Archdiocese of Bombay honors those who help alcoholics

Archdiocese of Bombay honors those who help alcoholics

Archdiocese of Bombay honors those who help alcoholics

Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes of the Archdiocese of Bombay with Mary's Clan in the Diocesan Human Life Committee’s annual awards event. (Credit: Dr. Pascoal Carvalho.)

“We alcoholics have been graced with a new life, through the gift of sobriety, so freely and compassionately bestowed upon us by our loving God.” This was the response from the director of an anti-alcoholism facility in Mumbai, which won an award for its work from the Archdiocese of Bombay.

MUMBAI, India — The Archdiocese of Bombay has honored an organization dedicated to helping alcoholics live a life of sobriety. Mary’s Clan won the “Lily & Rose Award” given out by the Diocesan Human Life Committee.

While presenting the award, Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes commended the organization for their selfless service to those on the peripheries of society: Alcoholics, irrespective of caste and creed.

Mary’s Clan was founded on October 13, 1983, and since then has been a home for chronic alcoholics – providing food and shelter, as well as spiritual, medical, and motivational therapy aimed at putting them on the road to recovery. Over more than 30 years, Mary’s Clan has rehabilitated thousands of alcoholics, many of whom left a life on the streets to return home to their families.

The director of the charity is Bosco Pereira, who himself survived a life of addiction.

“Alcohol put me on a path to destruction and misery,” he told Crux, describing how he started drinking as a teenager, which led to consuming alcohol at all hours of the day.

“I had crossed that invisible borderline from safe drinking to alcoholic drinking… and then to miserable drinking,” he said. He walked through the doors of Mary’s Clan on June 19, 1987, and that was the last day he consumed alcohol.

Pereira remembered how the founder of the facility, Brother Cyril D’Souza, treated those who came through his door.

“Brother Cyril was entirely at the service of the suffering alcoholic,” he said.

“I saw how, time and again, time and again, he would forgive the alcoholic who went back to drinking and would return pleading for another chance. He followed the principle of forgiveness 70 times 70.”

When D’Souza died in 2004, Pereira took over.

“We alcoholics have been graced with a new life, through the gift of sobriety, so freely and compassionately bestowed upon us by our loving God,” Pereira said, adding the organization gives people a sense of self-worth and dignity.

Mary’s Clan is founded on three pillars, the thrice-daily recitation of the Holy Rosary – 8 am, 12 noon and at 8:30 pm. It also uses the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous to introduce its clients to a life of spirituality.

Mary’s Clan does not discriminate based on religion, and one of its most important volunteers is a Hindu Brahmin.

Rangesh Iyengar is marking 17 years of sobriety, and is a respected professional with a degree in chemical engineer. However, he lives at the Mary’s Clan facility, where he takes care of the medical needs of the facility including emergencies.

He told Crux this led to many sleepless nights, and he sees the award from the Archdiocese as a “great encouragement for him personally to continue to serve the downtrodden people of society.”

The Lily & Rose Award was instituted in the year 2000 by Father Matthew Habiger, then president of Human Life International, which in that year hosted their annual Asia-Pacific Congress on Faith, Life and Family in Bombay, which is now called Mumbai.

The ceremony on March 26 also saw Doctor Armida Fernandes receive the “Sr. Mary Annunciata RGS Golden Jubilee Award” for her work in providing palliative care for the terminally ill and the elderly.

The award was instituted by Doctor Anthony F. Sequeira when his sister completed her 50th year as a member of the Good Shepherd Sisters, and is given to any person or institution involved in pro-life work.

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