06 December 2023: A newly constructed Presbytery and church, named after Mary, Mother of God was inaugurated at Ashoka Siddhapura, a sub-station of  Molakalmuru, Chitradurga District was blessed by Most Rev. Dr Francis Serrao SJ, Bishop of Shimoga, Karnataka, on Wednesday, 6th December 2023.  Ashoka Siddapura is a small station with forty catholic families who are economically disadvantaged yet very strong in their faith who always longed for a church building which was made possible by the generous support of many.  The place is nearly 240 kilometres from the Bishop's House, Shivamogga.

The programme of the day commenced with the warm welcome of Bishop Francis, Msgr S. Jayanathan, Vicar General, Bangalore Archdiocese and the Guests of Honour, Mr Joseph John and Mrs Joyce Joseph from Dubai and nearly 30 priests along with Religious Sisters and lay congregation numbering over 250.  The people arranged a decorated bullock cart with a beautiful chair mounted on it to usher in the Bishop and bring him to the door of the church. The local band played melodious music with people joining the procession. The people with the priests and the Religious went to the Presbytery where Bishop Francis Serrao  said the prayers of Blessing and Msgr S. Jayanathan cut the ribbon. This was followed by the blessing of the newly constructed Priest’s House by the Bishop.

After this commenced the blessing of the newly constructed church dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. After the initial prayers, the benefactors of the church and the Guests of Honour, Mr Joseph John and Mrs Joyce Joseph, cut the ribbon and opened the main door of the church. The Parish Priest, Fr Stany D’Cunha, led the congregation into the church. Fr Santosh Pereira Rector of the Minor Seminary was the Master of Ceremonies and he along with Fr Lawrence D’Souza, explained every procedure of blessing. Bishop Francis Serrao, SJ said the prayers and blessed the entire church, Sacristy and the surroundings with the holy water. This was followed by the solemn High Mass and the choir trained by the local Sisters singing beautifully. After the three readings of the Holy Mass,  Bishop Francis gave a beautiful homily, explaining the meaning of the entire ceremony and why the church is necessary in this location. He expressed his admiration of the faith of the people and the trust of the benefactors to see that the building is ready for worship.  This was followed by the Prayers of the Faithful.

Then came the main part of the blessing: the blessing of the crucifix above the altar and the anointing with Holy Oils the Altar in the church.

The oils blessed on Chrism day in Holy Week were used here. After this the altar was covered with Altar clothes and decorated with beautiful flowers. The candles were lit for the first time and the altar was incensed. During the offertory procession several gifts including hosts and wine were brought to the Altar by the faithful. The tabernacle was ceremoniously blessed and the Holy Communion was placed in it. The keys of the Tabernacle were then handed over to Fr Stany D' Cunha asking him to take the responsibility of taking care for  the Church and maintaining the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist.

After the Holy Mass a short felicitation function was held to express gratitude to all those who have supported this great work in its construction and with necessary finances.  Fr Ronald D’Cunha the Diocesan Procurator was specially mentioned for his guidance and supervision. He was instrumental in getting necessary permissions to put up the buildings and arranging the good persons for work. Bishop Francis in his address mentioned several contributors and specially honoured Mr Joseph John and Mrs Joyce Joseph for showing such concern for the church and the Missions. Fr Stany D’Cunha was honoured for his dedicated service and making the edifice possible. He as the Parish Priest has travelled far and wide to contact people and raise funds for the construction. There were several others who in small in big ways have contributed much for the completion of the work like Father Clifford Roshan Pinto who has been a great help in completing the project and its inauguration.

The faithful on their part honoured the Bishop for giving them the new church and being so close to them in every possible way.  In his response Mr Joseph John congratulated the Bishop and the Parish priest for the beautiful church in such a place to meet the need of people. He hoped and wished that soon it would be a possible to have a resident priest  there as a pastor of the people. Though this is his first visit to Shimoga Mr Joseph expressed that this will not be his last. The Parish priest Fr Stany D’Cunha then honoured Bishop Francis Serrao, and all those who made this work possible, like the engineers, contractors, architect, masons and simple workers and important people who gave their active support. Sumptuous lunch was served to all those who attended the service and the neighbouring people.

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