Sacred Heart Cathedral, New Delhi

The history of the Archdiocese of Delhi and its Cathedral is inalienably related to the establishment of the Catholic Mission of Agra which later became the Archdiocese of Agra.

Akbar the Great ascended the throne of Mughal Empire in Agra 1556. He was a mere lad of 13 years old. Yet from the very beginning of his reign he showed extreme generosity and tolerance towards other religions. He undertook to create a State religion which had the acceptable characteristics of Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. Thus he created Din-e-Illahi.

Akbar sent a delegation to Goa in 1578 requesting the Portuguese Viceroy to send a team of learned Catholic priests to his Ibadat Khana in Fatepur-Sikri where he held learned discussions about religions. On November 17, 1579 the Viceroy and the Jesuit Provincial in Goa selected three Priests for the Court of Akbar. Inflamed with zeal for Christ and in obedience to the command of their founder Ignatius of Loyola “Ite, inflammate omnia” (Go, set all on fire), these three Jesuits set out from Goa. They travelled by primitive modes of transport and arrived in the Mughal Court at Fatehpur-Sikri near Agra on February 28, 1580. Akbar received from them a copy of the Bible with profound reverence.

Emperor Akbar added the three Jesuits to the list of learned scholars of Hinduism, Islam and Zoroastrianism who adorned the Ibadat Khana, the hall of discussion. Two of them, Rudolf Aquaviva, and Francis Henriquez were depicted in an illustration to Akbarnama by Nar Singh (1605).

With this the Catholic Mission in north India had started. However the climate of acceptance and tolerance changed over the years.

By the Papal Brief: Dominus ac Redemptor (Lord and Redeemer) of July 21, 1773, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus due to political reasons specific to Europe. It had nothing to do with the missionary zeal and faith of the Jesuits in the missions. Following the Suppression, the Northern part of the Mughal Mission was entrusted to the Carmelites. Two Carmelites from Bombay took charge of the Mission. They were Fr. Agnelo di San Giuseppe and Fr. Gregorio della Presentation. Fr. Agnelo stayed for a little while before he left. Fr. Gregorio worked in Delhi for a longer period of time under the Capuchins. He died on September 29, 1807.

The Mission of North India started with the Mughal Court of Akbar. However, the purpose of the mission was restricted to discussions on religious tenets. After the reign of Jehangir the mission of the Jesuits moved out of Agra and spread its wings to far off regions of Indian subcontinent. The Church had acknowledged the mission by calling it Tibet-Hindustan Mission. The Capuchins received charge of the prefecture of Tibet- Hindustan Mission in 1760. They moved into the Agra Mission in 1780.

The priests posted at Sardhana near the garrison town of Meerut visited the station at intervals. The Sacred Liturgy was held in the Palace of Begum Samru (ruler of Sardhana) who also gave hospitality to the visiting chaplain who resided in Delhi. In 1703 Propaganda Fide established the Prefecture of Tibet - Hindustan and entrusted it to the Capuchin Fathers of the Italian Province of Picenum in the Marches of Ancona. The first group of Capuchins reached Tibet from Kathmandu in 1707 and started working there. It operated from Lhasa for about four decades until a religious persecution forced them to give up their mission in Lhasa by April 1745 and returned to Kathmandu in Nepal. The Mission of Nepal was also abandoned in 1769, following an invasion. The Capuchin Fathers along with some laity from Nepal then moved to India. They settled down at Chuhari near Bettiah. Fr Joseph Mary OFM Cap founded the Bettiah Mission in 1769 after obtaining permission from Pope Benedict XIV.

In 1820, Vicariate Apostolic of Tibet-Hindustan was constituted. In 1845 it was renamed Vicariate Apostolic of Agra. On February 7, the same year it was bifurcated to form two Vicariates: Agra and Patna Msgr. Maria Zenobio Benucci OFM Cap, was made the first Vicar Apostolic of Agra. Vicaritate Apostolic of Agra in fact embraced whole of North India now covered by innumerable dioceses from Sind in Pakistan to Bengal,

In 1723 Fr. Ippolyto Desideri of Tibet-Hindustan Mission was posted in Delhi. He built a church and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. The Church was blessed on All Souls’ Day in 1723. That was the beginning of the first Catholic Church in Delhi.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral New Delhi was only the second Catholic Church in Delhi. The gap between the constructions of St. Mary’s Church Old Delhi and Sacred Heart Cathedral New Delhi was 70 years. Yet those were the years of evangelization and pastoral care by the great Capuchin missionaries.

