Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza - The “Architect of Modern Moodubelle”

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By Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

Moodubelle, 17 January 2010: The magnificent new church building of Moodubelle that was blessed and dedicated on 5th January 2006 stands as a witness to the ability and sagacity of Rev. Dr. Valerian D’Souza who earned the epithet as the “Architect of Modern Belle”. Being a priest, either as an assistant parish priest or as the parish priest, wherever he went to serve the people in the name of God, he left the parish richer in terms of infrastructure and spiritual fervour and succeeded in making lasting impression on  the people of those parishes where he served.




 Fr. Valerian’s connection with Moodubelle has been very special. In mid-1960’s he had been in Moodubelle for two years as the assistant parish priest when the St. Lawrence High School was in its infancy. After many years in mid-2000’s, Fr. Valerian was destined to come back to Moodubelle as the parish priest and during five years of his tenure he not only re-built the Church dedicated to St. Lawrence but also provided a new and magnificent look to the entire church compound with expanded surroundings,  a spacious residence for priests and the Shrine of St. Lawrence.


Fr. Valerian comes from a large and devout family of thirteen children-six boys and seven girls. Out of these three had passed away before Fr. Valerian was born and three later. Fr. Valerian is the ninth child born on 15th October 1932 at a place known as Piliguri (Tiger Depth) in Bantwal. His parents, late Paul and late Mary D’Souza had to work hard to raise and educate their children. Their sacrifice is memorable and praiseworthy as they did not prevent any of their five children-two sons and three daughters dedicating themselves to the service of God and humanity.


Recalling the early childhood and growing up days, Fr. Denis, the younger brother of Fr. Valerian writes in an article published in ‘Jinye Suvadh’, the souvenir that was brought out on the occasion of the 75th birthday celebration of Fr. Valerian, “Fr. Vally has been clever and active right from his childhood. We were quite friendly and always used to accompany each other while going to the church for mass or to the far off Bhandaribettu SVS High School. We were together even while working and going for fishing during the holidays.”  Valerian had to assist his parents and siblings in carrying out different kinds of agricultural tasks before rushing to school.


After completing the SSLC examination in 1951, Valerian decided to join St. Joseph’s Seminary at Jeppu in Mangalore. He considers late Archbishop, Most Rev. Dr. Albert D’Souza and late Fr. Edwin Castelino who was an ideal parish priest as the two important persons who had inspired him to join the priesthood. In the seminary along with the priestly training, Br. Valerian improved his talents in music and playing different musical instruments. He was also good in sports and athletics. While 100 and 200 meters race were his preferred track events, he was very good in playing field games such as football and hockey and court games such as volleyball.


After undergoing the necessary training and studies for the priesthood, Fr. Valerian was ordained a priest along with three others in the Infant Jesus Church, Modankap, Bantwal on 5th December 1959. Following the ordination, Fr. Valerian spent initial six years as assistant parish priest in three different parishes-Pezar, Valencia and Moodubelle.


During the two years of his tenure in Moodubelle as the assistant priest (1964-66), Fr. Valerian acquired a lot of experience in serving the parish. As the then parish priest, Fr. Abundius D’Souza was not keeping good health, Fr. Valerian had to carry out most of his responsibilities such as solemnising marriages, conducting funerals, attending the sick and visiting the houses of the parishioners. As St. Lawrence High School had just started five years ago, Fr. Valerian had to work with the parish people contributing voluntary labour in order to flatten the hillock in front of the school. He not only motivated and encouraged the people doing ‘sarthi’ but also initiated the practice of providing them some kind of light refreshment.


Recalling his tenure as the assistant parish priest for two years, Fr. Valerian in retrospect has high praise for the people of Moodubelle. He says that though the people of Belle were simple and poor, they sacrificed and gave everything for the sake of the high school like the widow in the New Testament who gave everything that she had.





Realising the potential of Fr. Valerian for further studies, the Bishop of Mangalore deputed him to Rome for doctorate in 1966 and within four years in 1970, he completed the doctoral thesis titled “Theologico Canonical Position of Laity in the Church.” This is an analytical study on the position of the laity in the church in the eyes the Canon Law. Fr. Valerian’s thesis was not only accepted for the Doctorate degree, but was awarded the highest rank “Summa Cum Laude” (To be Praised Highest).


