FEED BACK: ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH, MIRA ROAD……

“Unless Baby cries, her mother will not know that she is hungry and need milk. But at baby’s first cry, mother will leave everything aside and feed the Baby.”

Similarly, Some Parishioners from St. Joseph’s Church, Mira road have been writing to Archbishop, Cardinal Oswald Gracias about the undesirable activities related to Parish Finaces, of their Parish Priest and his henchmen. They were also seeking his appointment, so that their case could be presented  in person. Their pleas were ignored.

Finally, their plight appeared on SILENT VOICE, (Check  links below) which woke the Hierarchy from slumber.  Were the Parishioners satisfied? See for yourself.

GREG

St. Joseph Church, Mira Road

https://silentmaj.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/is-this-mission-sunday-in-real-sense-at-st-josephs-church-mira-road/

https://silentmaj.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/st-josephs-church-mira-road-debate-rages-on/

https://silentmaj.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/is-this-mission-sunday-in-real-sense-at-st-josephs-church-mira-road-readers-comments/

MAIL FROM MR. ROBERT TO SILENT VOICE

On Sunday, 19 January 2014 7:40 PM,

Dear Mr Greg,

Greetings!

I refer to the Silent Voice post: Pope Francis laments Church scandals, harm caused by corrupt clergy……….

The attachment contains the details of our meeting with the Cardinal on the 3rd of Jan for your information. This letter has been delivered to the Office of the Cardinal for further action. It conveys what transpired but does not reveal the true picture. What lies in between the lines is nothing less than traumatic. After this entire struggle what I and my Merlyn felt after the meeting was horrible and confused. The same goes to so many parishioners who were expecting some words that would make them feel that there is justice in the church

After this sorry episode, the thoughts that came hurtling down within me are:

Ø  What the heck is going on here in the Church? Do people have to die (mishap on 9th July 2013) for issues to be taken seriously?

Ø  This is the reason why people take recourse to media when eyes and ears are shut by the shepherds?

Ø  Those who make noise that things should be settled within the community should be made to go through the grind of reaching the doors of hierarchy and then experiencing the outcome?

The question is: Does the church hierarchy move or what should happen to make it stir, the least?

Consider this: TIMELINE……(some main events)

March 2013 – Letter with parish issues handed over to the Dean, Fr Anselm

April/May 2013 -The Dean told us that he spoke to the Cardinal. Again met in July 2013.

July –Dec 2013 – We corresponded directly to the office of the Cardinal delivering letters                                  personally and also via email.

Sept 2013 – The Sisters of the Mercy of the Holy Cross, Mira Road meet up with the                                 Cardinal. They were directed to Bishop Savio; letter given to him dealing                               with their issues/grievances with the PP and the Provincial.

Oct 2013 – The Episcopal Vicar was directed to deal with the issues and a meeting was                           held after that. Visits made subsequently to remind him of the pending request                     for an appointment with the Cardinal since July 27, 2013.

The meeting scheduled for 21st Dec, 2013 postponed; the reason given that the Cardinal needs some time to study the matter.

Jan 2014 – At last with great expectations we attend the meeting…….

What is the outcome? Read and you take a call.

The Cardinal thanked us for meeting him and bringing it to his notice. All through the meeting over an hour we apprised him of the scandal, corruption, blackmail, and divisions the Parish Priest Fr Dominic Vas Ocd, Provincial Fr Archibald Gonslaves Ocd, have engineered with the collusion of PPC members and others. Names of those raising issues maligned….

It was as though this was the first time he was getting a picture of the happenings at St Joseph Church, Mira Road. The seriousness of the situation was now dawning upon him after we gave our testimonies.

At the beginning of the meeting to emphasize our credibility I conveyed to him my association of 40 plus years with Bishop Percy and having told him about some of the disturbing things emerging in my parish 3 years ago. He had conveyed this to Bishop Bosco who was in charge of our parish. Nothing moved. The other, Ms Merlyn D’Sa is a Municipal Corporator from the same area where the church is, mentioned her service to the parish and the Archdiocese for many years. She narrated her harrowing experience at the hands of the PP and Provincial.

