ST. FRANCIS XAVIER CHURCH, FERAR: HISTORY OF THE PARISH.
In 1882 Rev.Fr.B.Baretto parish priest of Pezar built a chapel at Ferar and started offering Sunday mass. On 31.3.1912, Ferar was detached from Pezar and was constituted into a new parish dedicated to St. Francis Xavier. The Assistant Parish Priest of Pezar Rev.Fr.Reginald Pinto was made the first parish priest of Ferar. He started the parish elementary school. On 7.10.1915 foundation stone was laid for Gurpur church.
In 1917, Rev.Fr.J.M.Menezes from Agrar came as the second parish priest. Rev.Fr.Reginald pinto went to Fr. Muller’s Hospital Kankanady. Rev.Fr. J.M.Menezes built the Gurpur church and it was blessed on 29.2.1918 by Bishop Paul Perini. In 1919, Fr.James Sequeira from Urethral came as the third parish priest. Fr.J.M.Menezes went to Manjeshwar. Rev.Fr.A.A.E.Colaco was made the first parish priest of Gurpur on 8.5.1921. Till then the spiritual needs of Gurpur were met from Ferar.
In 1923, Bishop Paul Perini laid the foundation stone for Ferar church. After 5 years, in 1928 the foundation work was completed. On 28.12.1932, Bishop Victor Fernandes blessed and inaugurated the present artistic church. The cemetery and its chapel were also built by Fr.James Sequeira. He also had a team of 12 trained local brothers to assist priest in his pastoral work. In 1933, Fr.James Sequeira was transferred to Shirva. Fr.D.L.Mathias from Gurpur came as the fourth vicar. In July 1934, the parish elementary school was upgraded into Higher Elementary School. The compound wall and the parish house were also built by Fr.D.L.Mathias. In 1938, on the occasion of the Solemn Pontifical mass of Bishop James Mendonca, Bishop of Tiruchinapally (who was born in Ferar) the new parochial house was blessed.
Fr.D.L.Mathias retired in 1944. Fr.William Sequeira who was teaching in the school was made the fifth parish priest. Fr.Felix Concessao worked for some time as assiastant. During this period 6 wards of Ferar parish- Nelthir, Kopla, Muchur, Neerude, Mochar and Pintawado were detached from Ferar and the new parish of Neerude dedicated to St.Rocky was erected.
In 1945, Fr.W.Sequeira went on sick leave and Fr Gracian D’Souza from Siddakatte came as the sixth parish priest. Plastering and flooring of the church was done during this period. From 23.9.1948 to 8.12.1952 Fr.Raphael D’Souza worked in the school as headmaster. On 22nd April 1957 Fr.Gracian D’Souza went to Miyar handing over the charge to Fr.Lawrence Fernandes, parish priest of Neerude. On24.4.1957 Fr.Jerome Pinto came as the eighth parish priest and took charge from Fr.Lawrence Fernandes. In 1961, Fr. Jerome Pinto went to Mulki , Fr.Raphael D’Souza from Padukone came as the ninth Parish priest. Plastering of the Fa�ade, ceiling over the Sancturary, Belfry, New Altar, electrification of the church and parochial house, extension of the school building and formation of the parish council- these were the achievements during the time of Fr.Raphael D’Souza. In 1964 some families of Vodoor ward were ceded to Kuppepadavu parish. In 1972, Fr.J.N.Lobo from Manjeshwar came as the tenth parish priest. Fr.Raphael D’Souza went to Kemmannu. Extensions of the school building, benches to the church, mike set, pump set- these were the works done during Fr.J.N.Lobo’s time. In 1980, Fr.J.N.Lobo went to Barkur.