After returning from Rome armed with the doctorate degree, Rev. Dr. Valerian was appointed as the first full-time Diocesan Youth Director for three years from 1970 to 1973. Meanwhile, in 1971, he was deputed to Urwa as the parish priest. At the age of 38, Fr. Valerian was the youngest parish priest in the history of the Urwa parish.


At Urwa, Fr. Valerian wanted to experiment with the new thinking on the basis of the new approach to laity as laid down during the Second Vatican council (1965). He was keen revitalize the community and provide everyone with equal opportunity in the church services. However, it was quite difficult to change the conservative mindset of the few wealthy and powerful people who had their influence in the activities of the parish.


The first change that Fr. Valerian wanted to introduce was doing away with the practice of reservation of pews for which some families had paid. This revolutionary approach of Fr. Valerian met with stiff resistance from the privileged class of the parishioners. With a strong resolve not to succumb to the pressure of the few elitist families, Fr. Valerian got new benches so that other common people also could avail the facility of a dignified seating in the church during the liturgical services. Gradually, Fr. Valerian could earn the confidence of the people and his efforts to modernise the Urwa parish succeeded. Fr. Valerian took interest in making the parish financially viable by developing coconut grove that yields around one lac of rupees per annum.


In 1978, Fr. Valerian was transferred to Puttur parish having the highest conglomeration of educational institutions with Kannada and English medium schools, separate high schools for boys and girls and a full-fledged St. Philomena’s College. As the financial condition of the parish was quite pathetic, Fr. Valerian took steps to streamline the finances of the parish and the educational institutions.


As a visionary, Fr. Valerian took bold steps to modernise Puttur parish by undertaking developmental work in the vast parish campus. With the approval of the Parish Council, Fr. Valerian got the cemetery shifted from the church compound to a new location. In order to provide financial stability to the educational institutions, he erected a two storey Shop-cum-School Complex building. While the ground floor shops were rented out to the shop keepers and traders, the upper storeys were utilized for the Kannada Medium School.  He constructed a new two storey building to the St. Victor’s English Primary School that had been running in a dilapidated structure. Fr. Valerian also provided additional class rooms to the St. Victor’s Girls High School and took up the task of repairing the roof of the church and finally built a new residence for priests. Meanwhile, with the intention of establishing a new parish in Puttur, Fr. Valerian purchased three acres of land at a place known as Maril.



While providing material infrastructure to the parish, Fr. Valerian did not neglect the spiritual and social needs of the people. He took special interest in promoting the young people by reviving and starting youth organisations and sodalities. He also started saving schemes to promote the habit of savings among the poorer parishioners; introduced the practice of settlement of family disputes through arbitration; initiated a rolling fund for building new houses or repairing the old ones of the poor people, etc. The people of Puttur had the rare occasion to participate in the 50th birthday and 25th anniversary of the priesthood of their beloved parish priest, Fr. Valerian.  For his great service in Puttur, Fr. Valerian earned the epithet as the ‘Putturda Mutthu’ (Pearl of Puttur).


After seven years of dedicated service in Puttur, Fr. Valerian was assigned the responsibility as the Diocesan Treasurer in the Bishop’s House in 1985.


In 1992, Fr. Valerian went to Kulshekar (Cordel) parish as the eleventh parish priest. Here too during his tenure of seven years, Fr. Valerian continued his work of creating new infrastructure for the church complex. He rebuilt the century old parish residence for the priests and constructed a three storey high building for the Kannada medium school. Under his leadership the 125th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the church by the founder of the Cordel church, Fr. Alexander Dubwa was celebrated and in the memory of the Post Centenary Silver Jubilee, he constructed the spacious ‘Cordel Hall’ that can accommodate around 1000 people. Other achievements of Fr. Valerian in Kulshekar include renovation of the vast play ground, repairing and painting of the church, new look to the cemetery, beautification of the surrounding area by planting saplings, etc.


