Goa’s Grace Church has no place to bury the dead

October 22, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Margao, October 19, 2017: From the time of its elevation as a church in 1959, the Our Lady of Grace Church Margao does not have a cemetery dedicated to its parishioners. The Grace Church has to depend on the benevolence of the neighbouring Holy Spirit Church and Our Lady of Rosary Church Navelim to bury its dead.

As per the Grace Church Parish Directory of 2016, the church has 1002 families with a total of 5150 Catholics registered. 33 parishioners died in 2016, while this year till date there have been 27 deaths.

As the Grace Church was formed by carving out parts earlier under the Holy Spirit Church and Our Lady of Rosary Church, Navelim it was agreed that whenever people died they would be buried in the cemeteries of those churches where they belonged earlier and that practice follows till date.

Grace Church Parish Priest Fr Carmo Martins who had earlier served as an Assistant Parish Priest in the mid 80s recalls having made a representation to the then MMC Chairperson Valmiki Faleiro about the need for a cemetery for Grace Church.

He also said that after taking over as the Parish Priest, a representation was made to the then chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar. However, the church does not have any copy of these letters made to Valmiki or Parsekar.

“We along with the Muslims had made a joint representation to Laxmikant Parsekar asking for a burial ground for us but unfortunately I do not have a copy of that representation,” he said.

However, the earlier Parish Priest Fr. Cleto Pereira had addressed a letter to the MMC CO on May 12, 2010 asking for implementation of the July 16, 1999 resolution of Goa Legislative Assembly wherein it was resolved that the government should acquire land for a burial ground to three communities, namely Catholics, Hindus and Muslims.

In his letter Fr Cleto identified the 99,513 sq mts of land belonging to Margao Communidade behind the St. Sebastian Church at Aquem and even suggested that the Catholic and Hindu community be given 25,000 sq mts of land each while the remaining 49,513 be allotted to the Muslim community.

Margao Comunidade Attorney Celestinho Noronha said the land is still available even though some of it around Monte Dongor has been encroached upon by migrants who have erected their illegal houses there. “Let the Grace Church make us a proposal about their requirement and we shall consider it,” he said.

There is another piece of land belonging to the Confre de Nossa Senhora de Piedade do Monte de Margao which was sought to be purchased by Grace Church to be used as a burial ground and had even got the approval of the Archbishop. The Monte Chapel Confre that owns the land near Damodar College had agreed to sell half of it admeasuring 6,800 sq mts. But the sale did not go through as the Chapel committee failed to appoint a valuer to value the land for more than two years.

The Holy Spirit Church cemetery is proving to be small for the growing population and hence it is time that Grace Church has its own cemetery.

– herald goa

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