DOWN MEMORY LANE…..formation years of St. Peter’s Association, Barkur – Mumbai 1983 – 1988. A flashback…..!
An organization to complete twenty five years in the service of Barkurians in Mumbai is not a small achievement and ‘St. Peters Association Barkur – Mumbai’, stand tall among all contemporaries to cross this historical mile stone.
First of all, at this auspicious moment, we congratulate its President, Office bearers and Members of today and yesteryears who led, served and stood by the great ideals in the service of Barkurians in this metropolis in particular and in the service of the parishners of Barkur in general. It’s a proud feeling for me to have an opportunity to be associated with this giant platform during its formation years, as its first Secretary way back in 1988. My memories are afresh once I start to recollect those romantic, hectic but difficult days……The days of struggle with dreams and challenges, unemployment and lack of guidance, homesickness and lack of proper accommodation……. All these things were part of life over here and the solace to tide over all these trials and tribulations were halved and garnered strength to face them was derived from our own fellow Barkurian friends!
During my youthful heydays in Barkur in 80’s, altogether had a different picture of Bombay. Whenever Mumbaikar’s used to visit the natives with Bombay style…but the reality, once I actually landed here, was bitter to accept….especially for many like me, grown in a free atmosphere of village life.
However we too survived and grown with the days, in this city of opportunities……..it was a routine exchange of experiences with each other, to say problems shared, problems solved, inculcated us to meet at public gardens or some convenient church compounds at least once in a month or on a public holiday.
Back home, I heard of enterprising Barkurians through my father and relatives and also about their Association started way back in 1939. Unfortunately there was no clue of its existence once we were here in 1983. Many attempts were made to search for its roots, but in vein and ultimately decided to have an informal group of like minded youngsters in lines with CYM of Barkur.
Since June, 1983, we used to meet and the first in the common gang were – Ivan M. Rebello, Herald Sequeira, Stephen Lewis, Eric Carvalho, Praveen and Lancy D’Almeida Sunil Furtado, Ronald Pinto etc. We formed a committee under the leadership of Ivan as its President, Harry as Treasurer and me as Secretary. Soon after in late ‘83 another batch of youth joined us – John F. Gonsalves, Wilfred Sequeira, Denzil D’Souza, Joachim Mendonca …….followed by few more in 84. We met innumerable times at Lower Parel, late Peter Carvalho’s house, Mulund at Lawry’s home and in Vashi, New Bombay – Wilfred Gonsalves house and couple of times at Thane in Norman T. D’Souza’ flat and always remain indebted to their hospitality and co-operation. As usual we continued to meet at peculiar Railway station or Wednesday novena prayers at Mahim and strongly felt for the need of a formal Association.
Wasting no time, we approached our immediate seniors in Lawrence A. Sequeira, Louis D’Costa, Peter Fernandes, Norman T.D’Souza, Patrick Gonsalves, Sylvan D’Almeida, John Gonsalves etc. and exchanged our views to form an Association in early 1985.
By June 1985, when the next batch from Barkur comprising, Vincent D’Almeida, Divyananda Gonsalves, Vinod Sequeira, Ronald Fernandes, Joseph Picardo, Mark Gonsalves, Johnson D’Souza, Venus Fernandes, Pius D’Costa, Francis Picardo, Arthur Mendonca etc. arrived, there were about 35 ex-CYM Members and other youth reached Mumbai accounted for some 30 more.
It was the historical ‘Vikhroli Gathering’ in June 1985, shaped the genesis of St. Peters Catholic Youth Association Barkur – Mumbai. Thereafter it’s a success story of Barkurian youth in Bombay – First General Body Meeting was called at New English School Hall Kurla on 15th August 1985 and dynamic and handsome Lawrence A Sequeira was elected as Founder President of SPCYA with overwhelming majority by more than 40 members.
First Annual General Body Meeting
It was on 1st December, 1985, Rev. Fr. Joseph N. Lobo the then Parish Priest of Barkur Church came to Bombay to, celebrate an High Mass at Gloria Church Byculla, formally inaugurated and blessed and wished this group to grow in the spirit of unity and service to fellow brethren. Well known Barkurian Advocate Prof. George V. D’Lima was the Chief Guest with Senior Barkurian Mr. Augustine D’Silva. Both these great men coined the idea to include seniors in the Association…..in the very beginning. They also gave an insight of first ever Barkurian Association which was active till 1965.
