Having begun its mission in the UK in 1988, one of the first tasks for the Pilar Society was to establish connect with the Goan community.
That task was the responsibility of Fr Francis Carvalho, currently Professor of Canon Law at the Pilar Mission Seminary at Pilar and the first Pilar Father who was instrumental in the establishment of the Pilar Mission in UK.
Fr Carvalho needed to interact with the Goans and decided to have a meeting with them.
“It was Venerable Fr Agnelo himself, I believe, who made it possible for his devotees come together for a meeting. The inaugural meeting consisted of devotees, mainly, from Totting Beck,” Fr Carvalho told The Global Goan.
“It is at this inaugural meeting that it was decided to constitute an association of devotees of Venerable Fr Agnelo to assist the Pilar priest in promoting the Cause of Beatification of Venerable Fr Agnelo.”
Fr Carvalho pointed out that this promotional task involved, besides promoting the devotion to Venerable Fr Agnelo, the task of garnering financial support for this Cause.
“It is to be noted that the process of Beatification in the Roman Curia requires finances for the payment of officials involved in this long-drawn process, like, the team of medical doctors who are called to examine the miracles, etc.”
“As suggested by Fr Sergio Mascarenhas, this Association was christened as the ‘Association of Friends of Fr Agnelo’. Felix D’Souza was elected as its first President, Nina Pinto as its first Secretary and Felix Pereira as its Treasurer,” said Fr Carvalho.
Having set up the ‘Association of Friends of Fr Agnelo’, Fr Carvalho then initiated a number of activities during his three-year term in the UK (1988-1991).
“As mentioned earlier, I had entered UK as an assistant to the Asian Chaplaincy of the Archdiocese of Westminster. As a Pilar Father, therefore, my activities were under the direction of the Asian Chaplain (Fr Arthur Moraes),” said Fr Carvalho.
“One of these activities was the celebration of Holy Eucharist in Konkani at every Goan Village Day. I was told that this custom had originated in Nairobi, where Goans from different villages of Goa celebrated the Feast of the Patron of their respective village Parish in Goa.”
“I was conducting activities for the Cause of Beatification of Venerable Fr Agnelo through the ‘Association of Friends of Fr Agnelo’. Goan devotees, in their respective parishes, conducted Novena Prayers for the Beatification of Venerable Fr Agnelo. Every year, this Association celebrated Fr Agnelo’s Day on the Sunday closer to November 20 (Fr Agnelo’s death anniversary) in one of the Cathedrals or town halls, with one of the Bishops as the Main Celebrant.”
Fr Carvalho said in order to raise funds for the Cause of Beatification, the Association organised cultural programmes, which included dances and Goan cuisine.
“The first cultural programme was organised at a town hall at Tooting Beck and other one was at Harrow Town Hall, to which they had invited Fr Sergio Mascarenhas as chief guest,” recalled Fr Carvalho.
“Even as Goans in UK have their Goan Overseas Association (GOA) in London for their socio-cultural welfare activities, some Goans did suggest to me that it would be a great service to Goans in UK if Pilar Fathers conducted classes in Konkani for the younger generation of Goans born and brought up in UK.”
“Some others did also suggest to me that Pilar Fathers could take up some parishes in London so that, seeing Goan priests at the altar, young Goans may be inspired to be priests themselves.”
Technically speaking,” he added, “such activities could not have been undertaken by the Pilar Fathers without the Society of Pilar officially entering into a Mutual Agreement with a diocesan Bishop in UK.”
“By the end of my three-year term in 1991, our Society of Pilar had made its proposal to the Archbishop of Southwark about providing a Pilar priest to work in the Archdiocese, besides working for the Asian Chaplaincy,” said Fr Carvalho.
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