Rev.Fr.Maria Antony Raj - The Parish Priest, Holy Redeemer’s R.C. Church, Bhavanisagar. P.o, Sathy Via, Erode Dt. 638 451.
This is one of the town - ships that had come up when the ar1iest and longest Dam constructed with mud walls, with minimum masonry work, that was popularized during the reign of Mr. Kamaraj, as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Numerous rows of houses were built, to house the officials and laborers involved in the construction of the Dam. The work started in 1950 and went on till 1954. Thousands of people were working and considerable number of Catholics were among them. For Sunday Mass a priest used to come from Kodiveri, Sirumugai etc and mass was celebrated at the Government rest House. After the completion of the Dam, some of the Catholics settled down in the now empty quarters and there was always some floating population of Catholic officials. Hence it was made a substation of Akkarãi Kodiveri from 1960. Before the construction of the Dam it was a thickly forested area. Catholics from different places started residing here. Holy Mass was celebrated once a month in a Catholic Official’s house, the priest spending the night at the travelers bungalow. The efforts to buy a plàt of land started in 1956, bore fruit in 1966 at the time of Fr. Joseph Pragasam. Due to the interest ofthe then Collector of Coimbatore Mr. Royappa, an acre of land was granted and a chapel in honour of the Holy Redeemer was constructed. It is a curious fact that the plot where the presbytery (the old church) now stands,, was originally assigned .to the Protestants and they even laid the foundation for the church but later they had a change of heart and they applied and got another plot some distance away and so abandoned the foundation. It is on that foundation Fr. Joseph Pragasam built the church and Bishop Savari Muthu blessed it in 1968. It was built with a Sacristy to serve as priest’s quarters with an additiohal self-contained room, which till today serves as the presbytery. When the construction of the Dam was over, majority of the people left but some 15 families settled down here itself permanently. The priest from Akkarai Kodivery was coming for Sunday mass till 1984. In Pecember 1984 the then parish priest of Kodivery shifted his residence to Bhavanisagar, according to the inscrutable divine plan. He started developing the ohe and a half acre of land with coconut trees. As there was a possibility of some Government institution coming up here, he constructed a new spaciot1*hurch. The foundation wa blessed and laid by Bishop Ambrose on 27.9.1981. Fr. Antony Irudayam toiled hard to collect the funds for the construction and completed the new church on 23.7.1989.
The exact year when Bhavanai Sagar was made an independent parish an4 bi-ficurated from Akkarai Kodivery is not clear. Since till 1986, the then parish priest of Akkarai Kodivery was not informed about the establishment of the new parish and besides, till 1986 all the baptisms and marriages are recorded on the Kodivery registers, only to be• re-copied later in the registers of Bhavani Sagar. Hence it may be canonically correct to consider the official date of birth of the new parish as the day of the Consecration of the church on 23.7.1989! Anyhow the first parish priest of this recent parish was Fr. Antony Irudayam. The Presentation sisters started their convent and a Nursery Schosil on 7.7.1990 within the church premises. The house of the churth gardener was used as the residence with additional thatched rool sheds in front of the church, till they moved to their own conveni and school building, at a plot bought by them. Bishop Ambrosc blessed it on 10.4.1996. The English Medium School has beer upgraded as a Matriculation High School. The Sacerdotal Golder Jubilee of Fr. John Williams (1995- 2000) was celebrated on magnificent scale on 26.01.1998. In 2002 Fr. Ephraem constructecS two water-tanks with Grottos with Ms personal resources. On Grotto in honour of Our Lady of the Mystical Rose and the othei Grotto of Our Lady of Vailankanni were erected in memory of hh oarents, blessed on 18.6.2002.
The Cross Hill :
One Mr. Deivasigamani, a native of Puliakulam, an employee of the township, had settled down here and he had constructed a small chapel with an iron Cross on a hillock On his own and at his own expense. He had got the electricity connection and even water supply for it. Many people, without ‘any distinction of religion, were frec1uently visiting this chapel and the parish priests just closed their eyes. Sinq1it is situated in a central location, hence convenient to all sections of the people to come over there, the custom of celebrating mass, on• all Fridays of Lent (Except Good Friday) at eight a .m was introduced on 15.2.2002 by Fr. Ephraem. He blessed the Cross shrine (so far it was never blessed, never officially recognized by the previous parish priests) and the response was incredible. Since then this practice of celebrating Mass was continued, first, only on the first Fridays of ‘the month and since the devotion of Our Lady of Sorrows was growing, fromJune 2004 mass’ is celebrated there every Friday at 8.00 a. m. Many, especially the Non- Christians have receive4 special favours. Bishop Thomas Aquinas during his first visit, visited the shrine and ‘officially blessed iton 6.6.2004. An additional roofing in’ froni has been constructed to give shelter to the devotees.
