St. Anthony's, Vakola (1921 to 2021)
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Message From His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Dear Joe and team,
I wish you a very happy feast of St Anthony on June 13th, 2021. I will certainly pray for you at Mass. I was delighted to hear about the website which you wish to gift to the parish. St Anthony Vakola is a very vibrant parish, one of the biggest in the Archdiocese of Bombay.
Keeping up with the needs of the time, the website will be an excellent means of parishioners keeping in touch with one another.
This initiative has come entirely from the parishioners. Congratulations! Thank you and keep it up.
You have my support and my blessings. I hope all at home are safe and well.
With kind regards and best wishes.
Yours sincerely in Christ
X Oswald Cardinal Gracias
* Hi Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias is on the 8 member Council of Cardinal Advisers to the Pope and also heads:
• Federation of Asian Bishops Conference
• Catholic Bishops Conference of India
• Conference of Catholic Bishops (Latin)
• Archdiocese of Bombay
DR. FR. FRANCIS CARVALHO
Date of Birth: 12th August
Ordained: 16th April 1983
Home Parish: St. Michael’s, Mahim
Date of Birth: 15th November 1977
Ordained: 14th April 2012
Home Parish: Holy Cross Church, Kurla
Portfolios: RCIA, Altar Services, SCC Zone – 4.
Duty Day: Thursday
Date of Birth:
Portfolios: Students Faith Academy (SFA)
Date of Birth: 7th October 1970
Ordained: 31st March 2001
Home Parish: Mt Carmel Church, Bandra
Portfolios: Youth & Young Adults, Confirmation, Parish Liturgical Team (Lectors, Choirs, Eucharistic Ministers), Senior Citizens, SCC Zone – 1
Duty Day: Monday
FR. VINCENT THOMAS
Date of Birth: 20th June 1982
Ordained: 06th April 2013
Home Parish: Our Lady of the Sea Church, Uttan.
Portfolios: Hope & Life, Pre-Baptism, Sunday School including First Holy Communion, SVP, CLC, Prayer Groups, Community Centre, Bombay Catholic Sabha, SCC Zone – 2.
Duty Days: Tuesday & Wednesday.
Archbishop Thomas d'Esterre Roberts Decrees St. Anthony's
Welcome to St. Anthony’s
This website is not complete & we appreciate your adding or improving it with old photos and information that needs to be corrected. It will be regularly updated. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the Church, Parish & High School of St. Anthony’s, Vakola. 2021 is indeed a momentous year for all of us as it marked 100 years (1 January 1921) of a chapel being blessed and it is the completion of the 75th (1 July 1945) Jubilee of St. Anthony’s being decreed as a parish by the Archbishop Thomas D. Roberts, who was the first of the Spanish Jesuits to land in the city.
A big God Bless to Fr. Nasli Reporter and the SAC Communication Cell for developing the Parish App and being hyperactive on social media and live streaming. I could not miss Mumbai’s ace photographer, Glen Dodd who has done or touched-up most of the photography you see here.
It was providential that we were blessed to have a dynamic team of fathers, led by one of the Archdiocese’s most, if not the most – dynamic Parish Priest, Fr. Felix D’souza – who since his appointment in 2016 rallied every section of the parish and its institutions to take St. Anthony’s in to Mumbai’s Top 3 League of Parishes. With about 20,000 parishioners, we are the third largest parish in the Archdiocese, after Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (IC) Church, Borivali and Our Lady of Lourdes, Orlem, Malad.
In 2021, the second wave that continued the COVID pandemic came as a blessing in disguise to me and my team of expert web-designers as we decided to document St. Anthony’s over the last century for posterity. The aim was to create a website that would place on record timelines, recognize contributions, highlight those involved, celebrate achievements and at the same time provide useful information that not just parishioners could use, but rather any one looking for assistance in Santacruz East would.
Our work has just begun and we invite you to share your memories of St. Anthony’s, Vakola through writings which could be used in blogs or photos which could appear in the gallery, if found valuable. We would also like to add 3 sections in the future and your suggestions/feedback and even corrections/criticism are welcome at email@example.com
1. Vakolaite Christian Achievers who have made it big at the city, state, national or international level.
2. Vakolaite Christian Professionals like Doctors, Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, Service Providers, etc.
