Holy Cross Chapel & Community Center
In the 1960s, an open space of land at Yogiraj Ashram, behind Kalina Municipal School, near the Bombay University had a slum colony in which around 70 Catholic families lived. The families put up a small picture of Mother Mary and a small Cross and started saying Rosary in this open plot. In 1977, the parishioners of St. Anthony’s Parish, Vakola under the inspiration of Fr. Nelson Mascarenhas, then Parish Priest, installed a big wooden Cross there. Fr. Nelson Mascarenhas also suggested to have Mass too. So, the Catholics arranged for a table to be setup as an altar for the Holy Mass to be celebrated. The first Mass was celebrated by Fr. Nelson Mascarenhas in the open air. From then on every Sunday at 7 am, Konkani Mass was also celebrated by a priest from St. Anthony’s Parish, Vakola and 8:30am English mass was celebrated by a priest from St. Paul’s Church. It was local community leaders like Mr. Anthony J. Dsouza, Mr. Elithor Rodrigues, Mr. Pascol D’cunha, Jose A. Pereira and Mr. Dias who took the initiative to install a wooden cross at the open plot on which now Holy Cross Chapel stands.
In 1979 again under the guidance of Fr. Nelson Mascarenhas, it was decided to register the committee with the Charity Commissioner the city. Accordingly, a full-fledged committee was formed to take care of the spiritual and the community requirements families in this locality.
The committee members comprised of Rosario D’costa, Elithor Rodrigues, Anthony J Dsouza, Charles D’sa, Joseph D’souza, Jose A Pereira, A Lobo, Michael Gomes, Agnel C Rebello, Menino Estiebro and FX Gomes as members. Subsequently, Fr. Nelson sponsored Rs 25,000 to put up a tarpolene shed to protect the worshipers from the rains. The Managing Committee could also collect contributions from the members and the cement flooring was laid. In 1982, a more permanent structure was built with brick walls and asbestos sheets for the roof. This project could be completed thanks to the guidance of Mr. Felix Dsouza (a parishioner, who was also a builder) and Mr. Johnny Saldanha, who supervised the construction work. Later when Fr. Denis Pereira came in as Parish Priest, he donated 150 chair to the chapel. Konkani mass was stopped in 1998 due to shortage of priests, however, English Mass continues.
The Holy Cross Chapel celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 2003 with Fr. Agnelo Fernandes as the Main Celebrant as he was Parish Priest and St. Paul’s priests as con-celebrants. There was a grand celebration which included a cultural program put up by the children, youth and adults of Yogiraj Ashram followed by a community dinner. In 2012, Fr. Seraj Pinto donated funds for the Chapel renovation. And on 23rd November 2012, the new Chapel was inaugurated by Bishop Percival Fernandes, who was the Main Celebrant and Parish Priest, Fr. Seraj Pinto, Fr. Denis Pereira, Fr. Vernon and two priests from St Paul’s were con-celebrants. Agains a grand celebration with a cultural program and community dinner followed.
Over the years, the SCCs were formed by Fr. Elias D’souza, who took the initiative to visit the Catholic families in the area and urged them to join in the parish activities. The present Parish Priest of St. Anthony’s, Fr. Felix D’souza also assisted by contributing sufficient funds to replace the leaking roof, getting installed steel sheets above the existing roof, and also repainting the entire structure. A new tabernacle was installed with curtains too. Among the activities undertaken at the Holy Cross Chapel are:
● Annual Area Mass.
● The Station of the Cross during Lent.
● Regular get-togethers & picnics for social interaction.
● In the month of May, the Rosary is recited every day.
● In July, for Parent’s Day, children felicitate parents with cards and flowers.
● On 5th August, Vianney Sunday, a spiritual bouquet is presented to the priest at Mass.
● On Independence Day, Mass is celebrated as it is also the feast of our Lady of Assumption, followed by flag hoisting.
● In September, the 9 days Novena of the Nativity of Mother May is observed and on 8th September, the feast is celebrated.
● On the last Sunday of September, the Chapel feast is celebrated with Holy Mass, followed by a cultural program and dinner.
● In October, Our Lady’s (Mother Mary) statue is taken house-to-house. Prayers to Our Lady and fellowship gatherings are held at every home.
● In November, Children’s day is celebrated by inviting children from all faiths to participate in various activities like fancy dress, drawing competition, games etc.
● In December, the youth participates in Parish Crib and Star competitions. The children, youth and adults go house to house for Carol singing. There is Christmas party for children of all faiths.
The Holy Cross Chapel community thanks the parish priests for all the assistance we receive through out the year.