Dsouza follows God’s path to northwest Ohio | Local Religion

Raised on a farm in south-west India, Pastor Melwin Dsouza knew even as a young boy that he wanted to become a priest. During the daily church services, he observed the pastor of his church, whom he described as friendly, caring and concerned for the people of his community, and thought to himself: “Why can’t I be like him?”

Dsouza, who was appointed pastor of the Catholic Churches of St. Michael, St. Isidore Marysdale, and St. Isidore The Bend in rural Defiance on July 1, did just that. It will be installed by Bishop Daniel Thomas of the Diocese of Toledo on Saturday at 4 p.m. in St. Isidore Marysdale and at 7 p.m. in St. Michael’s.

Although Dsouza’s journey into rural Defiance County began thousands of miles away, he knows it is a path that God has given him.

“As a child, I saw a kind of heavenly father’s face in my pastor,” said Dsouza of the spark that made him think about becoming a priest. “In my family, my mother’s brother was a priest, and when he talked about celebrating Mass, it inspired me and some of my siblings. My older brother became a priest and my older sister became a nun. All of these things, along with morning prayer with my mother, helped me become a priest. “

At the age of 15, Dsouza left his family to attend seminary, where he spent the next 13 years. He earned a Bachelor of Theology and was ordained a priest on April 23, 2008 in the Diocese of Mangalore in the ecclesiastical province of Bangalore on the southwest coast of India.

He worked in various settings for the next 11 years, and in 2019 Dsouza pondered whether or not to accept an assignment to the Diocese of Toledo after Bishop Daniel Thomas asked the Order of Dsouza to fill a shortage of priests in northwest Ohio.

“My order had already loaned priests to the Diocese of Toledo, there was already a relationship, so I was approached to go to the Diocese of Toledo. I said I need some time to think about it because it was a big challenge, ”explained Dsouza. “It is a challenge to leave home, friends, family and sacrifice that part of your life to go to an unknown place.

“I firmly believe that God’s hand is always with me when I am doing God’s service,” continued Dsouza. “I knew God would be with me in a strange land, so I said ‘yes,’ applied for my visa, waited four months, and came to the United States for the first time in my life. When I landed in Detroit, one of my friends from India was already a pastor in Toledo, so he picked me up and said hello. That made the transition easier for me. “

Upon arrival, Dsouza was appointed deputy pastor of the Epiphany of the Lord Parish in Toledo, where he served from 2019 until his new appointment. Knowing that there were many opportunities to move to another parish in 2021, Dsouza said that he had not applied for a particular parish in the diocese as he was open to going anywhere Bishop Thomas wanted him .

“I had no demands, I know that I am a missionary in a foreign land, so take whatever the Lord provides,” said Dsouza. “I received a call from the bishop’s office to meet with him and when I met him he asked if I had heard of St. Michael’s Ridge Parish and St. Isidore Churches in Defiance County. I told him I had never heard of them, then he told me that he was not making me an associate or a pastor, but a pastor. “

Dsouza said that some people from the churches had sent him nice emails before he arrived. When he arrived on July 1st, he said that people were excited.

“It was a great reception from the people, they were excited to see me, they asked me about India and my culture, it’s something very new to everyone,” said Dsouza. “It was nice for me to come to a new place, it was a great start and I appreciate the way people hugged me.

“I made a few changes to the rectory, painted something, added plants … I love greenery and I love nature,” added Dsouza. “I went to Defiance and looked around and saw lots of wheat, beans and corn. It reminds me of my childhood when I grew up on a farm and helped my father with planting as a child. “

In India, Dsouza stated that the priest signs everything that happens in his church, while in the US a priest is part of a team that ensures that a congregation runs smoothly. He shared that he enjoys working in teams because he sees people come together to do God’s work.

Now the work begins, getting to know the people at his new location and what is important to them.

“The main goal right now is to get to know people, work with the local council, get to know their concerns and address those concerns,” said Dsouza. “It’s not what I want, it’s what people want, and when they have concerns, those are my concerns. If you do what people want, when it’s in the best interests of the church and God wants it, that’s the best approach. “

Challenges Dsouza learned that require attention include completing a fundraiser to build a new community center in St. Michael’s and demolishing the old rectory in St. Isidore Marysdale. He sees another important concern in imparting the catechism of the Catholic Church to the young people of the parish.

“The young people are the future of the church, and there are many young people here in the three churches,” said Dsouza. “I think this church has a bright future and it has given me a lot of joy. There is a lot of energy here and a lot of talented people, that’s incredible. “

The service at St. Michael’s, 05480 Moser Road, takes place on Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. Service at St. Isidore The Bend, 16428 Speaker Road, Sherwood, is held on Saturdays at 4:30 a.m. Service at St. Isidore Marysdale, 06324 Ohio 15, Defiance, is Sunday at 10:10 a.m.

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