St. Lawrence Parish of Belle Through the Century - VI [Beginning of a New Era]

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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


6.    Beginning of a New Era


Moodubelle, 08 December 2010: A new era in the history of St. Lawrence Parish, Belle began to unfold with the arrival of Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza as the tenth parish priest on 14 May 2003. The fact that he had earlier served the Belle parish as an assistant parish priest 38 years ago made him a familiar face especially with the older generation of the parish. He had come to Belle with a lot of experience being the Episcopal Vicar of Udupi, Kallianpur and Kundapur Varados. He was sent to Belle by the Bishop of Mangalore with a mission to build a new church as the existing church building had become quite old and dilapidated. Besides the construction of the magnificent new church building, the list of the infrastructural work that was undertaken by Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza has been quite impressive.



Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza improved the connecting road between the church and St. Lawrence Composite PU College by providing cement drainage on both sides of the road and raising and asphalting of the road. He got the ground around the church levelled and built compound wall around it. On the levelled land to the western side of the church, a beautiful coconut and banana orchard was developed.


The crowning glory of Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza’s tenure as the parish priest of Belle is the construction of the spacious and magnificent new church building.  As it was realised that the previous church building had become quite old and outdated and there was a need for additional inner space there had been a desire and a plan to have a new church building. However, Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza proceeded in this matter in a democratic manner. First, he placed the proposal of the new church building in the Parish Pastoral Council which was unanimously accepted by it. Later, a ward level survey was conducted for the general approval of the parishioners and their potential to pay contribution towards constructing the new church building. The proposal for a new church was eventually approved by the Bishop of Mangalore, Most Rev. Dr. Aloysius D’Souza.



Prior to the construction of the new church building, the structure of the old church was pulled down with the assistance of the parishioners and the construction of the new church began with earnestness. Parishioners from Belle, within India and abroad generously donated considerable amount of money for the construction of the new church building whose cost was over one crore of rupees.


Meanwhile, Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza undertook the construction of a separate nine class-room building for St. Lawrence English Medium School at the cost of 35 lacs of rupees. The foundation stone for the new school building was laid by Mr. Simon Noronha of Thirlapalke who is a prominent entrepreneur in Dubai. The new school building was blessed and inaugurated by Most Rev. Dr. Aloysius D’Souza on 10 August 2005.


Simultaneously, the construction of the new church building was in progress which took two year to complete. It is said that among the churches that were built in the last hundred years, there has been no other church building so beautifully and solidly constructed. The architect of the new church building was Mr. T.J. Lobo, consultant engineer was Mr. B. Satish Tantri and the building contractor was Mr. Robert Noronha. The main altar was designed and executed by Mr. Victor Daya D’Souza, proprietor of ‘Aakar’ and the wall in the background of the altar was designed by Mr. Arthur Rasquinha, proprietor of ‘Simon and Company’. The main entrance tower to the church compound was designed by engineer Mr. Deepak D’Souza. Mr. Henry Fernandes was the president and Mr. Leo Simon Fernandes was the secretary of the Parish Pastoral Council when the church was under construction.



Besides constructing the new church, Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza provided vast space around the church by carving out a considerable portion of the Cross Hill. He also built the Shrine in honour of St. Lawrence within the Church compound sponsored by Mrs. Flavia and  Benedict Martis of Kattingeri in the name of their children-Bradley and Brenda.


The function to inaugurate the newly built church had started earlier with the Confraternity Sunday and ‘hore kanike’ (vojim). People from Shirva, Pamboor, Kanajar, Kuntalnagar and all the 22 wards of the Belle parish and even non-Catholic brethren whole heartedly participated in the grand procession on 29 December 2005, bringing verities of consumer items to the church which were used to provided community meal on the occasion of the annual parish feast and the function of inaugurating the new church building.



The ceremony for the blessing and inauguration of the new church building was attended by a large number of parishioners and people from neighbouring parishes.  Many religious from the parish were also present besides a large number of priests from the diocese. Five Bishops-Most Rev. Dr. Aloysius D’Souza, Bishop of Mangalore, Most Rev. Dr. Robert Miranda, who had earlier served as assistant parish priest of Belle and presently the Bishop of Gulbarga, Most Rev. Dr. Gerald Lobo, Bishop of Shivmoga, Most Rev. Dr. Salvador Lobo, of Mattar Belle, presently Bishop of Bhuraipur in West Bengal and Most Rev. Dr. Albert D’Souza of Kattingeri Belle, presently Archbishop of Agra were present for the inaugural ceremony.



The main entrance tower in front of the church compound was inaugurated by Most Rev. Dr. Salvador Lobo; the Shrine of St. Lawrence was inaugurated by Most Rev. Dr. Albert D’Souza; the main church building was inaugurated by Most Rev. Dr. Robert Miranda and the church building was blessed by Most Rev. Dr. Aloysius D’Souza.


