Fr. John Baptist Mendonca - An educationist with a vision

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By Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Moodubelle, 03 February 2010: The journey of Fr. John Baptist Mendonca from Moodubelle to Mumbai and from there to the diocese of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and his priestly ministry in different mission centres and finally as the principal of Maria Assumpta Senior Secondary School has been the story of spiritual quest, missionary zeal, dedicated service and innovative practices in education. As the principal of the prestigious Maria Assumpta Senior Secondary School at Kashipur in Bareilly district, Fr. John Baptist has been trying to introduce and promote the concept of ‘forming and shaping integrated human beings with a total balanced personality’. He has adopted various ways to achieve this aim with the cooperation of his dedicated and committed staff.



Fr. John Baptist Mendonca was born on 29th June 1959 as the second child among six-four sons and two daughters of late Louis and Lilly Mendonca. John had his higher primary and high school education in Moodubelle and completed the SSLC examination in 1975 from St. Lawrence High School.


As life in Moodubelle was quite difficult due to poor financial condition of the family and seeing no prospects of further education, like many other youths from the village, John too migrated to Mumbai. Residing at the St. Lawrence Club, Clare Road, Byculla, John was in search of a job and was also keen to continue studies. However, destiny took him on an altogether different path.

One of the uncles of John, Fr. Baptist D’Souza from Pangala who was a priest in the Lucknow Diocese was on a visit to his brother in Mumbai. When John went to meet him, Fr. Baptist suggested that he could come to Lucknow and could get himself educated while staying in the minor seminary and if he felt that he had a vocation could join the seminary to be trained as a priest of could return to Mumbai, the choice was his.


John grabbed this opportunity, went to Lucknow and joined St. Paul’s Minor Seminary where he underwent orientation in religious life and also learnt to speak and converse in Hindi and English languages between 1975 and 1978. Meanwhile, John also continued his Pre University studies. Being impressed by the missionary work of his uncle, Fr. Baptist and other priests, John made up his mind to join priesthood and devote himself to the service of the church.


As John showed an interest to join priesthood, John was sent to St. Charles Seminary that belonged to the Dominican Congregation at Nagpur for a three years course in Philosophy. In this seminary, John was very much impressed by the life of prayer and spirituality of the Dominican Friars. After completing the Philosophy course at Nagpur, John went back to Lucknow for a year’s Regency and taught at St. Aloysius School at Pilibhit and also carried on the mission work at the St. Aloysius Church.


After completing one year’s mandatory Regency, once again John went back to St. Charles Seminary to study Theology for four years. Simultaneously, he also completed graduation through St. Francis De Sales College and acquired a degree in Arts subjects (BA) in 1985 from the Nagpur University.



After eight years of thorough preparation and studies for the priesthood, John was ordained a priest on 6th April 1986 by the Bishop of Lucknow, Most Rev. Alan De Lastic and offered his fist Holy Mass at the Church of St. Lawrence, Moodubelle in May 1986. This was a great joy for the parents and family members of Fr. John who had chosen to serve the church and humanity as a missionary in North India.


The first assignment of Fr. John after his ordination was to assist the Capuchin priest, Fr. Peter at Shantinagar, a remote place in the Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh where he worked for two years in the Hindi medium school and health care centre. It was a place where Fr. John came face to face with the reality of rural India. There was utter poverty and the level of both education and health was very low. Common people were exploited by people belonging to higher castes and the class of landlords. Indebtedness among the poorer people was very high.


Being a witness to the miserable condition of the poor people of Shantinagar, Fr. John realised that lack of literacy was one of the biggest hurdles in the way of their progress. Hence, he devised a scheme of ‘each one teach one’ asking the students to acquaint their own parents and their neighbours with basic alphabets and numerical so that these adults would be able to know how to affix their signature instead of thumb impression and count money.




After completing his two years term at Shantinagar, Fr. John was appointed as the parish priest at St. Bonaventure’s Church at Raniket, a hill station in Almora district of the Uttarakhand State. While serving in Raniket, Fr. John utilized the free time to study for the MA course in English and also acquired B.Ed. degree from the Kumaon University.


Meanwhile, the Lucknow Diocese was divided into Lucknow and Bareilly dioceses. Fr. John chose Bareilly Diocese as his field of work and was appointed as principal in different schools such as St. Peter’s School, Kichha, St. Theresa’s School, Kathgodam and a Public School at Khatima. Since 2004, Fr. John has been serving as the principal of Maria Assumpta Senior Secondary School at Kashipur.




The Maria Assumpta Senior Secondary School where Fr. John presently serves as the principal is affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Most of the students belong to the minority communities and come from middle and lower middle classes. Around ten per cent of the students belong to elite class of whom around 30 to 40 per cent come from the officers’ families. There are around 2015 students in the school right from the primary to secondary and senior secondary sections. The staff strength is around 70 who are mostly local. As the school is not under the government aid, the expenses for running the institution are met by the fees collected from the students. Students coming from poor families are given concession in fees.


