Saturday, March 5, 2011


Bento D’Souza sdb

AHMEDNAGAR, MARCH 4, 2011: The Chikaldara Mission was started hundred years ago by Fr Thevanat, a Spanish MSFS Priest and is a flourishing mission station today managed by the fifty five year old Amravati Diocese. The expedition to Chikaldara was the inspiration of Bishop Daniel Lourdes who made all the arrangements for our stay in the Amravati Bishop's House and planned our route to Chikaldara Mission.
Chikaldara, three thousand five hundred feet above sea level, has a Catholic community of six hundred families, a boarding of thirty five boys and is site for devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. It is the Diocesan pilgrimage center and every year devotees visit to pay homage to Our Lady in a specially designed grotto. It also houses a coffee plantation of sixty five acres area begun many years ago and is a rare phenomenon in Maharashtra. Earlier missionaries went to South India and learnt how to grow coffee. The coffee farms run at a profit and also provides employment to the people. Tourists, religious and clergy buy coffee from the Mission. Coffee seeds are also sent and sold to a Company in Bangalore. It was noticeably felt that the people are the first priority of the Mission.
On June 1, 2009 a new church was built and inaugurated. Regular masses are held in Hindi. The tribe that lives around is called Korku. They also have a Kordu Bible compiled by the Protestants in the dialect. The mission also has a school, a boarding and a dispensary. Bro Agnel Dongarkar (Regent) was invested with a ‘Salesians of Don Bosco’ T Shirt in recognition of his youthful animatory presence in the area as Youth Expert.
The Community of St Anne’s Ahmednagar were welcomed with open arms and warmth by Fr Cyriac, Vicar General-Chancellor of the Amravati Diocese and the community. The travel and arrangement for stay was managed by Fr Cyriac. Rumor has it, that he will be the next successor to Bishop Daniel Lourdes.
It was a trip to remember. The twenty two kilometer climb to Chikaldara to a rise of three thousand five hundred feet, the viewpoints along the way, the majestic scenery of mountains and valley, makes Chikaldara a tourist delight. We also paid a visit to the religious of the Amravati and Bhadnera town, accompanied by Fr Cyriac. MSFS Fathers, Indian Missionary Society, Franciscan Clarist Sisters, Poor Sisters of our Lady, Ursulines, Missionaries of charity Sisters, Fatima sisters, Queen of the apostles, Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, Holy Cross Sisters are the few religious who serve in Amravati Diocese. The Diocese values & welcomes the charisms of all religious orders, according to Ex-Bishop, Lourdes Daniel for the Church to happen. It was a renewing trip and we returned to Nagar recharged.
Amravati Diocese exists in the four districts, Yavatmal, Akola, Amravati and Washim, where Fr Cyril D’Souza sdb presently resides and pioneers.

Next August, when the time is ripe, while the casket of DB lands in Ahmednagar Mission, may we see a new presence of Salesians in Mission Wasim, in Amravati Diocese. So be it

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