St. Anthony Sangeet Mandal
Formed on the 13th of June, 1947. The day being the feast day of St. Anthony, the patron of the choir. It took a young music teacher from Goa to come to Manickpur as a part-time replacement for the then Choir Master. The young Master then transformed Manickpur and the process of choir all over Vasai, The young man we are talking about is Reginald Fernandes.
On 13th June, 1947, when Fr. Ingatius D’souza and Master Reginald Fernandes started the St. Anthony Sangeet Mandal along with ten children as members.
It all started on 10th Oct, 1946 when Master Reginald Fernandes replaced Gaspar Fernandes as the choirmaster at Manickpur church for two months. Fr. Rudolf D’cuhna was the parish priest then.
In 1947, the choir staged an 80-character (40 boys + 40 girls) drama “Janglala anand denare bal” with Br. Miniyana and Fr. Casius.
In 1950-51 Mr. Pius Almeida, Michael Colaco, Maryan Lopes and Peter Gonsalves donated a Harmonium to the choir.
During Fr. Domnic Pereira’s tenure as parish priest during 1955-56 the strength of the choir was almost 130 (90 Girls + 40 Boys.) This number was stable till December 1957, when a decision to not admit girls made the number fall to 40.
Fr. Nubeola established the “His Jolly Group” a Jazz group from the choir with an average age of 13 years. This group provided music during the weddings.
In 1958, a drama, “Shetkari” was performed with overwhelming response. After that, a Konkani play called “Karmachi Fhaal ” was staged from then on every year dramas were staged. In 1970 “Parayashit” a religious drama was widely accepted and it had a performance of 12 shows in a year.
During 1961 to 55 there were a lot of exhibitions of movies and dramas for the St. Xavier’s building fund.
Fr. Verces Pereira was instrumental in the translation of singing from Latin to Marathi. Fr. Beneditty recomposed many hymns.
The choir celebrated its Silver Jubilee on 26th November 1972 under the leadership of Fr. Hubert Pereira.
Within a span of 25 years St. Anthony Sangeet Mandal was not only famous within Vasai but in Mumbai as well parishes in and around Vasai. The Choir also performed at the Mount Mary’s Church in Bandra, Mumbai during the feast.
“His Jolly Group” also grew to fame with invitations right from Agashi to Koliwada. In 1989 this band was rechristened to “His Jolly Brother Beats Group“.
On 13th June 1996 the occasion of the feast of St. Anthony, a statue of St. Anthony was erected in the courtyard of St. Michael’s Church and from then onwards every Tuesday Novena prayers are offered in honour of St. Anthony that draws up a huge crowd.
The biggest moment dawned on 26th December 1996 when St. Anthony Sangeet Mandal was on Mumbai Doordarshan for a Christmas related programme. Since then the choir has been on National television a couple of times.