responsibilities of the House Minister. And Fr Thomas D’Souza takes care of the Shrine and the pilgrims. Besides, each and all of them are involving themselves in the different fields of the Mission, like Worship, Preaching, Teaching, Pastoral care, and Office work, in tune with the wise guidance of the Director.
The Up-to-date Status of Bhalki Mission as in January 2019 is portrayed through the following Chart:
|Yenkur||St John the Baptist||9||34||15||83|
|Dawargao||St Mother Teresa||9||29||*||22|
|Nittur||2011||St John Paul II||5||19||—||—|
|Church Colony||St Anthony||10||45||*||5|
|= 205||= 793||43 *||= 457|
|* 50 Catholic families are partly Catechumenal + 43 families are entirely Catechumenal=93|
|Rev Fr Clary Dsouza||Mrs Sangeetha ( Secretary)|
|Rev. Fr Joseph Praveen||Mr Shankar Bendre|
|Rev. Fr Thomas D’Souza||Mr Satish|
|Rev. Fr Deepak Furtado||MrsBharatbai|
|Rev. Sr Angeline Pink||MrsBeba|
|Rev. Sr Alice Tauro|
|Mr. Tanaji( Vice President)|
|Church Colony||Dadgi base|
|Siddarth Nagar||Indira Nagar|
|Sl. No||Association||Number of Units||Total Number of Members|
|Thursday Mass and Novena||03.30 pm|
|Adoration on Friday||07.00 pm|
|Sunday Mass & Catechism (Children)||08.30 pm|
|Sunday Mass for Elders||10.30 pm|
|First Friday of the month Mass ( School Children)||08.30 am|
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