Chikkamagaluru: Kelaguru Saint Saturnine Chapel all set to celebrate platinum jubilee on Jan 24

Media release

Chikkamagaluru, Jan 23: Kelaguru Saint Saturnine Chapel is all set to celebrate platinum jubilee. Kelaguru is a small village of Chikkamagaluru district within Mudigere taluka which is 57 km away from Chikkamagaluru town in the hill country.

This area is famous for its coffee and tea plantations. In 1926, the Kelaguru coffee and tea Plantation was started by the then late Saturnine Louis Mathias. The reverend, who was a provider of livelihood to the people of many castes and religions, called the then clergymen from Mudigere Parish and enabled the Christians to fulfil their religious obligations at their respective residences.

In 1943, when Hirebile, which was a sub-station of Mudigere, was declared an independent Parish. Kelaguru area came under the jurisdiction of Hirebile parish.

Always responsive to the temporal and spiritual needs of the people, the late S L Mathias always complained that they were unable to put up a church owing to financial constraints. Pope Pius 11th offered a title to S L Mathias as a “Knight of St. Gregory the Great” and he was also accorded the title of “Dewan Bahadur" by the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar.

He and his sons Casimir, George, Edward and Harry decided to fulfil their father’s dream of building a chapel also as per the wish of their mother  Stefania Mathias and dedicated the Chapel to Saint Saturnine on November 29, 1948, the birthday of Diwan Bahadur S L Mathias at Kelaguru coffee and tea plantations.

The church was inaugurated and blessed by Dr Bishop Rene Feuga, who was the then Bishop of the Mysore Diocese. Since then and even to-date, the Kelaguru chapel is a sub-station of the Hirebile parish.

People in and around Kelaguru remember Mathias family of Kelaguru with gratitude for having bestowed them with such a precious gift. From then on, every Sunday, on all festival days and special days Holy Mass is celebrated at 7 am and liturgical celebrations are, however, held continuously.

While constructing this chapel, a grand Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes was also included. Today, this village is known for its spirituality. The sight of people coming to grotto to offer prayers to Our Lady is very common. On  February 11, every year, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is celebrated with great devotion and with no discrimination of caste, creed or colour.

People gather in thousands to honour blessed Mother. People come here pray at the grotto and owing to its popularity, it has now become a centre for inter-religious harmony. On feast every year, people flock to this place to offer prayers and thanksgiving. Because of such intense devotion of Christians, this place has become sort of miraculous spot.

The Kelaguru Mathias family and the people of Kelaguru sub-station are indebted to the services of the priests and assistant priests from Hirebile parish. Priests come to this sub-station on Sundays and festival days 13 Kilometres away to offer Holy Mass even in harsh conditions like cold, rain and wind.

The people of Kelaguru remember with devotion the selfless service of all these priests even today. Late Fr J A Pereira (1946-1952) was the first priest to serve at Kelaguru sub-station, followed by Late Fr Fidelis Pinto, (1952-1966) Late Fr Joe Mary Lobo,(1966-1971) Fr Patrick D’Souza,(1971-1980) Fr .Daniel D’Souza,(1980-1989) Fr. George D’Souza,( 1989-1995) Late Fr G V D’Souza,(1995-2002) Fr Francis Rasquinha,(2002-2008) Fr R Rajendra,(2008-2014) late Late Fr Gilbert Pinto,(2014-2015) Fr George Andrade,(2015-2022) and the assistant priests, Late Fr Felix Walter Pinto,(1975-1978) Fr J B Castellino,(1978-1980) late Fr A Shanthappa(1991-1993) Fr Sunil Prakash Rodrigues (2014-2015) and Fr Avin Michael (2021-2022.) while we thank all the priests for their selfless services we gratefully acknowledge the services of those who have departed to their heavenly abode. May their souls rest in eternal peace. May merciful Lord grant them heavenly bliss.

All the priests took special care to fulfill the spiritual needs of the faithful here. They visited each house and took good pastoral care of the people. Priests who have served here were great preachers, organisers, Bible scholars, musicians and writers. They were the pioneers in igniting the spiritual movement among people. People received good guidance due to priests’ zeal for work, devotion to God and commitment to the Church.

The 60th anniversary of this Chapel was celebrated on November 29, 2008 under the leadership of Fr R Rajendra. We gratefully acknowledge their services. May Lord Jesus, the high priest, bless all the priests with good health, joy and happiness.

Fr Joe Mary Lobo took immense trouble and pains to train the people to walk on the spiritual path. He formed a good choir group here and taught music to the youth. He trained Jerome Pinto to play harmonium. Till the retirement of 
Pinto Kelagur had a splendid and melodious musical choir.

52 years ago during Fr Joe Mary Lobo’s tenure, the revered priest brought the famous wilfy Rebimbus troop here and organised Konkani, kannada and
Tulu Musical programmes at Hirebile as well. During this musical programme
Konkan Kogul wilfy sang a melodious song titled “Chendada Ooru Kelaguru….Andada bailu Hirebileu”.

