Very Rev. Msgr. Denis Jerome DSouza


All of us Barkurian’s devoutly offer our prayers at the magnificent St. Peter’s Church premises – its very exteriors…. more precisely its interiors, not only create a serene holy atmosphere to praise the glory of Almighty but also  inculcate  proud feelings in all of us, to offer gratitude’s to the people who provided this place of worship. It’s very true, most of us don’t know who the mastermind is or architect, planned and executed such a marvelous Barkur Church structure as early as about a century back, got inaugurated in the blessed hands of then Bishop H.E. Paul Perini on 28th May, 1923.

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The great holy soul is none other than Monsignor Denis Jerome DSouza, who served as Vicar – 11th September, 1915 to 26th April, 1929, whose first visible great enterprise of life time is Barkur Church, in 1923.
 
Followed was a history – gigantic artistic Milagres Church, Kallianpur in 1942, its bell fry, St. Annes Church, Thottam, St. Theresas Church, Kemmannu in 1938, Auditorium & laboratory of Milagres High School, ultra modern, three storied Milagres College Building at Kallianpur in 1967, Gorettee Hospital in 1958 ………. are just few examples……which took shapes in the wonder hands of this enterprising holy man.
 
He was a wonderful shepherd of souls, a builder of great Churches in the Kallianpur varado, given birth new and developed existing great learning institutions, Hospitals…..No doubt; religious, health care & educational edifices erected by him are abiding monuments to his sacred memory…….
 
Born in Kodial bail, Mangalore in a devout family on 8th March, 1884, he was ordained priest in 1910. His first assignment was as Assistant Parish Priest of Milagres Church Kallianpur up to 1913. As he was young and enthusiastic, at his youthful 30s elevated to be the Vicar of historical Barkur Church on 11th September, 1915. Barkurians were fortunate to accommodate him for FOURTEEN long Years as their Parish Priest, till 26th April, 1929.
 
In 1934 Rev. Fr. DSouza was promoted to be the Vicar forane of Northern Varado, (comprising present Karkala, Udupi, Shirva, Kundapur varados) with its head quarters at Milagres Church, till 1942. Thereafter transferred to Milagres Church, Mangalore as Vicar – 1942 – 1954. Yet again he was respectfully called back in Kallianpur as Parish Priest and Vicar Vara 1954 – 1970. Though he was at Milagres Kallianpur for 30 long years, his most youthful years spent in the service of Barkurians. In other words, in his priestly life of over 60 great years, 45 years devoted to Milagres Varado, and the Church history of this part of the Diocese centre around him till 70s.
 
At this point of time, we dont want to be elaborating all his works elsewhere, in the Diocese of Mangalore or in neighboring Kallianpur.  Since our Barkur parish is going complete 150 Years in 2011, we at Barkuronline feel it apt to remind of great legacies left behind for us Barkurians by this holy man Rev. Fr. Denis Jerome DSouza, for generations to cherish.
 
St. Peters Church Barkur:
 

Barkur, in a landscape dominated by innumerable temples, lakes, and historical land marks; its with utmost care this Church dedicated to Patron Apostle St. Peter was built, on a spacious flat surface of red soil with the contributions from all sections of society including the generous Hindu families of the time.
 
It was said Fr. DSouza first organized material during those days of scarcity of money and facilities and approached for help…..which poured in from all sides, in cash and kind. Most of the parishners extended their helping hand by way of labour, on rotation. Bricks were brought from Sural and Kokkarnne both by bullock carts, by boats and on head……..Annual Feast day all patrons and benefactors are remembered and presented with a holy candle. Those who were attentive, must recall the names of many Hindu donors, speaks of Fr. DSouzas clout and reach…….!
 
The masterpiece now offer a glimpse into heritage, culture of the local soil in one hand and Western influence in its Gothic style of structure and the minute and careful artwork of Goan carpenters and masons on the high alter with almost 10 feet tall royal and dignified statue of Patron Apostle St. Peter holding keys of heaven…….Once upon a time there were statues of great saints all around the Church, now many of them removed. The high alter is the centre of attraction with angels and the statues of all Apostles 6 each side of the holy tabernacle including St. Paul, in lieu of St. Peter, astonishes once one observe them at close, with its beauty, features and precision.
 
Once again it was Fr. DSouzas initiative to construct parochial house for resident priests.
 
L.F.Hospital near Barkur fort:
 
His concern for poor and downtrodden, especially their health care in the town, forced him to approach British Govt. authorities and with the help of generous public a Local Fund Hospital, near the historical fort area.
 
It was started and flourished during his time in the service of Barkurians irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Unfortunately, during later years, the sanction of a modern Govt. Hospital, in our Barkur, containing 50 Beds shifted to Brahmmavar. Of course the 90 odd years Barkur Hospital didnt make expected progress; its very existence reminds us the social concern of one of its founder.
 
Concluding few words:
 
Personally I have attended the Mass offered by him at Milagres Church, during my childhood days. His appearance more like our Aab Padryab – Rev. Fr. Joseph DSouza. His voice was very mild and smile used to win over every ones heart.
 
He was publicly honored at Barkur, once he was decorated with the title Monsignor, by Pope John XXIII, at the time Rev. Fr. Aloysius Rosario was Vicar in 1961.
 
Yet again in 1970 when he celebrated Sacerdotal Diamond Jubilee a grand public function was held at Barkur. Still the Maanpotr, presented to him, by late Leo DAlmeida, the then Administrator was one of the best, I ever heard. Indeed he was a holy priest, a simple man of prayers. Whatever he conceived and prayed for, became a reality. It was his intense life of spirit of prayer that brought him this success.
 
He retired at the age of 87. Thereafter he was he was well taken care at Goretti Hospital, by Sisters of Queen of Apostles. He breathed his last on 04th June 1975 at the age of 92 years and cremated at Milagres Church Kallianpur in the presence of hundreds of his admirers, well wishers.
 
Especially Barkurians always remain grateful to Msgr. DSouza, for this house of God and 150th Jubilee Year of the Parish deservedly an occasion to express it publicly.
 
On behalf of Barkuronline Team & ICYM Barkur ExMembers Association,


 

 

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