225 years of City church: Peshwas return to be honoured for land forefathers blessed Pune’s Christians with
Celebration on December 8 will feature Goa's Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, Bishop Thomas Dabre of Pune Diocese, Bishop Valerian D'Souza, Fr Andrew Fernandes (SJ) and Fr Malcolm SilveiraUpdated: Dec 07, 2017 14:37 IST
Pune As a mark of gratitude for the generosity shown by Peshwa Madhavrao towards the Christians the Pune of centuries ago, descendents of the Peshwa presently residing in Pune will be felicitated during the 225th anniversary of the City church, which will be celebrated on December 8.
Parish priest of the City church, the official name of which is, the church of the Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary, Fr Salvador Pinto said, "Peshwa Madhavrao II donated about four acres of land for the church. Nana Fadnavis, an influential minister and statesman during the Peshwa administration in Pune provided financial help for the construction of the church on behalf of the Peshwas. The foundation was laid for the grand church on December 8,1792 and a shade was erected. As a mark of gratitude for this generosity, the descendants of the Peshwa will be felicitated by the church."
Church fathers said that the original piece of land where the Catholic community in Pune celebrated mass for the first time on December 25, 1792, was donated by Peshwa Madhav Rao II in appreciation of the services of the Portuguese soldiers in the Peshwa Army.
Dom Manuel de Noronha, a Portuguese national and an officer in the Peshwa army, was the spirit behind the recruitment of soldiers from Goa. The officials added that a small but permanent structure of the church was erected in 1793
Fr Pinto added that Vinayakrao Peshwe, who is the seventh generation of the Peshwas and his nephew Mahendra Peshwe, will be felicitated during the anniversary celebrations.
Goa's Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao will be present as the chief guest at this ceremony which will be held at 6 pm at the church.
Bishop Thomas Dabre of Pune Diocese, Bishop Valerian D'Souza, Fr Andrew Fernandes (SJ), Fr Malcolm Silveira, vicar general of Pune would also be present on the occasion.
During the ceremony, 225 balloons of different colours will be flown by children.
Fr Pinto said that a marble cornerstone depicting all the bishops till date would be inaugurated in the church, followed by a grand procession. This procession will leave from the City church and pass through Quartergate chowk, Dastoor Meher road and will return to the church.
A digital magazine showcasing events at the City church would also be inaugurated on the occasion.
Why Church of Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary is called City church
Parish priest of the church Fr Salvador Pinto says, “The church is fondly known to Puneites as City church because the church stands at the entrance to Pune city. This entrance was marked by a ‘quarter gate’ that once existed there. Hence the chowk at the corner is Quarter Gate chowk, even today.
City church time-line
1794-1795 - Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa donates four acres of land for the church.
December 25, 1792 - Christmas celebrated here with much enthusiasm on the foundation shade laid.
1793 - Construction of the church completed with much donation from Portuguese soldiers in the Peshwa’s army, Christians in the city and Shrimant Madhavrao Peshwa.
December 8 - Each year is celebrated as Foundation Day.
1842 - Expansion of the church takes place during the British period
1952 - The final structure of the church as it stands today takes shape
Ornella’s High School
The Catholic City church sits in the middle of the grounds that house the Ornella’s High School.
City church is consistently contributing to the fields of education, culture and sports.
The first elementary education school was started by the church on the premises in 1833. Gradually this school expanded and Archbishop Don Ares de Ornella de Vaslencelos, took the initiative to build more classrooms, thus converting the primary school, into a high school in 1887. The school was named after him - Ornella’s High School.
Till 1943, the school was co-ed. In 1943, the Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel took the initiative and started a separate girls high school called Mt. Carmel, on the same premises. Later, the school moved to a new location in Lullanagar.
In the year 1983, St. Clare’s High School for girls was started on Ornella’s premises but behind the City church.
Ornella’s High School also started a teachers training centre in 1950.