Missionary Society of St. Francis Xavier : SFX Fathers
We, the Pilar Fathers, (SFX Fathers) are members of the Society of Apostolic Existence, whose sole purpose is to actively introduce Jesus to all peoples and to share his teachings, which are called "good news" for a healthy human and social life, via their lives and actions. The Society, which is 'Indian by birth,' is just 129 years old and has around 456 members. The Society of St. Francis Xavier, with its headquarters at Pilar Monastery in Pilar, Goa, was another endeavor by the local clergy to disseminate and deepen the Faith among the Christian and people of other faiths in the Archdiocese.Get in touch
Each of us has voluntarily joined the Society in order to carry out God's missionary vocation. Reaching out to people with the good news and speaking freely about what we have heard and seen with our own eyes...watched and touched with our hands" is at the heart of the Christian calling (1 Jn 1:1). There are enough recommendations and guidelines in our Constitutions and Directory to be an effective evangelist who tells the Gospel of Jesus. We must also consider those missionary techniques and strategies that have already proven to be effective. Similarly, General Chapters play an important role in discerning God's will and assisting members in staying focused on a specific route, notably the mission statement.
The Society also rededicates itself to the service and uplift of our fellow countrymen through its members, men imbued with the love of God, the spirit of service, and deep spirituality, men who can conduct a dialogue with them, understand their difficulties, appreciate their true cultural and religious values, acknowledge the workings of divine grace in their centuries-old groping for God, and finally lead the teeming millions of India towards the fullness of Truth, Life, and Revelation. The study of the languages and cultures of the people in the mission areas, genuine dialogue with people of other faiths with whom we live, respect and appreciation for their values, solidarity and cooperation with people of all faiths will enable us to build a new society based on peace and transform the world into a haven of love.
Dom Antonio S. Valente, the then Patriarch of Goa, handed the fledgling Society an abandoned monastery located on a mound in 1891, which later became the Society's mother house. Pilar is the name of the hillock where the hamlet is located, which is 12 kilometres southeast of Panjim, Goa's capital. As a result, the Fathers were known as the "Pilar Fathers," after the monastery that had Our Lady of Pilar as its patroness, a devotion to Mary that had been brought to Goa by Franciscan monks from Saragosa, Spain. Our Lady of Pilar was chosen as the Society's patroness. As a result, it is also known as the Pilar Fathers or the Pilar Society. The Society was quite active in missionary activity, catechizing in numerous talukas in and outside Goa, despite its tiny size. Pilar became a retreat and rejuvenation centre thanks to the Society's well-known preachers. Fr. Agnelo de Souza, a member of this Society, was well-known for his heroic virtue. His renown spread far and wide soon after his death on November 20, 1927. People come from all around to pay their respects at his tomb. Fr. Agnelo was named Venerable by the Holy Father in 1987, and the process of beatification is currently underway at Rome.
After a couple of decades of frantic missionary work, the Society of Pilar faced difficult times as a result of the Portuguese government's prohibition on religious societies, as well as the death of its founder, Fr. Bento, who died of malaria at the age of 49. The Society's elder members died, some departed, and no new members were joining. The Society's membership began to dwindle, and it was on the point of extinction. In 1939, the lone surviving member, Fr. Remedios Gomes, was the only one who kept the flame alive. Providence stepped in to save the Society. It didn't perish. It was at this point in 1939 that the Society acquired a fresh lease on life, thanks to divine intervention, when five young and zealous diocesan priests joined the Society, among them the energetic Fr. Conceicao Rodrigues and Fr. Francisco Sequeira. They, too, were motivated by Francis Xavier's enthusiasm and driven by a promise they made to the saint to resurrect and rebuild the dying society, establishing the rule of common life with individual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
The Second Founders of the Society, as they were afterwards known, put a fresh impetus to missionary work, making it the Society's primary goal and broadening its reach to include all of India. One of their main concerns was that the Society should have its own seminary to assure its survival and expansion. That became a reality, and the Seminary produced its first three priests 12 years later. Since then, the Society has grown and prospered.
Since the Society founded by Fr. Bento Martins was re-organized by the eight pioneers of the re-organization – Fr. Menino Conceicao Rodrigues, Fr. Francisco Jasso Sequeira, Fr. Baltazar Remedios do Rosario Gomes, Fr. Manuel Jose Barreto, Fr. Joseph Albuquerque, Fr. Theodolindo Cabral, Bro. Peter Mascarenhas, and Bro. Paixao Canonically, the reorganised Society of 1939 is a continuation of the same Society created in 1887.
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