St. Lawrence Parish of Belle Through the Century - III

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By Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Adapted from: The Brief History of St. Lawrence Parish, Belle (in Konkani) by Boniface Barboza
Bellevision Media Network

3. Development  of the Belle Parish

Moodubelle, 17 November 2010: Following the transfer of Fr. Casmir Fernandes from Belle as the parish priest of Udyavar, Fr. Alphonse Maria Ligory D’Souza arrived as the second parish priest of Belle. Fr. Ligory D’Souza had the reputation of being a famous and effective preacher. His powerful sermons were attentively heard by the people. He initiated the tradition of the devotion of the Holy Hour on the first Sundays of every month.


In order to manifest the gratitude of the Belle parishioners towards Fr. Casmir Fernandes, Fr. Ligory D’Souza invited the former on 5 October 1935 and celebrated the Silver Jubilee of Fr. Casmir Fernandes accepting the responsibility as the parish priest of Belle and food was served to the poor people of the parish.  Fr. Ligory D’Souza also made arrangements for bringing the mortal remains of late Fr. Gregory Anthony Menezes, the former parish priest of the Lower Church of Shirva who had started the first chapel at Belle, in a grand procession and were interred inside the church at Belle in front of the eastern side altar.


Fr. Alphonse Maria Ligory D’Souza


It was during the tenure of Fr. Ligory D’Souza as the parish priest that a number of developments took place in the infra-structure of the church. In 1943,  Fr. Ligory got the  church floor fixed with brick-tiles; provided galleries for the communion at the edge of the main platform of the altar; renovated the chief altar and the tower of the church; constructed a separate room for the baptismal font; and built the stone compound wall for the cemetery and provided it with a gate.


The silver jubilee of the construction of the church building was celebrated during the tenure of Fr. Ligory D’Souza for a week from 2 January 1944. The then Bishop of Mangalore, Most  Rev. Victor Fernandes offered the Pontifical Mass  and the first priest from Belle, Fr. Fabian Fernandes, grandson of Alex Gaga delivered the homily during this occasion. Fr. Ligory D’Souza worked alone without an assistant priest for six years. He even taught for some time in the school and became quite popular among the people of Belle. He was transferred to Hospet on 3 June 1945 and till a new parish priest arrived, the spiritual needs of the Belle parishioners were looked after temporarily by the then parish priest of Shankerapura (Pangala) Fr. Basil Peris who later became the Bishop of Mangalore.


On 11 June 1945, Fr. Jerome Pinto came to Belle as the third parish priest. He got the well in front of the kitchen dug; laid tiles on the floor of the church; extended the front portion of the residence of the priests as portico; and erected the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the northern end of the church compound.


Fr. Jerome Pinto


In order to enhance the spiritual life of the parishioners, Fr. Jerome Pinto started the Secular Order of St. Francis of Assisi also known as the Tertiary Order in 1951. In 1954, Fr. Casmir Fernandes who was staying at the retired priests’ home at Kankanady was invited to Belle and the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood was celebrated in a befitting manner under the supervision of Fr. Jerome Pinto. Following the death of Fr. Casmir Fernandes on 18 May 1955, his body was brought to Belle on 19 May 1955 and was interred within the church in front of the main altar.


Fr. Gracian D’Souza came to Belle as the assistant priest during the tenure of Fr. Jerome Pinto. Though Fr. Gracian was in Belle for a brief period of four months, he took initiative to lay the road from Belle to Kinnigudde. The next assistant priest was Fr. Charles Saldanha. He served in Belle for six years and during this period he became very popular among the young children. Fr. Robert Pinto, a prolific preacher followed Fr. Charles Saldanha as the assistant priest. Fr. Robert Pinto’s sermons, especially during the Lent had been very effective among the parishioners. He was also good in singing and conducting liturgical services. Fr. Joseph Sequeira was the next assistant priest during the tenure of Fr. Jerome Pinto as the parish priest. After 12 years of service as the parish priest of Belle, Fr. Jerome Pinto was transferred to Ferar.


