Fr. Paul Sequeira - The driving force of the golden jubilee celebration


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By Eugene Moodubelle

Moodubelle, 24 December 2009: Though there are hardly few days left for the grand finale of the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of St. Lawrence High School, Fr. Paul Sequeira who has been the Principal of St. Lawrence Composite PU College since 2003, shows no anxiety or nervousness about these celebrations that would be spread over for three days in the last week of December. The confidence of the smooth conduct of these celebrations is written large on his face as he radiates the magical smile. This confidence and self assurance of Fr. Paul is the result of long period of training and responsibilities that he has been undertaking since he had  joined the seminary. He is not new to the jubilees, as the Principal, he has the experience of successfully celebrating the Silver Jubilee of St. Lawrence PU College in 2006 on a grand scale.

 

 

As the preparations for the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of St. Lawrence High School are at a penultimate stage, I thought that it would be appropriate to know the person who is the brain and driving force of this significant event and requested Fr. Paul for some time so that I could interact with him and know more about his background, the efforts gone into the preparations for the jubilee and his aspirations for the institution for the future. Though extremely busy, Fr. Paul agreed to meet me on a holiday when he was comparatively free from the hectic administrative tasks.

 

Fr. Paul has an interesting family background. He was the third among 11 children-3 sons and 8 daughters of Casmir Sequeira and Cecilia Baretto of Perne Village in Puttur. After completing his primary education up to 7th standard at Perne, Paul continued his education in St.Philomena’s High School at Puttur and passed SSLC in 1977.  Realising that he had a vocation to be a priest, Paul joined St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mangalore and underwent one year of initiation in 1978. Thereafter, he pursued two years PUC studies in St. Aloysius College (1978-80).

 

 

While studying in First Year PUC, Fr. Valerian D’Souza was the Parish Priest of the Puttur Church. Knowing the financial constraints of Br. Pauls’ family, Fr. Valerian took the initiative of helping Br. Paul financially till his ordination. As a coincidence, many years later, while Fr. Paul has been serving as the Principal of St. Lawrence Composite College, Fr. Valerian came to Moodubelle as the Parish Priest and Correspondent. Fr. Paul says that he was greatly influenced by the qualities of Fr. Valerian and he feels indebted to him.

 

While studying for the PUC, Br. Paul stood first in the class in the subject of History and was appreciated by the lecturers, seminarians and the classmates for his achievement. This initial success and appreciation from different quarters went a long way in his own self discovery that he had talents and instilling a sense of confidence in him that he could achieve greater heights if he channelized his abilities in right direction.

 

 

Following the completion of the PUC studies, Br. Paul had to carry on the study of Philosophy in the Seminary as part of his training to the priesthood. Meanwhile, he also began his studies privately to acquire graduate degree (BA) from the Mysore University. It was chiefly due to his sustained efforts that Br. Paul completed the Philosophy studies and acquired BA degree in 1983.  He was deputed to Padua High School, Nantoor for Regency for one year. Realizing the importance of time and education he also simultaneously did B.Ed. course from the Government College, Mangalore.

 

While in Seminary, Br. Paul had a penchant for music and was very good in playing various musical instruments-organ, accordion, violin and guitar. Hence, Br. Paul became an integral part of the choir. He also took lead in conducting choir and used to lead the Seminary Orchestra to various social work camps where he would give performances in the evening during the cultural programmes. Fr. Paul is very proud of the fact that on the occasion of the inauguration of the renovated Church of St. Lawrence at Bondel, he had the privilege to conduct the choir. It was chiefly due to this talent of his that Fr. Paul came to the notice of many including the Bishop. As seminarian, Br. Paul visited the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows as Sunday Minister. While in Seminary, Br. Paul also did Scouts and Guides Course from Ujire.

 

 

After four years of Theological studies, Br. Paul was ordained a priest by Most Rev. Dr. Basil D’Souza, Bishop of Mangalore on 3rd May 1988.  It was the culmination of his long period of training for the priesthood during which he simultaneously acquired necessary educational qualifications so that he could take up the teaching profession as and when required.

 

The first assignment of Fr. Paul after being ordained a priest was at the Holy Family Church Omazoor (Mermajal) as Assistant Parish Priest where he worked for two years. During these two years, Fr. Paul did journalism course from the journalism institute of Nagarcoil in Tamilnadu. As he was keen in pursuing further higher studies, Fr. Paul began to explore the possibility of acquiring post graduate degree and began preparations in this direction.

 

The next posting of Fr. Paul was at the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception at Urwa, Mangalore. When he went to Urwa, the plinth for the construction of a new church building had been completed. During the three years that he had been in Urwa, Fr. Paul acquired MA degree in English subject from the Annamalai University, Chennai in 1991.

 

Fr. Paul has fond memories of his stay at Urwa and credits his Parish Priest, Fr. John D’Souza with transforming him from an introvert into an outgoing person ready to mingle with the parishioners, especially children. Fr. Paul says that Fr. John was a strict disciplinarian and a perfectionist. However, he was very good at heart and always thought good of others. Fr. Paul considers himself lucky to get a superior like Fr. John from whom he learnt so many positive things that helped him to grow as a person, as a priest and as a teacher. From Fr. John he learnt how to build a parish community and Fr. Paul admits that he began to find joy and happiness in his vocation as a priest.