On February 11, 1919 Archbishop Evangelista Latino Enrico Vanni O.F.M. Cap sent Fr. Luke Vannucci Ernesto da Prato OFM Cap to Delhi as Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Church and Chaplain to British Armed Forces garrisoned at Delhi. After getting the blessing of the saintly Padre Pio he arrived in Delhi in April 1919.

During the year of his arrival itself, Fr. Luke renovated St. Mary’s Church and the Rectory in Old Delhi. In 1920 he purchased the plot of land wherein stands the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. However, it was not called a Cathedral. Neither Fr. Luke nor Archbishop Vanni had known that Delhi would become a diocese of its own rite and the Church they built would take its place in History as its Cathedral.

Fr. Luke Vannucci bought the land in 1922. It was a plot measuring 14.022 acres. The Delhi Government leased it in perpetuity to Agra Archdiocese for a consideration of Rs. 7000.00 and the Archdiocese of Delhi which inherited the land pays Rs. 365.00 as annual ground rent.

Fr. Luke was indebted to many generous persons who occupied positions of importance in the Government. Lady Willingdon’s support was most invaluable. Sir Malcolm Hailey the Governor of United Provinces helped him to obtain an interest free loan of Rs. 60,000.00 at a time when Fr. Luke was indeed caught in financial straits.

Eight Architects were invited to submit plans for the Cathedral. Sir Edward Lutyens, the architect of the Capital City of New Delhi consented to be on the panel of the jury of which Fr. Luke too was a member. The plans submitted by Mr. Henry Medd were finally selected but some modifications on the façade were required. The architect subsequently made the changes the panel had suggested.

Archbishop Evangelista Latino Enrico Vanni O.F.M. Cap of Agra blessed the land and laid the foundation stone in 1929. Construction work started in 1930.

By an error of judgment the foundation was laid too close to the boundary of the property. The General Post Office now known as Gol Dak Khana was coming up in front which had a plan to build more than one floor and the Officers’ quarters around it. The Cathedral was unwittingly posed to be placed in the midst of a concrete jungle. Fr. Luke approached Lady Willington. She intervened to alter the plan of the Post Office. Her suggestion to the town planners to shift the residential complex from the vicinity was accepted and complied with. She also let Fr. Luke acquire an extra 6137 sq. yards of land for an approach road.

The subsidy from the Archdiocese of Agra was insufficient. Fr. Luke was hard pressed for finance. He approached prominent denizens of Delhi as well as benefactors in his native Italy seeking financial assistance. As the obituary write-up on Fr. Luke preserved in the archives of Tuscani Province in Italy suggested, he made use of the “media” of his time to solicit donations. A bronze plaque inside the Cathedral bears the names of those benefactors who donated more than Rs. 1000 which of course was a significant sum of money in the 1930s. The Patrician Brothers of Musoorie and the Religious of Jesus & Mary also donated this royal sum. However more amazing is the donation of a certain Rev. Dhuram who was a minister of the Anglican Church and served the Brtish Army as a chaplain. He accepted Catholic Faith before his death. He bequeathed to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart a sum of Rs. 13,792.00. Another marble plaque near the main entrance bears the names of Sir Anthony S. De Mello KGSG and his wife Rita, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice as benefactors from the laying of foundation to its inauguration.

Some of the donations were miraculous in nature. God’s love for His builder son Luke was manifest in the miraculous timely interventions. Once as Fr. Luke was anxious because he did not have funds to pay the Contractor’s quarterly bill, a donation of Rs. 15000 from a Japanese gentleman who was known to Fr. Luke fifteen years earlier, arrived.

One day an unknown young man came to meet Fr. Luke. He left after delivering a short message: “Withdraw your money from the bank for it is going to crash!” Fr. Luke did not question the veracity of the message, nor God’s love for him and his mission. Just like St. Joseph who received the Angel’s message in the dead of the night, he obeyed. He withdrew his building fund from the Alliance Bank. A bankruptcy procedure on the bank was in progress unknown to Fr. Luke or for that matter to any ordinary citizen. The day after the Church building fund was withdrawn, the bank indeed crashed.

