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Fr. Paul Taverna Remembered

By KNOTS Correspondent
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Kolkata, Jan. 31. Fr. Paul Taverna SDB, the pioneer Parish Priest of Don Bosco Shrine Parish Siliguri was remembered by the Senior Citizens of Saraswatipur on the occasion of his 18th Death Anniversary on Saturday, 26 January 2013. A Holy Mass was offered for the repose of his soul at 2.00 PM in the village chapel, presided over by Fr. Mathew George SDB, the Asst. Parish Priest and participated by over 60 elderly people of the village, Christians and non-Christians alike, who still cherish fond memories of their association with Fr. Paul Taverna.
The celebrant in his homily during Mass spoke about the pioneering efforts of Fr. Paul in establishing the parish in Siliguri and how he used to take care of the Catholic communities spread over in several tea gardens on both sides of the Teesta River. Even after he retired from active ministry how he used to be solicitous about the people and their spiritual and material wellbeing. He had a special corner in his heart for the people of Saraswatipur as was evident from the fact that the biggest group of children in the then Savio Centre boarding hailed from Saraswatipur.

After the Mass a short memorial function was held during which Mr. Vincent Topno, the senior most Catholic in the village, who served as catechist under Fr. Paul Taverna recalled the great missionary work of Fr. Paul Taverna. He said that the people will never forget how Fr. Paul rushed with relief materials in 1984 when one third of the village was engulfed by forest fire in summer.

The programme ended at 4.00 PM with a friendship meal shared by all the 60 elderly  people present. In appreciation for the years of service they have rendered to the church and village all were given a token gift each. The senior citizens were exhorted to continue with the mission of praying for the village as most of them live a retired life now.

Fr. Taverna's death anniversary is observed as 'Senior Citizen's Day' in the village for the past three years. For 25 years Fr. Paul Taverna had reached out to this village situated right inside the forest, with fatherly love and concern. Though Don Bosco Parish was established only in 1980, right from the moment he landed in Siliguri in 1970, his search for souls led him to Saraswatipur which was then belonging to Maria Basti Parish near Jalpaiguri. The Catholic community of Saraswatipur is over 110 years old. The people still remember how he used to visit them from time to time on his Vespa scooter taking a bumpy ride along the forest trail crossing 16 rivers and streams along the way.
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