BRIEF HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS CHURCH, ANAND GRAM
EXODUS PEOPLE – GOD HAS CHOOSEN THEM
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; (Ex-3:8)
Uprooted from their homeland in south India, these people wandered through the heart of India treated as untouchables, unemployed due to physical handicaps. Some of them taken courage and moved in search of shelter, food and employment from home land to heart of the National Capital. Later when they saw the prosperity and opportunity in this land for which God has promised to them, they have called their friends and relatives to accompany with them. In all these years, even as they settled in Delhi by side of river Yamuna, God did not forget them.
1951: A Pastor finds the wandering flock
Then it happened in 1951, some requested Fr. Ian Weathrall (then Vicar of St. James Church, Kashmiri Gate, Delhi and member of Delhi Brotherhood Society) to perform a burial. This led him to discover that they were Christians. He was glad to extend his Pastoral Care to them. He regularly conducted worship for them, performed a mass marriage and all other rituals. The Register entry of marriage, baptism and funeral etc. are then recorded in the books of St. James Church itself. 1957, this may be the year in which small hut was given a shape of the Chapel, by the FIRST GENERATION congregation, in Yamuna Bazar, Bank of Yamuna river. The faith in Lord Jesus Christ was very deep in them because of the solid foundation laid by their family and TLM Hospital, Vada Thorasallur, where most of the believers were together because of their illness.
Yamuna River inspires us to move on….
1962: ON THE MOVE ONCE MORE!
government relocated their colony and they moved on once more 10 km to the
4th October, 1966 Bishop Parmer and Fr. James During St. Francis day procession
Congregation during procession Old St. Francis Chapel, 1966
All the festivals were celebrated in a very high spirit. The music, hymn and Tamil Bhajans were very high class as some of them were very well sound in music as well as singing. Initially the present Christmas carols round were taken out in early morning 5.30 am, beginning on every 1st day of December, till Christmas, in which every body was very generous to open their doors to offer early morning tea, buns and fines etc.
First generation congregation singing Tamil Hymn, during bible society Anniversary.
From Left Mr. Z.John, Mr. J. Benjamin, Mr. Paul Raj,Mr. J. Abraham, Mr.Ashirvadam and Mrs.Rani Jacob.
During dark fog morning the Church Keeper use to carry the lantern for the light, some time it becomes tug of war to carry the lantern, because of heat and coziness which comes from the lantern. Some time we have to wait for the lantern experts, who can only light the lantern or fix the damaged mental, it was not everybody’s job. Later as per convenience, carols round were shifted to evening but the same spirit and customs are going on, old days fine and buns are now changed into cakes, biscuits, egg, biryani etc.
Three different Churches in the entrance of the colony is the symbol of solid Christian faith, because of the three separate languages like Tamil/Telegu/Hindi there are three separate entities.
1967: TOWARDS SELF-RELIANCE
1967 Fr. Amos Rajamoney from Delhi Brotherhood Society, 7 Court Lane,
Towards self reliance….. Poultry, Dairy Farm and Weaving and dying section
3rd April, 1983. THE CHURCH AFLAME
But not all were ready to accept the new vision. The community fell apart and violence took hold of events. On the Easter morning of 3rd April 1983, St. Francis Chapel was engulfed in fire. The leaping flames reduced the thatched roof structure to ashes within minutes. Alas! The conflict within the community of Anand Gram Colony took a bitter turn.
Old Chapel 3rd April, 1983 Easter Morning. Christ has risen….. Halleluiah
But the Church did not die in the fire but rose again from the heap of ashes. The God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was present here also.
1984 – RESTORED BY NEW BUILDING
Later when the people had repented, peace and good-will once again returned to the community: And a new brick building was re-erected right up from the ashes of the old thatched Chapel. The rebuilt Chapel became a sacramental sign of repentance and peace among the people. Since then, it has grown from strength to strength including the membership of the Chapel. Keeping in view accommodating more people the building was extended about 10 to 15 feet in length from front entry.
