Mark Vaz and Terry Vaz

By Dr. Kranti K. Farias

On February 19, 1901, at a large gathering of the community, it was decided to form the Kanara Catholic Association. With 50 Members on its rolls, Hon. Major Cajetan Fernandes, a North Kanarite was Founder President (1901 – 1905) and Mr. Francis L Silva, the first Secretary. There were about 400 Mangalorean Catholics at that time.

Many were there who made an impressive contribution to the growth of the Kanara Catholic Association down the years. In 1961, in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee Year of the Association, the Managing Council with full faith in the support of Members embarked on an ambitious project, the mammoth task of building a hall and hostel, having limited funds, but great hope. It was to be a lasting monument in memory of those who had placed the community on the map of Bombay. It would answer the dire need felt in this great metropolis for reasonably priced accommodation for young men coming into a new city from North and South Kanara, be ‘a home away from home’ and meet the need to have a hall for the activities of the growing community.
The Diamond Jubilee Year Fund was started in 1961 and focused on working towards building the hostel and hall. The next five years went with efforts made through appeals for donations and loans from Bombay, Mangalore, and overseas; sale of raffle tickets, dances and plays to raise funds. The man at the helm at this time as President was Mr. Mark Vaz. He had the most supportive team (Managing Council). Mark Vaz was elected unanimously to the Office of President for five terms, beginning with the 46th AGM held at the Nagpada House on March 27, 1955 till May 28, 1961, when he expressed that it was the turn of others to get the post. This shows the sterling qualities of a team builder and leader.
Charles M Sequeira at the 49th AGM, held on May 25, 1958, said of him, “Mark Vaz had splendidly guided the construction ideas leading to an improvement in the funds and a spirit of friendliness. He had also revived a number of activities which had gone down”. Minutes of the Council Meetings reveal this truth. In spite of his preoccupation with his business, Mr. Mark Vaz always found time to work for the Association. Mr. Vaz resigned from the Council on March 21, 1965.
At the 53rd AGM held at Noble Chambers on October 11, 1962, Mr. Lambert D’Souza, Hon. Secretary moved a Resolution, seconded by Mr. Bertram Shenoi, “that in recognition of the meritorious services rendered to the Association by Mr. Mark Vaz as the President for five years, the portrait of Mark Vaz be unveiled at the next Annual Social and Dance.” The Resolution was carried unanimously and with acclamation.
Personal Sketch of Mr. Mark Vaz:
With great qualities of heart and mind as a Christian, Mark Vaz as he humbly admitted rose from a Clerk in a clearing agency to be the Managing Director of his own clearing agency, VAZ FORWARDING PRIVATE LIMITED. He was a great benefactor of the Mangalorean Community in Bombay and Kanara; St. Aloysius’ College, Mangalore; and the Church in India, and was bountiful to small time businessmen, too. All Christian work is complimentary, and as husband and wife, Mark Vaz and Terry Vaz, played well this role with grace and humility, and worked in collaboration.                                             

Mrs. Aileen Patrao proposed the name of Mrs. Terry Vaz as President, and this was seconded by Mr. L F Sequeira.  Mrs. Terry Vaz was unanimously elected President of the Association, the first lady to be elected to that coveted position, was was re-elected successively til 1968.
The Special Committee to look after the construction of the KCA Hall & Hostel was also formed at this AGM. Meetings and travels to get the funds needed went on. As the completion of the construction was nearing, the Council decided to hold a competition for a name for the hostel. Ms. Leela Rego won the prize for her submission, the name “Yuvakalaya” (Abode for the Youth).
The KCA Hall & Hostel was inaugurated on June 28, 1969, by His Excellency, Mr. P V Cherian, Governor of Maharashtra, and blessed by His Eminence, Dr. Valerian, Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay. 
The first hostel to be built by a Christian Association, besides the Sodality House, Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. hostels in Bombay, the KCA Hostel was open to young men, regardless of caste and creed. Though meant for young men coming from Kanara, those from other Christian communities were also admitted. The building was also equipped with a Community Hall for the activities of the Association.
Mr. G J Saldanha eulogised the services of both Mr. Mark Vaz and Mrs. Terry Vaz at the 57th AGM of January 9, 1971, the first meeting held at Yuvakalaya, when he was President, and Mrs. Terry Vaz was Vice-President, saying, “he gratefully acknowledged the co-operation of all Members, and in particular, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Vaz, who rendered invaluable service throughout the period of construction of the hostel.” The General Body at the AGM unanimously resolved to unveil the portrait of Mrs. Terry Vaz in the KCA Hall as a tribute to her.
The unveiling of the portrait of Mrs. Terry Vaz by Mr. Kantikumar Podar, Sheriff of Bombay and prominent industrialist, was held at a function on March 2, 1974. Dr. Fabian Fernandes, President of KCA welcomed the Chief Guest and referred to his status and involvement in the city’s life. He then briefly recounted the history and background of South Kanarites. He stressed that ‘out of the portals of the colleges and convents of Kanara have come out men and women who have distinguished themselves in various walks of life’.
Speaking next, Mr. G J Saldanha, Retired Presidency Magistrate said, “the history of the Kanara Catholic Association, which has survived 73 years was the history of vicissitudes. It had its storms and stresses, and on occasions, eminent men came to its rescue when things were at a low ebb”. He eulogised the services rendered to the Kanara Catholic Association and to the community by both Mr. Mark Vaz and Mrs. Terry Vaz. He said Mr. Mark Vaz, as President of the Kanara Catholic Association during 1955-1960 had revived the sagging interest of the Members and placed the Association on a sound financial footing. Those years were the most difficult years in the history of the Association and work on the construction of the hostel had been slow. The community had embarked upon a project of great magnitude, and it required courage and determination of high order to see this project through.
Continuing, he said, “The object of the Resolution had been two-fold: one, to express our deep appreciation of the invaluable services rendered by Mrs. Terry Vaz to the Association and the community, and second, that her portrait which would adorn the hall be a source of inspiration to other young ladies who come here, and that they may be imbued with the sense of service to humanity.” Mr. Saldanha then requested Mr. Kantikumar Podar to unveil the portrait of Mrs. Terry Vaz, which was done amidst great acclamation.
Mr. Podar in his scholarly address congratulated the Kanara Catholic Association for its many sided activities. He said that he was greatly impressed by the efforts of the Members of the community in seeking the betterment of the people of Bombay, and to learn firsthand of how for over seven decades, they had merged themselves into the mainstream of Bombay’s life without losing a sense of their identity. He complimented Mrs. Terry Vaz on her achievement, and the active part played by her in the welfare of the community, and hoped as Mr. Saldanha had said, her portrait would be a source of inspiration to ladies of the community as well as to others.
The contribution of Mr. Mark Vaz and Mrs. Terry Vaz to KCA is recorded not only in the Minutes Books’ of the Association, and on the tablet of List of Patrons, Founder Members, and Donors, with their munificent donation of Rs. 25,000, but also in the hearts of all those who knew them. 

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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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