Apparently the young man who delivered the message and the benefactor from Japan who remembered Fr. Luke and his Cathedral after fifteen years were expressions of God’s Providence for his servant Luke. He was constantly assured of the providence of God. And Fr. Luke responded with adequate faith.

Sir Anthony de Mello donated the main altar of pure Carrara marble. Archbishop Vanni donated the bell, vestments and furniture in the sanctuary including the imposing “Cathedra” the seat of the Archbishop signifying his teaching authority. It is from the word “Cathedra” that ‘Cathedral’ is derived.

Prayers and sacrifices of many went into the completion of the Sacred Heart Cathedral New Delhi.

After five long years the Cathedral was completed. It was blessed on December 8, 1935 by the Papal Internuncio, His Excellency Rt. Rev. Leo Kierkels, in the presence of six other bishops and a large congregation of people from many faith traditions, priests and men and women religious.

Archdiocese of Agra allotted a part of the 14 plus acres of Cathedral land to the Congregation of Jesus & Mary to build their Girls’ School in 1923. In 1940 the Archdiocese allotted a portion of Cathedral land to Irish Christian Brothers to build St. Columba’s Boys’ School.

Those responsible for the magnificent Sacred Heart Cathedral were Archbishop Evangelist Vanni OFM Cap of Agra and Fr. Luke Vannucci OFM Cap. Archbishop Vanni had sent Fr. Luke in 1919 to Delhi with the specific mission to build a church. He could have chosen no better person. With determination and strenuous efforts, Fr. Luke made the massive and elegant church a reality.

The Cathedral which bears the symbol of the Franciscans is visited daily by devotees from far and near as well as tourists from India and abroad. The visitors are unlikely to notice the massive iron gate as the impressive Cathedral, an embodiment of beauty in simplicity looms skywards before them. Sacred Heart Cathedral stands in the midst of Sir Edward Lutyen’s New Delhi and vies to match his stately buildings.

The emblem of the Franciscans carved in limestone looks intently at the former British Viceregal Palace renamed Rashtrapati Bhavan after India became a Sovereign Democratic Republic.

The string of eminent Parish Priests administering the Cathedral on behalf of the Archbishops added gardens and trees rendering beauty and ecological balance to the estate. The Cathedral itself is a haven of peace and prayerful quiet.

From the main altar the priest celebrant looks on Rashtrapati Bhavan as he presides over the worshipping community. Apparently Fr. Luke and Mr. Henry Medd the architect intended that the Apostle’s command to his bishop Timothy (I Tim 2:1-3) that prayers and supplications must rise from the Altar for the nation and its rulers. There is no denying that town planning played a role in bringing about the alignment.

During the time he was an Assistant at the Cathedral Fr. Benedict Santos used to compose the weekly notices and the Prayers of the Faithful for the Sunday Liturgy. It was his custom to add a prayer for the nation and the national leaders. Archbishop Angelo at times reminded the parish priests to add a prayer in their churches for the nation and its leaders.

Behind the priest-celebrant facing the worshipping community is a mural of the Last Supper of the Lord much like the Masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, Italy. This imposing mural of the Last Supper does not show the face of Judas but makes him walk out on the Lord. He does walk into darkness as St. John’s Gospel indicates (refer John 13:30 “And it was dark”) but worse, having turned his back on Jesus, the Light of the World, Judas is depicted as a dark hooded shadow: the artistic comment on the Lord’s betrayer is chilling.

However there is yet another compelling reason for not modeling Judas. The following analysis of the models of the mural will explain the reason. The Capuchin Friars working at that time in Agra Archdiocese were used as models for the Apostles and Jesus.

They were from left to right:

Fr. Xavier OFM Cap worked in Simla. For many years he was chaplain for Sisters of Jesus & Mary in Eagle Mount, Simla.

Fr. Ulric OFM Cap was famous as a musician and organist. He suffered a massive heart attack on arrival back in Italy. He died at the airport.