Extended Chapel on Christmas morning.. Rev. Monodeep Giving Baptism in New Year Service, 1997
During old Chapel the offertory were very meager like 10 paisa 25 paisa, 50 paisa, 1 rupees coin/note and some time during festive season we can rarely see the 10 rupees note but God blessed the least coin. Every Chapel member had their own Kitchen Garden or vegetable farm, which were their main source of income, every member use to offer their first vegetable for the offertory. After the service all such kind of offering like vegetable/egg/fruit /chicken etc. used to auction among the congregation, after the service, the income of the auction goes to Chapel offertory, which were the additional source of income for the Chapel.
4th October, 1990. EXTENSION OF CHAPEL
Extended building of Chapel opened for the people. This Chapel was exactly located 10 to 15 feet upward from the main entry gate. Second generation were totally educated in Hindi/English medium so slowly the need of Hindi service were arises and Fr. James Stuart, Fr. Sharp and finally Fr. Monodeep Daniel, from Delhi Brotherhood Society took over the Charge of Hindi service. Fr. Amos continued to provide his services in Tamil once in a month.
26th April, 1998: The Church acknowledged at last
April 1998 was the day of joy, Bishop Karam Masih, publicly accepted
congregation as a independent church in the Diocese of Delhi (earlier it was
under trans yamuna pastorate). To meet the needs of the growing congregation
Packed old Chapel.. even people are standing out side for worship.
The Church is working as spiritual fraternity to the congregation. The Pastorate Committee has forwarded the name of Deacon Shakti for Lord’s Ministry. On 5th December, 1999 Rev. Shakti Paul was ordained by the Bishop, as presbyter under Delhi Diocese. Within four decades, ordination of a priest itself is a big achievement for the congregation. Now the pastoral care is easily available as per the convenience.
4th October, 1998 FOUNDATION OF NEW CHURCH BUILDING
Ground breaking and laying of the foundation stone was done by Mr. Binoy Jacob, Fr. A.R. Rajamoney, and Bishop Karam Masih in the presence of Rev. Monodeep Daniel then Presbyter In-charge.
Fund raising by organizing Easter Mela for New Church Building Local Councilor Choudhry Ajit Singh and Fr. Amos
Under the able guidance of FIRST generation elders, the SECOND generation congregation took the New Church Building as a challenge and every member of the then congregation voluntarily contributed his/her one month’s salary for the fund, and by way of SHARM DAAN and other support the present building was completed in record time. The structural design and maps were designed by the member of the Church Mr. Dorairaj. All the work, related to construction of new church building was supervised by Mr. Anthony Thomas along with Mr. A. Mathew, civil engineer who designed the rest of the steel work.
New Church Construction work in full swing. Old Chapel dismantled partly and used as cement Godown during work. (Red & Yellow Portion)
25th February, 2001 NEW CHURCH BUILDING
For the smooth functioning of Sunday School, Youth, Women fellowship and other events of the Church, New Parish Hall building was inaugurated by Rt. Rev. Sunil K. Singh, Bishop of Delhi, CNI, on 25th September, 2011.
New Parish Hall Ready for Congregation. Inaugurated by Bishop Rt. Rev. Sunil K. Singh
The Church is totally committed to carry out the vision of St. Francis of Assisi by caring the nature. The rabbit cage, duck shelter and beautiful garden in the entry, express the concern for the same. Church Bell tower and the newly completed Parish Hall equipped with modern kitchen are adding more feathers in the history of St. Francis Church.
My sincere and heartfelt thanks to Rev. Monodeep Daniel, who taught me the importance of the Church History when I was selected as Assistant Secretary in the Committee in the nineties. For accuracy of dates and events several calendar and events were taken into consideration, verbal discussions were held with the Fathers of Delhi Brotherhood Society who were associated with the Church. We both visited the Paharganj Market and searched for an artist who can inscribe the History on the Stone in three different languages, finally God helped us and we got the inscriber. The black stone which is telling the brief history of the Church was very heavy and was very difficult to balance on the motor bike, in a hot weather after several halts, the stone reached to the destiny.
May God complete his vision through the ST. FRANCIS CHURCH. AMEN
08th April, 2012