by H. R. Alva
Mangaluru, Jun 21 : Year 2016, triple celebrations to Rt Dr. Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Bishop of Mangalore. On 15th May he completed 20 years as Bishop shepherding the Diocese of Mangalore. On 21st June his Platinum Birthday and coming 3rd December he celebrates his Golden Ordination of Priesthood.
I have observed Bishop Aloysius from close quarters for many years. I had served the CYM (Catholic Youth Movement) of the Diocese of Mangalore in its Central Council from 1979 to 1986 in different capacities as Yuvak Editor, Gen. Secretary, President and again Editor of Amcho Yuvak Monthly. I was elected as the Secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and I was the first lay person to be elected to that post in Mangalore Diocese and in office for 2 consecutive terms (1986-91). I was closely associated with Fr. Aloysius Paul D’Souza or fondly called ‘Fr. AP or Fr. Luvi’ by the people. He was in the Bishop’s House most of the time and myself too was visiting frequently in connection with different activities. When I was the Secretary of the Pastoral Council Bishop Basil Salvadore DSouza, the then Bishop of Mangalore had provided me a place (a table and chair) in the Chancery when Fr. AP was the Chancellor of the Diocese. Even after Fr. AP’s elevation as Bishop I was visiting him on many occasions and wrote letters often appreciating his deeds or for some other reasons.
Though I sent such letters as typed or printed he would quickly reply in his unique hand writing. Moreover, we both are admirers of Bishop Basil. As Albert W. DSouza, the leading entrepreneur of Mumbai (Chairman of Aldel Education Trust) and a well wisher of the Mangalore Diocese is our common friend, we have attended many a programmes together either in Mumbai or in Mangalore. Having such an acquaintance with the Bishop, it’s a small attempt to narrate his special qualities along with his achievements in this write-up.
Early life of the Bishop:
Aloysius Paul is the 6th child among 7 children of Mathias D’Souza and Isabella D’Souza, the farmers of Hekkottu, then in Agrar and now in Farla Parish near Bantwal. He studied at Agrar church School and then in SVS High School, Bantwal. He joined St Joseph Seminary, Jeppu Mangalore for priestly studies.
From Father AP to Bishop AP:
Br. Aloysius was ordained by Bp. Basil on 3rd December 1966. His first posting as Assistant Parish priest was at Cordel Church where he served till 1970. During that time he obtained Bachelor’s degree from Karnataka University. I am sure by then Bp. Basil had recognized the talents of this young priest and chose him as his Secretary and Fr. AP served him till mid 1971. In that year Fr. AP was sent to Rome for studies in Canon Law. After over 5 years of study he obtained DCL (Doctorate in Canon Law) and qualified as Advocate in Roman Rota (the highest tribunal of the Church). He was the first priest from India to qualify for that position in the Rota.
After returning from Rome he was appointed as the Chancellor of the Mangalore Diocese in 1976 and served 12 long years along with other positions like Secretary to the Bishop, Judicial Vicar of the Diocesan court, Rector of Gladsome Home which prepares the young students for the Seminary. From 1988 he served as Parish Priest of Cascia Church for 7 years and continued in the posts of Chancellor and Judicial Vicar.
Till 1995, the administration of St Joseph Seminary, Jeppu was with the Jesuits. The seminary came to the joint management of Mangalore and Calicut Dioceses in 1995. Fr. AP was appointed as the Rector, being the first Mangalore Diocesan Priest elevated to that position.
Bishop Basil who had served the Diocese for over 30 years and made the Diocese progressive in every respect desired to have an Auxiliary Bishop to help him in the Diocesan affairs. Granting the wish of Bp. Basil, Vatican appointed Fr. AP as Auxiliary Bishop of Mangalore on 11-01-1996. Fr. AP’s Episcopal ordination was held on 15th May 1996. He adopted the Episcopal Motto, “With the Compassion of Jesus Christ”
Bishop Basil was guided by the Holy Spirit in appointing an Auxiliary Bishop and perhaps he was right in his decision. Still in office he passed away on 5th September 1996. Bishop AP was appointed as the Administrator of the Diocese on 13th September and anointed as Bishop of Mangalore by Vatican on 18th December and he resumed office on 27th December 1996.