Fr Joe also trained many kelagur youth to take part in cultural programmes. Fr George D’souza, during his tenure, took lot of trouble to organise faith formation classes to children, conducted camps at Kelaguru and encouraged youth to participate in Diocesan and Regional level programmes.

The present 15th Parish Priest viz: Fr. David Prakash is active like Mercury and cool as cucumber, works like a bee gathering the sweetness and goodness in hearts of the faithful. In one year alone, he has accomplished many good programmes and still continues working beyond his strength for religious, social, educational and economic progress of the Parish.

In his committed services, we can find ingenuity, diligence, devotion, talent, companionship with people, eloquence and erudition so as to mesmerise the Parishioners. It is a great opportunity for us work with Fr David Prakash under whose able leadership we are conducting this programme.

Infinite thanks to our former Bishops Dr Alphonsus Mathias and Late John Baptist Sequeira and the present shepherd Dr T Anthony Swamy for providing us all the spiritual guidance and support.

A native Priest viz Fr Faustine Brank of Kelaguru sub-station has been ordained as a priest on April 15, 1983. This took place during Fr Daniel D Souza’s period. Late Joe Mary Lobo took Lead to organise this programme. In this chapel, many a Baptisms, First Holy Communion, and weddings have taken place.

Presently, a native of this Parish is undergoing training as a Seminarian to be eventually ordained as a priest. We also have nurtured few vocations to become religious brothers, religious sisters who having been serving in different religious congregations in India.

At the time when this small chapel was established, there were many people.
There were nearly 350 catholic who use to participate in the Sunday Mass. Now the number is reduced to 75 only. But the same spirit is moving in them. As time progressed, the population of the Christian community decreased as the youth migrated to various cities in search of education, employment and livelihood. We are proud of their growth and for their contributions in various fields. They are settled in well-developed countries. Today we can see them as professors, sportsmen etc.

However, we are happy to say that the spark of devotion of the devotees and faith of the faithful living here has not dried up and is still shining brightly. The Kelaguru Mathias family is credited with not only building the chapel of Saint Saturnine but also for providing all the necessary facilities and raising it to the present status.

Late E J Mathias, who was the managing partner, built a small chapel and grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the facility of vehicle arrangement to facilitate the coming and going of devotees from Meguru ‘A’ and Meguru ‘B’ sections of Kelaguru farm, for participation in Holy Eucharistic celebrations and other services continues even today.

Vehicle arrangements have been made for the priests to come and go from Hirebile parish to offer Holy Mass. Food and accommodation are duly arranged for their comfortable stay at the Centre. It is our prayer that the Lord will grant eternal rest to all the bereaved family

members of Kelaguru Mathias. Peter Mathias, who was a senior naval officer,
who took charge of the path laid down by his predecessors has gained popular recognition by responding to the needs of the chapel and the people.

Sanjay Mathias, the current manager, continues the legacy of the elders with fondness and commitment to the Catholic Church. In all these developments, the services of the superintendents and attendants of the Kelaguru farm are exceptional and commendable. They work as a bridge and link between the people and administration.

We also thank all the Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS) who always rendered their selfless services from Sacred Heart Convent Hirebile and supported spiritually supported us in the past and are helping us even in present days’ Eucharistic celebrations. We gratefully appreciate Sr Helen Sequeira UFS Superior and community members.

On behalf of the Kelaguru Mathias family, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed to the 75 years of development of this chapel. There is one cemetery also in Kelagur in front of the chapel. It is beautifully maintained by the estate authority.

The Platinum Jubilee celebration will take place on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. His excellency T Anthony Swamy Bishop of Chickmagalur will offer thanksgiving Holy Eucharist Mass along with Fr David Prakash, Parish priest together with Balehonnur Deanery Priests joined by former parish priests.

After the Holy Mass, there will be cultural programmes followed by fellowship meals organized by the Estate authority.

This programme will be telecast live on Divyavani Channel. This event will be an important milestone in the history of Kelaguru Sub-station. Known as the Ooty of Karnataka, the lush green scenic views of Kelaguru plantations attract many tourists and soothe their eyes.

Many Kannada films are shot here. One such film is Dr Rajkumar’s “Naa Ninna Mareyalare”. It is our wish that through the intersession of our Saint Saturnine, this place may give us all a life of devotion amidst verdant greenery.

Fr David Prakash, Parish priest, Sanjay Mathias, manager, Sathurnine D’Souza, superintendent, Valerian Pereira asst superintendent, Noel Gonsalves, Mohan, Anil Castelinho, Sudhakar, Ravi Amin, Shivakumar, Harish Felis Sequeira and Praveen Sequeira are working tirelessly for the success of the jubilee. May the merciful God shower his blessings on all of them to make their lives better, a lamp of faith may the spirit of the almighty continue to burn in all our lives in days to come.




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Title: Chikkamagaluru: Kelaguru Saint Saturnine Chapel all set to celebrate platinum jubilee on Jan 24

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