Before leaving the Cardinal said that illegal structures will not be tolerated and he will be meeting up with Bishop Percy on these issues. That is the hope left.

The big question is: What happened to the earlier process:

Ø  Meetings and exchanges of material related to the issues of St Joseph Church?

Ø  Who do we believe if this is the experience of the meeting with the Cardinal?

I was asking myself:

Is this happening in the Archdiocese of Bombay?

•·         What will be the state of a simple Catholic who feels that he/she and the church mission are wronged and to bring it to the notice of the hierarchy; Is this the price he/she has to pay for his/her love for the Church

Is this the state of the affairs where such serious issues of financial, pastoral and civic violations and corruption take so long to address in spite of the evidence presented through laid down grievance redressal structure?

The frustration of finding self back to square one after all the effort will break the strongest of the resolve of church loving members of the community. No wonder the flock is deserting. But even then, does this move the hierarchy or they think it is good that these trouble-makers are out of the church.

The lack of awareness/seriousness indicates the importance given to the laity though doctrinally equal in worth and dignity.

It took almost half a year to get an audience with the Cardinal makes one think the impenetrable shell, the hierarchy has cocooned itself in.

Yes, we see the changes in Vatican; but that does not make any sense if the local authorities have their own agenda.

We are waiting for justice. We will wait. I hope it is not late.

This is the outpouring of my heart. This comes out of the experience of going through painful experiences of the past 3 years and still is. It is not making noise for the sake of making noise. There are so many parishioners who have been humiliated by the Parish Priest and his cronies. It is just unimaginable? We are not talking of some minor aberrations here but actions of these Carmelite priests in our parish which have driven so many people away from the church. One just needs to see the prayer houses of the sects to guage the extent of the damage done. Many will join if this continues. Many will stop coming to church. Can we blame them? Discussion papers will not solve the problem; justice will and it seems so far away. SO TRUE: JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED.

To conclude let me paste a sentence from the Silent Voice post:

Regarding the people of God, he paused to reflect on the harm that scandals cause them: “Poor people … poor people!” he said. “We do not give them the bread of life to eat! We do not give them the truth! So many times, we give them poisoned food!”

Wish you a Joyful New Year 2014.

Robert

LETTER TO ARCHBISHOP

To,

Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop House

Bombay 400021

3rd January 2013.

Ref: Our meeting on 3rd January 2014

Subject: Matters related with St. Joseph Church, Mira Road

Your Eminence,

We are grateful to you for giving us an opportunity to meet you and discuss our parish issues.

We would like to mention some of the important points discussed with you.

The Church has become a commercial hub. Every Sacramental activity and service has one aim and that is: How money can be generated? The appropriate word would be Sacramental Blackmail. The Finance Committee and the Parish Council have failed miserably in their responsibility. There is gross misuse and no transparency.

The following points were put forth before you in the area of FINANCE:

  1. Multiple Intentions (15 or more) for every mass every day.
  2. Charges from Ankur Children’s Home: Rs 42,000/- per year.
  3. SCC’s……………..
  4. 5th Sunday collection sent to OCD Provincial
  5. Parish Account Statement not revealed.
  6. Rent from Church Community Hall, Grounds not revealed.
  7. Stipends: Weddings – Rs ……….
  8. Dumb Boxes: No announcement of monies collected.
  9. Monthly Rent from Dignity Foundation for Senior Citizens – Rs 10,500/- per month. Charges from sales promotion of Avon and Tupperware products almost every weekends – Not revealed.
  10. Mira Fest/Christmas Carnival Accounts Statement not revealed.

