June 10, 2022
The Mangalore diocesan Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM) will be celebrating platinum jubilee of its existence on 12th June 2022 at Vamanjoor Church Hall, Mangaluru. On this occasion, this is a small attempt to narrate my association with this 75 years old organization for a period of 14 long and youthful years of my life. At the outset, I state that I am not going to present the history or its activities in detail in this article.
CYM - Commencement and significant developments:
Year 1947 was memorable in the history of India. On August 15th , India was liberated from the British rule and gained its freedom. A few months before that great event, April 13th was a land mark day in the history of the Diocese of Mangalore. On that significant day the bishop of Mangalore Bishop Victor R. Fernandes founded the Catholic Youth Movement (CYM) by an official decree and by forming a diocesan youth committee. Initially CYM units were officially started in Mangalore city parishes like Bejai, Milagres, Bendore, Derebail and elsewhere. Gradually units were started in the length and breadth of the entire Mangalore diocese comprising the then entire district of South Canara and Kasargod Taluk of Kerala state. There were separate units of boys and girls in some parishes especially in Mangaluru city parishes. In the later years say during 1970s the units were combined and formed as a single CYM unit.
Again, the year 1999 is significant in the history of CYM. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) had added ‘Indian’ prefix to CYM on 14th September and since then it has been recognized as Indian Catholic Youth Movement (acronym ICYM). One more memorable year in the history of CYM / ICYM of the diocese of Mangalore is 2012. The erstwhile Mangalore diocese was divided and the new diocese of Udupi was formed. Based on this, a separate ICYM central council was formed in the new diocese. Before this recent phenomenon the units under the area of the Udupi diocese were served by the CYM / ICYM central council of the undivided diocese of Mangalore for 65 long years.
In my present article as majority of the topics covered are related to the era before 1990, I am using the acronym CYM to represent the association. Also, as division of Mangalore and Udupi dioceses happened only 10 years ago CYM / ICYM wherever used refers the undivided diocese.
Instilled leadership qualities:
Since 1947 a few thousands of youngsters have walked through the portals of CYM / ICYM. It has molded young and energetic youth as the community leaders. Those who were the charter members of this organization may now be above the age of 90. For many years the entry age was 15 and the exit was 35. That time one could remain in the CYM for 20 long years. Then the upper age was reduced to 30. Present entry and exit age is 18 and 28 years respectively, the serving period being 10 years only.
Past members of CYM / ICYM of the diocese of Mangalore spread across the globe may be grateful to the organization for shaping them as good leaders. Office bearers of CYM / ICYM, still recall that they acquired leadership qualities through their service while leading activities at their parishes, denary or diocesan level. Not only office bearers, even ordinary members of the organization may say that CYM / ICYM had instilled the leadership qualities in them because of the opportunities provided by the platform.
CYM gave me a boost:
In my case, until tenth standard I was little hesitant, and was not coming forward to participate in group activities. I hadn’t joined the altar server sodality at the primary school level or the NCC unit during high school studies. Academically I was a brilliant student but far behind in other activities which required leadership qualities.
In 1976, after the 10th standard results, the parish priest of Pangala Fr Victor Saldanha had announced that all 10th standard completed students should join the CYM unit of the parish. Respecting his words and out of no choice I joined CYM unit in Pangala Parish. Afterwards, I got involved in almost every activity of the unit. Recited prayer during meetings, sang songs and hymns, delivered speech, took part in elocution, singing, quiz, sports, wrote minutes and read, conducted meetings, participated in programs and organized several events in the parish, participated in dramas, camps, organized stalls for parish feast etc. We also helped families within the parish during wedding celebrations and other occasions at their houses to prepare food and helped in serving food to the guests. Took part in youth rallies, picnics and tours near and far.
In that sense, during those years there were several activities in CYM since there were not many organizations in the parish unlike today and we had several occasions to participate and work in groups. Now also I recall such activities and cherish the memories. Nowadays there are arrangers in each and every field, no dearth of funds and one can get everything from the providers. Olden days it was very difficult to conduct programs and events. Proper thought process, planning and hard work was needed.
I narrate here a few things about our games and recreation stall during the parish annual feast. For constructing the stall structure we had to bring areca trees, bamboo poles and woven coconut leaves from distant places either on head or shoulders. We had to dig holes manually to erect poles. The experience of active CYM members of those days was great and entirely different. Nowadays the country has progressed, technology is improved. Monetary wise also there are no such difficulties as in the past.
CYM - Part and parcel of my life for 14 years:
CYM renewed my spirit and showed me the way to climb the leadership ladder. From the age of 16 to 30, I was involved in parish, denary (Varado) and diocesan leadership. My PUC (12th standard) result helped me to involve in CYM activities in a bigger way. My wish was to study Engineering at MIT, Manipal after my PU (12th standard). But as I had not given proper attention to studies I had failed in 2nd PUC Mathematics just by 2 marks. Because of this I joined the Diploma course (Chemical Engineering) at the Karnataka Polytechnic (better known as KPT) Mangaluru in 1978 with the help of my 10th standard marks which were too good for a seat in any branch.
