The founder of the Math, Swami Arulananda, originally Sebastiao Aleixo Nazareth, was from Assagao, Goa. Fr. Alexio was ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Goa on 12th January 1947 was lent by Goa to the diocese of Mylapore for 5 years. He was keen on joining the Society of Jesus since his seminarian studies in the Archdiocese of Goa. The thought of joining the Society, however, never left him. After completing his assignment in Mylapore he quietly arranged with the Jesuit superiors to join the Society and from Madras took a train to Bombay and walked into Vinalaya, Andheri to begin his novitiate on 4th June 1952.
After the normal few years of training for priests joining the Society, Fr. Alexio was put in charge of the small parish of Santibastwad, where he had to pick up Kannada. A few years here and his zeal took over as opted for the Swami apostolate, the sanyasi life of the Lingayat swami. Spending about a year with the other two older swamis, Animananda who started this mode of inculturated Apostolate and Amalananda who followed suit in Deshnur Math, Arulananda picked up the philosophy and modus operandi of the Lingayat swamis. Trained thus he then went forth to set up his own math in the poor village of Madwal. And thus, it came about that Alex Nazareth of Assagao, metamorphosized into Swami Anrulananda of
Here now started the real test of his iron will and zeal. He chose a place in the middle of the village to be more inculturated with the people, with no electricity, no running water, a pokey dark place which over last 30 years painstakingly, with great physical sacrifices he has slowly and steadily built into what we call today the Madwal Math.
In his zeal he found new ways to be of service to the poor people around him. His latest one, Kanasagiri, was for primary children, the poorest among the poor. His daily lifestyle and living were witness to the eternal truth. His physical sacrifices were little grains of wheat, added on to the ongoing sacrifice of the Master that brings down graces and blessings of God.
Swami Arulananda passed to his eternal reward on 13th August 2002. His legacy is still continued by the Jesuits till this day.
Swami Amalananda (Fr. Anthony Felix Mathias), a devout Jesuit priest lived a life committed to the Lord both in deeds and words, and was instrumental in building a church at his mission center in Deshnur. He was an evangelist, a catechist, a pastor, a scholar and above all a holy person committed to his religious vocation. He was born in February 1919 in Belmam, in South Kanara.
After his studies, he left for Mumbai and got a permanent job in the Indian Mercantile Marine Training Ship “Dufferin” but soon obtained a transfer to the Income Tax Department and pursued his studies. He joined the Pune Jesuits in 1945 and was ordained priest on 25th March 1956.
At this stage Anthony Mathias Prabhu became Swami Amalananda. After Theology and Tertianship he was asked to assist a Jesuit priest to start a house in the heart of Pune City, the centre of Hindu Brahmin culture. But he soon began to have trouble from the RSS. At this stage his earlier request to Fr. General to join Swami Animananda was finally granted. In January 1961 he set foot in Deshnur to start as assistant to his model Swami Animananda.
The Swamis labored together hard in this vineyard but soon realized that two Swamis in one math was a luxury. The senior Swami Animananda then opted to move on to Torangatti to the math he started there, while Swami Amalananda stayed on at Deshnur to consolidate and stabilize the Swami Apostolate giving it a better direction.
When Swami Amalananda took over the reins, he constructed the first church, in the shape of a temple and it was dedicated to St. John the Baptist. He went around and lived in the villages among the old converts trying to help them in their problems. He also put order into the primary schools that Swami Animananda in his great zeal had indiscriminately opened. He published a number of books in Kannada, in prose and poetic form. He also prepared the first draft translation of all 150 psalms of Scripture. His main work was his Khrista Purana, somewhat on the lines of Fr. Thomas Stephen’s book of the same name. Unfortunately, he could not go beyond the first three chapters of the Old Testament and a few of the New Testament because of his ill health. He passed away on 29th August 2008, the feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist.
Today, Fr Menino Gonsalves from Honowar, Karwar, is carrying forward the mission of his predecessors with a smile on his face. He has been there for more than 10 years and his dedicated services is visible and transparent through immense contribution in the church, school, dispensary and social work through the self-help groups.
