The East Indian Community

Original Inhabitants of Bombay, Salsette & Thana.

Mass on 8th May

Facing (from inside) the Entrance of the Seepz Church

 Bishop Agnelo Gracias ( the celebrant of theHoly Mass), arriving on horse driven carriage.

 Left Side Wall of the Chruch (facing towards altar)

 Right Side Wall of the Church (from outside the Church)

 Facing Altar (from inside the Chruch)


Photos Courtesy : Mr. Alphonso Tao

VICTORY

The members of Saint John The Baptist Church Save Committee who had spear headed the Agitation for the opening of the 500 year old Historic Church Named SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH at SEEPZ MIDC, Mahakali, Andheri (E), Mumbai, finally attained a huge victory in succeeding to get a new entrance to the SEEPZ Church.

In a victory rally held on Tuesday 8th March 05, a united Christian Community came together in a solemn procession which started from the main entrance of the Santacruz Electronic Export processing Zone (SEEPZ) main gate to the new entrance of the SEEPZ church.

History

EXTRACT FROM THE CATHOLIC DIRECTORY OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY 1982 (page 101 and 102)


The origins of the parish of St. John the Evangelist can be traced back to two mass convertions at Marol.  Some of the inhabitants of Marol were among the 500 people who were converted when the neighbouring church at Condita was opened for public worship on the feast of St. John the Baptist in the year 1579.  The second mass conversion took place on the eve of the feast of the Assumption in 1588, when the whole village of Marol became Catholic.  Soon 13 other villages around Marol followed its example.  Marol and surrounding villages received the Catholic faith through the pioneering efforts of Jesuit Brother Manuel Gomes, “The Apostle of Salsette.”

 

After Powai, Marol was a stronghold of Christianity in this region of the island.  The Jesuit Report of 1669 tells us that the parish comprised 1380 Catholics in Marol, 302 in Condita, 246 in Gundowli and 219 in Chakala.

 

The original church of this parish was built in 1579 at Condita at a point north of the present village of Kondivita and northwest of the present church.  The major portion of this church is still standing. We do not know when the name of this Condita church was changed from “St. John the Baptist” to “St. John the Evangelist.”  According to the information provided by Fr. Humbert (I: 53) the name had already changed by 1716.

 

The church at Condita escaped the ravage of the Maratha war, for it continued to have Vicars, now secular priests, appointed to it from 1739 onwards (Humbert, I:141), who also looked after the remnant Christian community at Powai.  Due to the outbreak of a devastating epidemic, Fr. Jose Lourenco Paes, the Vicar of Condita at the time, having built a new church in the village of Marol in 1840, “ transferred the parish from Condita to Marol and the old church and parish house was abandoned” (Humbert II:63). Before the old church feel into disrepair, the statues, the baptismal font, the altars and a few pillars were transferred to the new church at Marol.

 

At the entrance of the present church of Marol stands a historic 4-foot statue of Our Lady with the child Jesus, known as the statue of OL of Amparo (Help).  This statue was once venerated in the church of the same name that now lies submerged under the waters of the Vikar Lake.  This statue was brought to Marol between 1842-1853 (Humbert, II: 65, 85), when the Bombay Municipality acquired the Vihar Valley with the church in it from the Vicar of Marol for a compensation of Rs.1944.10 as. One of the Baptismal Registers of the church of OL of Amparo (1804-1832) is still preserved at Marol.

 

Till about the year 1973, Mass was celebrated annually at the ruined church of Condita.  This practice was discontinued when the property comprising a picturesque lake and the ruined church was acquired by the Government for SEEPZ (Santacruz Electronic Export Processing Zone.) The SEEPZ Authorities intend to preserve the ruined church as a historical monument.

 

The parish of Marol has given birth to two new parishes: Holy Family at Chakala in 1943 at its western end, and St. Vincent Pallotti in 1981 at its northern end.  However, in spite of these “detachments” the parish of St. John the Evangelist continues to grow due to the influx of Catholics into the numerous Housing Societies in the neighbourhood.

OUR DEMANDS TO THE GOVERNMENT

St. John The Baptist Church

Save Committee

Almeida House, Church Pakhadi, Road No. 2, Sahar, Vile Parle (E), Mumbai-400 099. Tel.: 2837 6600 / 98212 84096

 

 

 

OUR DEMANDS TO THE GOVERNMENT

 

 

Since our organization which was formed in 2003 named Saint John the Baptist Church Save Committee. Our dream has come true we thank all those who have helped us to gain back our church.  All political party leaders such as Shiv Sena, Congress “I” even thank the press for giving us coverage which helped in awakening the Authority / Government and also the Bombay Catholic Sabha, The All India Christian Council, The Catholic Secular Forum, The Kerala Catholic Associataion and even the Christians at large.

 

Our Demands:

 

1)                   The State/ Central Government should restore the Church to its original glory help us in putting the roof and to preserve the sanctity of this church and even declare this as a heritage monument.

 

2)                   The encroachment on the Ancestral grave yard to be demolished and cleared.

