From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network - Bangalore
Bangalore, Sep 1: St John’s Medical College and Hospital, the only Catholic healthcare institution started and run by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), New Delhi, to emerge as the premier medical college in the country has crossed the first major hurdle in realising its ambition of increasing its intake of 60 MBBS seats to 150 by getting the all-important Essentiality Certificate from the State Government.
The college will be able to admit more students from the coming academic year if it able to get the approval from the Medical Council of India (MCI) within the next three to six months.
This was announced by Fr (Dr) Lawrence D’Souza, who handed over charge as Director of the St John’s National Academy of Health Sciences upon completing his extended term of six years and five months, to his successor Fr (Dr) Paul Parathazham.
Foundation stones for 2 new projects
The CBCI President blessed the foundation stones for the new hospital expansion project comprising construction of two six-storeyed buildigs of 2.5 lakh sqft with 720 common wards and 120 private rooms and the new laundry block.
The function to bid farewell to Fr Lawrence D’Souza, who will be completing 66 years in November next, and welcome the new Director, held under the chairmanship of the CBCI President, His Eminence Basilios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malankara Church, was preceded by a solemn mass with Cardinal Cleemis as the main celebrant at the St John’s Medical College Auditorium. Archbishop of Bangalore Dr Bernard Moras, Chairman of the Governing Council, Archbishop of Verapoly Archdiocse Dr Francis Kallarakal, Chairman of the Governing Board, the outgoing as well as the new Director, Associate Director Finance Fr Glen Mascarenhas, Assoiciate Director Fr Duming Dias and many other priests as the concelebrants at the Holy Eucharist.
Archbishop Dr Bernard Moras, in his homily during the mass, said St John’s institutions were known for adhering to the motto, "He shall live because of me," and said living life to its fullness and sacrificing in the service of others as Jesus Christ did were the hallmarks as well as the special ethos, care and love for the poor.
"Truly Committed Priest"
The CBCI President Cardinal Cleemis, in his farewell address to Fr Lawrence D’Souza lauded his contribution and service to the string of St John’s Institutions, which have grown to be a jewel in the crown of CBCI.
"A truly committed priest," described Cardinal Cleemis and said three of the most significant milestones in Fr Lawrence D’Souza’s stewardship were the successful hosting of the CBCI plenary session in the campus in 2012 and the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of the St John’s Medical College and the recently concluded silver jubilee celebrations of the nursing college.
"Fr Lawrence D’Souza has strived hard to enable the St John’s Medical College and Hospital and other institutions to grow in accordance with the motto in transparency and inclusive growth," said Cardinal Cleemis and wished him fruitful ministry in his future endeavours.
An emotional outgoing Fr Lawrence D’Souza, in his farewell address, said he was only an instrument and the entire credit for the achievements during his tenure of 6 years and 5 months should go to the team effort by all his associates, faculty, teaching and non-teaching staff as well as nurses and said he can only "sing the chorus of gratitude and praise for the blessings showered" on him.
"I don’t know what the future holds for me. But I know who holds my future," he said alluding to the blessings and graces of the almighty and said he was not interested in position or power but was always committed to the institution to discharge the responsibility thrust on him. "I may have been at times harsh and even rude. But all my decisions and actions were governed by the zeal to protect the interests of the institution and follow the motto, policies and vision," he said.
Going to Native Udupi Diocese
Adding a lighter tone and also answering many questions that might be lingering in all those who knew him, Fr Lawrence D’Souza said he did not know what will be his future. "I am not going back to Fr Muller’s Hospital in Mangalore, where he had served as Assistant Director and later as Director, nor to the Mangalore Diocese to which I belong," he said and disclosed that he would be returning to the newly formed Udupi Diocese, as his birthplace of Pangla near Udupi, was part of the new Diocese and that he would be free till May next year, when the new postings will be made.
He said he was happy that he was able to get the Essentiality Certificate from the State Government for increasing the intake to 150 seats without parting a single seat outside the prescribed admission norms before the completion of his term. The only "regret" he had was not doing much for improving the facilities and service in the hospital and hoped that his successor and his team would be able to devote more attention to the hospital and also in quickly getting the MCI approval to enable admissions from the ensuing academic year for the enhanced intake of 150 MBBS seats.
The new Director Fr Paul Parathazhan, who took charge of his new responsibility by symbolically accepting the plaque of the Academy from his predecessor, said the St John’s institutions have come a long way since its modest beginning. It is however time to pause and reflect on the values and ethos and reaffirm the commitment to follow the motto, he said.
"Miles to go, Promises to keep"
The college, hospital and other institutions in the words of poet Robert Frost, had "miles to go and promises to keep" to people, the unfortunate sick and all those languishing in the margins. It would be folly to grow complacent on the past glorious achievements and rest on laurels and even romanticise the past. "My primary responsibility is to continue to adhere to the core values and motto while ushering in change at all levels, especially improve the delivery of services and morale of the staff and the organisation while never losing site of the goal of achieving academic excellence. The rich legacy and visionary leadership of all the predecessors, especially the role model of Fr Lawrence D’Souza, must be continued, he said.
Fr Francis Kallarakal, Archbishop of Verapoly Diocese and St John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, said the St John’s institutions have earned name and fame due to its commitment and dedicated service of the poor and neglected sections of society.
Earlier, Cardinal Cleemis felicitated Fr Lawrence D’Souza and released a special volume, "St John’s bids adieu to a man with a vision…"compiled by Dr Pretesh Rohan Kiran of Community Health Department. A visual slide-show presented by Dr Tony Raj and narration by Dr Anil Abraham, with sectional tributes of love to the outgoing Director by Students union leaders Francis, Gerlin, Irene Machado, SrCelcy Mary, Dr Praveen Rodrigues and Dr K Sreenivasan were the other highlights of the function. Fr Pradeep Kumar Samad, Associate Director, explained the outline of the new porjects being undertaken by the Academy. Fr Glen Mascarenhas, Associate Director Finance, welcomed.
Fr Duming Dias, Associate Director, proposed a vote of thanks.Drs Arvind Kasthuri and Arpana Iyengar compered the entire programme.