By Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle
June 29, 2010: It is indeed a matter of great honour that Fr. Charles Menezes, a native of the Moodubelle parish has been appointed as the National Director of the Young Christian Students since May 2010. Being closely associated with the youth movement for quite a long time, it is but natural that his ability to infuse new life in the movement was recognised by the concerned authorities and he has been assigned this important responsibility at all India level. Fr. Charles Menezes has taken charge as the National Director of YCS Movement and is presently stationed at the national office of the YCS at Chennai. When he was in Moodubelle on a visit to his family during the third week of June 2010, I had an opportunity to interact with Fr. Charles Menezes.
Fr. Charles Menezes was born on 18th October 1963 as the third child among five children, four sons and one daughter of late Louis and Mary Menezes of Arbi, Holy Family Ward. He had his higher primary and high school education in the Church Aided Higher Primary and St. Lawrence High School respectively. While in high school, Charles was took a keen interest in sports, especially athletics. He in a lighter tone he said that though he did not get any prize, he kept on running. Charles continued his PUC education at the Poorna Prajna College, Udupi in subject of Science. During these years he developed an interest in signing and was a member of the Moodubelle Parish Choir. Meanwhile he also joined the Catholic Youth Movement (CYM) and became its Secretary while studying in the Second Year PUC.
When asked as to how he was inspired to join the priesthood, Fr. Charles said that after the SSLC examinations, he attended a vocation camp organized by the Jesuits and took interest in that congregation. While studying in PUC, Charles would go every month for recollection at St. Aloysius College organised by the Jesuits to strengthen the vocation of the aspirants. He intended to join the Jesuit order soon after completing PUC. However, as he devoted more time to the YCM activities as its Secretary than for his Science studies, Fr. Charles said that he failed in the Second Year PUC and was forced to spend one year at home while preparing for the supplementary examination.
Meanwhile, Charles developed an interest to join the diocesan priesthood due to the influence of his classmate and friend, Fr. Samuel Sequeira who had joined the seminary earlier. Thus, after clearing his PUC examination, Charles joined St. Joseph’s Seminary, Jeppu, Mangalore in 1982.
Br. Charles underwent the usual prescribed training for the priesthood in the seminary. After one year of Juniorate, Br. Charles did three years Philosophy course meanwhile completing the graduation in Arts through the Correspondence Course of the Mysore University. He did one year long regency at the Badyar Parish under Fr. Gerald Lobo who later became the Bishop of Shimogga. Thereafter, Br. Charles underwent four years rigorous Theological studies and was ordained a priest on 8th May 1991 at Udyavar along with two other deacons and offered first Mass at St. Lawrence Church Moodubelle on 10th May 1991.
While in St. Joseph’s Seminary, Jeppu, Br. Charles acted as the Choir Master for four to five years. Even in seminary, Br. Charles maintained his sporting spirit and was quite good in filed games such as football as goal-keeper and badminton. He also manifested his interest in dramatics by acting in plays with social message wherever they went on ministry in ashrams and other places.
After being ordained a priest, Fr. Charles Menezes was appointed as the Assistant Parish priest at Agrar near Bantawal where he served for two years. Later, he was transferred to Cordel (Kulshekar) parish where he worked for four years and thereafter at Vittla for one year before being appointed as the Assistant Director for the Mangalore Diocese of the Young Christian Students (YCS) and the Young Students Movement (YSM) in 1997. While YSM is meant for the school going children between the age of 13 to 15 years, that is, 8th to 10th standards, the YCS is meant for students in the age of 15 to 18, that is, for the students of First Year and Second Year PUC, where as the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM) is meant for those who are in the age group between 18 to 28 years.
While asked as to how he came to be appointed as the Assistant Director for the Youth, Fr. Charles said that while he went to Cordel as the Assistant parish priest, he found that the youth movement in the parish had ceased to function due to some reasons and the students studying in PUC had no opportunities to get organized and be active. In order to provide a proper direction to the adolescent youth and to channelize their energies in positive way, Fr. Charles took initiative and started the YCS for the PUC students of the parish. The efforts of Fr. Charles bore fruit and a large number of PUC students joined the movement and became quite active in the parish.
As the work or organising and galvanizing the youth through YCS was noticed and appreciated by the concerned authorities, after completing one year as the Assistant Parish Priest at Vittla, Fr. Charles was appointed as the Assistant Director for the Mangalore Dioces of YCS and YSM on the recommendation of the Director, Fr. Alwyn who is presently National ICYM Director. Fr. Charles was assigned the full charge of both YCS and YSM, a responsibility that he carried forward with dedication and ability till 2005.
Fr. Charles said that the formation of the Catholic students from 1st to 10th standard was taken care of by the Sunday Catechism classes. After SSLC few students joined ICYM and the PUC students were completely left out of any youth movement. Either they had to join the ICYM or be without any youth activity. Realising that the Christian students should be given an opportunity to be part of a youth movement at the crucial stage of adolescence, Fr. Charles extended the scope of YCS to include the PUC students in 1997. Fr. Charles said that it was a big task to convince the diocesan authorities and the students about the need to extend YCS movement to the PUC students.
After convincing the concerned parties about the efficacy of the youth movement, during the first year after taking charge, Fr. Charles succeeded in including PUC students from 24 parishes in the YCS movement. By the time he completed the term as the Assistant Director in 2005, the YCS was extended to 108 parishes which presently covers 136 parishes.
In 2005, Fr. Charles was transferred to the Nirmarga parish as the Parish Priest where he served for five years with great dedication before being appointed as the YCS/YSM National Director during the 15th National Council of YCS/YSM held in Mangalore from 14th to 20th May 2010. Fr. Charles has already taken charge and is presently stationed at the National office of YCS/YSM at Mylapore, Chennai.
Explaining the responsibilities that he has to undertake as the National Director of YCS/YSM, Fr. Charles listed the task that he has to fulfill: organizing regional and diocesan level YCS/YSM movement; training programmes for the students and animators; paying visit to different regions to promote the youth movement; reviving the movement wherever it has become defunct and starting afresh in the regions and dioceses where such movement does not exist; and promoting other activities associated with the youth movement.
Bellevision congratulates Fr. Charles Menezes on being appointed as the National Director of YCS/YSM and wishes him success in his youth movement ministry.
Bellevision Media Network