Fr. Luke OFM Cap was responsible for the first renovation of St. Mary’s Church Old Delhi and building of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus New Delhi, A tireless missionary he travelled extensively and found missions like Najafgarh. A lover of the poor children, he built schools like St. Theresa’s Parish High School in St. Mary’s Church Compound Delhi and inspired construction of Khrist Raja School in the premises of the Sacred Cathedral, New Delhi. In the mural Fr. Luke models for St. Andrew.

Fr. Declan OFM Cap was chaplain of Sisters of Jesus & Mary at Eagle Mount.
Fr. Hycinth OFM Cap served as Rector of St. Peter’s College Agra.
Fr. Basil OFM Cap was an Irishman. In the mural he models for Jesus.
Fr. Daniel OFM Cap served in Agra, Dehra Dun and later in Aden.
Fr. Linus OFM Cap worked in St. Agnes School Dehra Dun.

Fr. Ignatius OFM Cap was an Englishman. He was Assistant to Fr. Bonaventure OFM Cap who is also depicted in the mural.

Fr. Adeodatus OFM Cap was a musician and singer. He served as Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces, Sardhana. An ardent devotee of Mother Mary, he used to painstakingly explain the faith of the Church to the Christian and non-Christian pilgrims alike daily and draw attention to the artistic meaning of the marble sculptors in the Shrine in Sardhana. He was assassinated in the premises of the Shrine Basilica. It is said that the alleged assailant was a young man whom he had brought up and taught as an orphan.

Fr. Gabriel OFM Cap was Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Church Agra. He was also Principal of St. Theresa’s Parish High School, Delhi 6.

Fr. Bonaventure OFM Cap was Parish Priest at Ripon Place, Simla.

The names of the Apostles whom these Fathers represented are painted on a lower panel of the mural.

Apparently the artist avoided modelling a flesh and blood missionary for Judas and took the easy way out by depicting him as a shadowy figure. It is not necessary that it was this reason and not the other, but both reasons could have worked themselves out in the imaginative mind of the artist.

The massive Gothic pulpit still stands making the post-Vatican II generation of Christian worshippers wonder about its use. However, the marble railing where the communion used to be distributed to the reverently kneeling Catholics has been removed during the renovation. However there is a considerable number of people who wish that the railing was not removed. The original purpose of the railing was to separate the Sanctuary from the rest of the Church in order to maintain its sanctity. Sanctuary of a Church is referred to as Sanctum Sanctorum.

The Cathedral’s side aisles used to be lined with altars. Those side-altars were removed. Their removal also has reference to liturgical reforms of Vatican II Ecumenical Council. Those days, the pious Catholics who attended daily Mass, considered it an advantage to attend several Masses at the same time. The priests who were not assigned to a scheduled Mass and the visiting priests celebrated Mass at those side-altars. Before Vatican II concelebration of the Eucharist too was not a permitted practice.

The choir loft used to house a massive pipe organ which was in use till the early seventies. Presently the choir stays with the worshipping community. The modern day choir uses digital instruments which have the advantages of automatic creation of ambience and sound effects and much more. The pipe organ is no more to be found in the choir loft.

The massive church bell donated by Archbishop Evangelisti Vanni still tolls beckoning the faithful to worship. As the bell tolls for the Angelus the faithful stand motionless to pray the angelus. Mr. John and Mr. Andrew were among the early sacristans who served the Cathedral Church till 1964 when Mr. Arun Francis took over the work. Wearing an Altar Server’s red cassock and white surplice he faithfully served all Masses. In 1984 he met with a fatal accident at the Gol Dak Khana roundabout and died. His son Anthony Francis took over. He had been serving the Cathedral church with the same passion and love of his father for the sacred premises of the Cathedral and the consecrated ministers. Mr. P.J. John assists him especially when he takes his weekly day-off. All these faithful sacristans rang the massive bell. Besides, the Angelus, the bell tolls summoning the faithful to worship. The soulful toll during funerals raises the minds and hearts in sublime devotion.

The crucifix with an enigmatic brass figure of the crucified Lord watches the priest-celebrant from the right side of the main altar, reminding him of the sacrificial nature of his ministry and life. The crucifix had been originally built for the sanctuary and stood behind the main altar before it was designated as the memorial of the parish mission Fr. L. Carroll CSSR and Fr. M. Hickey CSSR preached from November 18 to December 2, 1945. The Mission Cross was blessed by Archbishop Sylvester Patrick Mulligan OFM Cap the first Archbishop of Delhi-Simla.

