Our Parish priest, Fr Anthony Fernandes SFX, is a member of the Missionary Society of St Francis Xavier (commonly known as the Pilar Fathers). Also resident in the Presbytery is Fr Patrick D’Souza SFX, Chaplain to the Goan community across a wide part of the country. Although he has no official position within the parish, Fr Patrick takes an active part in parish life and in celebrating the sacraments. The Presbytery was established as a Local House of the Pilar Fathers on March 24th, 2008.
Our previous Parish Priest, Fr. Lucas Rodrigues SFX, has now moved to a new parish in Royal Wooton Bassett where he also provides chaplaincy to the Goan community in the western parts of the country from Slough to Bristol.
The Pilar Fathers are members of a Society of Apostolic Life, whose very raison d’etre consists in actively introducing Jesus to all people, and sharing his teachings considered as ‘good news’ for wholesome human and social life, through the witness of life, and their activities. The Society is ‘Indian by birth’, barely 120 years old, and counts about 380 members.
The official name of the Society that took birth in Goa in 1887 is: The Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, Pilar. That was how Fr. Bento Martins, an ordinary parish priest with an extraordinary zeal and vision, wanted it called. Francis Xavier was the great Spanish Jesuit missionary, who in the mid 16th century brought Christianity to Goa and to the lands of Far East Asia. Fr. Bento wanted his followers to emulate the zeal and fervour of this great saint in sharing the Gospel of Jesus with people far and wide.
It was in such an ethos of fervour and zeal for sharing the Gospel that Fr. Bento Martins started this Society with the approval of the then patriarch of Goa.
In 1890 Fr. Bento shifted his headquarters from the remote parish of Agonda in south Goa to Pilar, a hillock in central Goa where there stood an old abandoned monastery of the Franciscans. Given its central location, Pilar soon became the hub of feverish pastoral and missionary activity of this fledgling society. The place is called Pilar, after the monastery that had as its patroness Our Lady of Pilar, a devotion to Mary prevailing in Saragosa, Spain that was brought to Goa by the Franciscan monks. The Society adopted Our Lady of Pilar as its patroness. Hence it is called the Society of Pilar and the priests are called Pilar Fathers.