MAI DE DEUS CHURCH, PUTTUR

BEGINNING :

Mai De Deus Church is located in the heart of Puttur Town. It is a prominent revenue sub-divisional head-quarters lying 50km. east to Mangalore, the head-quarters of Dakshina Kannada District and a famous coastal city in South India. Puttur is known for its business in forest and other agricultural produces, particularly areca. It being a developing town has a phenomenal background of hilly places and forest areas in the whole of the taluk. "Mai De Deus", as it is said in Portugese language, is a church dedicated to Mary Mother of God. According to the (Mangalore diocesan Directory it is said to have been established in 1830, but there existed a chapel still earlier for the spiritual needs of the Catholic Christian families. Mai De Deus Church is the oldest church in the Deanery.

The parochial records disclose that Catholic Christian families came to be settled in Puttur Taluk in the 18th century and this is evidenced by the existence of a cemetery to the east of the present KSRTC Bus Stand.  It was a small portion of government land reserved for burials and it came to be closed by discontinuing the burials in 1914. In 1982 that cemetery was de-reserved and was handed over to the local municipality. It is said that in 18th century Puttur was a part of Coorg territory and at that time the Rajas of Coorg were well-disposed to Christian families. This was long before the deportation of Catholic Christians from Canara to Srirangapatna in 1784. At that time certain catholic Christian converts migrated to this part of Puttur taluk and settled here and there. Canara and Coorg then were under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Goa. The Puttur Parish Chronicle discloses that in the  writings found in Virajpet Parish, priests from Mercara were ministering to the tempora1 and  spiritual needs of  the Puttur people from 1789 to 1800. Later Christian population in Puttur grew enormously. During the beginning of 20th century it is said that there were many Catholic officers in Puttur and most of such families, having migrated from the eastern part of the District, had settled in Puttur. The conversions that took place between 1923 and 1939 also helped to increase the Christian population to some extent.

LAND ACQUISITION AND ABODE CONSTRUCTION

The oldest document available about the immovable property of church is a registered document of 29th October 1882. It may be so because there was no law enacted for registration of non-testamentary documents pertaining to immovable properties before 1865. Through that document of 1882 the church authorities purchased on mulageni right a strip of land on southern side exiting parallel to the land already held. That document has also a mention that in the land already in possession there existed a church. This enables to conclude that the first built church and re-built in 1854 was lying in the north-eastern portion of the present church precincts. Later a small portion of land on the southern side purchased by Fr. Camil Rego was donated to the church in 1901, and a portion of land lying to the east, where a cemetery existed till 1949, came to the possession of the church later. All those plots of land are comprised in survey No. 135/1 of Puttur Kasba Village measuring A. 0-93 cents in extent.

Fr. Piad D'Souza who came to Puttur in 1912 felt the need of constructing a spacious new church at Puttur. He acquired paddy fields, lying south to the then existing plot in Survey Nos. 135/3 and 135/8 which together consisted of A. 1-03 cents of land, where he raised a stately structure in 1914 with a spacious presbytery on its south-eastern side. This presbytery was demolished in 1963 and Fr. Antony Patrao built a new Parish House. This was again found unsuitable as a priest's residence and Fr. (Dr.) Valerian D'Souza constructed the present single floor Parish House in 1982.

The old church which was ninety year-old, built in laterite stones with morter, was found by the parishioners inadequate for the current days use and also not best suited for the day liturgy. Therefore, with the co-operation of the parishioners, Fr. Stany B. Lobo, then present Parish Priest drew up a project of constructing a new church at its existing location. The project costing about 1.50 crores consists of a community hall at its ground floor and the church with a balcony at its first floor.

New church in the place of old church was accomplished in the year of 2004. Rev. Fr. Stany B.Lobo constructed this new church with help of donars, well wishers and parishioners. It took almost one year for the construction of the new church.

