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The church in the hills

Saturday, December 25, 2010
By Sagar Joshi

A first glimpse at Holy Cross Church, located at the Western end of Mahabaleshwar’s market square gives an impression of a ‘toy church’. However, let the toyish appearance not befool you, because once you step inside this house of God, it offers the kind of serenity one can ever imagine about.

Another fact that sets this church apart from all the others is that it has one of the smallest parishes in the world, comprising of just twelve families.
Confirming this fact, which is displayed right at the entrance of the church, Reverend Father Alex Quadros, the visiting parish priest (in his third year) and principal of St. Patrick’s School and Jr. College, Pune, said, “Yes, ours is one of the smallest parishes in the world, or probably the smallest in the world. This parish was formed during the beginning of the 20th century.”

When asked why the families don’t attend the bigger church at Panchgani, Father Alex quickly pointed out that the church at Panchgani was constructed much after the construction of Holy Cross and that since most of the families have their businesses in Mahabaleshwar, it is not convenient for them to travel to Panchgani, 20 km away, to attend mass on a regular basis. Commenting on the service organized for Christmas, he said, “We are expecting around 200 people to attend and these will be from in and around Mahabaleshwar.”

Replying to the query on how does such a small parish manage to bear the maintenance costs, Father Alex said, “Since Mahabaleswar receives the second highest rainfall in the country, the church building is always in a need of maintenance every season, especially the roof and an overall paint job. On an average, it costs around Rs.1.5 lakh to restore the building. Thankfully, by God’s grace and our generous donors from Mumbai, Goa and other parts of the country, we always manage to pull it off. It takes almost a month to complete the entire restoration work.”

So next time you visit the hill station, do make it a point to visit Holy Cross Church, lose yourself in its serenity and be generous enough to donate to keep the history of the place alive for future generations to understand and appreciate!

History & facts

  • The Holy Cross Church is a Roman Catholic Church, constructed in 1831 by the domestic aids of the British officers governing Mahabaleshwar
  • Initially a simple cross was erected at the site in 1828 and the priest was called in from Panchgani to recite prayers
  • Reverend Father D.L. Carvaloh, was the first priest to conduct services in 1837 and later set up a chapel at Panchgani
  • In 1966, the district collector allowed the Catholics to bury their dead at the European Christian Cemetery, a kilometre away from the market square
  • Today, the church has no residing priest and Fr. Alex conducts services only on weekends

For donations:
Contact: Rev.Fr. Alex Quadros
Mob: 09922991894
Tel: 020-26360065/ 26361318

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