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The priest who stole my heart!!

There was a time when Barkur parish had the talent in its youth and in its people. But it needed that final push or that elusive "facelift" is the word I would coin. Our Barkur parish is fairly big parish and parish had a large audience for daily and Sunday masses and mammoth crowd used to attend those film shows or Drama that were held now and then. There was that God fearing, humble, strict and no-nonsense vicar called late Rev Fr.Joseph D'Souza (Aaab Paadryab) in seventies. That was the time a newly ordained priest called Fr. Henry D'Souza arrived to our parish. A man who was highly educated with the zeal and enthusiasm. It appeared that even God has answered the prayers and the plight of Barkur Catholics. He had age on his side, as he was young, princely looks, wisdom and that sense of humor. He had the will to work hard, sincerity and that constant hunger in his eyes to do some thing for the youth of Barkur and that enthusiasm that is relentless. I must admit, till today that I have not seen a priest who worked so hard for our parish youths and worked his way up to groom the talents of our Barkur parish. I would say we were not united until he came. Even there was some misunderstanding among elderly people and the youth. He took all people in to confidence, took a consensus and united all youth in one umbrella and groomed their talents. He was ready to hear and flexible and transparent in his approach.
He must have had the knack and vision in seeing the raw talent that is available in each youth. He was great orator and people and youth were drawn to him to start an association that was christened as CYM. As Mr. Archibald Furtado has rightly written that his arrival ushered a new era for the Barkur people and its youth. He groomed people's talent that was inherently present deep in them and made him or her to shine in their own way. He identified that some people were gifted actors and some had the talent in music or choir singing and other few in elocution or had oratory skills. Since his arrival things started looking up and he proved that in his stint in the first few months. I must admit that his stay was short but he carved a niche of his own before he left

People of Barker had a craving for his sermons and always had good message. What makes him different than the rest was, in his sermons were interesting with examples and he used to reiterate real events that happened all over the world. I was fortunate to hear his sermons and lucky to get his guidance, advice and his support. You can approach him on any day and he is so concerned about others well being and used to bribe us with those lovely chocolates. He really impressed me and his tenure did a stupendous job in grooming the talents of our youth and guided us in every way. Today I owe a lot to Rev Fr.Henry D'Souza.

There are few incidents that I felt worth recalling. I was average in acting or even call myself as mediocre in acting at that time. He made me to act and gave a role in one of the skit and gave all direction and guidance in that small skit called " Amchea Vaadyacho Gurkar" which was played in our convent school. It gave me lot of confidence and brought out few hidden acting talents in me. I got rid of that stage fear. To my utter surprise and dismay, the skit was a hit and many people liked my role. I did the main role of "Gurkar". Until then, acting used to send shivers down my spine. Second incident when I was preparing for the entrance exams of St John's Medical College to secure a medical seat. I had to go previous day to reach in time and I had no friends to stay at Mangalore. I sought the help of Fr Henry for an overnight stay and he gave me a royal hospitality at Canara Communication Centre. He even guided me how to approach this mundane exam. I was really scared because I barely can speak English that time. How could I expect to write the entrance exams that needed the Queen English mastery? I made a brave decision to go ahead and wrote the exams and I did the exams fairly well. The result was there for every one to see and I was called for the interview and later got a medical seat. I was one of the two candidates to get selected from South Canara.  The rest is all history. I was thinking how could a lad from tiny a hamlet called Nagarmutt could get in to that St. Johns Medical College. I was more tensed on that entrance exam day as I had a small role in the drama played at Barkur and I had no rehearsal for three days. At last I reached Barkur after writing that exams and reached just in time before the drama.  I am proud to say that I acted in that drama in that small role

Today not only me but also a lot of youths must be thanking Fr. Henry for what he has done and his tenure as an assistant parish priest is memorable and will be cherished in our memory. Having said that, I am not ignoring others sacrifices and contributions. Every one contributed their mite and today if we achieved some thing, it is partly to do with the philanthropic nature of priests like Fr.Henry and others. 

I salute you Dear Rev. Fr. Henry and always remember what you did for me and for the people of Barkur. You stand tall and head and shoulders above the rest in my opinion and you can rest assured that I am praying that you will reach more dizzy heights in terms of achievement. In nutshell you are great and I am sure you will do more to the society and serve God in a bigger capacity. Your contribution to Barkur is exemplary. You deserve a standing ovation from people of Barkur.I am sure you too love Barkur and Barkur people tell you when you land Barkur that you like your Kuleir! (Mothers house)

A message from,

Dr. Derick D'Souza, UK. 1/05/2002


Barkur, located in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, India. 576 210

Copyright Kishoo, Barkur 2002.