SHEPHERDS DOWN THE YEAR

The parishioners of Puttur were blessed with the service of a number of dedicated, zealous and hard working Parish Priests since the inception of this Parish in 1830. Their unceasing and laborious work for the people of Puttur for their spiritual, social, educational and economic development and other parochial activities has made to progressively evolve this Parish as a well-known and prominent one in the Diocese of Mangalore. A list of all those dedicated priests who officiated as Vicars of this Parish since 1830 to date is given herewith.

It is little known about the Parish Priests who worked here in 18th & 19th centuries except their names. Fr Piad D'Souza who came to Puttur in 1912 is said to be a noted builder and an architect. The 90 year-old church now demolished was built by him in 1914 after purchasing the nearby site. He also built a church at Vittal and a Chapel at Kokkada. He got constructed a row of shops in order to balance the Church fund depleted by the construction of a new church. Fr J. A. Rodrigues and Fr Rosario D. Sequeira who came here in 1923 and 1932 respectively were the priests of missionary fame. Both of them worked hard for the social upliftment of the downtrodden and depressed classes of people. The people converted were rehabilitated properly and their colonies with the spacious land allotted to them are found even now.


Fr J. A. Rodrigues was also responsible for the establishment of the Lisieux convent for Bethany Sisters in 1925 and two schools, St. Francis Xavier Hr. Primary School for boys and Little Flower Hr. Primary School for girls at Darbe, Puttur. Two new bells for the church were bought by him from France in 1933 and he got constructed the belfry. The people of Puttur heard the sweet tone of the new bells on the Easter of 1934. He fulfilled the need of a Chapel at Nidpally in Feb. 1935 and a filial church at Sullia in May 1936.

Fr A. Patrao the most veteran, pioneer and a priest of hard-labour came to Puttur in October 1939. He strived hard for the social and educational development of the people of Puttur and gave more importance for women education. Schools and College started by him in Puttur bear evidence to this testimony. Fr Patrao Hospital was also started by him.
The belfry had collapsed in Aug. 1952. But no damage was caused either to the two bells or to anyone. The facade partly damaged during collapse of belfry was re-constructed in 1953 and a ferro-concrete belfry was erected by him in 1975. He demitted office in Feb. 1915 and died in May, the same year.

Fr Gregory L. Da Cruz, an able and upright priest, succeeded Fr Patrao. The new Pastoral Council Regulations issued by the Bishop were effectively enforced by him in the parish to bring about transparency in the parochial administration.  Fr Charles.T. Sequeira, a dedicated priest who succeeded him in Apri11977  and died of heart attack on       31-12-1977.

Rev. Dr Valerian D'Souza and Fr William Gonsalves, were the priests needed by this Parish for its all-round development. During their tenure this Parish found its growth in all aspects. The shop-cum-school complex, the English Medium Higher Pry. School and the presbytery were built by Fr Valerian D'Souza. He gave a new look to the church premises and planned to increase the income of the parish. The plan to have a separate church at Mari1 by dividing the Puttur parish was first thought of by him and he acquired a three-acre site in 1983 for the new Church at Maril. This plan was implemented  by  Fr W. Gonsalves after acquiring some more site. The new building for St. Victor's High School was also constructed by him in 1993.

Fr Stany B. Lobo, a young energetic and an enthusiastic priest who came here in June 1998, completed the work of the new church at Maril. During his tenure two new parishes, one at Maril and another at Bannur, were established in the year 1999 by dividing the vast Puttur Parish. The much needed and a spacious Chapel at Puttur Cemetery was also got constructed by him in 2002 and in the year 2004 he constructed the new  magnificent church in the year 2004
Fr Bonaventur Nazreth in the year 2005 after completing his term as secretary to the catholic to the catholic Board of education came to the parish as a parish Priest. He served the parish for two years. He paid much attention to the marginalised people of the parish.

Fr. Gerald Dsouza is the present parish priest. He came to the parish in the year 2007. as a parish priest to mai de deus church and correspondent to its instituions busy doing needed task. Being easy to approach and kind to the needy has won the heart of many in the parish in a short time.

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MAI DE DEUS
Puttur  P.O. - 574 201
Puttur Taluk, D.K. District

TEL: 08251-234570
E-Mail: [email protected]