Fr. Baptist D’Souza SVD Celebrates 25th Year in the Lord’s Vineyard

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Report by Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle
Pictures by Anil Alva
Bellevision Media Network

Balakunje, 05 May 2010: Exactly 25 years ago on 4th May 1985, a young man of Balakunje, with full of missionary zeal to work among the most unfortunate and neglected tribal population in the eastern provinces of India was ordained a priest in the Society of Divine Word (SVD) congregation. This young man, Fr. Baptist D’Souza, who completed 25 years in the Lord’s Vineyard still manifests his youthful zeal and in spite of working for these 25 years in remote hills and forests among the tribal people is quite content and happy that the Lord has given him the opportunity to carry on his mission in tribal areas of Orissa. As Fr. Baptist has crossed the milestone of 25 years of his priestly mission, he celebrated this occasion with his mother, brother and sisters as well as relatives, friends and well wishers on 4th May 2010 at St. Paul’s Church, Balakunje.

Fr. Baptist D’Souza was born on 7th April 1956 as the fifth child after four daughters-Treeza, Pauline, Rita and Jacintha of late Louis and Alice D’Souza. His younger brother is Lawrence. One of Fr. Baptist’s sisters, Mrs. Rita is married to William D’Sa (Willie Master) of Moodubelle.

Young Baptist had initial education up to 7th standard at St. Paul’s Higher Primary School, Balakunje. Later, as he had an inclination to join the SVD religious order, he went to the SVD Home at Kirem from where he continued his studies from 8th standard to PUC in the Pompei High School and Junior College, Aikala.

By the time he finished his PUC in 1974, young Baptist had made up his mind to join the SVD order and proceeded to Indore for one year’s Junior Novitiate. Thereafter he went to Mysore where he completed the three years graduation course in Arts through St. Philomena’s College. In order to get the training in priesthood, Br. Baptist underwent the successive stages of Novitiate at Indore(1978-79) and three years Philosophy Course (1979-81) in the Dnyan Deep Vidyapith, Pune while staying at the Divine Word Seminary also at Pune.

After completing Philosophy, Br. Baptist had his first experience of working with the tribal people in distant villages of the Bolanghir District in Orissa as part of his one year Regency (1981-82). Returning to Pune, he completed the Theology Course(1982-85) and was ordained a priest on 4th May 1985 along with six other companions at Mangalore.

Having had an experience of working among the tribal people in Orissa, Fr. Baptist realised that his mission work lay in the Eastern Provinces where a lot of work could be done among the marginalised and neglected tribal people of that region. Thus, he chose Eastern Province comprising of Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand as his mission. For the last 21 years, Fr. Baptist has been working among a particular tribe known as Ho who are spread across the hilly and forest regions of Jharkhand and Orissa. These tribal people are quite backward and are in need of education, health care and social service.

In order to promote education among these tribal people, Fr. Baptist founded two schools in the Oriya language-Vidya Jyothi Primary School in 1990 and Nava Jyothi High School in 2000. In 2005, Fr. Baptist also started and English Medium School for the benefit of the tribal children of the area. Besides, providing education, Fr. Baptist also looks after the spiritual as well as social and medical needs of the people in his mission.

Being a dedicated missionary and dynamic personality, Fr. Baptist was assigned the responsibility of supervising the Eastern Province of the SVD by his superiors by appointing him as a Provincial at a quite young age of 39 years between 1996 and 1999. Fr. Baptist had an opportunity to visit Rome in 1994, Philippines in 1996 and Taiwan in February 2010. Presently, Fr. Baptist is the Mission Secretary of the Eastern Province.

When I met Fr. Baptist at the home of Willie Master, I was amazed at his simplicity and cheerfulness. In spite of working in difficult conditions among the tribal people, Fr. Baptist feels contented and happy that the Lord has provided him an opportunity to serve among the poorest of the poor and spread the Gospel of Christ. When asked as to how he chose the path of religious life, Fr. Baptist said that he had been an altar server in his church at Balakunje where the parish priest, Fr. Lawrence Monteiro encouraged him to think in terms of joining priesthood. Besides, Fr. Baptist was also inspired by Fr. Philip Koran SVD who used to visit parishes to motivate young boys to join the congregation. When he joined the SVD Home at Kirem, the Prefect of the Home, Fr. Victor Noronha also acted as a motivating factor. Fr. Noronha has been working as a missionary in Botswana in Africa since last 27 years.

Being a simple person and averse to any kind of pomp and show, Fr. Baptist was not keen to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of his priesthood. However, when his sisters and brother as well as relatives, friends and well-wishers insisted that this land mark has to be observed, Fr. Baptist agreed to their wish and the 25th anniversary of his priesthood was celebrated in the Church of St. Paul in Balakunje on 4th May 2010 at 10.30 am with a solemn Mass with Fr. Baptist as the chief celebrant.



