EXTRACT FROM THE CATHOLIC DIRECTORY OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY 1982 (page 101 and 102)
ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, Marol (1579)
The origins of the parish of St. John the Evangelist can be traced back to two mass conversions at Marol. Some of the inhabitants of Marol were among the 500 people who were converted when the neighboring church at Condita was opened for public worship on the feast of St. John the Baptist in the year 1579. The second mass conversion took place on the eve of the feast of the Assumption in 1588, when the whole village of Marol became Catholic. Soon 13 other villages around Marol followed its example. Marol and surrounding villages received the Catholic faith through the pioneering efforts of Jesuit Brother Manuel Gomes, The Apostle of Salsette.
After Powai, Marol was a stronghold of Christianity in this region of the island. The Jesuit Report of 1669 tells us that the parish comprised 1380 Catholics in Marol, 302 in Condita, 246 in Gundowli and 219 in Chakala.
The original church of this parish was built in 1579 at Condita at a point north of the present village of Kondivita and northwest of the present church. The major portion of this church is still standing. We do not know when the name of this Condita church was changed from St. John the Baptist to St. John the Evangelist. According to the information provided by Fr. Humbert (I: 53) the name had already changed by 1716.
The church at Condita escaped the ravage of the Maratha war, for it continued to have Vicars, now secular priests, appointed to it from 1739 onwards (Humbert, I:141), who also looked after the remnant Christian community at Powai. Due to the outbreak of a devastating epidemic, Fr. Jose Lourenco Paes, the Vicar of Condita at the time, having built a new church in the village of Marol in 1840, “ transferred the parish from Condita to Marol and the old church and parish house was abandoned” (Humbert II:63). Before the old church feel into disrepair, the statues, the baptismal font, the altars and a few pillars were transferred to the new church at Marol.
At the entrance of the present church of Marol stands a historic 4-foot statue of Our Lady with the child Jesus, known as the statue of Our Lady of Amparo (Help). This statue was once venerated in the church of the same name that now lies submerged under the waters of the Vihar Lake . This statue was brought to Marol between 1842-1853 (Humbert, II: 65, 85), when the Bombay Municipality acquired the Vihar Valley with the church in it from the Vicar of Marol for a compensation of Rs.1944.10 as. One of the Baptismal Registers of the church of OL of Amparo (1804-1832) is still preserved at Marol.
Till about the year 1973, Mass was celebrated annually at the ruined church of Condita . This practice was discontinued when the property comprising a picturesque lake and the ruined church was acquired by the Government for SEEPZ (Santacruz Electronic Export Processing Zone.) The SEEPZ Authorities intend to preserve the ruined church as a historical monument.
The parish of Marol has given birth to two new parishes: Holy Family at Chakala in 1943 at its western end, and St. Vincent Pallotti in 1981 at its northern end. However, in spite of these “detachments” the parish of St. John the Evangelist continues to grow due to the influx of Catholics into the numerous Housing Societies in the neighborhood.
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