Pastoral Ministry: We participate in the mission of the Catholic Church, in carrying forward Sacramental Mystery of the Church, with people sent on frontier mission after the Heart of Jesus Christ.
St. Francis Xavier Church, Camp, Pune
When in 1846 a separate Military Chaplain was appointed for the Cantonment, Fr. Leitao continued in charge of the Civil Catholic population not only of Poona but of Kirkee. Those who were subject to Padroado had their City Chapel and St. Anne’s to attend, while the Propaganda subjects continued to hear Mass at Fr. Leitao’s bungalow – situated,at the corner of East Street and Exhibition Road. The need of a proper church was badly felt, especially since 1850, when St. Patrick’s was opened nearly three miles away, so that only those that could afford a conveyance were able to go there. Accordingly on December 9th, 1859 (with the assistance of Mr. Loughnan) Father Steins applied for a plot of ground “on Malcolm Tank Road” to be laid out for a Roman Catholic chapel and school.
The request was favourably received and soon granted. From January 9th to August 25th, 1860 there were several exchanges of correspondence, in course of which the land was described as destined “for a Roman Catholic chapel, school, priest’s quarters, etc.Thedesigns of the church were made by Br. Schmidt and the foundation stone was blessed on October 14th, 1860 by Mgr. Bonnand, Vicar-Apostolic of Pondicherry and Visitator Apostolic, who happened to be in Pune just at that time. His Lordship was supported by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Alexius Canoz, SJ, Vicar-Apostolic of Madura, but acting for the time being as Vicar-Apostolic of Bombay, Sede Vacante, and Administrator of Poona; and by the Very Rev. Walter Steins, SJ, Vicar-General and Superior of the Jesuits.
While the building of St. Xavier’s Church was in progress Fr. Leitao died (Dec. 1861) and the care of the civil population fell to the Military Chaplain of St. Patrick’s. Fr. Leitao’s bungalow was sold, and Mass had to be said within the bare walls of St. Xavier’s Church till the roof was put on. The edifice seems to have been finished only in 1864, owing partly to the death of the Architect, Br. Schmidt.
St. Xavier Parish is the oldest Parish, a beacon of Poona Mission. Having completed almost 158 years of her existence, the Parish is very alive and active with vibrant parishioners. Presently, the Parish Priest is Fr. Joseph D'Souza SJ, residing at St. Vincent's Jesuit Community, Pune.
St. Xavier’s Parish,
St. Vincent Street
Pune 411 001, Tel 26356776
St. Mary Church, Sangamner, Ahmednagar
In 1892 Father Weishaupt left Valan to found a new centre at Sangamner. During his stay in Valan he had been travelling about the country eastwards, to find a taluka in which there were no Protestant schools, but failed. In 1891, he gave this up, tried the west side with better success, and opened work in three villages half way to Sangamner, where he placed three masters drawn from the Kendel School. In July 1892 he reached Sangamner where he settled in a rented mud house in the town, rented another house for teachers and boarders, and got permission to use the municipal dharamsala or travellers’ rest?house as a school. Two more teachers brought from Valan tried to get children but in vain.
It wasn’t easy procuring some land in Sangamner but at last a site of ten acres was secured. The plot was on the east side well outside the town, across a branch river, and bordering on the great river. At Christmas 1895, construction of the building was commenced.
In 1896 Bishop Beider-Linden of Poona came to Sangamner to administer confirmation. Father Weishaupt who was alone, was now joined by Father Heim. In 1897 Father Heim was transferred to Valan and Father Kipp took his place at Sangamner. Then Father Weishaupt fell sick and had to be sent to Europe for a year leaving Father Kipp in charge. During this spell of absence Father Kipp carried on the work; built the church, the large school hall, and lodgings for masters, their families and orphans. By this time Father Weishaupt returned the whole work was finished.
During the ten years from 1892 to 1902 outlying villages were gradually added, a few each year. Sometimes, there were three Fathers, but generally two only, as most of them kept falling sick in turns and had to leave. Father Kipp himself, a powerful missionary, died in 1903 through plague contracted while attending the sick and handling them too closely.
