CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES, ORLEM
In 1880, Fr. Joseph Maria Braz de Souza, of the Principal family of Valnai (Orlem), a former chaplain of military forces at Satara from 1861 to 1886 built, at his own expense, a private chapel dedicated to our Lady of Lourdes at Orlem Village, then a hamlet of just about 12 families.
In 1882, Bishop Meurin declared officially that this chapel, under the chaplainship of Fr. D'Souza was part of the Apostolate of Bombay and affiliated to the church of Our Lady of Assumption, Kandivli.
In 1908 Fr. D'Souza was elevated to the dignity of CAMARIERE SEGREDO EXTRA URBEM to Pius X. He died in December 1912 and was buried in the sanctuary of the chapel that he built. In deference to the wishes of Msgr. J.M.B. D'Souza, in his will, that a priest from his family should be his successor, Fr. Justin D'Souza was lent by the Bishop of Daman to the Archdiocese of Bombay and appointed Chaplain at Orlem. He carried on the good work of Msgr. D'Souza and his brother Fr. Elias who bequeathed all his properties to the church.
Fr. Justin built the first school, thus laying the foundations for the uplift of the Christian Community of Orlem. Through his efforts, Orlem was constituted a separate Parish, in a decree dated 2nd July 1916. Fr. Justin extended the church and was assisted in this effort by Mrs. Mary Magdalene D'Souza who financed the elevation for the choir. Fr. Justin also donated all his lands to the Archdiocese and, in fact, the Cardinal Gracias Colony is being developed on the land that Fr. Justin had donated for the welfare of Orlem.
From these small but solid foundations, the following Parish Priests with their richness of experience, dedication and parochial care helped to raise Orlem to its present stature : Fr. Herman Mendes, Fr. Celestine Fonseca, Fr. Walter D'Souza, Msgr. Staney Pereira, Fr. Peter C. Gomes and Fr. Frank Noronha who ventured to start the construction of the new School Building in 1959.
In the year 1976 Fr. Octavian Dias, worked hard to make possible a new extension to the school, a Parochial House and the new Church. Credit is, of course, due to the Parishioners and friends who had extended their cooperation through generous donations and, in particular, to Mr. Raymond H. D'Lima who as Chairman had indeed laboured hard to bring this project to its fruition and turn the dream of New Church into a reality.
It was said at that time that "should the Catholicity in the hearts of the people grow", the words of Bishop Meurin that "this Church will one day become a Cathedral", may prove prophetic indeed ! This was said 28 years ago. Since the Solemn Inauguration of the new Church on Sunday 6th June 1976, by the then Rt. Rev. Dr, Simon Pimenta, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay, much water has flown and so much has happened- not least being the huge rise in the catholic population of our parish.
With the type of 'Family Spirit' that exists in Orlem, the future holds promise of wonderful things ahead.