 

As he was good in music, Fr. Paul built up the choir group at Urwa which even did participate in musical competitions that would take place at the Don Bosco Hall Mangalore and once secured the overall second position in singing competition. Being confident of his musical talents, Fr. Paul along with Harry D’Souza, the Band Master of Bijai brought out a Hymn Cassette titled “Geetham Gavyam”. For half of the hymns contained in the cassette, Fr. Paul wrote lyrics and provided music.

 

 

Following his three years stay at Urwa, which he considers a watershed in his priestly vocation, Fr. Paul got his first teaching assignment at Kulur High School. Meanwhile, he was also assigned the responsibility as the Assistant Parish Priest at the Church of St. Lawrence at Bondel with additional designation as the Chaplain to the Mary Hill Convent for one year. Later, he was shifted to the Kulur Church as a resident priest while continuing his teaching assignment in the High School and was made in charge of the Tannirbhavi parish.

 

In 1997, Fr. Paul was promoted as a lecturer and was sent to St. Mary’s PU College, Shirva, where he taught English. After one year, he was assigned the charge of the newly consecrated Church of Our Lady of Fatima at Mundkur near Kinnigoli as the first Parish Priest. However, Fr. Paul had to commute practically every day from Mundkur to Shirva to take lectures in the PU College. Meanwhile, in 2002, Fr. Paul acquired the Konkani Diploma from St. Aloysius College after undergoing two years course.

 

After continuing in the above arrangement for four years, Fr. Paul finally came to Moodubelle in 2002. After working as a lecturer of English for one year, in   2003, Fr. Paul was elevated to the position of the Principal of the PU College following the retirement of John Menezes, who had been the Principal of the PU College for 18 years.

 

 

Soon after assuming the responsible post of the Principal, Fr. Paul found that there was lot of scope for improvement and progress in the institution. The wide experience that he had gained during his previous assignments, especially as the lecturer in St. Mary’s PU College, Shirva for five years, helped him in streamlining the administration and overall educational atmosphere in both St. Lawrence High School and PU College. 

 

Fr. Paul realized that the teachers are the greatest resources in any field of education. Updating the knowledge and adopting innovative teaching methods would go a long way in making a difference in the teaching and learning process. With this view, Fr. Paul organized workshops and seminars with the help of experienced resource persons in this field. Teachers from the high school and PU College were also deputed to various institutions to attend conferences and workshops in order to gain additional knowledge and teaching techniques.

 

Introducing the midday meal for the students was one of the most significant measures undertaken by Fr. Paul which indirectly helped in improving the general health of the students and their concentration in studies. It was found that a number of students skipped their morning breakfast and brought frugal Tiffin for lunch. Lack of proper food caused not only malnutrition but also made the students prone to various illnesses especially during the monsoon season. Besides, lack of proper food was manifested in their lack of concentration on studies and sleepiness in the classes. They had no sufficient energy to play games and sports as well.

 

 

After analysing the causes of the lack of enthusiasm and concentration on the part of the students in their studies and other activities, Fr.Paul thought in terms of providing the students with some kind of refreshment. Meanwhile, the Lions Club of Moodubelle under the leadership of Commodore Jerome Castelino came forward to sponsor the midday meal to the students. The foundation stone for the school canteen was laid by the then President of the Lions Club, Robert D’Souza. The Lions Club provided the midday meal facility for all the students of the high school and PU College for one year. Thereafter, the facility has been managed by the management and the staff of the institution.

 

With a view to develop the overall personality and value system of the students, Fr. Paul took initiative in introducing Cultural Activity and Moral Science classes, National Service Scheme (NSS) and Eco-Club for the PU students and Scouts and Guide for the high school students. Besides these, Yakshagana training and Yoga classes were also introduced for the benefit of the students. In order to inculcate patriotism and to strengthen a sense of nationalism, Fr. Paul began the practice of celebrating national festivals. In order to develop the writing skill among the students, a Wall Magazine was started in which the articles, poems and drawings of the students were displayed.

 

 

For the identification of the students belonging to the high school and the PU College, distinct uniforms were prescribed. Public phone facility was introduced in the campus so that students could communicate with their parents or guardians whenever needed. The students were also provided clean drinking water facility.

 

Another innovative practice introduced by Fr. Paul has been half an hour spare time after the end of the PU College so that the students could either relax after the strenuous classes or have interaction with the teachers for counselling or to solve their difficulties; practice games and cultural programmes or use computers, go to the library or just revise the day’s studies.

 

In 2003, the then Correspondent of the institution, Fr. Valerian took the initiative in providing a new office to the Principal. In the same year water taps for washing plates and a spacious cycle stand were provided to the students.

 

In 2006, under the dynamic leadership of Fr. Paul, the Silver Jubilee of the Pre University College was celebrated with great success. As part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations separate toilet blocks for boys and girls were constructed. Other infrastructural developments included resting room for the staff and girl students, library was renovated and additional new books were acquired, demonstration room for science practical was provided, compound wall till the playground was constructed, garden in front of the PU College was laid , the front portion of the PU College was provided with a new facelift and facade was raised in front of the office.

