TRACING THE GOLDEN THREAD ……..
Neermarga on the Northern boundary of Adyar village lies 9 miles to the North East of Mangalore and is accessible by road either from Kulshekar or Farangipet. The Parish of Neermarga under the patronage of St. Joseph the Worker has been erected with effect from 01.05.1968. But the circumstances that brought about and the events that culminated into the creation of the Parish are worth recording.
The Holy Family Parish of Omzoor, being one of the ancient Parishes of the Diocese of Mangalore, was extensive. In course of time some distant wards of the Parish were separated and erected into Bellore (08.05.1920) and Kelarai (25.01.1935) parishes.
In March 1935, the Parishioners from Neermarga, Manur, Merlapadav and Adyar Wards submitted a joint petition to the Bishop Victor Rosario Fernandes for the formation of a New Chapel at Neermarga. Fr. A.M.L Vas was Parish Priest of Omzoor from 1899 to 1914. Great was his zeal to cater to the spiritual, pastoral, and social aspects of the flock entrusted to his care. He was bent on providing the benefits of education even to the most distant parishioners with the willing support of Devan Bahadur A. Pinto who was kind enough to gift 12 cents of land at Neermarga. Fr. A.M.L Vas took initiative to open an elementary school at Vontemar in Neermarga after having levelled the ground and put-up a small building with the cooperation of the people and the 1st four grades of the school were recognized by the Education Department in April 1915 under the Management of Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Fernandez who succeeded Fr A.M.L Vas. The school began to take shape under the care of Fr. M.S Fernandes (1914-1937)
Fr. A F D’Silva (1937-1944) succeeded Fr. M.S Fernandes at Omzoor. Departmental regulations required a playground and garden for the schools, such facilities were not available at Vontemaar. Hence Fr. D Silva acquired 4 acres of land at Adyar Padav within the boundaries of Neermarga village. A puce tiled building was put up on the plot at a cost of more than a thousand rupees to serve for a school as also when required for a provisional chapel. Mr. John Rodrigues known as Juao Podvol of Auganemar and Mr. Joseph M Dsouza of Poyyabail took a prominent portion in the acquisition of the plot. Mr. John Rodrigues was very keen on opening a chapel on the plot and he came forward with some materials for the building and what is more important, reserved half an acre of land from his property for the purpose of Cemetery.
Subsequently the Neermarga School opened by Fr. A.M.L Vas under the patronage of St Liguori, after his own Heavenly Patron and improved by succeeding Parish Priests Fr. M. S. Fernandes and Fr. A. F D’Silva, was shifted to the convenient, central and suitable building on the newly acquired plot, within the Neermarga village, as from the year 1941 February. The school at the time had 124 pupils on the roll and 5 teachers. The succeeding Parish Priest Fr. John G Pinto and Fr. F X Dsouza tried their best to improve the school in all respects.
Rev Fr. Aloysius Rodrigues, took the reins of administration from Fr. F X. Dsouza as Parish Priest of Omzoor and he took over charge on 14th June,1953. Even as he was occupied in the work of remodelling the Omzoor church building, he directed his attention to Neermarga to provide for the spiritual needs of surrounding wards. He started celebrating evening mass at Neermarga School as from 13th October, 1957. As a prerequisite for making permanent arrangements, he laid the foundation stone for a presbytery in January 1960. A sum of Rs 10,000 was sanctioned from the Omzoor church funds for the building and the old materials from the church building were used for the construction and the building was completed in 1962, towards the end of May.
The Neermarga school was upgraded with the permission being granted by the Educational Department on June 18th 1962 -Grade 6 was opened on July 16th ,1962 and Grade 7 on 22ndMay ,1963 and the first batch of students of Grade 7 appeared for the District Level Public Examination in April 1964. The strength of the school having risen accommodation was not sufficient. For the time being, classes were held in the presbytery building. In the meantime, extension of the school building was taken up and the school building along with the presbytery building was blessed on Easter, 29th March 1964.
On 15th August 1966, Bishop Basil Salvadore D Souza, The Bishop of Mangalore blessed the corner stone and laid the foundation for the new Church. The Scroll encased in the stone blessed and laid under the back wall of the Sanctum read as follows:-“ In the year of the Lord 1966, Pope Paul VI being the happily reigning pontiff, Mrs Indira Gandhi, being the Prime minister of the Republic of India, on the day sacred to the memory of our Heavenly Mother Assumed into Heaven, The Foundation Stone of the Church at Neermarga, Dedicated to St. Joseph the worker and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as Second Patron was solemnly blessed and laid by Bishop Basil Salvador D Souza.” The scroll has been signed by the Bishop of Mangalore Dr B.S Dsouza and the Parish Priest of Omzoor, Rev Fr A Rodrigues, dated 15th August 1966.