The fourteen Stations of the Cross with their embossed figures are not merely a reminder of the pilgrimage of the Lord Jesus to Calvary but also an object of artistic beauty. Every year the Archbishop of Delhi leads the Eucharistic Stations of the Cross on Good Friday drawing large crowds of the faithful.

Till the time loudspeakers and microphones became a necessity, the priests of old used their well trained voices to proclaim the Word and celebrate the Eucharist. And no one needed to miss a word. The dome over the main altar which used to enhance their voices, however fed back the mechanically amplified sound system. The architecture of the thirties had no way of foreseeing the acoustic needs of the electronic era. During the 1970s Fr. Irineu dos Santos consulted many companies including the Philips to make the sound system effective. The mystery of the feedback of the Sound System could not be fully solved then. The sound and acoustic systems were put aright during the total renovation in 2004.

In 1991 Fr. Vincent M. Concessao the Parish Priest undertook the task of restoration of the art work and the façade of the Cathedral. Italian students of Art and Archeology came to New Delhi and painstakingly restored the painting of the Last Supper to its original splendor.

The Franciscan Emblem had dislodged itself during an earthquake in the 1990s. The concerned Franciscan Friars in India had sent representation to Archbishop Alan de Lastic to restore the emblem. He made sure that the historical emblem was restored.

Fr. Susai Sebastian during his stewardship undertook a major renovation of the Cathedral in 2004. The Cathedral was closed down for renovation from March 2004 till mid July 2004. The flooring and the electrical system were as old as the Cathedral itself. The original concrete flooring was replaced with granite and various shades of marble slabs with an artistic pattern to guide. The entire wiring and electric system and lightings were replaced with new. The renovated Cathedral was inaugurated by Archbishop Vincent Concessao on July 18, 2004.

Three deceased Archbishops of Delhi were laid to rest in the Sanctuary of the Cathedral. They were Dr. Joseph Fernandes, Dr. Angelo Fernandes and Dr. Alan de Lastic.

Ex Officio the bishop of a diocese is the Parish Priest of his Cathedral. A Priest or an auxiliary Bishop may be put in Charge of the Cathedral for its day to day functions. And the priest or auxiliary bishop is properly called Administrator because he looks after the Cathedral on behalf of the Ordinary of the diocese.

Fr. Luke Vannuci OFM Cap was the first Parish Priest and what a remarkable Administrator he was. During the time of the creation of the Archdiocese of Delhi as an independent Metrpolitan Archdiocese, Mon. John Burk became the Administrator. In 1959 he was made Bishop of Simla-Chandigarh. Archbishop Angelo Fernandes was appointed Co-adjutor Archbishop of Delhi. He decided to hold the office of the Administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral. When Archbishop Angelo Fernandes took charge of the Archdiocese he appointed Fr. Irineu dos Santos as Administrator. The people identified Fr. I. Santos with the Cathedral Parish. He held the office from 1967 to 1990. Fr. Vincent M. Concessao was at the helm of affairs from 1990. He was made Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop. Rome appointed him Archbishop of Delhi after the death of Archbishop Alan de Lastic. Fr. Joseph Thomas, Fr. Charles D’Souza, Fr. Susai Sebastian and Fr. Januario Rebello administered the Cathedral in succession, before Fr. Maria Soosai took charge.

Till the turn of the millennium the Cathedral Clergy resided in the Archbishop’s House. The needs of the Parish Clergy and those of the Curia and Chancery were different. Both the Parish clergy and Archbishop’s House clergy recognized the urgency for a separate Rectory.

While he was Parish Priest, Fr. Charles D’Souza raised funds to build a Rectory.

Between the CBCI Centre and the Cathedral compound stood a cottage called Maria Bhawan. Ms Josephine an orphaned Anglo-Indian Senior citizen was a permanent fixture in the Cathedral in the 60s and 70s. She was like the Prophetess Anna who stood by Simeon when the Child Jesus was brought to the temple to do for him the customary Hebrew ritual of offering of the first-born. (Luke 2:36). She used the old Maria Bhawan for her personal purposes. There was nothing anyone could do without hurting a senior’s sentiment. She was later sent to Nirmal Hriday of Missionaries of Charity where she was taken care of until her death.