We also mentioned PASTORAL and SACRAMENTAL violations over a long period of time, and are mentioned below:

  1. Tampering of Cardinal’s Lenten Official letter of 2013.
  2. Making Parish Council/ Cell/Association Heads sign on blank documents against those who raised concerns. Signature campaign to condemn us.
  3. Charges (Rs 6375/-) to conduct Bible Study classes during Ministry of Word probation.
  4. Canvassing and promoting a parishioner who is Parish PRO (Public Relations Officer and Head of Civic Cell) for 2012 Municipal elections.
  5. Felicitating politicians on the altar.
  6. Massive spending (donations received) for Silver and Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Parish Priest and Superior.
  7. The Provincial compellingly exhorting parishioners to write Letters of Appreciation of and for Parish Priest to counter grievances when brought to the Parish Priest or Provincial.
  8. Commercial announcements promoting an Electronics firm.
  9. Many parishioners have left the church or are not attending church services. Fr Ivan D’Souza – Asst PP when asked to intervene retorted, “What difference it makes if few leave the church.”
  10. Fr Ivan D’Souza refused Baptism to a child (medically critical) when requested to have simple Baptism Ceremony. Child baptized by the Parish Priest of Mt Carmel, Bandra subsequently in the hospital.

The SECULAR/CIVIC violations too were mentioned.. Serious in nature, we wonder what has become of the Mission of the Carmelites in Mira Road.? These violations even after some dissenting voices from within the community were not heeded. To deflect attention we were projected from the Altar as gossipers. Rather than admitting their guilt the parents are being told that since that there are objections from us we are forced to close the school. We fear retaliation in the near future when the school will be shut. These actions have sown a very bad impression of the Church among the Municipal, Police and non Christian community. In brief the following points are mentioned below what was discussed in our meeting:

  1. Illegal and Unauthorized Construction of Anubhav extension, 
  2. Penalty paid of above 4 lakhs for illegal and unauthorized construction of Anubhav extension.
  3. 4 Rooms constructed on the Church Terrace without municipal permissions.
  4. Since inauguration Infant Jesus Shrine interiors renovated 4 times in 2 years.
  5. Use of unqualified contractor for building Anubhav extension.
  6. School started without permissions from ABE and Education department.
  7. Parents of students are angry and anxious after hearing that the school will be discontinued. Also Rs 5000/- was taken for Building Fund and no receipt was issued.
  8. Illegal structures in the church premises: Infant Jesus Hall, CWC Office, Kitchen extension of Anubhav

The Agreement and Mission entrusted to the Carmelite community by the Archdiocese of Mumbai has been diluted or rejected by the actions of the Carmelite Community. Worse still parishioners who were once friends have now become enemies. Reports, Surveys and Bulletin do not reveal the true extent of the damage within. Just a cursory reading of the above mentioned points is enough to show the decay and picture of St Joseph Church, Mira Road. It makes for a sad reading.

Since you mentioned that you will be discussing this issue with Bishop Percival Fernandez, who was made aware 3 years ago of the deviation of the missionary journey of the Carmelites and who told us that he brought our grievances to the notice of Bishop Bosco who was the Bishop in-charge of our parish.  We are marking a copy to him.  We are sure Justice will be done and accountability to the Archbishop is restored.

Keep us in your prayers

Yours faithfully

Merlyn D’Sa

Robert D’Souza

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7 Comments

  1. February 27, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Yes that is sad. Not even sparing Ankur Children’s Home situated just a kilometer away and charging an exorbitant amount to celebrate Eucharist five times a week.
    A slight clarification:
    The amount is Rs 38,500/- per year since no Eucharist is celebrated in the month of May.
    The charges for rickshaw comes to around Rs 40/- to and fro. Calculate and it turns out to around 800/- per month. There should be no charges in fact in the first place knowing the excellent work they are doing to the underprivileged. What we see in their work is the expression: Church for the Poor as reiterated by Pope Francis.
    Unbecoming act on the part of Fr Dominic and Fr Michael including the Provincial Fr Archibald: What can justify the charges of Rs 3500/- per month and this money has been taken for many years.
    It is just like other activities in the parish: Making money out of Sacraments.It’s a blot on the divine office of the priesthood.
    I bet they have not stopped taking the money from Ankur after this exposure.
    I won’t be surprised if they have gone on to bully the Sisters. They have done before elsewhere. I speak from my experience.
    Yes some changes are made with regards to Mass intentions.
    But much more changes are necessary and what about the accountability of the past actions, especially the illegal structures, accounts, making some PPC and others sign documents against us….
    The Cardinal has assured us that there is no way he tolerates ‘illegal structures’ but we are waiting to see this change on the ground.
    Hope this day dawns soon……

