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Bangalore, Jun 5: The golden jubilee celebrations of Konkan Catholic Association, one of the oldest and duly registered organization of Konkani Catholics settled in Karnataka's capital of Bengaluru, turned out to be an occasion for the prominent leaders of the community to indulge in some soul searching and a fervent appeal to all the religious, educational, social and cultural organizations of the community to take concrete steps to encourage the younger generation to enter politics, civil services and public life in a big way.

While the Konkani Catholics as well as the Christians in general were in the forefront of the education, healthcare and social service sectors, the leaders of the Konkani Catholic community taking part in the gala golden jubilee celebrations lamented that the presence of persons from the community was insignificant and wanted urgent steps to correct the anomaly if their interests were to be safeguarded.

Fr Stanislaus D'Souza, Provincial of Society of Jesus in Karnataka that runs several leading educational institutions in the State and other parts of the country, Ronald Colaco, NRI Entrepreneur and Chairman of International Federation of Christian Associations, Edward D'Souza, Chairman of Federation of Konkani Catholic Associations, J R Lobo, MLA Mangaluru South and former bureaucrat and Roy Castelino, Chairman of Karnataka State Konkani Sahitya Academy, who addressed the well-attended function at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall on Sunday, emphasized the need for active involvement of the community in the public life of the State and the country at large to ensure that their interests were protected.

"In a democracy, it is the voice of the people that should always prevail. It is necessary for all sections of society, especially the religious and linguistic minorities to take active interest in the country's political life and ensure that more and more youngsters joined politics and entered State and Central civil services", said Colaco and felt the presence of Catholics in particular and Christians in general in the governance was sadly negligible despite the impressive and pioneering contributions by the Christian missionaries in the fields of education, healthcare and social service.

Colaco underscored the need for preserving and promoting language, literature, culture, theatre, folk dances and other art forms of each community as it was important to preserve the identity, even at the risk of being branded as parochial. "Unless we preserve and feel pride in our distinct ethnic, cultural or linguistic identity, we will be rootless", Colaco said and urged the Konkani speaking people to encourage their mother-tongue, especially by using the language in their day-to-day life and supporting the literary and cultural activities.

Known for his philanthropy, Colaco appealed to all Konkani speaking people to contribute a small portion of their income for the upliftment of their fellow human beings and other social causes, especially through education and medical aid. He reiterated his promise to contribute Rs one crore per annum for the next three years for the cause of helping the poor and needy to come up in public life, particularly State and Central civil services.

J R Lobo echoed the sentiments expressed by Ronald Colaco and said the Konkani Catholics and Christians were lagging in the State and Central Services unlike many other minority communities. While the State and Central Governments were providing special coaching facilities and financial assistance for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as well as Backward Classes and even minorities, the various institutions of the community should pitch in and the parents as well as educationists must give special encouragement to the younger generation, he said.

He appealed to those, who have prospered in other parts of the country and even abroad, to make conscious efforts to maintain contracts with their native places and supporting measures for improving the infrastructure facilities besides returning to their roots at least after retirement. "If we go on selling our properties and settle outside the native place or immigrate to foreign countries, a time may come when only the older generations or the poor and uneducated persons may be left causing a serious problem in the long run", he said.

FKCA Chairman Edward D'Souza mooted a five-point agenda for all Konkani speaking people and their organisations to preserve and propagate the Konkani language and culture, motivating youth the join State and Central civil services, take part in public, social and political life besides making a conscious effort to give back to society at least small portion of their income.

Karnataka Jesuits Provincial Fr Stanislaus D'Souza lauded the activities of the Konkan Catholic Association, especially the disbursement of scholarships and medical assistance to the tune of Rs 20 lakh to the poor and deserving people over the last 50 years and providing hostel facilities to nearly 1,500 working youngsters in its Konkan Bhavan.

Karnataka State Konkani Sahitya Academy Chairman Roy Castelino said it was a happy coincidence that Konkani language was allowed in the liturgy in a parish at Sakleshpur in Chikkamagalur diocese on Sunday after years of struggle and also in many parishes in Bangalore Archdiocese, which had at least six lakh Konkani speaking people.

Earlier, Fr Stanislaus D'Souza released the souvenir. Several prominent personalities and donors, including Mrs Irene Rego, Ronald Colaco, Ivan Fernandes, Benedict Machado, Adrian D'Souza, Clarence Pereira, Nigel Fernandes, Monica Pereira, Felix Menezes, Hilda D'Souza, and Auditor Nanjunda were felicitated. Konkan Catholic Association President Sunil Paul Rego welcomed. Antony Gonsalves, Secretary, proposed a vote of thanks. Precilla Pinto, Association Vice President, compered the entire programme.

A Konkani play, Santhanam, directed by Arun Raj Rodrigues, was the special attraction. Incidentally, Arun Raj Rodrigues was specially felicitated during the programme.

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