Maria Bhawan had seen better days. It was built by Fr. Luke to accommodate his construction staff while he himself commuted daily between St. Mary’s Church, Old Delhi and the construction site. Sisters of Jesus & Mary were already in Delhi at the invitation of the Archdiocese in 1919. They decided to leave their co-education school in Alipore Road, Old Delhi to run a school for the educational needs of the Imperial City. The Archdiocese accommodated RJM School at Maria Bhawan on 25 January 1923. However the Sisters continued to reside in their Residence in Alipore Road. They commuted daily to Maria Bhawan by bus. Convent of Jesus & Mary, the all-girls’ School functioned in Maria Bhawan for 7 years. After receiving a portion of the Cathedral land from the Archdiocese the Religious of Jesus & Mary built their school and convent therein. Thereafter, Maria Bhawan served as offices of the pious associations of the Cathedral.

Fr. Charles D’Souza chose the raised mount terrace where Maria Bhawan stood to construct a magnificent Rectory for the parish Clergy. The new Maria Bhawan took shape in 1999. The Parish Clergy moved into it in 2000 A.D. Millennium year of Khristu Jayanti. It goes without saying that the Parish Clergy were glad to move into their own home.

The double storied Maria Bhawan blends itself with the Cathedral as it faces the Archbishop’s House.

In 1980 another 0.607 acre plot was made available to the Archdiocese after NDMC and Traffic Police realigned the Bangla Sahib Road restricting traffic in the vicinity of Gurdwara Bangala Sahib. Archbishop Angelo Fernandes instructed Sr. Raphael Reis RJM, Superior of Jesus & Mary Convent which was running the Khrist Raja School on behalf of the Archdiocese to avail of the opportunity. Thus NDMC leased to the Sisters the plot for a play ground of Khrist Raja School. Tennis and basketball courts were built in it. It has direct entry to the students of Jesus & Mary Convent.

The other buildings that came up within the 14 acre plot were CBCI Centre, Jesus & Mary Convent School, St. Columba’s School, Maria Bhawan the Presbytery of the Parish Clergy, Archbishop’s House, Diocesan Community Centre cum Library, Aradhana the Convent of Pious Disciples of the Divine Master and Yusuf Sadan.

The Cathedral Complex is also an ecologically balanced campus. Fr. Susai Sebastian had been the inspiration and author of the greenery and gardens around the Cathedral.

Holy Father Pope John Paul II visited India from February 1, 1986. He paid a visit to the Sacred Heart Cathedral a day after he landed in New Delhi. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his first visit on February 1, 2011, a bronze statue was unveiled on the premises of the Cathedral facing the tree Bl. Pope John Paul II had planted on the day of his first visit. The statue donated through the good offices of His Excellency the Most Rev. Salvatore Pennachio the Papal Nuncio in India. His Excellency Mr. Marco Piccinini Ambassador of the Republic of Morocco to India made the statue available to the Archdiocese. The Statue of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II stands with outstretched arms in a gesture of greeting the people of India. Holy Father holds his characteristic scepter that has a crucifix and wears the Papal Mitre as if vested for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

The base of the statue bears the symbols of lotus the national flower and peacock the national bird of India.

Holy Father visited the Sacred Heart Cathedral a second time on 6 November 1999. On that occasion he released his Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Asia” (The Church in Asia). The Exhortation opens with the words “The Church in Asia sings the praise of the Lord” and ends thus: “Given at New Delhi, in India, on the sixth day of November in the year 1999, the twenty-second of my Pontificate.”

In order to commemorate the centenary of the founding of New Delhi and transfer of Imperial Capital from Calcutta to Delhi in the year 2011 Hindustan Times Daily Newspaper chose the Sacred Heart Cathedral as one of the 100 Icons of the City. The commemorative plaque was placed on the wall of the Cathedral. Fr. Maria Soosai, Fr. Umesh Ekka and Fr. Francis Prasad were the Parish Clergy when this honour was conferred. Fr. Shyju Xavier thereafter replaced Fr. Prasad.

(excerpts from an yet to be published History of the Archdiocese of Delhi, compiled and edited by Fr. Augustine Kuriapilly of the Archdiocese of Delhi)