Today the parish has many mass centers in villages near and far besides hostels for both boys and girls. Fr. Simon Shingare SJ is the Parish Priest and Fr. Prashant Shaharao SJ is the Assistant Parish Priest.
St. Mary’s Church, Jorve Road,
Sangamner 422 605, Dt. Ahmednagar
Tel (02425) 223067
St. Francis Xavier Church, Kolhapur
Kolhapur was the capital of a State of that name in the southern Decean bordering on the Ghauts, and ruled by a descendant of Shivaji who represented the survival of the Maratha power. At some early date (1811) it was occupied by European troops for the protection of the Rajah, who was in alliance with the British; and they were after 1830 probably visited from Belgaum. When Father D’Souza was appointed chaplain in about 1849, Fr. Oliviera, his predecessor, had already been there for about two years. There was no chapel, but only a small room for the priest assigned by Government. In 1852, the place was visited by Dr. Hartmann.
In 1857 a local rising of the native troops in connection with the Mutiny brought the European forces to Kolhapur. A plan was made for a chapel by Father Wagner. When the chapel was finished in 1869 Father D’Souza came down from Satara to bless it. Some repairs and additions were made in 1891. The chapel of St. Francis Xavier, Kolhapur, is mentioned for the first time in the Madras Directory for 1889 with a Catholic population of 60.
The 22nd March 1975 will long be remembered by the three hundred odd catholic of Kolhapur. On that day Bishop William Gomes blessed their inspiring new Church. Planned by Architect Shirish Beri, the Church seeks to give architectural expression to man’s perennial pursuit of God. The first appearance of the Church is a heart-warming gesture with widespread arms and huge portals. As the pilgrim enters the Church, the converging walls focus his vision on the altar and the cross behind it. This focus is further accentuated and mystified by the light of the sky falling on the textured curved wall behind the sanctuary. The altar itself, shaped like a half cut chalice has its own Eucharistic symbolism. The seven windows on each side signify the seven sacraments and the entire Church has the appearance of a boat -the barque of Peter. The salvific mission of Christ is well expressed in brick, wood, glass and steel.
The Church embodies the sacrifices of many poor Catholics, the zeal of a large number of volunteers, and the generosity of so many a non-catholic, both Hindu and Muslim. In his speech, Bishop William Gomes rightly extolled the spirit of cooperation that animated the people of Kolhapur and proclaimed that the Church was a standing monument to their faith in communal integration.
Fr. Denis Borges SJ (Parish Priest)
St. Xavier’s High
Kolhapur 416 003
Tel Res (0231) 2654835,
St. Joseph Church, Panchgani
In 1876, Fr. D. L. Carvalho, Vicar of Holy Cross Church, Mahableshwar, under the Archdiocese of Goa, obtained permission from the Collector of Satara for erecting a Chapel in Panchgani to cater to the spiritual needs of the Catholics in this Hill-Station. It was just a shed at the beginning, dedicated to St. Joseph, and gradually extended to hold services conducted by a Priest coming regularly from Mahableshwar. This was the Old Church, later converted into the present Old Church Bakery.
The present Church was constructed by Fr Martin Durack, SJ, the Parish Priest, in 1912, and blessed by Bishop Henry Doering, SJ on 19th of October 1913. In 1995, Panchgani wan made a separate Parish from Mahableshwar.
Fr. Alfie Benjamin SJ (Parish Priest)
St. Joseph’s Church
Panchgani – 412 805,
Dist: Satara Tel (02168) 241877
Holy Spirit Church, Shevgaon, Ahmednagar
Shevgaon, at the North-West corner of the Ahmednagar District was visited by Fr. Van Malderen, SJ on horseback about 70 years ago from Vambori, Kendal and after that contacted by cycle regularly from Harigaon and after construction of the bridge over the Pravara/Nevasa, Fr. Haldner came by jeep. Soon he set up residence and built a hostel for boys, and invited the Sisters of Mary in 1972 to collaborate in the work of the Missions who continue their excellent work to this day.
As of today, the parish has a boarding for boys; the Helpers of Mary Sisters conduct social work, mahila mandals, a girls’ boarding with non-formal tailoring classes for school-dropouts, and since the past few years, road side workshops towards self-employment for school-dropout boys are set up. Besides, The Medical Mission sisters run Nityaseva Hospital which provides excellent medical service to the people in and around Shevgaon.