Fr. Jerome Pinto was born on 16 January 1900. He was ordained priest on 3 December 1929. He served as assistant parish priest at Puttur from 1929 to 1931, Urwa and later Bendur. He was the parish priest of Karady from 1935 to 1940, Byndoor from 1940 to 1945, Belle from 1945 to 1957, Ferar from 1957 to 1961, Mulky from 1961 to 1965 and Hospet from 1965 to 1974. Fr. Jerome Pinto expired on 12 May 1979.


The parish of Belle was placed on the right path of progress in the field of education with the arrival of Fr. Abundius D’Souza as the fourth parish priest on 21 April 1957. He was soft-spoken and quiet natured and known for his spirituality and dedication.  He introduced a number of innovations both spiritual and material in the Belle parish. Fr. Abundius was chiefly responsible for reviving the dormant Men’s Sodality. He introduced the practice of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the first Friday of every month and introduced evening Mass at 4 pm on every Sunday for the benefit of the parishioners who were unable to attend the morning Mass. He rebuilt the top portion of the facade of the church that was damaged due to lightening that struck on 21 October 1957. He also renovated the portico of the church.


Fr. Abundius D’Souza


Realising the need to have a bank in Belle, Fr. Abundius D’Souza took initiative to open the branch of the Pangala Nayak Bank. As the parish community was growing with additional families, Fr. Abundius increased the number of Wards from nine to fifteen.


However, the name of Fr. Abundius D’Souza has been immortalised in the annals of the history of Belle due to the fact that it was he who realised the importance of education and understood the problems faced by the young children of Belle who had to travel to far off places such as Innanje, Shirva or Udupi for high school education.  The school going children had to face   a number of difficulties while travelling to these places as they had to cross the rivers which was quite dangerous during the rainy season. Fr. Abundius D’Souza worked to get the approval of the parishioners.


According to some account, realising the need to have a high school in Belle, in 1958 some of the prominent residents of the village irrespective of their religion and caste held a meeting in the Church Higher Primary School hall under the leadership of Fr. Abundius and floated the idea of having a high school in Belle. Among those who were present at the meeting, Francis D’Souza (Sila Soz) of Kodangala promised a donation of one thousand rupees that gave momentum to the process of having a high school in Belle. The other prominent persons who supported the idea of having a high school included two Immanuel D’Souzas, popularly known as ‘Bahrain Monna’ and ‘Monnu Master’, Salvador Barboza, Lawrence D’Souza (Post Master) and the teachers of the Church Aided Higher Primary School. Other persons present in the meeting also supported this idea and promised to do whatever it needed to have a high school in the village. It is also said that the members of the St. Lawrence Club in Mumbai also felt that there should be a high school in Moodubelle for the benefit of their children.


Mr Francis D’Souza (Sila Soz)


Thus, against all odds, Fr. Abundius succeeded in establishing the high school named after the patron saint of the parish, St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence High School was started  functioning from 2 June 1959 with Denis D’Silva as the first headmaster. The first batch of the high school was inaugurated in the presence of  the then Bishop of Mangalore, Most Rev. Dr. Raymond D’Mello, Denis Pinto MLA and  T.A. Pai.



With the foundation of the high school, Belle was set on the path of progress. The children no longer required to travel long distances to acquire secondary education in different places.


The construction of the new building for the high school was a daunting task. With meagre donation that was collected from the people and other sources as well by the voluntary labour contributed by the parishioners in the form of ‘sarthi’, the high school building was finally ready by November 1960.  In this task of construction of the  new building for the high school, the then assistant parish priest-Fr. Theodore Lobo’s contribution was quite significant. For ten days from 19 November 1960, Belle witnessed a series of celebrations such as the inauguration of the new building of St. Lawrence High School, Golden Jubilee of the foundation of the Belle parish and the Silver Jubilee of the ordination of Fr. Abundius D’Souza. The Auxiliary Bishop of Mysore, Most Rev. Dr. Albert D’Souza inaugurated these celebrations.



