From a humble beginning of 12 families in 1916, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, or Orlem church in Mumbai’s Malad area has come a long way with around 18,500 members today, making it one of the biggest parishes in the city.
Built as a private chapel in 1880, by Father Joseph Braz D’Souza, in the area originally called Valnai, it was named after Our Lady of Lourdes. In 1916 it was given the status of a separate parish with Father D’Souza’s nephew Father Justin D’Souza becoming the first priest.
Malad station, the closest railway station from Orlem, was also established by the efforts of one of the parishioners of the church. A letter documents the fact that Joseph Braz D’Souza, a namesake of the church founder, pioneered the movement to create the Malad station around 1916.
As a fitting tribute in its 100th year, the church once again has contributed to the station by participating in the ‘Hamara Station, Hamara Shaan’ drive that worked towards beautification of 36 railway stations in Mumbai.
“Continuing the legacy of the church, 250 members of the church, including adults, youth and children, participated in the drive to paint the Malad station,” says Father Gilbert Delima, the current parish priest.
To mark a century of worship and service to the community, through the year the church participated in several outreach programmes with the objectives of fellowship, formation and service. As part of that, the youth will be soon visiting a leper home in the city to extend a helping hand to those ailing from the skin disease.
A school, St Anne’s, had also begun adjacent to the Orlem church in the same year as the parish was established.
“Our church is one of the few parishes in the city where the church and the school began together,” says Father Delima.
Keeping up with the times, the school began offering international curriculum from this year onwards. “St Anne’s International School is the first IGCSE school affiliated to the Cambridge Board to be started by the Archdiocese of Mumbai,” he adds.
The current structure of the Orlem church was built in the late 1970s under the architect Raymond D’Lima’s supervision, who had also designed St Andrew’s Church in Bandra among some other important city buildings.
Source: The Indian Express
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