 

3)                   The Dewool Talav (Natural Lake) be preserved and even the thick forest and medicinal trees be maintained.

 

4)                   Construct a boundary wall around the place.

 

5)                   Safe guard the Ancient Monument to maintain the religious sanctity of the place of worship.

 

6)                   Include this church in category Grade III of the heritage regulation for Greater Bombay 1955.

 

We are happy today being in this Holy Season of “LENT” (40 days of fasting prayer and penance) We grant that god has heard out prayers and our Dream has come true for we have got back our Holy and first church in the city of Mumbai.

 

Thank you and hope the Government work quick and give us more results.

 

Thanking you,

 

Yours truly,

 

 

 

Mr. Nicholas Almeida

Ex-Councilor President

 

 

 

 

Letter to Chief Minister

St.John the Baptist Church Save Committee

 

Date: 19th Feb 04

 

To,

The Chief Minister,

Maharashtra State,

Mumbai

 

M E MO R A N D U M

 

We the members of St. John the Baptist Church Save Committee along with our Christian Bretheren Make the following demands :

 

1)      To provide grounds for burial in thhe city of Mumbai wherever the Church has no burial ground.

2)      For 27 long years the people of Mulund have no cemetery/burial ground, time and again land has been allotted and relocated, leaving the people with an expenditure of not less than Rs. 15,000/- to bury their dead at Sewree Cemetery.  Till the Government does not allot the land for the cemetery at Mulund, a provision should be made by the government for taking and burying the deceased of their families to sewree.

3)      The Antop Hill catholic cemetery which has been encroached by hutments should be vacated and the S.R.A. scheme which is to be passed on the burial ground of our ancestors should be stopped.

4)      The 500 year old Seepz Church, which is a symbol of our Origin as Christians should not only be preserved as per the agreement with the Central Government when the Chruch was handed over to them to maintain its sanctity, but also to provide access to the people to offer prayers and mass.

5)      As and when the 80% land owners of Bombay, the Christian inhabitants of this city has given its land for the development of this Metropolitan city Mumbai. There exists a U.P. Bhavan (Uttar Pradesh Bhavan), but the Christians have never been thought of. Today, we demand for a land for Christian Bhavan from our Government.

6)      There is an acute problem of Housing which is the product of the Discrimination of the Government upon this community. For the slum dwellers. The F.S.I provided is 2.5 to 4, whereas for the Gauthans the F,S,I provided is .75. The Slums which are 10 years old get this facility for housing, recreation, schools, Hospitals etc. But what about the Original Inhabitants of this City ? We demand the Government should direct the Corporation to give the Repair Permissions within 30 days of application and the Government to pass the F.S.I for Gauthans as it is for the slum Dwellers.

7)      The Constitution too has neglected the existence of the convert Christians of this city. Since 1947, we have been deprived of our status & reservation, though the son’s of the soil of the seven islands of Mumbai which comprise of East Indians Communities belong to the Bramhins, Prabhus, Pachkalshis, Charkalshis, Sonars, Khatris, Bhandaris, Kharpatils, Kunbis, Kunbhars, Nhavis, Dhobis, Kolis, Bhois, Mahars, Chanbars, Agris (ref.: Gazette of Bombay Pg. 200) . We demand the reservations which have been long deprived of i.e. the OBC status. As recently Kalina village under Vakola Police Station Jurisdiction. The Christian Community members were beaten, threatened, their lives are in danger. We want the Government to protect our minorities Community at large. After giving our valuable lands for Airports, university, Government Developments, Hospitals, Railways, still jobs are not provided for our local youths. We being `Asli Mumbaikars’ what a pity in our land and city, we are jobless.

 

Despite id our efforts, time and agains a deaf ear has been turned towards the plea of our community, the demand made by us are our basis essential rights which have been deprived of for long. We stand before you to draw your attention towards the fulfillment of the said demands failing which we shall be forced to knock the door of the law.

 

Today 19th Feb. 2004, we 27 Christians Youth are shaving our heads bald in protest.

WE DEMAND JUSTICE.

 

 

Thanking You,

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

 

 

Mr. Nicholas Almeida

President

St. John The Baptist Church Save Committee.

 Almeida House, Church Pakadi, Road No. 2,

Sahar, Vile Pale(E)

Mumbai 400 099

Tel: 2837 6600

9821284096

 

 

 

 

Committe Members

Mr. Nicholas Almeida

President

 

John Miranda

Plass Fernandes

(Vice-Presidents)

 

Biju Augustine

Tulip Misquitte

(Ge. Secretaries)

 

Robert Creado

Treasurer

 

 

Hubert Misquitta

Vivian D’souza

Godfrey Pimenta

(Legal Advisors)

 

Colan Gomes

Hector Tixeira

Anselem Pereira

Terence Fernandes

Gerald Misquitte

Vency D’Lima

Camello Vincent

Lionel Gonsalves

Maggie Soares

Cedric D’Souza

(Founder Members)

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