Ceylon Tamjl Refugees’ Camp :
From 1985 the Tamil refugees from Ceylon were sent to th camp at Bhavanisagar and in course of time, it became the second largest camp in Tamilnadu after the Mandapam camp, with 900 families out of which 250 are Catholics. Since they are frorr old Catholic areas of strong Christian traditions ofJaffna , the) soon put up a small thatched chapel in honour of the InfantJesw of Prague with their own meager resources. Many of them hac already experienced hardships due to their shifting from camp ix camp and since they are refugees they did not receive mud attention froth the’ church in those places and because of their ‘sac plight many had become very indifferent in their religious duties Fr. M.S Michael, when he was temporarily in-charge of Bhavan Sagar along with Lurdupuram in 1994, he took special interes’ nd rectified many marriagcs. From 1996 Mass was celebrated in their chapel once a month. Thus they had developed the mentality 0f considering themselves as outsiders and just tolerated by the parish; Even after 15 years they do not mix with the old parishioners (who number only 25 families) and vice versa. Towards the end. of Fr.John William term as parish priest, the government had issued an order, that all places of Worship mUst have at least tiled roofing. Hence the refugees, on their own, collected about Rs 45,000 and constructed a tiled roofed pacca chapel. Fr. Maria Antony temporarily looking after the parish, in the absence of the parish priest on. medical grounds, blessedit in May 2000. Fr. B. Ephraem, the new parish priest, understood their plight and began to show more interest and attention to them, at times even against the wishes of the old parishioners. The customs of two weekday masses were started. On 18.1 .2002 a terrible tragedy struck the camp, in the form of an accidental fire, which devoured 380 shelters (outof the 900 and odd), though without any loss of life. But 380 families were rendered homeless and many just escaped with just the dress they were wearing, because of .the rapid spread of the fire. From the next Sunday, Mass also was celebrated at 6.30 a.m, at the Camp. In spite of their poor condition, still they celebrate the Annual feast of the Infant Jesus, on 2nd of February, the feast of St. Antony their popular patron on June 13 and the Patroness of Our Lady of Rosary known as Marutha Madu Matha, Madu, in Sri Lanka on the of August ona grand scale. From the year 2003 onwards some families have started going back to their native land. But the majoritie are still staying back. This chapel was extended in 2002 and fitted with new Mike-set;
A small community of 10 fishermen families, originally from Vellala Palayam of Salem diocese, had settled down here 40 years back. Though every week from 2002, Mass was said on Sundays, considering their avocation adjusting the timing of the Mass to their convenience for 2 years, their lack of interest, led to the temporary cancellation of Mass. There is no chapel there and all efforts to build one have been nullified, mainly due to the indifference of these Catholics.
Distance from the Cathedral Church 76 Kms. Total No. of Catholic Families both in the Main & Sub- Stations : 232 Total No. of Catholic Families in the Main Station : 22 No. of Catholics in the Main station : 74
Weekdays Wed, Fri & Sat 6.00 p.m
Mon: In the Convent 6.30 a.m
Cross Hill Shrine : on every Friday at 8.OOa.m
Sundays Masses : 6.30 a.m. : at the camp chapel
8.15 a.m. : at the Parish church,
1. Presentation Convent 04295 -.241201
1. Holy Redeemer Mat. School 04295 - 240331
Lay Association :
1. Prayer Group
2. Altar Boys Assàciation
3. Youth Group (for young men & women)
Patronal Feast : September 14th
1. Cylon Tamil Refugee Camp
Distance -. 1 K.M Families - 200
No. of Catholics - 811
Tue& Thur : 6.30 p.m
Sundays: : 6.30a.m.
Distance - 2 K.Ms
Families - 10
No. of Catholics - 33
Mass Timings - Sat 7.00 p.m