Journey with St. Lawrence to the wards of Moodubelle Parish-XIII (St. Roque I Ward)

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Report and Pictures by Dr. Eugene D’Souza
Bellevision Media Network


Moodubelle, 02 June 2010:
St. Roque:
Before we know about St. Roque I Ward, it would be important for us to know about the patron saint of the ward, St. Roque who is considered to be  one of the important saints of the Catholic Church from the Middle Ages. Not much is known about the saint. However, the brief life and work of St. Roque will help us in knowing the greatness of this saint.

St. Roque was born at Montpellier in 1295 in Southern France. His father was governor of that city. At his birth, it is said that there was a miraculous mark of a red cross on his breast. When he was about twenty years old, Roque lost his parents, following which he distributed his fortune among the poor, handed over the government of Montpellier to his uncle and  set out for Italy in the disguise of a mendicant pilgrim.

On his way to Italy, Roque stopped at Aquapendente, which was stricken by the plague, and devoted himself to the service of the plague-stricken, curing them with the sign of the cross. He next visited Cesena and other neighbouring cities and then Rome. It is said that wherever Roque went the terrible scourge of plague disappeared before his miraculous power. He visited Mantua, Modena, Parma and other cities with the same results.

While working with the plague afflicted people at a place known as Piacenza, Roque himself finally fell ill. He was expelled from the town. Roque withdrew into the forest, where he made himself a hut of boughs and leaves, which was miraculously supplied with water by a spring that arose in the place. Roque would have perished had not a dog belonging to a nobleman named Gothard Palastrelli supplied him with bread and licked his wounds, healing them. Count Gothard, following his hunting dog that carried the bread discovered Roque.

After his recovery Roque returned to France. Arriving at Montpellier he refused to disclose his identity. As a result he was taken for a spy in the disguise of a pilgrim, and was thrown into prison by order of the governor, his own uncle. According to some writers, Roque died in the prison five years later on 16 August 1327. The miraculous cross on his breast as well as a document found in his possession helped in determining the true identity of Roque. He was accordingly given a public funeral, and numerous miracles through his intercession proved the sanctity of Roque.

When the Council of Constance was threatened with the plague in 1414, public processions and prayers for the intercession of Roque were ordered. His cult spread through Spain, France, Belgium, Italy and Germany, and his veneration spread in the wake of the Black Death. His relics were carried to Venice in 1485, where they are still venerated. By popular fervour Roque was declared a saint by Pope Gregory XIV (1590-1591).

St. Roque is specially invoked by the Catholic faithful against cholera, epidemics, knee problems, plague and skin diseases. He is also the Patron Saint of bachelors, diseased cattle, dogs, falsely accused people, invalids, surgeons, tile-makers, gravediggers, second-hand dealers and pilgrims. The feast of St. Roque is celebrated on 16 August.

About the Ward: Area wise, St. Roque I Ward is quite large. However, there are only 17 families that reside in the ward. The boundaries of St. Roque include, Moodubelle-Shirva Road to the west, St. Roque II ward to the east, Moodubelle-Karkala Road to the north and Belle River (Attinja) to the south. The ward has beautiful topography with hills, valleys, forest and paddy fields. The areas covered in the ward include Panjagudde, Nelligudde, Gundrai, Bonjal, Bermottu, Chennadi and Mattar.

The Gurkar of St. Roque I Ward is Mr. Ambrose Mathais who had served in the Indian Navy for ten years from 1960 to 1970. Being the Gurkar, he is the ex-officio member of the Parish Pastoral Council and the Catholic Sabha.  He is also President of the Navodaya Self-help Group and Founder President of the Edmeru Milk Producers Cooperative Society.

Ambrose Mathias (Gurkar)

Mary Sequeira & Mabel Mendonca (Representatives)

Mr. Ambrose Mathais has been assisted in his ward responsibilities by two Representatives- Mrs. Mary Sequeira and Mrs. Mabel Mendonca.  Mrs. Mary Sequeira has been the member of St. Vincent de Paul Society in the parish. Besides, she has been the President of the Kirti Navodaya Self-help Group since the past ten years.

Though there are not many vocations in St. Roque I Ward, the ward is blessed by having a Bishop. He is, Most Rev. Dr. Salvador Lobo, the Bishop of Baruipur in South 24 Paraganas District in West Bengal. He was born on 30 April 1945 and was ordained a priest on 19 March 1973 and was appointed Bishop of Baruipur on 14 November 1997. His Episcopal ordination was held on 29 January 1998. His appointments before his present post were: Baruipur Diocesan Administrator and prior to it, Vicar General of the diocese.

Bishop Salvadore Lobo

St. Roque I Ward has some prominent lay people who have made their mark in politics and business. Mrs. Reetha Mathais, wife of the Gurkar, Mr. Ambrose Mathais, has been a well-known political activist and social worker of the ward. She was elected to Shirva Grama Panchayat successively for two terms from 2000 till 2010. In 2005, she was elected as the member of the Udupi Taluk Panchayat. In 2010, Mrs. Reetha Mathais was elected to the Shirva Cooperative Agricultural Bank (C.A. Bank) of which she is the Vice President.  Besides these positions, Mrs. Reetha Mathais is the Secretary of Shirva-Mattar Mahila Mandali and the Navodaya Self-help Group. Mrs. Reetha Mathais works as Financial Consultant in HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Limited. She also works for Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Limited. In the Church, Mrs. Reetha Mathais is the President of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi.

