Renovating Churches & Chapels - the new mantra
On a recent mid-week visit to Aldona I was rather perturbed to find that the gossip was centred around financial irregularities in the churches and chapels, rather than the usual village accidents, infidelities and the 'outsiders' menace.
1) Apparently the Mae de Deus Chapel in Corjuem collected some 35 lakhs from the parishioners for renovation of one sort and then the Chaplian made a decision to renovate the front facade instead of sticking to the original plan. The Corjuemkars are angry that their funds are being used for a purpose other than the original intention, without them being taken into confidence. More details are available in the recent archives at
2) In the St. Rita Chapel in Carona the Chaplain has set a fund raising target of Rs. 50 lakhs to 'enlarge' the chapel as it cannot accommodate the parishioners on Sunday. One parishioner made a simple suggestion that two masses be held on Sunday instead of one. That surely would have solved the problem?
3) The massive Aldona Church renovation is nearly complete. Funds have been sanctioned to buy 6 chandeliers for Rs.1,25,000/-. Some parishioners are questioning the need for such ostentation.
In many parishes in Goa one finds such things happening. The parish priest decides that some major renovation, or completely new construction, has to be done during his tenure. An appeal is made for funds. Money flows in - specially from the hard working, good hearted and generous Gulf Goans. A spanking new facade/ church/ chapel/ extension is built, sometimes quite unnecessarily, and inaugurated with fanfare. The priest moves on to the next parish with another notch on his belt. And searches for new 'building
ground' to perpetuate his name for posterity.
There are many of these 'builder' priests around and also a growing breed of civil contractors and hangers-on who have made such jobs their full-time occupation. With the relatively lax tendering procedures, and a flush of funds, the attraction is obvious.
Sometimes the need for renovation, expansion or reconstruction exists but more often than not it is just a exercise in expanding the particular priest's repertoire of 'projects'. Or the coaxing and manipulation of a shrewd contractor. I wonder if these energies and monies could not be better utilised to build the spiritual church rather than just the physical edifice.
Jan 22, 2005
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