3. Vakolaite Christian Businesses or Freelancers who are into products/services which parishioners could be looking for.
Finally, besides the Parish Team, who stood strongly by, I have to thank a whole lot of parishioners (see credits) and those from the Trinity Team for whom its been months of research and hours of digital expertise. It was truly a labour of love at the launch of which we can say as Vakola’s ancestors would say – Sukhala (To Happiness) or Cheers! as the millennials would.
Wishing You all a Happy Feast
Joseph Dias, MA (Economics), Parishioner
Ex-Secretary, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and Ex-Special Executive Magistrate, Government of Maharashtra
Dated: 13 June 2021
Pandemic: St. Anthony's Outshines
Church On The Frontline - Ep. 12
One would have expected the corona virus to have dampened the spirits in Vakola, rather far from it, the parish team and religious with lay collaborators rose valiantly to the challenge. Bishop Allwyn D’Silva’s CHURCH ON THE FRONTLINE (Episode 12) records the accomplishments as highlighted by Fr. Felix D’souza, leading from the front. According to him, when it became clear to all concerned in March 2020 itself that churches would have to be closed for some time, the parish fathers and religious decided that parishioners could not be deprived of their spiritual needs. Besides, St. Anthony’s being a vibrant parish with many activities, there was need to maintain a connect and take the church to parishioners homes via the internet.
Bishop Allwyn D’silva describes it as a holistic, creative and meaningful witness that touched the lives of thousands, especially those suffering and the marginalized. Fr. Felix D’souza said Pope Francis’ reflection inspired him. At the start itself, the Holy Father said the pandemic was a storm in which all were caught-up wondering when it would end. The pandemic according to him had put all of us in a tomb closeted from each other and there was need to roll the tombstone for a resurrection. The issue was who would bell the cat? The church needed to rise and be the one to roll the tombstone by using its gifts, talents, resources, charisms… to become alive to our parishioners.
Accordingly, three areas for action were identified:
1. Worship – The Church’s primary responsibility remained the spiritual welfare of its flock. Holy Mass was live streamed and remains so to date. Prayer services, including Rosary, Holy Hours, Taize Meditation, Feast Novenas and those for special intentions like students preparing for exams, dealing with emotional and mental stress, etc. Even Sunday School and Confirmation Catechism Classes were held on Zoom and all sections of the parishioners were connected online. The audience response was enthusiastic which spurred the parish on.
2. Programs – St. Anthony’s being a very large parish, most parishioners throughout the year participate in its activities. The team wanted to continue their involvement through virtual platforms to keep their spirit from dying out. Unique online events for kids, young, working adults and even senior citizens were organized. Faith Academy for children, the youth had virtual interaction with experts on skill development and how to face post-COVID times. Adults and Senior Citizens were tutored on health issues and lifestyle diseases. There was online entertainment by parishioners and by parishioners regularly through out the lock-down. There was also a mental health counsellor available with a helpline on mobile to assist.
3. Outreach – Humanitarian gestures of relief through free distribution of rations and essential supplies to the jobless, down-trodden and families with COVID patients had many thanking St. Anthony’s for the kindness. With salary cuts and unemployment electricity or even rent bills could not be paid and here also the Church stepped in. Many families could not buy drugs or medicines, which is when the parish tied-up with certain chemists and bore the expenses. Institutions like Asha Kiran, the community center, WIN Home and other religious pitched in to get police permissions, co-ordinate hospital admissions, run a community fridge and even buy machinery to empower women and supplement the household income.
Fr. Felix puts it well when he says – The power of the Lord was felt. Truly, lock-down did not lock the Lord’s presence in the hearts and was made real to our parishioners.
Credits & Acknowledgements
Alphi D’souza | Archdiocesan Sources | Associations | Choirs | Congregations | Cecil Correia | Diana Fernandes | Earlier Priests | Elizabeth Dias | Ex-Parish Priests & Fathers | Fatima Dias | Glenn Dodd | Lenin d’Cruz | Melanie Fernandes | Msgr. Benny Aguiar | Old Parishioners | Parish Team | PPC Members | Rev. Fr. Milton | Rohan Rodrigues | SCC Co-ordinators | Trinity Team | And Many More to be Added Soon