Raymond Lobo, Benjamin Castelino

Mr. Raymond Lobo of Mattar, brother of Bishop Salvador Lobo, is a successful businessman in Mumbai. He is running a metalizing workshop at Mhape in New Mumbai. Other than business, Raymond has developed an interest in writing in Konkani and has been contributing articles regularly in Konkani Weeklies such as ‘Divo’ and ‘Kutam’. He has written a short novel named “Kante-Kunte, Phulam Jhele”. The instinct of social service prompted Raymond to join the Lions Club of Mumbai Lakesite, Mulund in 1998. He became its President in 2006-07. Presently he is the District Chairman and member of the governing council of District No. 323A-2. For his dedicated and meritorious service in the Lions Club Movement, Raymond has been awarded Melvyn John Fellow (MJF) and Excellence Awards.

Reetha Mathais, Ancilla Sequeira

Miss Ancilla Merlyn Sequeira, daughter of Mr. George and Mrs. Mary Sequeira has been a successful student from St. Roque I Ward. She has completed MBA course and as the student of Jeppiar Engineering College, Chennai, had secured 46th rank in the Annamalai University in the Management Studies in 2004-06 batch. Presently, Miss Ancilla is working for Irevna, a Division of CRISIL Limited, Chennai.

Visit of St. Lawrence to the Ward: On Sunday, 23 May 2010, at around 5.30 pm, the statue of St. Lawrence was transferred by the Gurkarn of St. Paul II Ward, Mrs. Leena D’Souza to the Gurkar of St. Roque I Ward, Mr. Ambrose Mathais at the Mattar Gopura. Thereafter, St. Lawrence was taken with reverence in procession with the participation of the members from St. Paul II and St. Roque I Wards to the residence of Albert Lobo, elder brother of Bishop Salvador Lobo at Mattar, accompanied by Fr. Joswey Fernandes. After reaching the destination, Fr. Joswey conducted the prayer service and explained the importance of the visit of St. Lawrence to various wards. After the blessing of the house, the members of both the wards were served with snacks and soft drink.

On Monday, 24 May 2010, Fr. Joswey offered Mass for the benefit of elderly and sick persons of the ward at the residence of Albert Lobo. Later, the statue of St. Lawrence was taken to the house of Lawrence Menezes singing hymns and reciting prayers and the statue rested there for the night. On Tuesday, 25 May 2010, at 3 pm, St. Lawrence paid visit to the houses of Jerry D’Souza, Boniface D’Souza and George Sequeira where he stayed for the night.

On Wednesday, 26 May 2010, the statue of St. Lawrence was taken in procession by the members of the ward to the residences of  Mrs. Jobel Mendonca, Mrs. Leena Noronha and  Mrs. Eliza Noronha. After visiting the Mattar Chapel, the statue was taken further to the residence of Leo Castelino and from there to the house of the Gurkar, Mr. Ambrose Mathais where St. Lawrence took repose for the night.

Celebration of the Ward Feast:  Members of St. Roque I Ward celebrated the Ward Feast on Thursday, 27 May 2010 at the residence of the Gurkar, Mr. Ambrose Mathais. All the ward members prepared the meal in a cooperative spirit from 9.30 am. At 12.15 pm, after the arrival of Fr. Joswey and completing the blessing of two remaining houses, the members of the ward met at the residence of the Gurkar who welcomed Fr. Joswey and the guests including the Gurkar of St. Roque II Ward, Mr. Noel Mathias and Mrs. Jacinta Aranha, the newly re-elected member of the Belle Grama Panchayat.

The highlight of the Ward Feast was the felicitation of three distinguished persons of the ward. Fr. Joswey honoured Mr. Benjamin Castelino who was the Gurkar of the ward for 31 years; Mrs. Reetha Mathais who has been active in the field of politics and is presently the member of the Udupi Taluk Panchayat and Miss Ancilla Merlyn Sequeira, who has done MBA and secured 46th rank in the Annamalai University in Management Studies. As Miss Ancilla is presently working in Chennai, Fr. Joswey honoured her parents, George and Mary Sequeira.

There were few games for children and adults as well and winners were given prizes by Fr. Joswey. In his brief message, Fr. Joswey expressed happiness at the progress of the journey of St. Lawrence in various wards and the spirit of prayer and unity that this movement is spreading across the parish. He also appreciated the community spirit of the ward members who prepared the meal collectively.

On Friday, 28 May 2010, from 3 pm, St. Lawrence continued his journey through St. Roque I Ward and visited the homes of Vincent D’Souza, Benjamin Castelino and Rocky Castelino where the Small Christina Community meeting was conducted. St. Lawrence remained in the residence of Rocky Castelino for the night. On Saturday, 29 May 2010, the statue was taken in procession to the house of Benedict Mendonca where Bible reading and meditation on the passage was taken up. Thereafter, the statue was taken to the house of Mrs. Mabel Mendonca.

On Sunday, 30 May 2010, at 4 pm St. Lawrence made his final visit to the last remaining house of the ward, that of  Mrs. Shalini. As there are only 17 houses in St. Roque I Ward, the ward members had enough time for novena prayers, Rosaries, Bible readings and hymns in each and every house. At 5 pm on the same day, the statue of St. Lawrence was taken in procession to the Moodubelle-Shirva Road near the Bangle School where the members of St. Roque II Ward under the leadership of their Gurkar, Mr. Noel Mathais were waiting eagerly to receive St. Lawrence. With the arrival of Fr. Joswey at the spot, Mr. Ambrose Mathais, the Gurkar of St. Roque I Ward along with his ward members bid goodbye to St. Lawrence who was received with great reverence by Mr. Noel Mathais, the Gurkar of St. Roque II Ward and taken in grand procession to his residence.


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Comments on this Article
Francis L.Lobo, Belle Thu, June-3-2010, 2:47
Very nice to see our relatives, people gather together with the parish priest in the name of God the Almighty.Happy to Mr. Ambrose Mrs Rita,benjapu,Pakyab, clinton,Thanks for Dr. Eugine @ Belle vision team for coverage.
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