Bishop Gerald Isaac intends to be model Udupi Diocese

Rev Fr. Dr. Baptist Menezes

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                                             Very Rev Dr. Baptist Menezes, Vicar Gerneral of Udupi Diocese 

“All beginnings are hard but well begun is half done” is an eternal saying in the English language fits well with the new born Diocese of Udupi. We began well, rather very well with the historical and most memorable, solemn Establishment of the New Diocese of Udupi, Installation of the Most Rev. Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo as its first Bishop in a glittering but sacred ceremony on 15th October, 2012 at the Milagres Cathedral Grounds with an unprecedented participation of people over 14 thousand and the ‘Purapravesha’ accorded to Bishop Gerald by the Parishioners of the Mother of Sorrows Church at Udupi on 17th October, 2012, welcoming the new Bishop to take residence on the first floor of the former St Mary’s School in the Church campus.

Dust has now settled on the much talked about, discussed and media covered inauguration of the Diocese of Udupi and after the initial euphoria of joy, celebration and reception, the reality has now struck us all of the magnitude of responsibility before us of building the new Diocese infrastructurally so that the spiritual mission of the Church: “Proclamation of the Good News of Jesus christ” as enunciated in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 4:18-19 may truly be translated in action in the days to come. That’s why I said, “All beginnings are hard but well begun is half done.”

But the consoling side of the task or encouraging aspect of the responsibility before the new Diocese and the first Bishop is the vision of the People of God themselves and their different dreams for Udupi.

Bishop Gerald took no time to rest and sit but opened his doors first to meet whoever knocked on it throughout the day and spoke freely and candidly to whosoever called him over phone enquiring about the Diocese and his plans for it; he visited all 48 parishes within a week in October 2012 itself, addressed all priests of five deaneries, deanery-wise and now is busy officially visiting every parish and addressing the Finance Committee members, the Parish Pastoral Council, Presidents and Secretaries of all official Parish organizations like the Catholic Sabha, Vincent de Paul Society, ICYM, YCS, Women Association, etc. spending half a day each time with them to know their mind and vision for the new Diocese of Udupi which, will be concluded by Palm Sunday, i.e. 24th March 2013.

Bishop Gerald has convinced himself of the fact that unless the Catholic Faithful of his Diocese are taken into confidence regarding what their plans and projects are for the new Diocese of Udupi, no matter what is planned and implemented from above, it would be a futile exercise. He has lost no time in consulting all sections of people in the Diocese and the following is what People of Udupi Diocese have proposed that they would like to have for themselves and the future generation, thereby making Udupi Diocese not just one of the best but the best and model Diocese to respond to the needs, aspirations and vision of the People of God:

Accordingly, following are therefore the immediate needs of the Diocese of Udupi as enumerated by the Catholic Laity themselves to Bishop Gerald during his visit to various Parishes:-

1. Pastoral Institute: This is an all round training Centre. While it will have to provide offices for various Commissions like: Family, Labour, Youth, Laity, Catechetics, Bible, Liturgy, Social Development, Education, Women, Social Communication, Ecumenism, Inter-Religious Dialogue, Health, Small Christian Communities (SCC) will have to provide facilities for Seminars, Conferences and to conduct Training Programmes. This Institute also must provide accommodation for all those who would attend residential Training Programmes (mostly lay people from all over the Diocese and even from outside) and in charge of various Commissions. Spacious Hall with a seating capacity of 250 to 300 and class rooms, seminar halls are other requirements to be made available in this Institute. This would be the only Centre where the Youth and the Laity of Udupi will have facilities for active participation through membership in various Commissions and get equipped/trained to contribute at the parish level from the training they would receive from here.

This is the most urgent and immediate need of the Diocese. The place proposed is at Mount Rosary Church Campus at Santhekatte Kallianpur.

2. Diocese of Udupi Social Development Organization (DUSDO): No doubt the mission and ministry of any and every Diocese is one of spiritual animation, faith formation and Proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. But, along with it goes hand in hand the social development of the people, irrespective of caste and creed. Hence, while a Pastoral Institute will take care of the spiritual side of the pastoral ministry in the Diocese, Social Development Organization is meant to cater to the basic needs of the people such as: Housing, Education (scholarships), Women empowerment, Integrated Child Development Programme, environment, Literacy programmes, Health awareness Programmes and other societal developmental works thereby aiming at the integral development of the human being.

