Even as the dilapidated 500-year-old St John the Baptist Church in Andheri (East) gears up to host the annual prayer service on Sunday, parishioners have written to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, demanding the church be handed over to the Archdiocese of Bombay.
The church, which opens only on the second Sunday of May every year, is currently the property of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), which acquired land in the area in the 1970s to set up the Seepz. Since 2003, the local East Indian community has demanded the church be handed over to it for repairs. Built in AD 1579 by the Portuguese, the church is in ruins.
The letter to the CM says while the MIDC has, over the years, de-reserved thousands of plots of influential people, the plot on which the church stands has not been de-reserved. Godfrey Pimenta, a member of the community, said a government-appointed panel had recommended in June 2014 the church be handed over to the Archdiocese and the cost of its restoration borne by the government.
Meanwhile, parishioners of the nearby St John the Evangelist Church, Marol, under which the crumbling church comes, have made arrangements to host around 2,000 Catholics from Andheri, Jogeshwari and Vakola on Sunday.