Mumbai: Mira Road Church holds Decennial Celebrations with Inter Religious Dialogue


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News and Pics by Ancy Paladka

Mumbai, 18 January 2010: The anniversaries or the celebrations usually held by constructing structures of bricks. But the St. Joseph’s Church Mira Road held its decennial celebrations in a unique way. To mark this great event it organised an Inter-Religious-Dialog to build peace and harmony among the people of different religions in the locality. It was an effort of building the structure of hearts instead of of building the structures of bricks.

The Inter-Religious-Dialog held in the open ground of the church premises on January 17 from 7pm onwards.

Pandit Prahalladacharya R. Nagarahalli, Kulapathi of Sarvajna Vidyapeeta at Virar, Maulana Syed Ather Ali, President of All India Ulema Association; member of Muslim personal Law Board; Member of Milli council; General secretary of Darul Uloom Mohammadia, Giani sardar Satnam singh ji, Head Granti at Gurudwara, shri guru Nanak darbar Borivali, Rev Dr Gilbert  D’Lima, Professor at St. Pius X , Gorgegaon; member of the CBCI commission for Interreligious dialogue participated in the dialogue.

Most Rev Dr Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado, Bishop of Vasai, Fr. Archiebald Gonsalves, Carmelite Provincial, Rev Dr Dominic Charles Vas the Parish Priest, Fr. Michael Morris Sheonoy the First Parish Priest of the church and also the Superior of the community and Mr. Francis Araujo the Vice president of the parish pastoral council were also present at the dais.

Hindu Leader Pandit Prahalladacharya R. Nagarahalli said that  “Hindu religion is for the development of human religion. No religion instructs their people to cause harm to the people of other religion. ‘Dharma’ means the process for the development of physical, mental, spiritual development of human being. The one that gives happiness to the simple people and good natured people is also called as a ‘Dharma’. Hence let us love each other and give happiness to our fellow being and work for the security of people of all religion.”

Muslim leader Maulana Syed Ather Ali said that  “Islam speaks about peace to humanity. If a religious leader of any religion instructs his follower to harm the person of other religion or criticizes other religion, then he is not the true follower of his religion. That is wrong use of the religion. Let the events like 9/11 or 26/11 may not occur anytime anywhere in the world. Every religion speaks to respect the people of all religions.”

Sikh Giani Sardar Satnam Singh said that “We may split in different religion but our father is one. We may call him in different names but he is one. Sighting the example of water he said water is called in different names in different languages but water is the same. In the same manner the God remains the same for all of us.”

Christian leader Rev Dr Gilbert  D’Lima said that “God is a loving father. We all are brothers and sisters suppose to live with peace and harmony. We need to share with one other the gift of creation. The kingdom of God is fellowship, service, sacrifice, love and peace that is proclaimed by all religions. Terrorists have no religion. Indian culture is nothing but unity in diversity.”

Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado honoured Dr. Sanjeev Ganesh Naik, the elected MP of local Thane constituency. Sri Gilbert Mendonca the first elected MLA of Mira-Bhayandar, Mrs. Merlyn D’sa, the first catholic parish and woman corporator from Mira road parish were also honoured by the archbishop during this occasion with a shawl, Fruits, Flowers and a Momento.

Accepting the honours Dr. Sanjeev Ganesh Naik said that “I do not work for the people of particular religion but I always work for human being. He also promised his whole hearted support to Mira Road church.”

Speaking at this occasion Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado said that “Jesus never considered anyone as his enemy. He went with the people of all religions. Swamy Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi always respected people of all religion as brothers and sisters. God created every human being in his own image and likeness. Thus not only the people of one religion but the people of all religion are created with his image and likeness. 2nd Vatican council also instructs all Catholics to respect the people of all religion.”

Releasing the souvenir of the occasion Fr. Archiebald Gonsalves, the Carmelite Provincial said that “Cities like Rome never change. They look the same always. But in just ten years Mira Road is changed a lot. He desired more changes among mira-road people to spread the message of love and peace in the locality”

The Parish Preist Rev Dr Dominic Charles Vas began the programme with the welcome address and the introduction to the programme. “India which was known for its spirit of tolerance and the spirit of accommodation is of late slowly becoming divisive on the basis of religious beliefs. A few recent incidents of religious fanaticism and violence which have affected the lives of thousands of people reflect the above facts. Hence the need of the hour is inter-religious dialogue. Dialogue is the best way for mutual understanding and co-operation in human relations as well as for peaceful coexistence among all the people.” He said.

The celebrations started at 4pm with the reception of Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado at the main arch of the church along with the traditional brass band. It followed by the Get-together with the Archbishop, MP Sanjeev Naik, corporator Merlin D’Sa, parish benefactors and the parish leaders in the community hall. Then the Archbishop along with the MP, Parish Priest and the Provincial inaugurated the newly built Infant Jesus Shrine. It followed by the celerbration of the Holy Eucharist and Inter-Religious-Dialog at 7pm

Sri Narendra Mehta – Mayor of Mira Bhayandar Mahanagarpalika, The Municipal commissioner Shiv Murti Naik, Sr. Jessica - Superior Holy Cross Convent, Infant jesus shrine and Chapel designer Mr Alphonse, Mr. Ram Bhat - Architect and Engineer of R.L.B, Mr. Peter Almeida, Social worker, Ganesahm the contactor, Mrs. Gilbert Marceline Baptist of Malaika group, Mr. Norbert and Mrs. Violet Mascharenhas,  Mr. Maxim Mathias, Mr Bhagavati Sharma - NCP Corporator, Mr Jayanth Patel - NCP corporator, Mr  Raviraj Suvarna - Tulunadu Samaj President, Mr Ashok Karkera -  Shanishvara Seva Samiti President,  Mr. R. Shetty - Bunts Sangh President and  Prof. Fr. S. M. Michael - Professor of Indain Culture department honoured with Flower Bouquet and Memento.

Asst Parish Priest Fr. Ivan R. D’Souza gave an impressive powerpoint presentation about the history and the activities of the church. He informed that till now there are 5801 registered families with the total population of 25000 people. Where as when Fr Michael Morris Shenoy took up the responsibility as first parish priest in 1988 there were only 100 catholic families in Mira Road.

Parish Clergy Fr. Dominic  C. Vas  OCD Parish Priest, Fr. Michael Shenoy OCD Asst. Priest, Fr. Deepak K.J. Thomas  OCD Asst. Priest, Fr. John B. Pinto OCD Asst. Priest Fr. Ivan R. D’Souza OCD Asst. Priest, Br. Ajay Nazareth OCD and the Parish Pastoral Council vice president Mr. Francis Araujo, secretary Mrs. Sophia D’Sa were also present at the occasion.

There were splendid dances and a mime presentation explaining the need for communal harmony. Welcome dance was presented by Holy Cross School Children. Folk dance was presented by St. Joseph School Children, Mime act was presented by Miss Natasha and group. Oath taking dance was presented by Holy Cross School Children. Jai Ho Dance presented by St. Joseph Scholl Children. The Parish Choir sang beautifully for the Eucharist and also for the prayer song of the programme.

The programme concluded with all people holding lighted candles in their hands and taking oath with the following wards “We join hands to save the earth and our environment not only for ourselves but also for our posterity. We shall uphold the values that promote justice and equality for all. We will collaborate with all movements and efforts towards communal harmony and building up peace in our neighbourhood.”

There was a huge gathering which ended by singing our National Anthem. Mr Ronald Vaz compered the programme beautifully.

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