3. Medical Relief Fund: The Bishop has already requests coming in for medical help and education and some for Housing. While educating young minds is our concern and aim, taking care of the health of the sick and suffering is very much biblical and also within our primary objective. Since the poor and the marginalized cannot afford to have access to even basic medical facilities, leave alone speciality and superspeciality ones in today’s hospitals, the Church has the mission to provide medical facility either free of cost or at a very affordable manner. Until we have a hospital of our own, it is required of us at the Diocesan level to come to the assistance of deserving people for medical relief.

4. Education Fund: While, it will take us quite some time, nay a few years to provide facility for Professional studies in this Diocese, educating the needy and deserving poor students of our Diocese should be our primary concern as well and it is the wish of the People that we build a Fund at the Diocesan Level straightaway

5. Hospital: It is the wish of the people from all parishes that we must have a full fledged hospital of our own, if not two – one in Shirva Varado and the other in-between Kallianpur and Kundapur Varado. While a hospital is a part of the Medical College and College of Nursing Training Institute, owning a Hospital before starting the others is a necessity. While a Medical College would need 25 acres of land and college of Nursing campus of 5 acres, the Hospital too would need a minimum of five acres of land to house staff quarters for nurses and employees. This is a major project of the Diocese.

6. Minor Seminary: The total number of Diocesan Priests is 58 and religious 26. While the Religious priests have their own mission objectives to fulfill, Parish pastoral ministry is in the hands of the Diocesan clergy and for Udupi Diocese we are really in need of more priests and younger clergy at that. This year we will have one ordination and next year, God willing, two and total of Seminarians studying is 16. We need a Minor Seminary in this Diocese for candidates opting for priesthood to begin their studies. The Parish priest and the Parishioners of Belle Parish have come forward to set aside the old presbytery building to start the Minor Seminary by this June 2013; we would need an acre of land to put up a proper Minor Seminary building for our future priests of this Diocese.

7. Retired Priests’ Home: It’s a matter of obligation to any and every Bishop to look after his priests when they retire from the active Diocesan ministry by providing them with an adequate House for retirement. Out of the 58 Diocesan Priests on active ministry, retirement would start within a matter of two years and unless the Bishop starts constructing a house at the earliest, he will not be able to provide accommodation to them in time. The plan is to put up a Home with ten to twelve rooms. Neither the place, nor the plan is ready yet due to the other most important and urgent needs of the Diocese as explained above. But the need is genuine since, of the 24 senior priests at present in service, good many are above 65 years of age and the rest are above 60. So at one hand, we need to promote vocations to priesthood and at the other, to take care of those who retire having spent themselves in the service of Parish pastoral ministry in the Diocese.

8. Bishop’s House: The Bishop himself says that it is not his immediate need since he is in the temporary residence prepared for him even though other basic facilities for the Curia and offices still lack. Residing in a Parish does inconvenience the parish administration as it has to look after its own needs and also that of the Bishop’s House. Hence a Bishop’s House away from the Parish but easily accessible to People is a necessity and the place has been decided is the City of Udupi. At the moment we only have the decision to have the House some day without either having the land or the resources for it.

On the basis of the requests made to us from several quarters, i. e. people within this Diocese and outside, especially abroad, to speak our mind out in writing as to the immediate need/requirements of the new Diocese of Udupi, I have placed before you in all frankness the infrastructural needs and two projects (funds for education and medical relief) both for information and financial assistance. The Diocese has registered itself as a Charitable Trust and as a Religious Trust.

The Diocese of Mangalore will certainly play its role within its means available. It has already provided the Bishop with a temporary residence and will meet the office expenditure up to March 2013.

However, building a new Diocese from ground zero is surely the responsibility of all of us, men and
women of goodwill of this Diocese along with the Bishop, Clergy and the Religious. The total cost of nos. 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 as above is beyond anyone’s guess as it would involve huge amount. Whereas projects nos. 3 and 4 being funds, would be ongoing.

Your generous contribution either specifying any of the above infrastructural needs and projects may please be sent to:

S.B A/c No. 1439219  1008501
IFS CODE   : ORBC 0101439

Email id : -

If land could be made available freely for the purpose of a hospital, medical college, college of nursing etc. would also be a most welcome gesture for perpetual memory of the new Diocese of Udupi.

Contact : 91 820 2531908, 91 94825 79084

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