Swami Animananda (Fr. Armando Alvares) was born on 08th December 1903 in Aldona, Goa on the feast day of Immaculate Conception. He entered the seminary of Rachol and gave himself fully to the new way of life. Barely a month after his ordination he entered the Society of Jesus on May 6th, 1931 and after the Novitiate in Shembaganur was assigned to St. Paul’s School to assist the Prefect in the boarding and to teach Latin in the School.
But his heart was in the missions, so for nearly nine years he went out with his boarders visiting and re-starting the old missions in Santibastwad, Balekundri and others that had been now abandoned. While he had considerable success among the Harijans of those villages, the Lingayats objected and blocked his arrival in them, particularly on account of his “foreign” manner of worship and way of life. Swamiji soon realized that the Christianity he preached had the appearance of something foreign, particularly to the masses in the villages and that for Christ’s message to be acceptable it would have to be presented in terms meaningful to the culture in which they grew and lived. Accordingly, he donned the saffron garb of the sanyasi, covered his head with a turban, and wore wooden sandals.
He limited himself to vegetarian diet and embraced the other demands of the sanyasi way of life and on 17th November 1947 he entered the village of Deshnur and was welcomed respectfully and permitted to stay till the return of the swami of the local ashram or math. Then from his own math just outside the village he preached to those who would listen to him, helped them in every way he could and started primary schools on various villages for he was firmly convinced that children could prove to be effective apostles to reach out to parents and elders. In January 1961, he received an assistant in the person of Fr. Anthony Mathias, now renamed as Swami Amalananda.
They labored together hard in this vineyard. But they soon realized that two Swamis in the one math was a luxury. While Amalananda stayed on at Deshnur to consolidate and stabilize the Swami Apostolate, the senior Animananda opted to move on to neighbouring talukas of Ramdurg and Saundatti, making Torangatti, an out of the way village but with a population of 3000 souls, his base. He thus blazed a trail for the other swamis who followed in his wake.
Even at the advanced age of 80, when other advised that he should call a halt, he was reaching out to Lamani tribals of Sapadla and Oblapur Sanna Tande and negotiating with government officials for their uplift and development. He dreamed about bringing together Lingayats, Lamanis and Harijans into a great community of faith. But ‘man proposes and God disposes”. He had suffered previously from bronchitis which now recurred. In mid-December 1983 he was brought from his Math in Torangatti to St. Paul’s Belgaum for treatment. The treatment lasted for a week but early morning of December 21st he died of a heart failure.
According to the rites of Lingayats, a Swami is to be buried at the head math and therefore his body was brought to Deshnur where he had started the apostolate among the Lingayats 36 years earlier. Dressed in saffron with the turban on his head, Swamiji was laid out in state on the verandah of the math.
The new building of the centuries-old Milagres Church at Khanapur, one of the oldest church in north Karnataka, was inaugurated on April 16th 2018. The new church building was inaugurated and blessed by Dr. Peter Machado, the archbishop of Bangalore.
According to church archives, number of Goan priests, including Jesuits, have served the Milagres church in Khanapur. The church was served by Goan diocesan priests till the Jesuits took over in 1943, when Fr. Alexio Atansio Fransisco Vaz was the first Jesuit who was appointed as parish priest. Fr. J.J. Fernandes, Fr. Ubaldo De Sa and Fr. Joe D’Souza were among the prominent Jesuits who served Khanapur.
The old church building was in a dilapidated condition sensing urgent need to construct a new church. The church also celebrated 75 years of the arrival of Jesuits in Khanapur.
St. Ann's Church church was named and built by the Portuguese Engineers in 1718 who had come to built two Forts in Harnai.It was Sambhaji's clan (Peshwas) who donated one acre of land to the build the small Chapel. This year we are celebrating the three years of the existing church.
On October 20, 1953 when the Catholics of Ratnagiri District were placed under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Poona, Harnai was placed under the charge of the Parish priest of Milagris Church, Ratnagiri, who would come here periodically to minister to the spiritual needs of the people.
In 1994 the Bishop entrusted the Ratnagiri District to the care of the Society of Jesus and in 1998 a resident priest was appointed at Harnai which was made into a Parish.
In the Year 1948 they had more than 200 Catholics but today many have migrated to Mumbai for Jobs and for better future. At present we have about 60 Catholics in Harnai. We have another Chapel in Dapoli named after Our Lady of Sorrows Church.
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