At this juncture, we wish to go on record to state that, many youngsters neither enrolled themselves earlier in the CYM of Barkur nor had any taste for such social platforms, because they reached here to Bombay immediately after formal education, even earlier, enthusiastically joined us – Felix Sequeira, Milton D’Douza, Wilfred Roche, Mark Picardo, Ivan Quadros, Vijay Sequeira, Rosario D’Silva, Michael Picardo, Vincent D’Souza, Alphonse Picardo and so on……Most of them accommodated in different clubs / Kood of Bombay. There were such houses all over the city affiliated to the Patron Saints of native parish. News of the start of the Association spread to Barkurian’ youth and many others joined the mainstream – Canute Carvalho, Joseph Rodrigues, Ivan Crasto, Joseph Fernandes
Coming to our activities – first and foremost was to extend companionship, guidance in the furtherance of their education and a helping hand to new comers. Picnics, Cricket matches, were arranged regularly.
The 2nd November, 1986 is a red letter day, in the Youth history of Barkur in Bombay. Famed St. Mary’s Auditorium, then nerve centre of Konkani Cultural Activities, was the witness to present a Konkani social drama Mogachi Deswatt, written by Henry D’Silva Suratkal, and directed by legendary Sunny A.D’Souza, with then known artists of Konkani stage – Edwin Banz, Jacinta D’Souza, Pintham Derebail, Harry boy, Julie Vaz, Lawrence Pais, Julie D’Souza and Vincent D’Almeida, Harry Williams, John Gonsalves, Eric Carvalho, Herald Sequeira, Divyananda Gonsalves and myself, was a great success. Wilfy Rebimbus and his team had come all the way from Mangalore to give music and songs, as an added attraction.
Stills from the play Mogachi Deswaat
Honors to Chief Guest Mr. & Mrs. A.T. Picardo & Wilfy Rebimbus
It was the Decennial Celebrations of CYM Barkur gave us an opportunity to expose ourselves to limelight to organize three day celebrations on a grand scale on 12th, 13th and 14th of December, 1986, hand in hand with local unit. The run away success of ‘Mogachi Deswatt’ a social play enacted once again, exclusively by us at the open grounds of Barkur Church, was an instant hit. The then Bishop of Mangalore Rt. Rev. Dr. Basil S. D’Souza acclaimed the greatness of Barkurain youth, a fiat none has achieved thus far, in the whole diocese!
Third year of SPCYA was marked with a lot of innovative thoughts and moves apart from organizing houseful Wilfy Nite at St Mary’s Hall Mazgaon in October, 1987.
We made it a point to invite personally most of the known Barkurians to attend this event with an agenda to expand our base in coming days. The Bombay based Poinnari in its review praised the meticulous arrangements by the Association. It’s the accommodation of overflowing guest spectators, our Barkurian’s volunteering to stand and watch, (as the Hall was full to its seating capacity) 3 hours musical extravaganza caught the eyes of Konkani art lovers, apart from sterling performance by Wilfy’s team.( for more details Ref. Souvenir 1987).
By this time SPCYA crossed yet another mile stone by admitting young Barkurian female members both as full fledged and co-opted category. Involvement of Ivy D’Souza, Ophelia Gonsalves, Joyce Furtado, Mable Fernandes etc and the services and encouragement of Dora Sequeira, Vera Montherio, Edna Sequeira, Marceline Menezes, moral support of Cynthia Carvalho, Nirmala Gonsalves, Prema D’Lima, Leela D’Souza etc are always remembered and cherished. Fine, the youth of Barkur by this time made a powerful presence in the eyes of Mangaloreans and SPCYA become a banner every popular artist as well as spectator anxiously longed for. This trend set by us then, still continues and every year the Cultural events arranged during Diwali holidays goes with full houses.
It was not sufficient just to have picnics and drama, cricket matches or musical nites; we aspired and aimed for big. As we mentioned above we first impressed our own Barkurains and the three great years of SPCYA provided evidence. To enlarge the scope and to muster the economical strength, we invited about a dozen senior Barkurians and gathered at Dadar at ‘Sher-a-Punjab Hotel’, over a Dinner - Augustine D’Silva, Prof. George V. D’Lima, Jerome Sequeira, Richard Carvalho, Simplen Sequeira, Felix Barnes, Henry Roche, John Menezes etc, are a few of them. It was a coincidence or must be a divine providence that Rev. Fr. Henry D’Souza (former Asst Priest and the Founder of CYM Barkur Church, in Sept, 1976, now Bishop of Bellary Diocese) was in Bombay and attended this get together. His speech convinced the seniors to join hands with youngsters.
An ad-hoc committee was formed to chalk out and formalize modalities to start St. Peter’s Association Barkur – Mumbai. Services of Edwin Sequeira, Allwyn D’Souza, who pumped in more energy in the promotion process, at this point of time, need a special mention.
The golden moment ultimately dawned and 17th April 1988 has become the day of new renaissance and coming together of Three Generations – Senior most Barkurians once part and parcel of St Peters Barkurian Association of 1939, the middle aged successful Barkuran’s & the youthful and energetic St. Peters Catholic Youth Association of 1985.
