Our Friend Mr. Alex D’mello, while chatting casually narrated an incident which occurred over a decade ago. What he had to say about, read in his own words, below.
It started a Churning within us and would like to share the same with you. The HOLY CROSSES, dotting the streets and by lanes of this great city of Mumbai is Symbolizes Existence of Christianity in the City of Mumbai.
It is a tradition that in Month of May, which is on now, Holy Crosses are decorated and Rosaries are recited followed by revelery. Unfortunately, after the month of rosary is over, these Holy Crosses are forgotten and left to the mercy of a lone devotee to light a couple of Candles and garland occasionally. I remember one such Holy cross, in the Compound of LIC Complex at Santa Cruz, being taken Care of by an employee of LIC, Mr. Nelson D’souza, who travels all the way from Vasai. Before joining his duty, he cleans the Image as well as area around it.
Take a walk on S. V. Road from Andheri, Towards Bandra and Mahim and you will see so many such Holy Crosses lying unnoticed.
You are all aware, During Last Ten years; attempts were made to demolish these Crosses by Government authorities. Thanks to the efforts of the Activists like Adv. Godfrey Pimenta and Nicholas Almeida, they have been saved. We look at it with broader perspective. It is not the Structure the Powers that be, are eying to demolish. It is the Christian Identity of Mumbai City, which we mentioned above that these Holy Crosses Symbolize, they want to demolish….It is a game plan of a powerful communal lobby.
As the Title Indicates, Archdiocese has abdicated its responsibility and is least concerned about these Holy Crosses. But that is not the Case with the Holy Crosses, where money is being poured by devotees…. The Church Authorities will step in as soon as money start coming in…The Onus to take care of these sites lays on us, the Lay people of the City… Unlike Church Authorities, let us not abdicate our responsibility and look after these Sites throughout the year.
The following letter should apprise you about the stand of Church authorities towards these Holy Crosses, the Powerful Symbol of Christianity.
A LETTER FROM MR. ALEX D’MELLO
It was in the year 2000 we were fighting to save a cross from demolition by BMC’s R/S ward, Kandivli west which was erected somewhere during 1930′s at Bhandarpakady, under the jurisdiction of OL of Assumption. On the opposite side of the cross there was a barren land where the Municipal Corporator illegally built shops first and then came for road widening in the guise of development. The corporator was from same family of the current corporator from that area.
The entire area about 200 acres upto Poisar was once owned by Mr Pereira (then teacher/ Pricipal of Holy Name Cathedral school) whose fields were tilled by the local Patils. After his demise in the 60′s the care-taker Patils captured the land and sold it to different builders as late as 2000 in piecemeal. The Patil’s households have now grown beyond 100 in numbers.
The property of Kandivli Industrial Estate also was once owned by Mr Pereira and was donated to Salcete Co-op. Society Ltd (Bandra) to build houses for Christians staying in and around Kandivli. Due to improper handling of the property the land was taken over by the Govt. under ULCA and Christians have lost the land forever. Mr Periera had a son, a priest in his late 70′s when we met him in the year 2000 and two daughters (one is a spinster) staying in Bandra didn’t remember much about this property as they were not involved by their parents in property matters.
The property records then showed that indeed it was owned by Mr Pereira
When we started protesting against the BMC demolition under guidance from Mr. Dolphy D’souza we had to face a lot of opposition from Fr Albert D’Souza, then Parish Priest of Our Lady of Assumption Church, Kandivli. He even went to the extent of asking me as to why we are fighting for this cross. He told me that there are several wooden crosses lying in the godown unused. It was only when I told him that the Cross is the symbol of my faith he kept quiet. (Even Bishop Percy disowned our movement). He discouraged many from attending the agitation. We had organised a prayer session and Fr Alex Carvalho then posted at Orlem had attended minus our own Parish Priest. It was Fr Hugh Fonseca who was just transferred to Immaculate Conception Church. Borivali; from Orlem gave his full support and encouraged about 500 people to attend from IC Parish alone.
The DCP from Borivli didn’t give us official permission for the gathering and march to BMC’s office but stood far away from the crowd to protect us and assured his unconditional protection as he told us that Christians never pick up a stone to throw on anyone.
The ward officer of that time panicked when he got a news that more than 1000 people gathered at the cross he invited us to BMC’s office and requested not to march to his office and accepted the memorandum unconditionally. He assured us that he will not touch the cross during his next 2 year’s tenure but no assurance beyond that.
The local people at Bhandarpakady now fenced about 800 sq. ft. of area around the cross and venerated daily. Still we have to keep a watch as the politicians might come again to straighten the road in the name of obstruction and development.
St. John Bosco Church, Borivali.
- OFFICIAL Appointment: Archdiocese of Bombay (silentmaj.wordpress.com)