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VM: 003/2013
14TH, January, 2013
Fr. Larry 1
Dear Friends,
Th following article has appeared in the Examiner of 12th, January, 2013. It is being reproduced on SILENT VOICE with the request from the writer Mr. Marcellus D’souza.
Whilst going through the articles, a couple of phrases caught our attention.
“Why don’t they touch the lands of private builders, and only see only catholic land as being accessible for road widening?”
“This is their land that we are enjoying today. Had it not been for the Koli community and East Indians, the Church would have not been able to grow and expand in Mumbai”.
”I am too caustic and forthright in my views”, adding. “The Church is not ready for people like me”.
Please ponder on these views of Fr. Larry Pereira and try to understand, if you are a regular reader of SILENT VOICE/VOICEMAILS, the similarity.
A Proud Priest
Marcellus D’Souza
I had the unique distinction of knowing Fr Larry Pereira in his first parish at Marol, and in his last parish at Orlem. In the time that had flown between the first and the last parish, much had changed in the priest and his demeanour.
In Marol, Larry, as he was known to one and all, was a young priest, full of energy and vibrancy. He was full of ideas and always raring to go. He was enthusiastic and wanted to take up more challenges than were offered to him. He was put in charge of the Johannian Youth Movement (JYM), which he turned around into a gung-ho group of raw channelised energy. Larry introduced the “Christmas Fiesta” which was a hit at St John the Evangelist Church, Marol.
His living quarters became a nerve centre for all activities — be it planning or the ultimate execution of an event. I recall how many youth just did not want to leave the parish house with Larry in their midst. They roughed it out – sleeping on the floor, living on tea and snacks from a nearby restaurant.
He had the foresight to unravel the potential of many a future leader. Many in Marol who were spotted by Larry thank him for the faith of a young leader/priest. Larry was able to infuse the Altar Boys movement with determination and a love for the Eucharist. As a young altar boy under his wings, I owe my knowledge of Church Law and Practices to Fr Larry Pereira.
As far as the religious grooming of the parish went, Larry infused it with new energy. He introduced new music and hymns, practicing them half an hour before Mass, walking up and down the main aisle, encouraging more voices to be lifted to the Lord. Larry appreciated music, and had a deep voice to match the nuances of ‘good’ Church music. The way we were encouraged to go house-to-house singing Christmas carols is still appreciated by those who witnessed our enthusiasm. Larry had the ability to pull in many people to participate in any event.
Larry had a mind of his own, even in his early days. He was stubborn to the point of being radical in his thinking which often ticked off his superiors.
After Marol, I lost track of Fr. Larry Pereira. Many parishioners in Navi Mumbai, where he helped set up a Church and Mount Carmel Church, Bandra where he rejuvenated the parish, talk in superlatives of his nature. I met Larry again in Orlem, where I had moved after marriage; he had aged, grown thin grayed and balding. The French beards remained, only changing colour from pepper to salt. He still stood tall like a palm tree of Bandra, and retained his wit and sense of humour. We first met at the confessional and having recognized me from thin boy from Marol who had grown plump, he inquired about my entire family and all those he recalled from Marol, including Dominic, the long serving Sacristan.
As Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church (OLLC), Fr. Larry asked the Parish Council and other Church Organisations to “think of the future”. “I want to streamline the systems”, he concluded. He did not waste a moment to demolish the notion that OLLC is the ‘richest church in Mumbai’. “No, it is not”, explained Fr. Larry. “Our Lady of Nazareth, Church, Bhayandar is the richest Church in and around Mumbai”. “We are not collecting the kind of Monies required to pay our bills”, he continued.
 He explained how vaulting of Church Cemetery was taken up on “an urgent basis” in order to keep the Municipality plans of road widening at bay. “ Why don’t they touch the lands of private builders, and only see only catholic land as being accessible for road widening?” asked Fr. Larry Pereira. The general impression was that he was “autocratic”. But the lasting impression that Fr. Larry left in OLLC was his knack of telling a joke. He regaled large Christmas and Easter congregations with lively jokes and smart one liner. Only he could deliver them with such finesse and style.
When asked when he would wear the scarlet cap of a Bishop as reported in the Reaching out magazine of OLLC, Orlem, Fr. Larry said, ”I am too caustic and forthright in my views”, adding. “The Church is not ready for people like me”.
Fr. Larry was a Church historian. He wanted to preserve the old for future generations. He gave new insight into the history of the Church in Mumbai, about how the seeds of Catholicism were sown, how religion and the spread of education co-existed. He was very proud of the subject of his choice and spoke extensively to the media on various issues. He defended the “original inhabitants” the East Indian community to the hilt. “This is their land that we are enjoying today. Had it not been for the Koli community and East Indians, the Church would have not been able to grow and expand in Mumbai”, he expounded. Fr. Larry liked to be quoted directly in the media, rather than his quotations being interpreted by an inept reporter.
Fr. Larry took pride in his walking tours around Bandra which included ‘The Trellis’, his cottage built in 1866. The New York Times on December 31, 2010, carried an article, “Touring the old Bandra Villages in Mumbai” by its reporter Hanna Ingber Win who took part in one such walk.
Had Fr. Larry mellowed over the years? A straight answer from him was “No”. “I stand by my principles, in whatever capacity I am placed”, he said.
Larry had many plans for Orlem. But his health did not permit to take the strides he wanted. He could see himself sink before his own eyes. He put his condition down to the “rough patch in wilderness when called upon to set up the Church in Navi Mumbai”. “A task I completed successfully”, he claimed with pride.
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  1. dmelloalex said,

    January 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Fr Larry is a legend and will remain in our hearts forever. We feel sad that such priests are left to fend themselves. Fr Hugh Fonseca was another example who was quite forthright in expressing his views. I also remember Fr Juze who built Infant Jesus in Ghatkopar & Jogeshwari where the hierarchy refused to help/intervene/contribute anything as the church land did not possess a clear title therefore had to seek help from Ex-DMC, Khairnar.

    This is precisely why new Bishops are not nominated/appointed as the forthright/intelligent priests become intolerable as they always talk their minds. Whenever such things happen the feelings & expressions travel downwards into the community which causes friction. We all know that so many things are happening at diffrent places in the community and no action is initiated to sort out in many cases which is quite sad. The correspondence addressed to Arch diocese (AD) on issues affecting the community remain un-answered for an indefinite period which require urgent attention. Even Pope will have time to sort out the issues but not at the AD level. They prefer to keep quiet instead of taking any kind of action assuming it will take care of it’s own.

    So many issues are coming up here & there but every one is left to fend themselves even on legal issues. People are running here & there without knowing which path to tread. Sorry to say but true we are a gutless & sleeping community.


  2. January 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

    […] his demise. The following comments have been received, from a Reader, in response to VOICEMAIL VM: 003/2013 LATE FR. LARRY PEREIRA: MAN OF PRINCIPLES. It has been posted as comments, but looking at the contents and his views, it was thought that […]


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