St Anthony Church Tembhipada, Bhandup West


Mumbai, Maharashtra, India


Tembipada, Bhandup, Milind Nagar
Tembhipada, Bhandup West
Mumbai Maharashtra, India


07:15 a.m. (Children)
08:15 a.m. (English)
09:15 a.m. (Tamil)

It all began with a small thatched shed made up of leaves and sticks uner a mango tree on these bhandup hills with pictures of our lady and st. anthony fixed to the tree to observe the month of rosary and invoke the blessing and protection of intercessors. Why under a mango tree?The area around the mango tree must have beenlittle plain, with rough stone and small boulders, which could then serve them as a meeting place, where the tamil settlers(1) could perhaps gather together to have their daily rosary and other prayers. It Was Very Interesting to Listen to the narration on how that year (1953) Christmas was celebrated: An old crib set was collected from the neighbouring parishes in the city in the year 1953. And in the same year, as Mr. Gaspar puts in his write up, they purchased a small statue of St. Anthony from the amount they realized from the christmas celebration and decided to dedicate the so-called chapel to St. Anthony in the year 1956. At this stage of settling down,perhaps, one should not fail to imagine the kind of landscape of the place: a terrain of this kind of place might have been a scanty jungle and a scaring canyon in sight. Indeed, they had to rely on the supernatural powers to live in such a place where nothing was in the offing to live safely. Hence, the choice of St. Anthony of Padua as their patron saint.

As I have gathered some information from the late Mr. Chinnappan Kounder's oral narration and from a small write up done by the late Mr. Gaspar may their souls rest in peace. I would briefly put some of the yesteryears development, that which paved the way for what Tembipada parish is today. The settlers (mainly the Catholics) - men and women alike - used to gather after their early night meal to clean up the area right opposite(2) the spot(3) where the mango tree stood, They took part in this daily routine in order to have a bigger place for further expansion. One would say that this was indeed a noble thought. The area which they cleaned tirelessly day after day used to be a rocky ground. Their cleaning up job was mainly breaking the boulders and leveling the ground. To make the story short, the area that had been leveled by them ultimately provided a larger space both for some more new settlers to put up their huts and a reasonable space for putting up a chapel for a larger number of faithful who in the meantime had continued settling down in this area.

A chapel was put up with a thatched roof without walls around. The year of such event is between the periods of 1954-1956. Some senior members remember even today how and where the first chapel ever was, namely, not in the east-west direction, as the present structure stands today, but it was in the north south direction beaming at the eastern end of the occupied space of that time. After three years (1958) the same shed with the thatched roof had to be removed to give way for a better shed with tin sheets, but still without proper walls around the chapel but mere thatched sheets serving the purpose. This chapel was a little bigger though. It was put up in the same direction as that of the present structure stands. By this time, the area of encroachment was much bigger, almost as same as the space occupled by the chawls on the left side of the occupied space. With what a foresight and great struggle, this area was guarded and protected and was kept open as possible development that would have to come true one day.

As the whole Bhandup hill range and its locality begun to swell with new occupants, the settlers belonging to different faiths grew jealous and were envying the quantum of space these quarry workers occupied. Despite a mighty handed opposition from the legal heirs of the so-called original land lords, and constant harassment and ridicules from the later settlers, the Catholic community remained united for the sake their faith. Regular masses in the chapel and frequent visits by the priests, namely, Frs. TO Jacob. Jayaseelan and Gnanmuthu, not only supported their faith but it also strengthened their unity and brotherhood as to stand united against many odds that were part of this growing Tamil Catholic community.

The present church building was one that was long overdue. Why? The front and rear walls were in dilapidated conditions on one hand and on the other the entire structure was in need of a complete renovation. In fact, we undertook the work of complete renovation, but at the foundation stage Itself the whole concept for a new structure had to be adopted, owing to various difficulties that presented itself. One would say that multiple reasons of various nature and tuture structural stability could be considered as rationale that forced us to adopt a new plan than that was envisaged at the initial stage of our planning for renovation. Thus the new and elegant structure with three steeples with a touch of the South Indian taste has seen the light of day.