Pics Credits: http://www.stanthonyshrinemangalore.com/
Mangaluru, Jun 11: It is believed from time immemorial that those who come to St Antony have never returned empty handed. St Anthony is also known as saint of miracles and he is famously hailed as "Saint of Thirteen Miracles". The devotion of St Antony in Mangaluru and his great miracle of St Antony Ashram (Home for the Destitute) have a history of more than a century.
Though the devotion of St Antony in Mangaluru is centuries old, the devotion at Milagres church gained significance when Fr M P Colaco (later Monsignor) a young and energetic priest started novena to the saint on June 12, 1898 followed by a solemn feast the next day.
Soon after that Fr Colaco began offering mass every Tuesday on the altar of the saint and also held special prayers. The response of the people was beyond all expectations. Since then thousands of people have come to the feet of St Antony seeking his intercession during their difficulties.
The statue of St Antony blessed by Pope Leo XIII which arrived from Vatican was installed on the side altar on January 22, 1902 and ever since it is adorning the altar of the shrine.
People started donating to the church in cash and kind as a token of gratitude for the favours received from St Antony. The church administration decided to use this donation to help the poor and downtrodden. This gesture was later named as ‘St Antony’s Bread’
In 1910 Dr Paul Perini S J, the bishop of Mangaluru transferred Fr M.P. Colaco from Cordel to Milagres and put him in charge of St Anthony’s Bread and constituted it as an independent institution.
St Antony Ashram
In 1911 some houses for the old, destitute and physically challenged were built near Milagres church. These houses were called St Antony’s houses for the poor. During the First World War when people did not have food, it is said that there used to be big queue of people in search of food and St Antony’s Bread provided them with sufficient food.
As the number of destitute increased and the space in the houses was not adequate to accommodate them, a 28 acres land belonging to Jeppu Britto family was bought for Rs 45,000 in 1934. The residents staying in Milagres were shifted to Jeppu in 1936.
Visitors to the Ashram
St Antony is famous for thirteen miracles but he continues to conduct miracles among devotees every day. The Jeppu St Antony Ashram is a witness for it. St Antony through his devotees provides accommodation and hope for 400 destitute in the society.
This is the only ashram in India run by secular priests as part of their mission. The ashram remains in the same land since its inception. Not even an inch of mega land has been sold to anyone or utilised for any commercial purpose though it lies in the centre of the city.
Life in homes
There are 14 houses in the ashram which are segregated according to the needs like houses for youngsters, diabetics, bedridden, terminally sick etc. Males and females always live in separate houses.
The nutritious food cooked in the kitchen is sent to residents in different houses in the ashram.
The residents meet three times in a day for prayers at St Antony's chapel. The devotees of St Antony have special faith in the strength of the prayers of the residents of the ashram. Several requests for prayers are received on a daily basis and the residents pray for them.
The ashram arranges medical assistance from Fr Muller's Medical College Hospital and Wenlock Hospital for the residents. Fr Fullers Homeopathy College has a centre for the sick managed by a full time doctor and medical staff.
The vegetables and fruits grown by the residents are used in the ashram kitchen the whole year. The residents have time and opportunities to make use of their talents in the ashram. They make use of the talents according to their ability.
All the clothes necessary for the residents are prepared here. Last year a candle making unit was opened to make candles for the devotees who visit shrines. These activities keep some of the inmates busy who are interested in particular fields.
Something or the other requires repairs daily in the ashram accommodating a big number of people. Such repairs are attended to by the residents as far as possible.
New Altar at Milagres and Annual Feast:
A new altar dedicated to St Antony of Padua was inaugurated by Monsignor Denis Moras Prabhu at Milagres church on June 2 this year. This altar with the old statue just outside the church has been renovated and extended.
The annual novena for St Antony is held between June 4 and 12. The feast is celebrated on June 13 every year.
Management of St Antony Institutes:
The Ashram is managed by a team of three clergymen, Fr Onil D’Souza the director, Fr Francis D’Souza, the administrator and Fr Peter Gonsalves, assistant director.
No person who comes to the ashram is expected to pay anything to live here. Only one condition is that they have to be from an economically poor background. Once they become inmates, they become the members of a very big family of St Antony. There are some people who have been here for decades. One woman has been in the ashram for the past 52 years. Inmates are not expected to work but are requested to keep themselves occupied in order to maintain better health. All their needs of food, accommodation and cloths are looked after. People from all the religions, caste and creed are accommodated here without any discrimination.
The St Antony's ashram in Jeppu is two kilometres away from central railway station, four kilometres away from Mangaluru bus stand and sixteen kilometres away from
The shrine of St Antony in Milagres is two furlongs away from Central Railway station.
“Every child of God is unique and special. None of God’s creation is inferior to any. We give impartial love to each and every inmate. We are privileged to serve them.” Fr Onil D’Souza says about the inmates.
Only the money donated by the kind hearted donors keeps the ashram running smoothly.
One can send the help directly to the bank account of the ashram.
Account holder: The Director, St Anthony's Charity Institutes.
Name of bank: State Bank of India, Branch: Kankanady
A/C No: 10391581108. IFSC CODE SBIN0003300. Address: St Antony’s charity institutes, Post box 506 Mangalore-575002. Tel: 0091824-2418065.