Bangalore, Sep 23: Governor H R Bhardwaj, addressing a large gathering of the faithful said he is a close follower of Jesus Christ. The Governor who has close affinity to and affection towards Christians said Ďaccording to me, the future of the country is in following the messages and teachings of Christí.
The Governor who was speaking as chief guest at a cultural programme which marked the diamond jubilee of the Archdiocese lauded Archbishop Morasí service to the people of the State particularly for the people of the Archdiocese. Archbishop is a great spiritual leader, he said.
The Governor, who completed four years as Governor, felicitating the Archbishop said he was happy to see so many people congregated for an honourable celebration and accepting the message of Jesus Christ to serve the suffering humanity through education and various other activities including respecting the cultural values. The Governorís brief extempore speech had intermittent applause from people.
Earlier, Archbishop Moras welcomed the Governor, local MLAs, DGP and other dignitaries. Archbishop thanked all present which he considered the very sign in participation of Godís work, following the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
The Diamond Jubilee celebrations were grand and spiritual oriented. A thanksgiving concelebrated solemn Mass was presided over by Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio to India, along with Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore and several bishops of Karnataka and clergy on September 22.
Archbishop Pennacchio who preached the sermon besides highlighting the relevant aspects of the readings of the day, felicitated Archbishop Bernard Moras for his and the archdioceseí achievements during the last 60 years. He spoke at length on various phases the archdiocese had gone through.
Archbishop Moras who welcomed the Apostolic Nuncio and an array of dignitaries including other bishops of the State, politicians, high-ranking police personnel and others said the Archdiocese has planned three major pro-people projects to commemorate the event. Some of the programmes are the establishment of a Diving Retreat Centre at Annammana Betta in the outskirts of the city at Uttarahalli which has a history of erection of a Holy Cross 125 years back and the place is popular among people of different faiths as a pilgrim centre. Plans are afoot to erect 14 Stations of the Cross (Way of the Cross). This project is going to be the most spiritual agenda. Others are proposals to establish a mega medical corpus fund to assist the poorest sections with financial assistance for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, heart and kidney ailments and setting up of a health oriented institution. Rs two crore would be the initial amount towards the medical corpus fund which could be raised to Rs five crore or even more, Archbishop Moras informed a huge congregation of people gathered on the occasion.
At the concluding celebrations, Archbishop Moras presented the birth, origin and history of the archdiocese. Archdiocese comprising six revenue districts of Bangalore urban, Bangalore rural, Chikballapur, Kolar, Rammanagara and Tumkur is spread over an area of 27,123 sq.kms with a total population of 1.61 crore and Catholics 4.25 lakh. It was originally part of the Mysore Mission, which was separated from Pondicherry in 1845 and entrusted to the priests of the Paris Foreign Mission Society, known as MEP Fathers.
The Mysore Mission was formed into a Vicariate Apostolic in 1850 and entrusted to Msgr Charbonnaux, MEP, who was the then Coadjutor Bishop of Pondicherry. And the Vicariate was elevated to the rank of a diocese in 1886 with headquarters in Bangalore. The diocese was bifurcated and the Bangalore diocese was erected on February 13, 1940 and later made an archdiocese on September 19, 1953, Archbishop said.
Giving details of the statistics of the archdiocese, he said it has as many as 130 parishes and 90 sub-centres served by 200 diocesan and religious priests and a large number of religious sisters rendering service in different educational and social service institutions. During the past 73 years totally, the archdiocese has grown enormously in its reach and service in spiritual, educational, healthcare and social service fields. One of the major initiates of the archdiocese was the dynamism to educate over 5,000 children through the Asha Charitable Trust with a spending budget of about 1.5 crore annually, the Archbishop said.
Archbishop Moras also remembered on the occasion the former prelates such as Archbishop emeritus Alphonsus Mathias and Archbishop emeritus Ignatius Pinto besides other pioneers.
Among others who spoke on the occasion included Msgr S Jayanathan, Msgr C Francis and Fr Anthony Swamy, Chancellor and PRO. Among others present were H T Sangliana, former City Police Commissioner and MP and Vice Chairman, Minorities Commission, DGP and former DGP and local Congress and JD (S) MLAs. The bishops present were Bishop Henry DíSouza of Bellary, Bishop Derek Fernandes of Karwar, Bishop Robert Michael Miranda of Gulbarga, Bishop George Njarlakatt of Mandya, Bishop Thomas A Vazhapilly of Mysore, Bishop Anthonyswamy of Chikmagalur and Bishop Lawrence Mukkuzhy of Belthangady.
Earlier on September 20 addressing a press conference along with Vicar Generals Msgr S Jayanathan and Msgr C Francis of the archdiocese, Archbishop said among other things that special prayers were offered in various churches for peace in Syria and the world. He said the diamond jubilee celebrations coincide with the world-wide observance of the Year of Faith by the Catholic Church. The Archdiocese held a special prayer service on September 7 at St Maryís Basilica in the city and in all churches of the archdiocese on September 8 in response to the call of Pope Francis to pray for peace in view of the war clouds hovering over Syria and the Middle East.
Dances were performed on the occasion by Tumkur deanery, KGF deanery, St Philomenaís Nursing College and Students of Jyothi Nivas College and bible based skits.
Comemmorative books were also released by Archbishop Pennacchio and other bishops on the occasion which was relevant for their theme and contents. All the bishops and dignitaries were presented with mementos and bouquets.
Food packets were distributed to all people present. The programme concluded with the Papal Anthem.