It started out as a little chapel on a hill, a hundred and fifty-five years ago. The thickly wooded Pali Hill with small bungalows with tiled roofs has been transformed into today’s highrise buildings. The broad roads have replaced the mud paths. Despite the many changes around, St. Anne’s continues to command respect and affection for its heritage and beauty.
The first edifice was built in 1858 by Reverend Father Diogo Gabriel da Silva of Sherly Village. The first edifice was complete with residential quarters, store room and a cook house situated on the south side. In the very foundation deed, or “Termo”, the circumstances that led to the foundation of this chapel are given. The wishes of the founder were carefully incorporated in eight articles of the “Termo”, and the clearly highlight not only the generosity of Fr. Diogo Gabriel da Silva, but also the uncommon foresight in drawing up his plans.
He not only personally financed the construction of the chapel, but also made provision for the maintenance of the chaplain from his personal resources. A tablet with an inscription to this effect is seen on a pillar inside the present Church. The translation of the inscription reads “On the 23rd of February 1858, the zealous founder and donor the Very Revd. Diogo Gabriel da Silva, parish priest of the church of Parla, native of Sherly, laid the foundation stone of this chapel, of Santa Anna, affiliated to the church of the Glorious Apostle St. Andrew. Opened on 13th June of the same year for the spiritual welfare of the people of the neighbouring villages.”.
In 1890, the roof and woodwork of the building had greatly deteriorated and it was decided that the whole structure be renovated. The outlook for raising funds was not bright until a generous benefactor, Mr. Manoel Gonsalves of Malla, Bandra, offered to defray the greater part of the expenses for the renovation of the Chapel. Mr. Manoel Gonsalves also personally supervised the work and the new chapel, slightly enlarged, was completed in 1896.
A tablet with an inscription to this effect is seen on a pillar inside the present Church. As a mark of gratitude he was granted a perpetual grave in the Chapel. The translation of the inscription reads “Memento, The faithful of the church of St. Andrew of Bandra had this slab inscribed as a token of gratitude to Mr. Manoel Gonzalves of Malla for having at his own cost and under his own supervision reconstructed this chapel which was blessed by the Most Revd. Dom Antonio P. da Costa, the first Bishop of Damaun on the 7th of June 1896.”
In 1938 the entire Chapel was razed and a new building was constructed under the directions of the late Father Scipiao Braganza. Parishioners rallied around him and spared no effort to put up a fitting edifice which was blessed by Archbishop Thomas D. Roberts sj, on Sunday, May 7, 1939.
Finally in 1943 St. Anne’s Chapel was raised to the status of an independent Church.
Fr. Theophilus Lobo (1949-1968) and his successor, Fr. Malcolm Mendonca (1968-1980) enlarged the Church by the addition of two side wings during their vicarship. The two marble side-altars were broken down to make way for this construction.
In 1968 the Nossa Senhora de Calvario (the Calvary Chapel on Pali Hill) underwent major changes and some of the artifacts were donated to St. Anne’s Church. Among them, was the poignant statue of Our Lady of Sorrows which was erected in place of a wooden Cross, at the base of the steps leading to the main entrance of our Church. The wooden altar rails were also installed but later removed when the new altar was built so the Celebrant faced the congregation.
Major changes during Fr. Malcolm Mendonca’s tenure (1968-1980) included: closure of the porch below the main entrance, construction of a parochial house and shifting of the Grotto.
While other repairs were carried out over the years, total transformation took place with the arrival of Fr. John Lobo (2001-2008): The choir loft was renovated and put to use after 25 years, stain-glass murals were installed in the main body as well as in the wings, the image of the risen Christ was installed in place of the crucified Christ; to name a few. The three stately chandeliers in the main body of the Church and the Adoration Chapel (both designed by Arden D’Souza of Rajan) also stand testimony to Fr. John’s legacy to our Church. Kiddies Corner was constructed and is much used by one and all today. A Community Fund much appreciated by our parishioners, was initiated by Fr. John.
Fr. Clement De Lima came to St. Anne’s in June 2011 as Parish Priest. He is responsible for the three electronic display screens in the Church. Fr. Clement shifted the lectern to the Pali Hill wing side and installed the computer on the same side, thus leaving the area in front of the Sacristy for free movement.