Pune: A Pune church will honor descendants of an 18th century ruler when it celebrates is 225 anniversary on December 8.
“Peshwa Madhavrao II donated about four acres of land for the church,” explains Father Salvador Pinto, current parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary in Pune, the cultural capital of Maharashtra state, western India.
The priest also recalled that the funds for the church construction came from Nana Fadnavis, an influential minister and statesman during the Peshwa administration in Pune.
The parish records show the church’s foundation was laid on December 8, 1792. Peshwa Madhav Rao II donated the original land where the Catholic community in Pune celebrated the first Mass on December 25, 1792. The ruler did so in appreciation of the services of the Portuguese soldiers in the Peshwa Army.
“As a mark of gratitude for this generosity, the descendants of the Peshwa will be felicitated by the church.” Father Pinto said.
Dom Manuel de Noronha, a Portuguese national and an officer in the Peshwa army, was the spirit behind the recruitment of soldiers from Goa. The officials added that a small but permanent structure of the church was erected in 1793.
Father Pinto said Vinayakrao Peshwe, who is the seventh generation of the Peshwas and his nephew Mahendra Peshwe, will be felicitated during the anniversary celebrations.
Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa will attend the program as the chief guest church.
Bishops Thomas Dabre of Pune and his predecessor Valerian D’Souza, would also be present on the occasion.
During the ceremony, 225 balloons of different colors will be flown by children.
Father Pinto said that a marble cornerstone depicting all the bishops till date would be inaugurated in the church, followed by a grand procession. This procession will leave from the city church and pass through several place before returning to the church.
A digital magazine showcasing events at the city church would also be inaugurated on the occasion.
Father Pinto says, “The church is fondly known to Puneites as City Cchurch because it stands at the entrance to Pune city. This entrance was marked by a ‘quarter gate’ that once existed there. Hence the chowk at the corner is Quarter Gate chowk, even today.”
The church was expanded in 1842 under the British rule.
1952 – The final structure of the church as it stands today takes shape
City church is consistently contributing to the fields of education, culture and sports.
The first elementary education school was started by the church on the premises in 1833. Gradually this school expanded and Archbishop Don Ares de Ornella de Vaslencelos, took the initiative to build more classrooms, thus converting the primary school, into a high school in 1887. The school was named after him – Ornella’s High School.
Till 1943, the school was co-ed. In 1943, the Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel took the initiative and started a separate girls’ high school called Mt. Carmel, on the same premises. Later, the school moved to a new location in Lullanagar.
In 1983, St. Clare’s High School for girls was started on Ornella’s premises but behind the City church.
Ornella’s High School also started a teachers training center in 1950.
(Source: The Hindustan Times)