As in the case of Puttur, in Cordel too, Fr. Valerian endeavoured to build the parish community along with providing the material infrastructure to the church campus. He revived the Young Catholic Movement, founded the Catholic Sabha and improved the functioning of many other parish organisations and also promoted the spiritual life of the people by organising regular retreats, charismatic prayer meetings and many other devotions.


Fr. Valerian’s capacity to greater works prompted the Bishop of Mangalore to send him as the Episcopal Vicar of Udupi with his base at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Udupi in June 1999. He represented the Bishop of Mangalore Diocese with the right to administer confirmation and to exercise such executive powers delegated by the Bishop. The jurisdiction of the Udupi Episcopal Vicariate extended over Udupi, Kallianpur and Kundapur Deaneries.


In 2003, Fr. Valerian was transferred to St. Lawrence Parish Moodubelle. However, his position as the Episcopal Vicar continued till 2007, which he exercised from Moodubelle. With the reputation as the priest who transformed Puttur and Cordel into modern church complexes, Fr. Valerian was destined to hit a hat trick with similar work at Moodubelle.


During his five years term as the parish priest of Moodubelle till his retirement in 2008, Fr. Valerian took up the gigantic task of constructing entirely a new church building in the place of the old one with more capacity and durability. In this task the people of Moodubelle have given him full support, both moral and financial. Besides constructing the new church he 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. The newly constructed Church and Shrine of were blessed and dedicated by the Bishop of Mangalore Rev. Dr. Aloysius D’Souza on 5th January 2006.


As the residence for the priests was too small, Fr. Valerian took initiative to construct a spacious parish residence. Other building activities of Fr. Valerian include construction of the ground floor of the English Medium High School and elevating and asphalting the road connecting the Church compound and the school-college complex.



As the Correspondent of the St. Lawrence group of educational institutions, Fr. Valerian provided a separate and well equipped Principal’s office, 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 Pre University 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. Her 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, Fr. Valerian provided computers for the newly set up computer laboratory in the Pre University College. He was instrumental in persuading the Syndicate Bank to open a branch in Moodubelle near the College Complex. During the tenure of Fr. Valerian as the Correspondent, the Science Section in 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. Paul Sequeria, the Principal of St. Lawrence Composite Pre University College, Moodubelle has fond memories of Fr. Valerian. Fr. Paul was a seminarian when Fr. Valerian was the parish priest of Puttur. He remembers with gratitude the help given by Fr. Valerian to him. Knowing the financial constraints of Br. Pauls’ family, Fr. Valerian took the initiative of helping Fr. Paul financially till his ordination. As a coincidence, many years later, while Fr. Paul has been serving as the Principal of St. Lawrence Composite PU 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.


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 Moodubelle and gave a new direction to the youths by encouraging them to organise their activities through Indian Christian Youth Movement (ICYM).


Acknowledging his valuable service to the Moodubelle parish, the ever grateful people of the village celebrated the 75th birthday of Fr. Valerian on a grand scale on 15th October 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 Moodubelle 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 where he is spending quality time in reading, praying  and looking after 11 retired priests who are elder to him.




During his long period of priestly life, Fr. Valerian had the privilege of meeting prominent personalities including Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. He had the good fortune of working with 20 assistant priests who gave him complete support in all his endeavours. He also had the opportunity to visit the United States of America about fifteen times. During these visits he used to offer his priestly service in the Church of St. John the Baptist in a City named Rome in the New York State. Most of the parishioners in Rome were the descendants of the Italian migrants who have been quite affectionate towards Fr. Valerian. He could communicate with them easily as he knew the Italian language. Even after his retirement, Fr. Valerian visited the United States and went to Canada and had an opportunity to see the important cities such as Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa.



Fr. Valerian celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood on 5th December 2009. Respecting the invitation of Fr. Joswey Fernandes, the parish priest of Moodubelle on behalf of the parishioners, Fr. Valerian celebrated the Christmas Eve Mass on 24th December 2009 and following the end of the Mass was felicitated for completing fifty years of his service as a priest in general and for his special service in the Moodubelle parish in particular. He also remained present for the Golden Jubilee celebrations of St. Lawrence High School on 28th and 29th December 2009 and was once again honoured as the preceding Correspondent of St. Lawrence High School on the 29th December 2009 during the ‘Guruvandana’ programme.