That was a turning point of my life. The saying ‘Man proposes and God disposes’ was true in my case. It helped me to take active part in CYM activities in Mangaluru at the diocesan level. In 1979, I was elected as the editor of Yuvak, the bulletin of CYM Central Council. In 1980 got elected as the general secretary and had the opportunity to become the President of the CYM central council from 1981 to 1984 for continuous 3 years though there were elections every year to choose the new President and the committee. The usual practice was to become the President for one year. But members had reposed their faith in me and re-elected in the elections held for 2 subsequent years.
As far as my knowledge goes Austin D’Souza Prabhu (Bendore) had held the President’s post for 5 years, Alban Castelino (Bendore) and Richard D’Souza (Bendore) for 4 years each. Though the Mangaluru city parishes had dominated the CYM Central council during those years and I was from a village parish (Pangala – 55 kilometers away from Mangaluru city) I held the president’s post for 3 years at a stretch.
When I was active in CYM Central Council of the diocese of Mangalore, I had the opportunity to visit France (Taize and Lourdes) and Italy (Turin and Rome) to participate in youth activities for about 2 months.
Diamond Jubilee of ICYM in 2007:
On the occasion of diamond jubilee of ICYM in 2007, I was one of the honorary vice presidents of the organizing committee (honorary president was Ivan D’Souza, the past president of diocesan CYM, a renowned political leader and former member of the Karnataka Legislative Council - MLC).
There was a two wheeler rally in the city on the first day of the diamond jubilee celebrations. During the second day program held at Rosario Cathedral cultural hall, the past presidents were honored. I was the guest of honor for that function.
During the grand finale of the diamond jubilee on the 3rd day held at the Dr TMA. Pai International Convention Centre, Kodialbail, Mangaluru, Margaret Alva, former Central Government Minister and Governor of Rajasthan was the chief guest. I had brought out a book ‘Moje CYM Dees’ containing details of my activities in the CYM which ranged for 14 long years. This was released by Ronald Colaco, the prominent NRI entrepreneur who was the guest of honour.
During the ‘Reconnect’ program of the past presidents and office – bearers held at ICYM headquarters, Olivet House, Jeppu on 20th March 2022 former director Fr William Gonsalves and myself were the chief guests.
Spiritual directors at different levels:
During my tenure (1976 – 1990) as member / office bearer of CYM, Fr William Gonsalves, Fr John A Barboza, Fr Vincent Monteiro, Fr Harold Mascarenhas were the Central Council spiritual directors who had guided us in every respect. In the denary level at Shirva Fr Aloysius Rosario and at the Pangala parish unit level Fr Victor Saldanha, Fr Gabriel B D’Souza and Fr J P Tauro supported me a lot in all my activities. I cannot forget their goodwill towards me. I am sure that members of CYM / ICYM have such regards towards their directors at different levels and in different points of time.
‘Amcho Yuvak’ Monthly magazine:
To encourage the literary talents of CYM members CYM Central Council had started publishing its bulletin ‘Bhavadthi Yuvak’ from the beginning. Due to some reasons publication was stopped during 1970s. Being a regular writer in Konkani, I took charge as the editor of Yuvak and started publishing ‘Amcho Yuvak’ in the monthly form from September 1983. We started the magazine in an all new format. It was released at Shirva by Fr Aloysius Rosario on 3rd September 1983 during annual conference of CYM. Oscar Fernandes, MP was the chief guest. The then principal of St Mary’s College was present at the occasion. During government registration the name was changed to ‘Amcho Yuvak’.
I had edited the monthly magazine for 3 years till 1986. I was honored during ‘Amcho Yuvak’ decennial celebrations in 1993 for establishing the monthly by the chief guest of the program Judith Mascarenhas, deputy mayor of Mangaluru City Corporation. The monthly was published in the print form for about 25 years providing opportunities for the talents of many youngsters. Through this media many CYM / ICYM members developed their writing skills and made a name in literature. Now it continues in e-version containing news – views etc.
There is a common Saying ‘Oorige upakaari manege maari’:
It was a common fact that many members of CYM got scolding from their parents for their absence at household chores due to their CYM activities. There was a common saying at that time which went as ‘Oorige upakaari manege maari’ (Always ready to help others but not doing anything at home). Several CYM members have undergone one or other bitter -sweet experiences either within CYM or outside. But by following the motto ‘Leadership through Service’ many members had displayed true leadership.
On this auspicious occasion of the platinum jubilee, I wish the very best to ICYM. May platinum turn into century and grow further in leaps and bounds.