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According to historical data, Christianity in Shirva village (Udupi Taluk, Karnataka)is said to have started somewhere between 1534-1600. Initially there were two churches within a distance of 2 furlongs viz., the old church and the new church. The construction of the present structure of the church began in 1911 and was completed in 1915 which was inaugurated on 9.2.1915. The church is celebrating its Centenary in February 2015.

The speciality of this church is that it has tiled roof and a high alter. It was designed in Portugese style. A closer look inside the church brings out one unique aspect of this church. Unlike many others around, this church does not have a tomb or grave inside the premises.

Shirva Church at night
Shirva Church at night
Interior of the church
Interior of the church

In the early days Shirva parish was considered to be one of the largest in Mangalore diocese. With the unification of two churches into one, it was found that people of surrounding areas like Belle, Pangala, Pilar and Mudarangadi had to traverse quite a distance to come to the church. To make it convenient for christians of these areas, separate parishes like Mudarangadi, Pernal and Pangala were carved out of Shirva parish. Fr.Hilary Gonsalves remained the parish priest at this church for a pretty long time of 35 years till he retired in 1971.

After Fr.Gonsalves many parish priests toiled at this parish to make a most vibrant parish with St.Mary's High School (started on 1.6.1947) and St.Mary's Junior College (started on 1.6.1972), St.Mary's College (10.1.1983), Don Bosco Higher Primary School (started in 10.2.1898), Don Bosco English Primary school (10.1.1983), Don Bosco High School (1.6.1992) imparting education to more than 3000 students of this village and surrounding villages. These educational institutions are located on the campus of the church.

The present parish priest Fr.Stany Tauro has the distinction of celebrating the centenary of this great church in the last week of January 2015.

I had the privilege of being grown up in this village, studying under candle light in the initial days, schooling at Don Boscos and getting married in this great church.

Wishing Shirvaites all the best for the Centenary celebrations !

UPDATE

CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS OF CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF HEALTH, SHIRVA

29th January to 31st January 2015

Theme : “Bhavadthi Jinye Poinaar, Saud Mayecho Aadhar”

29.1.2015

The Holy Mass started at 9.30 a.m. Msgr. Baptist Menezes was the main celebrant along with other eleven priests. After the holy mass, there was prayer in the cemetery and the tombs were blessed. The holy mass of the day was offered for souls of all the deceased members of the parish.

In the evening at 4.00 p.m. there was a procession with gifts offering (VOJEN). First the masked men dancing followed by band, ladies in colouful uniform dress carrying basket full of vegetables on their heads and the men in white dress carrying rice bundles (MUDO), Hindu ladies beating the drums, decorated vehicles carrying various articles needed for the feast meal. Elders of each area offered their gifts to the Parish Priest who blessed them and placed shawls on them.

From various neibouring places like Pangala, Belle, Belman, Kalathur, Pambur, Karkala, Palimar, Pernal came in procession carrying their gifts and the Parish Priest honoured them with shawls. Hindu brethren also brought offerings with great devotion. There was enthusiasm and joy on every face. We could experience the family spirit and unity between different religions.

During the procession, people of different faiths provided water and cold drinks along the road side to those in the procession. More than 3,000 people gathered in front of the church and the Hindu brethren offered snacks and drinks to all. Words can’t express the experience of unity on that day.

30.1.2015 - Ceremony by Religious:

Nearly 100 religious and 25 priests gathered in front of the church and entered in procession to the alter. Rev. Emeritus Bishop Anthony Fernandes of Bareilly diocese was the main celebrant. Fr. Valerian Mendonca delivered the sermon. Offerings were taken to the alter by the family members. After the Holy Mass, group photos were taken. There was a felicitation programme for the religious on the stage erected next to the Church. All the consecrated people were called to the stage to introduce themselves. They were honoured by placing a shawl, offering a rose and a memento by Bishop Anthony. After that there was a dinner for the entire group, where the religious could meet each other.

31.1.2015 – Thanksgiving Mass :

The Holy Mass started at 9.30 a.m. Bishop of Mangalore Dr. Aloysius Paul D’souza was the main celebrant along with other Bishops - Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo, Bishop of Udupi, Antony Fernandes, retired Bishop of Bareilly, Dr Pius D’Souza, Bishop of Ajmer along with 25 priests. The entire programme for the mass was well planned and organized. More than 12,000 people were served with a fellowship meal in the Church ground. Youth from Colleges and Schools were volunteers for serving the food on 14 counters. Feeding of 12,000 went off peacefully and gracefully.

In the evening at 5.00 p.m. there was a felicitation programme presided over by Dr. Gerard Isaac Lobo, Bhishop of Udupi diocease which was attended by Mr.K J George, Home Minister from Govt. of Karnataka, Mr.Vijay Kumar Sorake, Minister in charge of Udupi District, Mr.Oscar Fernandes, MP and other dignitaries. The dignitaries in their address praised the good work done by the church, particularly in the field of education. The felicitation programme was followed by a Tulu Drama ‘Eregla Panodchi’ ( means don’t tell anyone). In addition to the Centenary celebrations, the Parish feast was celebrated on 4nd February, 2015. In preparation for the parish feast, a Confraternity Sunday was observed on 1st February,2015. All the people gathered for the Holy Mass at site of previous ‘ first church of Shirva’ and our Lady’s chariot was carried in procession accompanied by band and fireworks. Nearly 2,000 people marched in procession to the main Church. This was to commemorate the integration of the old church and the new church in the year 1915.

It was one of the st centenary celebrations we have ever seen.

Let the Mother of Health continue to bless us and keep us safe under her mantle. Let’s listen to her herly advice given at Cana “Whatsoever He says to you, do it.”

- Update contributed by Sr.Bianca (Rosy), Kolkata

 

Altar of the church
Altar of the church
Gathering of priests
Priests who offered the mass
Gathering of religious
Gathering of religious
Fellowship meal venue
Fellowship meal venue
Wojen procession
Wojen procession
Wojen Procession of Ladies
Wojen Procession
video of shirva church

Watch video of Centenary Celebrations