Fr. Denis Castelino - student of the first batch of St. Lawrence High School and also top scorer

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By Eugene Moodubelle

Moodubelle, 19 October 2009: On the occasion of the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of St. Lawrence High School it is appropriate to know about one of the distinguished students of the first batch of the school, Fr. Denis Castelino, who was also the top scorer in the SSLC examination (1962). As an old student, he has fond memories of his alma mater and feels that the school has come a long way during the past fifty years and has achieved not only success in academic and extra-curricular activities but also has earned respect and love from all the old students.

Fr. Denis Castelino was born on 8th April 1945 as the fifth out of eight children (five boys and three girls) of late Raymond and Evelyn Castelino of Devaragudde. He acquired primary education till seventh standard in the Church Aided Higher Primary School at Moodubelle and for the eighth standard (Third Form) proceeded to Innaje School, walking all the distance as there was no other mode of transport. As luck would have it, on completion of the eight standard at the Innaje School, Denis could join the first batch of 49 students for the ninth standard (Fourth Form) in the newly established St. Lawrence High School at Moodubelle in 1959-60.

Fr. Denis has some vague memories of the three years that he had spent in St. Lawrence High School. As the construction of the High School building was in progress, the ninth standard class was conducted in the premises of the Higher Primary School. Fr. Denis remembers the formal inauguration of the St. Lawrence High School which was attended by Bishop Raymond D’Mello and Denis Pinto, the Congress MLA of the Kaup constituency.

During the first year, the High School staff comprised of three persons-Denises D’Silva as the Principal, Sundar Ram Nayak as the teacher and Albert Noronha as the non-teaching staff. For the tenth standard, the High School was shifted to the newly constructed building with additional teachers-Mukunda Puranik, the Kannada Pundit who was also very much interested in gardening. Other teachers were Moraes, Edward D’Sa and Hezel Rego.

Fr. Denis says that, the students of the first batch and even later contributed in their small way in the development of the High School ground. During free time and Physical Training period they did shramadhan.

The first batch of the students of St. Lawrence High School appeared for the SSLC examination at the Board High School, Udupi in 1962. Following the declaration of the results, Fr. Denis got the distinction of being the first student to top the list in St. Lawrence High School by scoring the highest marks among the students of the High school.

As he was keen to serve as a priest, Denis joined St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mangalore in 1962 and after undergoing nine years of learning and training was ordained a priest on 1st January 1971. His first posting was as the Assistant Priest in the Parish of Infant Jesus at Modankap, Bantwal. After serving for one year at this parish, Fr. Denis was transferred to the Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral, Mangalore as the Assistant Priest where he served for ten years (1972-82). While in the Cathedral, Fr. Denis introduced the practice of Community Weddings in order to minimise the marriage expenses especially for the couples from poorer families. The practice has been continued even today.

In 1982, Fr. Denis was sent to Nakre near Karkala as the Parish Priest where he became very popular among the parishioners. He treated the entire parish as his family and made it a point to participate in their moments of happiness by attending their family programmes and even in time of their sadness by consoling them. During the time of examination, he provided place, shelter and food for the students so that they could concentrate on their studies.

From Nakre, Fr. Denis was transferred to Our Lady of Stella Maris Parish Kalmadi near Malpe where he served for seven years. At Kalmadi, he started the devotion of Our Lady of Vailankani which gradually became a popular devotion attracting people from far and near. Fr. Denis began the practice of celebrating weddings of the parishioner in the premises of the Church. The parishioners voluntarily took up responsibility for all arrangements including food. The cooperative spirit of the parishioners could cut down the wedding expenses to nearly half of the total expenses that the wedding party would incur.

In 1994, Fr. Denis went to the Holy Rosary Parish at Alangar. During his tenure of seven years as the Parish Priest at Alangar, Fr. Denis had the privilege of celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of St. Thomas Higher Primary School and started the St. Thomas English Medium School as memorial of the Platinum Jubilee celebration.

Due to health problems Fr. Denis was given lighter duties and was sent to St. Lawrence Parish, Athur-Karkala where he did pastoral work for six years till 2007. Presently, Fr. Denis is at Mount Rosary Charitable Institutions at Alangar as the Spiritual Director for the inmates of the institution.

When mentioned about the Golden Jubilee celebrations of his alma mater, St. Lawrence High School, Fr. Denis said that the High School has been a blessing for the children of Moodubelle and the surrounding regions who could continue their studies in the village itself up to the Pre University Course.

Fr. Denis expressed happiness at the initiative taken by Fr. Paul Sequeira, the present Principal of St. Lawrence High School in reviving the Old Students’ Association. He feels that the Old Students’ Association would help in providing the past students with a forum through which they can have interaction and even get-togethers by which they can revive their old memories and association with this great institution. As the student of the first batch of St. Lawrence High School, Fr. Denis has expressed hope that more and more past students would join the St. Lawrence High School Old Students’ Association.

The registration forms for the Old Students’ Association have already been distributed in the St. Lawrence Educational Institutions. There is also a provision in the website for the online registration of the Old Students. It is expected and hoped that the past students of St. Lawrence High School will take this opportunity and register themselves in large numbers on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of this great institution.

Click here to register St Lawrence High School old Students Association

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