Mangalore – the leading Diocese in India:
Mangalore Diocese has been hailed as ‘Rome of the East’. It has dense Catholic population (nearly 3 lakhs). Spirituality and Christian faith are at the peak. It has provided vocations to the church in India and even abroad. Among Bishops in India over forty are from Mangalore. It has carved a niche in education, health care and social activities. As such many a Dioceses in India are looking up to Mangalore for guidance.
The pastoral work of Bidar region was under Mangalore Diocese till the new Gulbarga Diocese was formed in 2005. Until Udupi Diocese was formed in 2012, the Mangalore Diocese was spread in entire Dakshina Kannada (South Canara), Udupi revenue districts and in Kasargod Taluk of Kerala state. There were about 160 parishes and about 500 educational and other institutions.
Bishop AP was involved and had keenly observed the administration of Bp. Basil for many years as his right hand. After assuming office as the Bishop he toiled hard with ever smiling face to maintain and build the Diocese brick by brick. He regularly made pastoral visits to the parishes and participated in their special occasions. Bishop completed ‘Ad Limina’ visits (visiting Pope once in 5 years) as required.
The Catholics of Mangalore origin are spreading fragrance in many cities of India especially in Mumbai, in the Gulf countries, in Europe, Australia, in the North American region and elsewhere. Bishop AP visited them and took part in their joys and sorrows. With all these above visits the Bishop I am sure has travelled a distance of lakhs of kilometers.
Qualities of the Bishop:
Bishop AP is a good orator. His talks and sermons have the capacity to attract people. Most of the time he is busy either at his office, or in parishes, institutions or on tour. He likes meeting people and talking to them.
Bishop AP is a simple person. He has concern towards his people. His motive is that in the Diocese no child should be deprived of education due to poverty. He has upgraded the existing institutions and established many more for higher education. Worth naming among them here are Fr. Muller Medical College and St Joseph Engineering College which are quite popular in Karnataka today. ‘Educational Funds’ or scholarships have been established to help the needy students. The progress achieved of Fr. Muller Hospital and Institutions is tremendous including the Hospital’s extension at Thumbe, Bantwal. Bishop has established a ‘Diocesan Medical Relief Fund’ to help the poor and needy patients. To help the people many a social welfare schemes including self help groups and micro finance groups have been started. Hundreds of houses have been built for the needy people throughout the Diocese.
Love towards Konkani:
Bishop AP is a staunch lover of his mother tongue Konkani. Konkani is the official language in religious services. Moreover the Diocese has been publishing periodicals, books and encouraging Konkani activities. Konkani has been taught as one of the optional languages in Schools and Colleges under the Diocese. Here I would like to narrate an incident towards the Bishop’s love for Konkani. One of the Diocesan laity organizations had arranged a programme in English to honour the achievers. Bishop presided over the programme. When his turn came the Bishop spoke in Konkani saying that Konkani is our identity.
Bishop is the protector of Roman Catholic religion. Even then he is cordial towards other denominations of Christianity and other religions. Whenever there is an occasion he is participates in programmes related to communal harmony, public celebrations of Christmas, Deepavali, Eid etc. He had participated in social activities organized in Dharmasthala, Moodbidri and elsewhere.
Bishop has shown keen interest in Government sponsored programmes such as AIDS prevention, Clean India etc. He has encouraged people’s programmes like agitation on water shortage etc. A good quality of the Bishop is that he meets people’s representatives and other dignitaries without considering party, religion, etc. A cordial welcome is always extended to anyone who wants to meet him.
The long cherished dream of the formation of Udupi Diocese was fulfilled on Bishop AP’s initiative. Bishop has joined hands with “Mangalore-Africa Mission” in the Diocese of Same, Tanzania.