Victoria Church Hall at Mahim, packed with Barkurians from every nook and corner of the metro city Bombay, guests from native Barkur, (including Herald D’Souza, thereafter raised to be the Diocesan President of Central Council), veterans of Bombay’s Konkani stage – all stood in union, as witness to the grand amalgamation. The main celebrant of the Holy Mass Rev. Fr. Henry Sequeira – (at present the Chancellor of the Diocese of Mangalore) rightly expressed in his speech that followed – “the re-birth of St Peters Association today…and surely this will be here to serve and survive for decades and may be centuries, looking at the committed team of young and old with perfect harmony with each other….”
In his introductory talk, Prof. George V.D’Lima – categorically stated – “By the year 1939 – 40 there were about 30 families from Barkur established in Bombay and seventy more individuals were working…..the first occasion to Barkurian’s to meet together in Bombay to draw all the Barkurians was when Rev. Fr. William Picardo S.J. visited here in 1939 and immediately after that St. Peters ( Barkurians) Association was formed and various activities were undertaken, and continued till 1964…..it was the exodus of Barkuran’s to Arabian Gulf countries for better employment and youth using Bombay just as stop over, pushed the Association to be dormant from then on…..”
Then it was my turn, (till the moment being SPCYA’s third years President) truly it’s a once in life time privilege, to make the ‘hand over address’, with a heavy heart and attached responsibilities, to declare the voluntary and historical merger with the newly formed ‘St. Peter’s Association Barkur – Bombay’ with a humble and genuine request to “safeguard the interests and needs of youngsters, let the sentiments, aspirations of smaller one’s, the faceless, anonymous lot, be protected and due respect to be guaranteed in the new set up…….” I noticed few drops of tears falling down from Lawrence A. Sequeira’s eyes, who accompanied me on the dais, a moment of joy (or sorrow) to a generous heart, always beaten for marginalized lot….!
On behalf of the just born SPA, it was Founder President Simplen Sequeira, ensured the packed audience, every possible step will be taken and more than due representation will be given in the Managing Committee, as well as a Youth Wing of the SPA will be constituted, to materialize the objectives set by the earlier Association.
Another Chief Guest Rev. Fr. Juje D’Souza was affluent to praise the Barkurian spirit as he called back, “though now I belongs to Sastan parish, born in Barkur parish….almost all senior faces here are well known to me…..go ahead, Almighty will bless you abundantly through Patron St. Peter…..”
What followed was, history of its own kind, saga of more than 25 Mega events, in best of the Auditorium, of Mumbai, Owning a Hostel at Rose Nager, Naigaum, W.R. (this was disposed off later for want of resident members) sponsoring the Annual Feast of Barkur Church, Waiting Stand at Barkur Railway Station, donating class rooms, contributing generously every single developmental project at home town, virtually bailing out the Mary knoll Higher Primary School with scholarships, donating uniforms, appointing and bearing the salaries of some teachers ….Annual Get to-gathers for their members……………….yes, I can not tabulate and list out, SPA’s achievements over here, readers may get a glimpse in their ‘Jubilee Years Report’ and me at this hour experiencing divinity with a touch of SPA crossing ‘Twenty Five Silver Years – 1988 – 2013’.
Successive Presidents from Late Simplen Peter Sequeira to incumbent Simon Peter Furtado have given their best to the Association. Felix Barnes, Henry Roche and RichardCarvalho led the team being at the helm as past Presidents all of whom inherited wonderful personal qualities, sacrificial and dynamic leadership to spread the fragrance of Barkurain spirit, no doubt the footprints of their guidance reflected largely in SPA’s success story.
Now I am duty bound to mention from the bottom of my heart, the success of any Association internally to a great extent depends upon the Secretaries – and all the three stalwarts in Vincent D’Almeida, Ivan M. Rebello and Eric L. Carvalho, have done a great job. The tenor and timbre of freshness still in evidence while evaluating Association’s manifold activities. All the present and past Office bearers and members and their families too, contributed in their own way in the success story of SPA – Friends kudos to all of you and congratulations…..!
Today, most the youngsters I mentioned above are in their 40’s and 50’s, and all of them are well settled in their life and a big chunk in these are in Arabian Gulf countries. I am extremely happy, few of them still endeared themselves to the Association, since its inception years, are continuing their selfless work, in Mumbai. Of course, at this hour, I have my own sentiments towards those great people, who are not physically with us – Lawrence Sequeira, Herald Sequeira, Patrick Gonsalves, Joseph Rodrigues, Felix Sequeira, Mark Picardo, we really miss you all…May Almighty grant them eternal peace….!
Some of the above events and names associated with the evolution process of building St. Peters Association Barkur – Mumbai, to its present form etched sharp in my memory chip so also an integral part of my Five Years and Five Months of Bombay Life…………..!