Justice Mark S Noronha

By Dr. Kranti K Farias

We have moved down the corridor, and when we have mulled over the thoughts, and the ways of our predecessors, we hope we have taken the path to follow their vision for a better tomorrow for our community in particular, and for the society, at large.
I begin with a quote, as I usually do, from the Hadis “Truth leads to righteousness, and righteousness to heaven”.  Tagore cannot be outdone for he says, “All proofs of truth are credentials of relationship”.
With these two thoughts on truth, we present to you another eminent personality, former President of the Kanara Catholic Association, Justice Mark S Noronha.  We are proud that we had as our President, and in our community a good Catholic, and one also well respected by the legal fraternity.  I have not dwelt upon his practice or his judgements, as this would take pages, but the fact that he was honoured and elevated goes to show the worth of the man.
Mark Stanislaus Noronha, born on June 18, 1889, at Codialbail, Mangalore, was the youngest of seven children of Raymond Sylvester Noronha, and Helen Coelho.  His father was probably the first member of the community to earn the B.A. Degree, and who went on to be Assistant Inspector of Schools.
Mark passed his B.A. from St. Aloysius College in 1909, standing first in the Presidency in Latin.  Mark Studied at St. Aloysius School, Mangalore, and then St. Aloysius College, and was a Prizeman in Elocution. He graduated in Arts, standing first amongst all candidates in the Madras Presidency, in the First Class, in Latin.
His Career
“The precepts of law are these : to live honorably, to injure no other man, to render every man his due”….Justinian.
Mark then moved to Bombay, where he taught at St. Xavier’s High School, Dhobi Talao, while he studied and practiced law.  In 1914, he enrolled as an Advocate in the Bombay High Court on the Appellate Side, and 11 years later, on the grounds of distinguished merit, and without a qualifying exam, he was admitted by Sir Norman McLeod, the then Chief Justice, as an Advocate on the Original Side.  He had a distinguished judicial career.  In October 1928, he was appointed Judge of the Court of Small Causes, Bombay, and in 1944, he was elevated as Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes Bombay.
Personal Life
Mark married Vida Mary Margaret Saldanha (daughter of Andrew and Avita Saldanha) on April 29, 1923.  They had seven children.  Tragedy struck his family thrice – his daughter Clover was killed in a road accident in 1928; he lost his wife Vida, at the young age of 27 in 1933, to renal failure just three months after delivering their youngest child Raymond.  His sister, Mary, who lived in Bangalore helped him in raising the three girls, and the three month old Raymond.  Two sons lived with him.
His work for Kanara Catholic Association, Mumbai.
“Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise, than to polish” – Anne Bradstreet.
His work for the KCA began as Secretary in 1913.  He was elected Vice-President in 1921; was elected President of the KCA on April 9, 1922; was on the Managing Council in 1923; elected as Vice-President in 1925, 1927, 1928, 1931, and 1932; thereafter elected President in 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939.  The year 1937 had been one of turmoil as to the irregular mode of the conduct of elections, not having a secret ballot, and so opposed by a few Members.  However, the elections was passed by the House.
It is to be noted that this was a time when many lady Members were admitted to the Association for the first time – 23 ladies out of 81 applicants at the AGM of May 2, 1937.  His term was one of new ideas.  There was a Publications Committee formed at this time, and Mark Noronha was the Founder Editor of “The Mangalorean Review”, a means by which to keep the community informed with news and views.  It was the monthly journal of the KCA, which was started in 1920 with Isidore Coelho as its Business Manager.  Mark Noronha was succeeded by Louis X Rego as Editor, and then by others who were competent Editors, too.  “The Mangalorean Review” was published till 1941, when due to the war, it was closed due to paucity of funds.
It was in the period 1922 – 1924 that the Association came to be called “The Mangalorean Catholic Association”.  There was much disagreement on renaming it thus, especially expressed by the Hon’ble Dr. Major Cajetan Fernandes, Founder President, KCA, and by Robert Aranha.  The latter moved a Resolution to change the name back to Kanara Catholic Association, who had wanted the wider term “Kanara Catholic Association” to be applied to include the larger coastal Kanara area, as it was also the area in reference made by the Holy See.  After a heated discussion, the Members decided to continue the current name, and it was then that Dr. Fernandes and Marcel L Aranha, former Presidents, practically ceased to be Members of the Association.
There was a proposal in 1939 to have a building for the Association, proposed by Ernest M Alvares at the AGM of February 19, 1939.  The Sub-Committee to be formed was for the plan, money, donations / gifts, etc., and it was resolved to donate a sum of Rs. 4,000 from the funds of the Association.  However, nothing much came of this plan.
It is noted that Judge Mark Noronha was enthusiastic about sports, and charity, to the less fortunate in the community, and so the KCA Sports Club, and the St. Anthony’s League found sincere support.  The “Mark Noronha Cup” was an Award for literary activities.  Mrs. Alice Alvares, then Miss Alice Sequeira, won the “KCA Mark Noronha Cup” in 1937 for being “Best Lady Speaker” at the debate held by the KCA in 1937, “Should women be allowed to act on the stage?”  She won the proposition.
Such was the presence of the community that Archbishop Goodier, S.J., Archbishop of Bombay in his message to the Kanara Catholic Association in “The Mangalorean Review” of 1924 said of it, “The Mangalorean Community has eminent members; it has also those who are dependent on others; it realises that to help these latter is no waste of energy, but in the end an increase of strength…”
Mark Noronha was President also of the Mangalorean Garden Homes Society, the Mangalorean Education Society, and the Catholic Gymkhana, Bombay.
Meera (Rego) Joshi writes, “My memories of grandpa are confined to the three years, I interacted with him (1961 – 1963), after our return from Aden.  I remember him as a very formal, westernized, and regal looking person.  He had charisma and style…wore a ‘solar topi’, and carried a walking stick that was more a style statement, than a support.  He had a very rigid routine, and his dinner would always be served at the appointed hour, irrespective of whether there were visitors or not!  He suffered a cerebral stroke about a year prior to his death, but did recover enough to be mobile.
Justice Mark Noronha died on August 27, 1963, and is buried in the family crypt at Sewri, Mumbai.   

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Founded in 1901, the Kanara Catholic Association (KCA), Mumbai is the premier community organization of the Mangalorean Catholic community of Mumbai.  With approximately 800 members on its rolls, the KCA has a rich legacy of service to the community & society at large. 

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