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  2. June 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Without being judgemental about all other issues as i am not aware of the nitty gritty of the things happening. I would like to comment on Ankur charges…. the sisters seemingly get a good amount of donations so there is nothing wrong in charging for Eucharistic being celebrated if it is gong into church funds. The Ankur sisters provide regular ration to the poor/needy who are probably better off then some of us. Since the ration is being given to them easily the money that these so called needy earn is spent in alcohol. In fact the Ankur sisters do not even accept second hand clothes which are in good condition. So it doesnt seem that they have lack of funds

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  3. June 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Hi Smitha,
    Peace!
    Without holding brief for Ankur, let me tell you that the issue of charges of Ankur is to be seen in the context of the things that are happening in St. Joseph Church, Mira Road since 2010. Just as it is so risky to take a Bible verse and quote it without applying historical, textual, theological criticism and taking into account the message of the whole Bible.
    Since by your own admittance you are not aware of the nitty gritty of the things happening in the parish, it is difficult to grasp the issue of the charges to Ankur Children’s Home, which we have put forth. For your information this issue does not find place anymore in our future dialogue with the hierarchy.
    If you say that they get good amount of donations then by the same argument can you tell me on what basis the Parish Priest charged me Rs 6375/-? That’s the amount I paid to conduct 3 Bible Study sessions as part of the Archdiocese requirements to be commissioned as a Word Minister. Is our parish so short of funds? Is the parish out to make money out of Bible Study, which is connected to Re-Evangelization and foster Biblical literacy. If I quote you one figure on certain expenditure in the accounting period 2011-12, you will be shocked!
    Some years back as head of an association in the parish we were being charged Rs 1000/- to conduct one meeting in the Community Hall. When the parish priest was not relenting I approached the chaplain and posed him the question: Does the Church want to make money out of the Ecclesial Movements? He replied in the negative. Then we calculated the charges for electricity and it came out not even Rs 100/-. He then told me that he will deal with the parish priest. So there you have it.
    Centres like Ankur, manifest the compassion and concern for the poor concretely in what Pope Francis labels as: CHURCH OF THE POOR. These places through their missionary work restore the dignity and worth of a human being which the Bible says is made in the image and likeness of God. Their labour does the spreading of the Good News in the same way the Eucharist does in the Church through words. Both are must and the work only shows the efficacy and the power of the Sacrament in Action! Don’t bring alcohol into this, dear. Talk to the womenfolk and you will see the pain, fear and hopelessness and what these rations and clothes and shelter mean to them. We can so easily stand in judgement even as we say without being judgemental. I know alcohol is a perennial issue which has to be tackled but that is a different approach. Are we going the punish the wives and children for this? Let us look at it compassionately.
    These places by the very nature of their work are prone to attacks from the seen and unseen and therefore any interventions through our prayers and intercession is the need of the hour. And if Eucharist is celebrated in such places don’t you think it should be considered a necessity by the ‘Ordained Ministers’ knowing such Divine interventions only provide the labourers and the beneficiaries’ channels of Graces as food for the soul (Spiritual) and bread for the journey (Physical). And of course Evangelization!
    Think about it!
    I too felt the same way like you earlier when Ankur refused to take old clothes and I posed this query to the Sr in charge. She gave me a book which gave an account of their history and the struggle which they had when they began in Spain in the late 19th century. And it also gives in a simple language how they perceive a human being and how the Church (community or People of God) gets involved. It is difficult to explain here. I got the message and I never asked the question again. May be you too could go, and ask for this book and read it. I am sure you too will look at this issue of old clothes differently. The Sr in charge will be more than obliged even to answer your questions and give clarifications. So far I have survived meeting her on so many occasions and by the way I did not conduct these 3 sessions in our parish but Sister was kind enough to provide me a place in Ankur with multi-media at my disposal and packaged water without any charges. The other Sisters kept the place ready for us and all with a smile.
    Contrast this to the parish priest who did not even bother to ask, how am I going to finish the requirements for the completion of the course? . His answer was ‘are you trying to make people experts out of the Bible?’ and ‘how you are taking money back when you have given to church?’
    Peace be with you!
    Robert D’Souza.

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