Fr.Joe.M.Shenoy from Basrur came as the eleventh parish priest. During his time the lower roofs of the church were repaired and a separate new building was put up for the school Convent of the Missionary Sisters of Mary was started and the housing programme was introduced under CODP revolving fund. In April 1984, Fr.Pietas D’Souza from Neerude came as the twelfth parish priest and Fr.Joe.M.Shenoy went to Fr. Muller’s Hospital Kankanady. In 1984, some families of this parish belonging to Mijar ward went to the newly erected parish of Sampige, filial of Paladka. On 1.5.1986, Fr.Benjamine D’Souza from Bidar came as the thirteenth parish priest. Fr.Pietas.F.D’Souza retired due to ill health and went to the Presbytery, Kankanady. Faith Formation of the people of Ferar was the special task committed to Fr.Benjamine due to the fact that the Blood of Christ Mission and the Johowa Witnesses had caused a lot of harm to the catholic faith of the people of Ferar.
EFFORTS MADE FOR FAITH FORMATION
1. Family visits: – There are 314 families in Ferar parish. In order to know the real condition of the people in their own family set up all the families were visited systematically thrice during the period of one year. The Johowa Witness has been visiting catholic families with their own false interpretation of the Bible. The knowledge of our Catholics regarding Bible being very limited, a lot of confusion and doubts were created regarding faith. A correct knowledge of the Bible and regular use of the word of God was felt to be a real and urgent need.
2. Training camps on Bible: – All the 314 families of the parish according to wards were divided into 3 groups and with the help of Mangala Jyothi 3 one day training camps on Bible were conducted under the leadership of Fr.Victor Pinto. Almost all the families were motivated on the proper uses of the word of God during family prayer, neighborhood prayer and during liturgical celebrations. As a result the New Testament has reached almost all the families and they have started making use of the word of God.
3. Revitalization of the Parish Council: – though the Parish council was started in 1970, people needed training in procedural matters. Therefore the Parish Council was properly set up as per the constitution and training was given to the members of the Parish Council with the help of Canara Communication Centre. Regular meeting of the Parish Council were held. The opinions of the members were duly considered. All the decisions of the parish were taken in consultation with the Parish Council. To make the working of the Parish Council more effective committee were formed duly approved by the Bishop and an integrated parish development programme was visualized.
4. Neighborhood Prayer Meetings: – in view of forming real living Christian committees at the neighborhood level (Basic Christian Committees) after the example of the early Christians. By the period of 1987 Neighborhood Prayer Meetings were initiated in all the 8 wards of the parish with a unanimous approval of the Parish Council and Parish Assembly. A team of volunteers were trained at Fatima Retreat House, Mangalore, to conduct Neighborhood Prayer Meetings. In every ward, the Gurkar assisted by a team of trained volunteer’s conducted neighborhood Prayer meetings. Regularly people coming together for prayer at the neighborhood level reflection on the word of God and exchange of views had set up a movement to revolutionize the parish from within, after the spirit of the community of the Blessed Trinity which was reflected in the early Christian Community. The working of the spirit was vividly felt. At the same time, there was a group that had no faith in prayer developed resistance to these neighborhood Prayer Meetings. It was visualized that after a sustained and persevering effort for a sufficiently long period, the opposing forces also would change their ways under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
5. Regular Meetings of the Gurkars: – Gurkars being leaders in the wards, their regular meetings were held. The duties of the Gurkars were discussed. The role of the Gurkars in forming a real community at the neighborhood level was also explained in this meeting. The response of the Gurkars on the whole was encouraging, recognizing the wards, taking neighborhood as a criterion was also considered in these meetings.
6. meaningful liturgy: – In order to make the liturgical celebration meaningful and relevant, volunteers from all the 8 wards were trained by Mangala Jyothi. As a follow up the Gurkars, with their ward people, took up the responsibility of preparing the Sunday liturgy by turn.
7. preparation for 75 years jubilee: – the Planning Committee prepared a plan for the celebration of the 75 years Jubilee. This plan was approved by the Parish Council, Parish Assembly and the Bishop. With the voluntary contribution received from the people, a portion of the compound wall was built with laterite stones, the upper roof of the church was renewed, mike set was repaired and the Jubilee was inaugurated on 29th March 1987 by Mgr.A.F.D’Souza, the vicar general of Mangalore Diocese.