Singing bishop turns 80, gets on facebook
- CAMIL PARKHE
Thursday, 3 October 2013 - 10:41 AM IST
PUNE: Bishop Emeritus Valerian D'Souza who will turn 80 on Thursday has said that sharing online spiritual reflections has become his new ministry which keeps him busy post-retirement.
“I have over 2,000 friends on Facebook and one third of them are youngsters - below 30 years. Many of them 'like' my Sunday sermons regularly or also post their comments,” he says.
A former student of St Vincent's High School in Pune, D'Souza was consecrated as the fifth bishop of Pune diocese in 1977. He held the post for 31 years and played an important role in the establishment and development of various church-run schools and social institutions in the diocese. During his tenure, Pune diocese was bifurcated twice to form Nashik diocese in 1987 and Sindhudurg diocese in 2005.
'When I took over as the bishop, the jurisdiction of Pune diocese included 11 districts - from Nandurbar in Khandesh to Sawantwadi in Konkan region. The areas I travelled on roads during those days as part of my pastoral ministry was equivalent to going around the Earth three times,” the bishop emeritus told Sakal Times.
D'Souza is known as the 'singing bishop' due to his penchant for singing and playing guitar during his preachings in churches. 'The man from Galilee' is one of my favourite songs,” he says.
Playing host to the visit of Pope John Paul II to Pune on February 10, 1984 was one of the major events during his tenure. “ Anywhere in the world, in his address, the Pope always spoke a few words in local languages.
The Pope was pleasantly surprised when while welcoming him at the Ramwadi grounds in the city , I spoke in his mother tongue, Polish,” recalls D'Souza.
Bishop Valerian D'Souza will celebrate a thanksgiving mass on his 80th birthday at St Patrick’s Cathedral at 6 pm on October 3.