 

 

In order to ease the burden of the midday meal to the PUC students a fund of over a lac of rupees was instituted by the Parent-Teachers’ Association. The amount was raised by staging a Tulu play. In 2006, the result of the PU classes was 99 per cent and St. Lawrence PU College stood First in the Catholic Board of education and second in the Udupi District.  Leston Cornelio stood first in the Catholic Board of Education and 4th in the Udupi District. In the Pratibha Karanaji, St. Lawrence High School scored first position in the Zone.

 

As part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the PU College, the Science Section of the PUC was started in 2008 with four laboratories for Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Computer Science. Fr. Paul says that Fr. Arun Mendonca was chiefly responsible for setting up of these laboratories. It was Fr. Arun who conceptualized, planned and executed the entire work of these laboratories.

 

The Golden Jubilee celebrations of the St. Lawrence High School were inaugurated on 1st January 2009. Throughout the year different programmes were held in various fields of school activity. A seminar for the staff members was conducted with Dr. P.V. Bhandary of A.V. Baliga Memorial Hospital, Doddana Gudde, Udupi as the resource person. He also conducted another seminar for the students. A seminar on Creativity conducted by the Principal of St. Mary’s College, Shirva was held for the teachers from Udupi Taluka. Other important events organized as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations included the Inter school and PU College cultural competition, hosting of the Athletics meet of the PU Colleges in Udupi Taluka South Zone.

 

 

A number of infrastructural works have been undertaken as part of the Golden Jubilee celebration. Renovation of the hall of the institution was a significant part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. In order to provide better playground and promote athletics, field and court games, the existing ground is being renovated and expanded and additional space has been obtained where the work of levelling the ground and laying out of courts for different games is going on with full speed. Water harvesting facility has been provided by covering the old well in the corner of the playground and making provision to flow the rain water into the hollow well.

 

As part of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the high school, Fr.Paul proposed to set up two funds-one of five lac rupees out of the interest of which the poor and needy students of the high school would be helped and the other, Endowment Prize Fund in memory of each of the Correspondents, Head Masters, Principals and teaching and non-teaching staff. Fr. Paul said that a number of old students have already contributed Rs.25,000/- each  to constitute the Endowment Prize Fund in memory of their favourite persons from the above categories.

 

Fr. Paul feels quite at home in the parish of Moodubelle because of the love and affection of the parishioners who consider him to be one of their own. Whenever there is any need for help, the parishioners are ready to sacrifice for the sake of the institution which had been their Alma Mater and that of their children.

 

Fr. Paul has a great vision for the future of the educational institution that he heads. He would like to see that the students of the high school who would not be able to continue the normal academic education would be able to continue their studies in Moodubelle itself  in vocational training through Polytechnic.  He also has a desire that all the sister institutions of the parish would have greater cooperation and interaction for homogenous progress of these institutions. In general, Fr. Paul expressed his view that the people of the village should come out of their narrow view of life and acquire proper knowledge and temperament to achieve greater goals for themselves and their children and thus transform the village into a progressive and forward looking society. 

 

For the successful running of any educational institution, community involvement and support is a necessary condition. Fr. Paul feels that the parish community should be aware that it is only due to quality education that the community can progress and for good education, the institutions should strive for excellence and this would be possible by having appropriate facilities and infrastructure in the institutions. This requires the all round support from all the members of the community.

 

 

As the Principal of St. Lawrence PU College, Fr. Paul feels greatly honoured to have been guided and supported by eminent Correspondents-Fr. Charles Lewis, Fr. Valerian D’Souza and presently by Fr. Joswey Fernandes. He is thankful to the Parish Pastoral Council and especially its Vice-President, Henry Fernandes for their unstinted support and help in running the institution. Fr. Paul is also appreciative of the cooperation that has been extended by the teaching as well as the non-teaching staff not only in the routine work but also for actively participating in various programmes and functions that have been associated with the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of St. Lawrence High School. He feels indebted to the great support and cooperation of Mr. Devdas Hebbar, President of the Old Students’ Association and all its members and Mrs. Meera Lobo-President of Parents-Teachers’ Association and all its members.

 

Fr. Paul has a special word of thanks for the Bellevision, especially Bellevision-UAE Unit which has been a strong pillar of strength to the parish and the educational institutions. Besides financial help, Bellevision has done a great service during this year of the Golden Jubilee celebrations by giving wide publicly in their website, Bellevision.com. He expressed his gratitude to Mr. Valerian Alva, President of the Bellevision, all past Presidents and members of Bellevision global and Mr. Sigfred D’Souza, the Web Master for their constant support and publicity.  

 

The valedictory functions of the Golden Jubilee celebrations will be held on 28th, 29th and 30th of December 2009. Invitations for these functions have already been extended to all.Fr. Paul desires to meet and interact with as many old students as possible. He looks forward to these three days of Golden Jubilee celebration of St. Lawrence High School that would bring everyone to the portals of this great educational institution that has shaped the lives and careers of thousands of Belleans.

 

 

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