Fr. Abundius D’Souza could not rest on the laurels of the establishment of the high school. There remained a lot of other work to be completed such as levelling the hill in front of  the high school building and preparing a playground for the high school students. Once again with the help of voluntary labour of the parishioners considerable amount of the hill was flattened.


Meanwhile, Fr. Abundius D’Souza invited the Bethany Sisters to come to Belle and assist in the pastoral and educational activities of the parish. The Bethany Sisters accepted the invitation and opened their house named Loreto Convent at Belle on 31 May 1964.  Other important infra-structural work undertaken by Fr. Abundius D’Souza included erecting a gate in front of the church compound, replacing the old dilapidated structure of the higher primary school with a new building comprising of seven class-rooms and electrification of the church and the residence of the priests.



Fr. Abundius D’Souza has been known as the priests who encouraged a large number of young men and women to join religious life.  During his tenure as the parish priest not only a large number of vocations for the religious life can be traced but also a number of priests offered their first Masses following their ordination. In April 1960, the Bishop of Kuwait, Most  Rev. Dr. Stellan visited Belle parish and gave a generous donation of Rs.6,000 to the high school building. It was during the tenure of Fr. Abundius D’Souza, Salvador Barboza, who had rendered service in the church as sacristan since the inception of the parish retired. Another prominent person who devoted a lot of time in the service of the parish in various capacities was Immanuel D’Souza popularly known as ‘Monnu Master’.


As the parishioners from Pamboor found it difficult to attend religious services and Sunday Masses and fulfil other spiritual needs they were provided a separate church which was eventually raised into an independent parish. During the tenure of Fr. Abundius D’Souza, besides Fr. Theodore Lobo, Fr. Albert Menezes, Fr. Mark Fernandes and Fr. Valerian D’Souza served as assistant parish priests in Belle.  Following the transfer of Fr. Valerian D’Souza, Fr. Sylvester Vas served both as assistant parish priest and a teacher in St. Lawrence High school.



After rendering long service to the parishioners of Belle and making a mark as a hardworking, devout and forward looking priest, Fr. Abundius D’Souza was transferred to Kirem on 15 May 1968.


Fr. Abundius D’Souza was born on 2 April 1907 at Bendur in Mangalore. He was ordained a priest on 25 November 1935. He rendered his service to the Diocese of Mangalore in various capacities. He served as assistant parish priest in Modankap (Bantwal) from 1936 to 1938, Cordel from 1938 to 1944 and Bejai from 1944 to 1945. He served as in-charge parish priest of Kayyar between 1945 and 1946. Once again he was the assistant parish priest at Cassia from 1946 to 1948 and Milagres from 1948 to 1949. Later he served once again as in-charge parish priest of Katapady from 1949 to 1955 and Rector of the Fatima Retreat House, Jeppu-Mangalore between 1955 and 1957. Fr. Abundius was appointed as the parish priest of Belle in 1957 where he continued till 1969 and Kirem was his last posting as the parish priest where he served between 1969 and 1982.  He went to heavenly abode on 6 July 1987.




Comments on this Article
E J D\ SOUZA, MOODUBELLE Thu, November-18-2010, 11:36
Benedict Noronha, Udupi Thu, November-18-2010, 7:11
Every day is a new day the bellevision refreshes my childhood days. Fr.Abundius D souza the parish Priest made great influence in my life and I am what I am today. But for him, with heavy heart I say,too would have been in the priesly flock some where in this India. He was very close to my parents and his incite kept me back from entering seminary. I accepted it a god Ordained. He had helped me in many ways and was insiration to me always. I was looking for his photgraph and today I got it. Thank you Dr.Eugene for the very good write up. May you give many more .
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