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Melbourne, Sep 3: The Mangalorean Catholic Association of Victoria (MCAV) requested the Bishop of Mangalore, Rt Rev Aloysius Paul D'Souza, on behalf of the community, to pay a visit to Melbourne while he was in the country to attend a conference at Townsville. MCAV is indeed grateful that the Bishop kindly accepted the request to visit Melbourne and interact with the community.

Accordingly quick preparations were made to organise a Mass combined with the 'Monti' Feast on the 1st of September. Despite the protestations from the elderly sacristan, Jim, that Mangalore near Seymour (north of Melbourne in Victoria) could not possibly have a Catholic Bishop, Fr Crawford of the Kew Sacred Heart parish made the beautiful church available to the Bishop and the community to celebrate the Konkani Mass. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Rt Rev Denis Hart, offered the accommodation at the Cathedral.

Rt Rev Peter Connors, the Bishop of Ballarat, a friend of Bishop D'Souza since his student days in Rome, came to Melbourne to fetch Bishop D'Souza to take the latter for a tour of Ballarat. Bishop D'Souza was very impressed by what he saw in Ballarat.

The Mangalorean Catholic community of Melbourne will remember for many years to come the special event around the Konkani Mass and the Monti Fest held on the 1st of September. Despite it being a week-day, the community members assembled at the Kew church in large numbers. Some arrived from distant places like Geelong. By any reckoning it was the largest gathering of the community members in Melbourne.

The members of the choir - Lisel Pais, Valerie Fernandes, Livia Pais and Jason Mendonsa - electrified the audience with the rapturous singing of Konkani hymns. The Bishop, himself a great singer, was so moved by the angelic voice of the choristers that he ensured that they received a standing ovation.

Young Ian Lobo assisted the Bishop as the efficient altar-server for the evening.

The homily delivered by the Bishop in Konkani highlighted the importance of respect in the family, and how love and regard help us overcome many barriers in life.

Immediately after the Mass, the MCAV conducted its AGM. Elias Mascarenhas (Treasurer), Irene Andrade (Secretary), Desmond Lobo (Vice-President) and Bert Naik (President) have been elected as the committee members for the current financial year.

Bishop D'Souza then gave a speech outlining the various plans the diocese (of Mangalore) has implemented to lead the community in the current politically and economically challenging environment. He also explained how, far removed from the homeland, one needed to understand the importance of being a member of a community organisation such as the MCAV. The Bishop was particularly appreciative of the work done by Bert Naik and other members of the MCAV committee in providing such a social environment for all Mangalorean Catholic community members in Melbourne. It was very moving to hear the Bishop asking those non-members present to become members of the MCAV!

Obviously moved by the clarion call from the Bishop, several people approached the MCAV committee members expressing an interest to join the association.

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