Following the Mass a felicitation programme was organised in honour of Fr. Baptist D’Souza. It was a great honour to the mother of Fr. Baptist, Mrs. Alice D’Souza who is 94 years old. At the beginning of the programme, Fr. Baptist along with his mother cut the Silver Jubilee cake. The programme was conducted by Fr. Abraham D’Souza as the Master of Ceremonies. Fr. Francis Fernandes raised the toast in honour of Fr. Baptist. There were more than fifty priests both from the SVD congregation as well as the diocesan priests. Among the priests were, Rev. Fr. Lazar Stanislus, Provincial of SVD Mumbai Province, Jubilarians-Fr. Francis Pereira and Fr. Rudolf Crasta, Fr. Denis Menezes, Cousin of Fr. Baptist, Fr. Hilary Lobo, parish priest of Balakunje, Fr. Charles Vaz SVD, Musician, Fr. Richard Vaz SVD who turned 60 years also celebrated his 60th birthday by cutting another cake. Some people and priests from Orissa had also come to attend the Silver Jubilee programme of their beloved missionary, Fr. Baptist.

The stage programme was followed by variety entertainment programme including songs and dances. The family members sang a group song composed by Willie Master in honour of Fr. Baptist. Similarly, the SVD brothers and the Church Choir also presented group songs. The tribal people who had come from Orissa performed an Oriya Trbal Dance. Mrs. Philomena proposed the vote of thanks at the end of the programme.


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Comments on this Article
Mark Adamski, Australia Sat, May-15-2010, 10:46
Dear Fr Baptist, Congratulations and a big thank you for the love and joy you share with such generosity and abandon.The youthful sense of mischief and fun, the zeal and dedication are there, no less than when in Madhapur I met you as a young priest.Shine on dear Baptist!,Love from Australia, Mark and family
lavita, balkunje Mon, May-10-2010, 1:23
Dear dattu (bappu) It s a proud moment for all of us as you celebrate your 25 years of priesthood. We pray to almighty to shower his choicest blessings on you to carry the mission work, and keep you in the best of health and peace. Hope to be in person to celebrate your Golden Jubilee celebration of priesthood. Best wishes from your Dear brother lawrence theresa,leslie ,lavita, rajesh Balkunje.
Mary, Australia Sun, May-9-2010, 8:24
Dearest Bappi dada CONGRATULATION. HAPPY JUBILEE. I am so proud of you, your mission and priesthood. May God continue to bless you and your mission. GOD BLESS YOU.
Shalet, Balkunje Sat, May-8-2010, 4:34
Dear Fr. Baptist It s a proud moment for all of us as you celebrate your 25 years of priesthood. We pray to almighty to shower his choicest blessings on you to carry the mission work, and keep you in the best of health and peace. Hope to be in person to celebrate your Golden Jubilee celebration of priesthood. Best wishes from Shalet cynthiya Balkunje
Rakesh Desouza, Moodubelle Sat, May-8-2010, 3:36
Maam, May God bless you on your \"25th Ordination Anniversary”. May the lord bless you to continue this spiritual journey and keep you in the best of health to accomplish what you dream for the community. I personally thank you for your prayers and moral support you extended when I needed the most. When seeing the pictures I remembered your ordination day, I was 13 along with may gang Mark, Sunny,Prema, Naneen, Jonh and I see most of them made it back to wish you on the special occasion. But as Mark said we couldn’t be there physically but were there in thoughts. We all love you very much. See you soon. Rakesh
Joel D sa, Moodubelle/Bahrain Wed, May-5-2010, 3:04
Dear Fr. Baptist (Bauthumam) It s a proud moment for all of us as you celebrate your 25 years of priesthood. We pray to almighty to shower his choicest blessings on you to carry the mission work, and keep you in the best of health and peace. Hope to be in person to celebrate your Golden Jubilee celebration of priesthood. love you with you in prayers Joel/Hilda/Hazel Jason
Vijay,Prema,Neil and Nicholas, Manipura Tue, May-4-2010, 6:20
Dear Padrabmam , congratulations on you 25 years of selfless service. we are all very proud of you.We always remember your kind, selfless, friendly and very simple nature. You always keep others happy and go out of the way in helping them. we are very sad we could not attend the function, but you are always in our prayers. May almighty God bless you with good health and happyness. God Bless and we all love you. From loving Neice Prema, Vijay , Neil and Nicholas Dante s, Canada (Moodubelle )
deog, moodubelle,camp:miami Tue, May-4-2010, 6:19
Congratulations Fr.Baptist on your silver jubilee of Priestly mission.We pray Almighty to give you strength and courage to continue your mission in the days ahead. Thanks Eugine for your beautiful report
Mark D Sa, Miami,USA Tue, May-4-2010, 6:03
Dearest Mam, Congratulations on completing 25 years in the Priestly mission.We are very proud of you and pray that the Almighty gives you strength to carry on your mission.We couldn t be there physically but were there in thoughts.We all love you very much.
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