Since Fr. John took over as the principal,  the Maria Assumpta Senior Secondary School has registered marked improvement in academic, curricular and co-curricular activities. Fr. John is an educationist with a vision and has introduced revolutionary ideas in education in his school. He strongly believes in the practical application of theoretical classroom learning. Being located near the industrial centre, Fr. John has taken initiative in organising educational tours to various industries and other centres such as handloom industry, paper mills, sugar factories, recycling factories in which iron waste is converted into iron and steel, tea packing industries, cloth mills, electric cable mills, etc. By these industrial visits, the students get first hand information regarding the working and organisation of the industries. Following their visit   to these industrial centres, the students write project reports and submit to their teachers.







Fr. John has also introduced programmes by which the senior students of the school are imbibed with a sense of social responsibility. These senior students visit poorer primary schools in the locality and adopt five students each and try to help them economically. They also help the poor students by guiding them in studies and providing clothes, books and other learning aids. These senior students maintain a diary of their social activities and report to their class teachers and the principal.


When asked about his views on education, Fr. John said that education should help in building up total integrated personality of body, mind and soul among the students. Further he said, “We at Maria Assumpta try to form and shape integrated human beings with a total balanced personality. The teachers and parents can work together to harmonize the holistic personality of a student by focusing on the development of life skills. The CBSE has developed a new concept of learning called ‘HOTS’-Higher Order Thinking Skills, by which a student is trained to develop skills such as creative and critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and coping with emotions and stress. The holistic learning would enable students to hold oneself at all adverse situations, to maintain calm and poise even if the sky is falling.”


The prayer sessions are held in the school during the festivals of different religious communities in order to promote a healthy respect to each other’s religion among the students which would help in promoting communal harmony. The students are provided ample opportunities to manifest their talents and skills through various cultural activities, sports and science exhibitions.




Besides being the principal of Maria Assumpta Senior Secondary School, Fr. John Baptist is also the parish priest of Our Lady of Assumption Church. In order to promote devotion among the parishioners towards Mother Mary, Fr. John has built a Grotto which was blessed on 11th February 2007.


When inquired about his siblings, Fr. John said that his eldest brother Philip has expired, third sister is a nurse in Mumbai, fourth brother is in Mumbai, fifth brother, Peter in Gulf and sixth sister is married and settled in Kallianpur.


Fr. John visited Moodubelle during the last week of December 2009 on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebration of St. Lawrence High School of which he was a student. He still remembers and has great respect to his higher primary and secondary teachers-Benny Master, Sadananda Rao, Victor Rebello, Willie Master, Fr. V.G.F. Rego, Fr. Alexander Lobo, late Ambrose D’Souza and P.D. Kamath.


Fr. John Baptist Mendonca has completed fifty years of his life in June 2009 and will be celebrating the Silver Jubilee of his priesthood on 6th April 2010. He has great interest in reading and also in computers and music. Fr. John Baptist has a long way to go in his priestly ministry and as an educationist. It is indeed a matter of pride to Belleans that one of their own missionary is doing wonderful work in North India especially in the field of education truly as a visionary.


Bellevision wishes success to Fr. John Baptist Mendonca in his endeavours.



Comments on this Article
somanshi choudhary, chandigarh Sun, October-3-2010, 1:55
hey i m an ex-student of dis school .n really had a gud xpirience over here as dis is really a very gud school ever seen in my life .........
Minna, Udupi/Sydney Sat, September-18-2010, 9:50
Hello Father Fr. Baptist D’Souza from Pangala is my uncle as well - my mother s side (his mother and my grand ma were sisters). So are you my cousin? I am the same age as you. I am from Udupi. Denis and Lucy Saldanha s daughter. My dad s sister is in Lucknow (Sr Maxentia A.C). Do you know her? God bless and keep you well to carry on your great work. Send me an email if you are my cousin. Bye now and take care. Minna
Victor D almeida, Moodubelle/Bahrain Tue, February-9-2010, 10:20
Hello Fr John, This is your classmate Victor D Almeida from Bahrain, Sorry i didn t recognised you when i read article about you in our Belle media. I never thought you become a priest, you are the only one in our batch became a priest Really we all proud of it. When i saw Joel s opinion about you, it strikes me you are my classmate.What you are doing it is great, not a easy job. Educating those poor people and helping them God Bless you and wish you success in your mission.
joel d sa, Modubelle/ Bahrain Tue, February-9-2010, 2:38
Very dear Fr.John. I am so happy to read about you in our own website. we have been good friends for so long but we couldn t meet in recent past. I am very proud of you Fr.John (brother John), I hope you remember our good old days in belle. I wish you the best for your future assignments and thank you for making Belle proud with your good work. Hope to see you in my next visit. Good wishes from: Joel/hilda/Hazel jason
Rita Concesso, Mangalore/Dubai Tue, February-9-2010, 11:14
Great job! Fr.John well done. Keep it up. All the best for your future assignments.
Godwin, D Souza Thu, February-4-2010, 2:02
Glad to know your accomlishments Fr. John Baptist Mendonca. Your initiative each one teach one truly impressed me where you helped uneducated people to get the basic knowldge of writing/reading. Wish that your concept of ‘forming and shaping integrated human beings with a total balanced personality’ may be successful in building a community where everyone live in love, peace and brotherhood. May almighty give you strength and contentment in your mission.
nirmala dsa, moodubelle Thu, February-4-2010, 1:59
cogratulations and great job
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