Following the solemn feast mass, a stage programme was organised in the specially arranged pavilion in the church compound during which the prominent guests were honoured, those who worked in the construction of the new church building were rewarded and all those who had donated higher amount towards the construction of the new church building were felicitated. Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza who was instrumental in the construction of the new church was also honoured. There was wide publicity in the media and news papers regarding the inauguration of the new church building. The function of the inauguration of the new church building on 5 January 2006 was memorable one in many ways.


As the residence for the priests was too small, Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza took initiative to construct a spacious parochial house. His other building activities include construction of the ground floor of the English Medium High School.


As the Correspondent of the St. Lawrence group of educational institutions, Fr. Valerian provided a separate and well equipped Principal’s office in St. Lawrence Composite PU College, water taps for washing hands and plates before and after the midday meal for the students and a cycle shed. During the Silver Jubilee of the St. Lawrence Composite P U College, Fr. Valerian provided other infrastructural facilities such as a better staff room for the Pre University lecturers and a resting room for lady teachers. He also got  the office of the College-High School renovated, extended the  compound wall till the playground and gave a facelift to the main Pre University College building.


Realising the importance of the Computer education to the students in modern times, Fr. Valerian provided comuters for the newly set up computer laboratory in the Pre University College. During his tenure as the Correspondent, the Science Section of the Pre University College was started in 2008 as a memorial of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Pre University College. For the future development of the institution, Fr. Valerian purchased 1.35 acres of land towards the west of the high school building to be used for sports facilities.


Fr. Valerian’s great achievement in changing the face of the church complex earned him the epithet as the “Architect of Modern Belle.” As in other parishes, Fr. Valerian took steps to promote spiritual enhancement among the parishioners of Belle and gave a new direction to the youths by encouraging them to organise their activities through Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM).



Acknowledging his valuable service to the Belle parish, the ever grateful people of the village celebrated 75th birthday of Fr. Valerian on a grand scale on 15October 2007. This solemn occasion was graced by four Bishops, 134  priests, around 50 nuns and sisters and around 2,200 people, who were provided lunch following the felicitation function. Though he was to retire after completing 75 years of age Fr. Valerian was asked to continue in Belle till the arrival of the present parish priest, Fr. Joswey Fernandes in June 2008, as the transfer of priests have been usually scheduled in the months of May and June. After, retirement, Fr. Valerian went to the Senior Priests’ Home at Jeppu  in Mangalore where he is spending quality time in reading, praying  and looking after 11 retired priests who are elder to him.



During the tenure of Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza as the parish priest, Fr. Paul Sequeira has been serving as the principal of St. Lawrence Composite PU College. The other assistant parish priests who rendered their service are: Fr. Nelson D’Almeida who after serving in the parish for one year was deputed for higher studies in Pune. His place was taken by the newly ordained young priest, Fr. Vincent Crasta.



Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza was born at Piliguri in Bantwal on 15 October 1932. He was ordained a priest on 5 December 1959. He served as assistant parish priest at Pezar from 1960 to 1962, Valencia from 1962 to 1964 and Belle from 1964 to 1966. Later he served as the Chaplain of St. Antony’s Old Age Home in 1966. Fr. Valerian went for higher studies at Rome between 1966 and 1970. After his return from Rome, Fr. Valerian was appointed as the parish priest of Urwa from 1971 to 1978 and Puttur between 1978 and 1985. He was elevated to the responsible post of procurator from 1985 to 1992. Thereafter he was once again appointed as the parish priest of Cordel from 1992 to 1999. Rev. Fr. Valerian D’Souza served as the Episcopal Vicar of Udupi between 1999 and 2003. Thereafter he served as the parish priest of Belle between 2003 and 2006. After retirement, Rev. Fr. Valerian D’Souza has been serving as in charge of Senior Priests’ Home at Jeppu, Mangalore.



Comments on this Article
Fr. Maurice D\ Souza, Kodangala/ Cleveland, OHIO Wed, December-8-2010, 3:32
Father Valerian is a household name in Moodubelle from the time he came to St. Lawrence Church as Assistant Priest in the mid 60\ s. He was an excellent preacher and educator. In fact, he was and still is an inspiration to me personally from the time I was studying in the High School. He taught me Catechism in the final year of my High School and evoked in me a desire for spirituality and religious life. Ever since I have been in touch with him. His coming back to St. Lawrence as its Pastor this time was welcomed by every one great expectations. Fr. Valerian, not only lived up to that expectation but surprised us all in what he could accomplish in those short three years. May St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr bless him abundantly with health and happiness in the afternoon of his life.
Xavi, Ras Al Kahimah/ Belle Wed, December-8-2010, 6:04
Thanks bellevision for showing us the wonderful history of our belle parish through the century. Really Fr. Valerian was indeed a ray of hope for the church. Also I would strongly request to publish some photos of the old church including its interior and and the high altar. Thanks so much and keep sharing the updates.
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