June 21st 2018 will be imprinted in the hearts of the parishioners of Divine Mercy Church as it completes 10 glorious years. Despite the rains and clouds that came along the way, our church stands strong with outstretched arm inviting everyone to bask in its mercy. Let us retrace our steps behind to see how it all began…
The people of Vadgaon Sheri long awaited a church in its vicinity. They used to go for daily Mass at Shanti Ashram chapel and the Sunday Mass in the Stella Maris school hall. It was during this time that our dear shepherd Rt. Rev Valerian D’Souza told the Pimentas during a family function that they would soon be getting a church in the vicinity. The church of Divine Mercy!
Called to serve
It was during the meeting at Bishops House when Bishop Valerian D’Souza was asked as to who would take the initiative of constructing a church in Vadgaon Sheri? Fr. George D’Souza at once agreed to take up this herculean responsibility. The Bishop allowed Fr. George to choose the name. The devotion to Divine Mercy was growing day by day and since Pune had no church by that name this new Church was named “Divine Mercy”. This would also help people grow in their devotion to the Divine Mercy.
Purchasing land at that time would have been an expensive affair but the generous hearts of the Ursuline Sisters had resolved the problem when back in 1985 they donated the land wholeheartedly to build the church. And thus the construction work quickly began which was carried out by M/s. Selvaraj Constructions.
The budget set for constructing the church was around 1 crore 10 lakhs, of which one third of the amount had to be collected by Fr. George from the people. The task was neither easy nor difficult as the people were generous and ready to donate. Many contributed ten percent of their income. Fr. George took the initiative of going around and meeting people and thus a total sum of Rupees ten lakhs were collected from the parishioners. People from other parishes also reached out in generosity. St. Patrick’s Cathedral contributed another ten lakhs and around 3 to 4 lakhs were donated by the people of Khadki parish. Thus the target amount of Rs. 45 lakhs was finally collected. The construction work took almost 4 years.
On we go…. We shall not be moved
Along the way there were many challenges that came up. Firstly because of the nala (drainage waste carrier) on digging the area for laying the foundation water started gushing out. Hats off to the contactor who took the challenge to set a strong foundation of almost 12 feet deep on one side and only 4 feet on other side. Here the idea of the basement came into being. Secondly the target set for completion of job was May 2008, however due to some political problems whereby the workers from other states were not allowed to work in Maharashtra it was difficult to get labourers to do the job. There was some delay but as it is rightly said “where there is a will there is a way”, somehow the main construction work was completed by May 2008. The latter part of the job was taken over by Fr. Julien who continued and completed the task after the inauguration.
Set the boundaries
The demarcation of the parish is usually done by the Bishop and the Diocesan Consultors. Thus the priests of the nearby parishes i.e. Christ the King and St. Francis de Sales along with our Divine Mercy Church sat together with the Diocesan Consultors and after taking into consideration each ones opinion, the demarcation of new a parish was set as per everyone’s satisfaction.
Where our Master resides
The décor around the tabernacle was planned keeping in mind the tabernacle of St. Faustina’s Church in Poland. The branches denote that even though everything seems lost and in vain still our focus needs to be on the merciful Lord who alone can give us hope.
The Divine Mercy statue was donated by the twin sisters Kalpana and Usha Ohol. Mr. Selvaraj the contractor, who is also the parishioner of Divine Mercy, reduced the cost of construction by making minimum profit but not compromising with the quality of work. The sisters also were generous as they paid the electricity bill during the time of the construction and also provided water from their well. They willingly provided a place to stay for Fr. George till the construction work was completed.
Be with us Mary
The idea of building the grotto facing the entrance was that of Fr. Julian who felt that all the people who pass by the church could look, stop and pray to our dear Mother Mary seeking her intercession even when the church gates were closed. The grotto was donated by Mr.Amolik.
The wait is over…..
Last but not the least the wait was over, the church bell chimed, there was joy all around as finally the day came when the church of Divine Mercy was inaugurated on the 21st June 2008 by Rt. Rev Bishop Valerian D’Souza.
This article is based on the interviews of Bishop Valerian D’Souza and Fr. George D’Souza taken by Ms. Ryana Carvalho, Mr. Llewellyn Pimenta and Mr. Richard Gras. Written By Reshma Xavier.