As mentioned earlier, along with him, Fr. Valerian’s three sisters and one brother have dedicated themselves to the service of God and the Church. His elder sister, Sr. Lucina, presently above 92 years, had joined the Bethany Congregation and had served as Superior and Regional Superior of the Congregation and is presently in Bangalore. Another sister, Sr. Saverina who is 83 years old had been in the Brigitine Congregation and had served as Superior and Provincial for three terms and at present she is in Bangalore. His younger brother, Fr. Denis, who presently serves as the parish priest at Sampige will be completing 75 years on 15th February 2010 and will retire soon after. Another younger sister of Fr. Valerian, Sr. Celine who is 66 years old has been a member of the Bethany Congregation and is presently serves in the Bethany Convent at Thakode.



As he is quite conscious about his health, Fr. Valerian spends his post-retirement time in regular daily walk for nearly 45 minutes. He loves reading and listening to Western Classical Music. Looking back the fifty years of his priestly life Fr. Valerian feels contented and happy for whatever he had done at different parishes where he had an opportunity to serve. He feels happy because he had served, and served the people as he was happy to do so. He has the satisfaction of the fact that  wherever he was sent to serve the people, he rendered selfless service. Not that wherever he went the task was easy. He had to face problems and difficulties which could overcome because of his persuasive nature and perseverance in completing the task that he had undertaken.


Fr. Valerian has special appreciation of the people of Moodubelle, first when he came as the assistant parish priest and worked with the people in voluntary labour ‘sarthi’ for the high school and later as the parish priest when he built the magnificent church and changed the entire face of the church campus that is the focal point of the Moodubelle village. He has been grateful to the people of Moodubelle and Bellites abroad who did not hesitate to donate whatever they could for the construction of the magnificent Church and other infrastructural developments. Fr. Valerian is happy that God gave him an opportunity to serve the people and he did serve them well in constructing magnificent buildings and building parish communities and he did leave the footprints on the sands of time especially in Puttur, Cordel and Moodubelle.


(As Fr. Valerian D’Souza, who has completed 50 years of his priesthood and his brother, Fr. Denis D’Souza, the parish priest of Sampige who completes 75 years of life will be offering the Thanksgiving Mass on Thursday, 21st January 2010 at St. Sebastian Church, Bendur, Mangalore, Bellevision wish both Fr. Valerian and Fr. Denis good health and happiness, and a big thank you to Fr. Valerian for your great contribution to the Parish of Moodubelle.)


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Comments on this Article
Thomas, Moodubelle/ Dubai Tue, January-19-2010, 3:19
Fr.Valley is a great leader, good visionary systematic planner. We thank those who are responsible to get Fr. Valley as our parish priest .He has brought the revolutionary changes to church and surrounding areas. I still remember those days back in 2003 when he visited Dubai and presented the masterplan.And the dream of belle people is has made it reality by this multitalented priest. Fr. Valley is a priest of all parishioners and he will be in the heart of each and every Belle parishioners. May almighty god grant him good health and a happy retired life.
Robert Castelino, Moodubelle/Manipal/Bahrain Tue, January-19-2010, 2:17
Congratulations to Fr.Valerian on the special occassion of Golden Jubilee of your priesthood.You are a person of great vision who planned rebuild the present church in Moodubelle which is a Religious landmark in the region.May St.Lawrence obtain Gods blessings upon you may you have a happy
Valerian Alva, Moodubelle / Dubai Mon, January-18-2010, 10:03
Fr.Vally is a great visionary. The development work he has carried out in Moodubelle itself shows his immense knowledge and sense of professionalism. He has truly changed the face of Moodubelle and truly deserve the title The “Architect of Modern Moodubelle”.
Manoj, Moodubelle/Dubai Sun, January-17-2010, 9:55
Congratulations to Fr. Vally on the occassion of golden Jubliee celebrations of your Priesthood. May god Shower his choiciest blessings on you. You are truely the Architect of Modern Moodubelle!!!! Also a big thank you to Dr. Eugene for this wonderful article.
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