Fr. Valente Fernandes SJ (Parish Priest)
Holy Spirit Church, Shanti Niwas,
Shevgaon 414 502, Dt. Ahmednagar
Loyola Sadan Church, Shrirampur, Ahmednagar
The first establishment of the Mission was at the village of Kendel situated on the south bank of the river Pravara, a tributary of the Godavari, which runs about six miles to the north.
The creation of a new centre at Rahata took place in December 1910. Seventeen of the largest and best villages were separated off, with a total of 1,201 Christians and 12 masters.
In mid 60’s Loyola Sadan was started as Catholic Centre for training catechists attached to the Rahata Mission. Today it is a full-fledged parish with a considerable number of catholics and mass centres.
Fr. Joseph Gaikwad SJ (Parish Priest)
Shrirampur – 413 709,
Tel (02422) 224196
St. Ignatius Church, Rahuri
Fr. Dominic Zemp, SJ built Snehasadan on the bank of the rive in the line of Snehasadan in Pune – a house of friendship to reach out to all the people as well as to take care of the students attending Rahuri Agricultural University.
1950’s, the area belonged to Songaon parish. Rahuri Sugar Factory developed, which was good for the people as regards employment. Presently there is a Mass Centre located in the premise of the sugar factory.
1999, the RJM Sisters set up a hostel for working girls to teach them tailoring, computers and typing trades. The Diocese of Nashik has erected a parish at Rahuri.
Fr. Anil Chakranarayan SJ (Parish Priest)
Snehasadan, Nagar Road,
VidyaBhavan Church, Beed
Beed is situated in the North-East side of the extreme limits of the Pune Province, bordering Ahmednagar District close to Marathawada, which was originally the territory of the Nizam of Hyderabad. With its accession to the Indian Union, the 7 districts of Beed were part of Maharashtra after the reorganization of political States. Since many Catholics were serving in the Nizam’s army, a priest from Hyderabad, came to minister to them. Beed belonged to the Amravati Diocese but the distance was too great for the Fransalians to minister to the Catholics.
With the creation of the Aurangabad Diocese, Fr. John Haldner, SJ considered the possibility of ministering to the Catholics in Beed. Fr. Haldner succeeded Fr. Gerard Baader, SJ in Harigaon (Estd. 1948), where he built the Church, first high school for girls in the Ahmednagar Dt., Parish Residence, and Primary School for boys and conducted mission work after Valan (Estd. 1878) was stopped due to the floods in which the mission was washed away.
In 1973, Fr. Haldner thought of expanding his work in Beed and so he bought land and entrusted the building work to Bro. Otto Widmer, SJ, who built the Parish Residence, and a hostel for boys, which was completed in 1980.
Fr. James Shelke, SJ succeeded Fr. Jacob Gaikwad, SJ in Beed. He began mission work by visiting the village Mass Centres to revive them. He invited the Sisters of St. Anne to help in the school work with the establishment of an English-medium school. Five acres of land was bought, and a separate school building was erected in 1998. Meanwhile in Georai land were purchased for a boys’ boarding. The Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo started a girls boarding in June 1999. From June 2000, the Sisters live in Georai and start mission work and have also started a health clinic.
Fr. Prakash Bhalerao SJ (Parish Priest)
Vidya Bhavan, Jalna Road,
Beed 431 122, Dt. Beed
Tel (02442) 223753
Bhakti Niwas, Pathardi
Pathardi is a taluka in the Ahmednagar Dist with 122 villages. In the early 60’s, spiritual needs of the villages were met by Shevgaon mission. Since the distance was too great, Fr. Carlos Andrade, SJ volunteered to reside in Pathardi. A voluntary group helped start a hostel to cater to the educational needs of the boys.
Today the centre has developmental activities for girls, boys, and health care with the active collaboration of religious Sisters in this programme on the principle “Educate a man, you educate a family; educate a girl, you educate a community.”
Fr. Raju Shelke SJ (Parish Priest)
Pathardi 414 102,
Tel (02428) 222150