It was expected to complete the building work by the end of 1967. But a variety of causes came in the way of accomplishing this project important factor being lack of funds. The Existing five wards of the Omzoor Parish, namely , Nirmar I, Nirmar II, Manoor, Adyar and Merlapadav were separated from the Omzoor Parish and formed into a New Parish under the Patronage of St. Joseph the Worker, as from 1st May 1968, the Feast of the Patron St. Joseph the Worker, by the virtue of the Decree of the Bishop of Mangalore Diocese dated 20-04-1968, and Rev Fr. Maurice F. Dsouza till then first assistant at Omzoor, was appointed the First Parish Priest of the newly erected Parish of Neermarga .The Decree of Erection was read and the first Parish Priest was installed by Rev. Fr. A Rodrigues Parish Priest of Omzoor after the New Parish Priest offered mass in the New Church, in the presence of the Bishop Basil D Souza, Priests, Nuns and Parishioners. The newly appointed First Parish Priest of Neermarga left no stone un turned to complete the work of the church by the end of November,1968 which was started by Rev Fr. A Rodrigues, Parish Priest of Omzoor and was instrumental in building cemetery on 51 cents of land donated by Zuavan Padaval. The Strength of the school having risen accommodation was not adequate. So, there was need for a new building. The foundation for the new building was laid and blessed by His Lordship Bishop Basil Salvadore D’Souza on 15th September 1969. The school staff generously contributed in cash and kind towards the building. The Holy Childhood Society, Rome contributed Rs. 12000/- and Milagres church Mangalore donated Timber worth about Rs 1,000/- The Parishioners also generously contributed free labour whenever called upon to do so The new building was blessed on 21st Oct 1970 by Bishop Basil Salvadore D Souza and classes for higher grades were conducted in that building from that day onwards.
There was no church bell, an essential element for a parish church. Milagres Church Mangalore generously donated an old bell which was re-casted in Mangalore. However, the church tower was too weak to support the bell, therefore the belfry was built and blessed by the Parish Priest Rev. Fr Maurice. F Dsouza on 1st November 1970, the Feast of All Saints Day. The architect of the belfry was Mr. M Noronha of Cathedral Mangalore who gave a plan of the belfry and also a wooden model. Mr. J.M Dsouza Neermarga , Mr David Pereira Nirmar, Mr. Lawrence Saldanha Kambla, Mr. Fredrick Dsouza and Joseph Sequeira of Kolchar jointly donated 1500/- for the mic set. The mic set was installed for the first time on Sunday 5th December 1971 the Confraternity Feast of the Church.
On 4th June, 1976, Rev. Fr. C.P. Dsouza assumed the office as Parish Priest. In the evening people gathered in the church school to bid farewell to their Parish Priest Rev Fr. Maurice F. Dsouza. Under the guidance of Fr C.P D Souza, The Parish Council introduced Parish Improvement Fund for the purpose of fans to the church, mic and a well.
In 1983, Rev Fr B.S Rego came as the Vicar. The old sound system of the church was beyond any repairs. Hence completely new sound system was installed. Fr Rego added a spacious play ground to the Church Campus. Whatever he planted would blossom. He planted hundreds of jasmine trees. He educated and engaged the parishioners in income generating projects like hog and cattle farming to enhance the financial muscle.
On 2nd June 1990, Rev Fr. Joseph Cardoza succeeded Rev Fr B.S Rego . In view of the completion of the 75 years jubilee of the Parish School the construction of new school building was planned and undertaken and The Foundation Stone was laid by Rev. Fr. Pradeep Sequeira. Bore well was dug and water tank built on the school premises. Fr. Joseph Cardoza went for Higher Studies and Rev Fr. Valerian Frank was appointed as Parish Priest on 27TH May 1991.
Under the leadership of Rev Fr. Valerian Frank, the construction work of the new school building was done with the cooperation and support of the members of the Parish Pastoral Council, Parishioners, Our Well Wishers, Benefactors and the Old Students of the Institution. On 1st May 1993, the New School Building was blessed by Bishop Basil Salvadore D Souza.
Rev Fr Victor D Souza took charge of the Parish in June,1998. The church floor including the sanctuary and the altar was renovated with marbles. Parish office was refurbished with a computer and it was inaugurated by Rev Fr. Boniface Pinto Mangala Jyothi. Church Compound was facing acute shortage of water hence another source of water had to be searched, God graciously provided it. A bore well was dug to provide the bed of Floriculture and Agriculture at a cost of Rs. 70,000/-Thanks to Mr. Gerald Pereira of Merlapadav who was instrumental in carrying out this project.
On May 18th 2005 Rev Fr. Charles Menezes took charge as the Parish Priest. Church was renovated. All the parishioners took active part in the renovation work and the remodeled church was blessed by Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza on 4th December. In 2006, On 10thDecember, the community hall—Sambram was built. Parishioners made significantdonations for the same. The play entitled “ Lord, Where are you Going”? Was staged wherein the Parishioners came together to tell the story of Jesus our Redeemer through narration, realistic costumes, lighting and music.
Due to managerial problems and education department the Parish decided to handover the English Medium School that was started with L.KG and UKG sections in Sambram Hall to the Management of Holy Cross Sisters.
On May 30th 2010 Rev. Fr. Godfrey Saldanha was appointed as the Parish Priest of St. Joseph the Worker Church Neermarga. Even though he was on the verge of his retirement he managed to fulfil all the spiritual needs of the Parishioners which are appreciable.
During the period of seven years Rev Fr. Godfrey organised two great events. 1. wonderful celebration of Centenary Jubilee of St. Liguori Hr. Primary School in 2017. 2. On May 1st2017 the inauguration of Golden Jubilee Celebration of the establishment of The Church was organised under his leadership. He worked towards providing various facilities to the church which included the power generator, interlocks to compound, church gardening … Sambram Hall was also renovated during his period.
St Joseph the Worker Church has grown steadily into a sizeable Parish, well known for its generosity, innovation and liturgical commitment. We hope and pray it
continues to progress as a vibrant spiritual family bringing glory to the Almighty God and never failing in proclaiming the message of salvation of Jesus Christ,our Lord and Saviour