St. Antony’s Church, Tembipada

Old Church

At a point east of the present Bhandup railway station and on the slopes of the Ghatkoper hills lies Tembipada. Not easily noticed by those who travel by train (Central railway) or road (Bombay – Agra Road) Tembipada was discovered by a group of Tamils who came to Bombay from Northern Tamil Nadu.In 1953 these immigrant families established their settlements on its hilly slopes. Religion is warp and woof of any Indian’s life and these people were no exception. Some form of popular devotion under a mango tree with a picture of our Lady and a statue of St Anthony began to take shape and this was the origin of the Christian Community at Tembipada.

Till 1956 the hills of Tembipada were under the parish territory of Vikhroli. When the parish of St Francis Xavier was erected at Kanjurmarg in 1956. Tembipada became part of the new parish. By 1969 the number of Tamil families increased to 100 and the first Tamil mass was celebrated by Fr Joseph Vincent the then Assistant Priest at Kanjurmarg on 11th May 1969. The ancient Powai Parish was reestablished on 29th September 1968 and Tembipada at this stage came to be included in its territory. Fr Joe D’souza the parish Priest of Powai showed keen interest in the spiritual welfare of Tamils and the services of a Tamil Priest, Fr Devados were made available to the Tamil Community. This experiment set a precedent for the future Diocesan policy and since 1971 it has been the policy to appoint to Pawai, a priest who knows Tamil. Thus Fr Antony D’souza (1971 – 1973) Fr L M George (1973 – 76 & 1989 – 93) Fr T O Jacob Jayaseelan (1984 – 88) served the Tamil speaking community at Tambipada.

As the number of catholic families increased the need for a bigger place of worship arose for which the foundation stone was laid in 1979. The Chapel was blessed and dedicated to St Antony by Archbishop Simon Pimenta on 20th April 1980. Fr T.O Jacob served as the Priest-in-charge of Tembipada at that time.

In the decade that followed i.e. from 1980 to 1990 the Tembipada Catholic Community came to include not only Tamils but also people of other cultural groups especially Mangloreans and Keralites. It was at this juncture, based on the request of Bishop Bosco Penha, Tembipada was entrusted to the care of the Congregation of Blessed Sacrament and on 2nd June 1993, Fr Paul Gnanasekar sss assumed office as the priest incharge of Tembipada, the place now raised to the status of a Parish unit.

The following priests served the parish.

Fr.Abert Rethinam SSS

Fr.Nathan SSS

Fr.Peter Canacius SSS

Fr.Nathan SSS

Fr.Jegaraj SSS

Fr.Rosario SSS

Fr.Peter Jayakanthan SSS

Fr.B.Arputharaj SSS

Fr.Sebastine SSS

Presently, Fr.M.I.Raj SSS and Fr.Inigo form the team to serve the Catholic community at Tembipada.