The prevailing Corpus Christi Church of Moodbidri was founded in 1971 and is thirty eight years old now. The actual church which was known as ‘Bidrian Igarz’ or Moodbirdri Church is now called as Hospet Church. According to the history of Chautaraya of Moodbidri, this church existed even before the persecution of Christians by Tippu Sultan in 1784.
The early Christian families belonging to this church, actually fled from Goa during inquisition along with other families that settled down in Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada then known as Coastal Canara which was under the rule of Vijayanagar Empire and then the King of Bidnur. Chautaraya of Moodbidri gave Christian families land to settle down in the valleys of Hosabettu grama. These people cultivated, areca nut, betel leaves, ginger, coconut trees and vegetable for their livelihood.
The second church in Moodbidri was built at Alangar of Marpadi Grama in 1928. Corpus Christi Church was founded on 2 May 1971. Families were taken from Hospet, Alangar and Taccode Churches to form the present Church. Since the Moodbirdri Town falls under the administration of this church, it is now popularly known as Moodbidri Town Church.
The church comprises of families from the different walks of life. There are around Three Hundred and Eleven families in the church. Families located in town area are mostly into business whereas families living in villages are agricultural. Parishioners who do not have enough land to cultivate have migrated to Mumbai, Mangalore and Gulf. It cannot be said that the families in the parish are very affluent and in the meanwhile too impoverished. Parishioners living in hilly areas of Pranthya, Hosabettu, Puttige, Thodar, and Marpadi have built themselves nice houses by the roadside. At least one member from 30% to 40% of the families works in Gulf countries. These families are making a decent living.
Though it is not known who conceived the idea of building a church in Modbidri town, it is generally assumed that Rev. Fr. Francis Xavier D’Souza, parish priest of Alangar Church and Vicar General of the region, coffee planter Mr. B.A. Saldanha of Moodbidri, and social worker Mr. I. L. Pinto were the prime persons responsible for the building of the church. In 1964 Mr. B. A. Saldanha bought one acre and twelve cents land in the name of his wife Mrs. Josephine Lobo and started to build the church at Ponnechari. An appeal printed in 1965 for monitorial help for the building of the church by Rev. Fr. F. X. D’Souza mentions that ‘this church is built in memory of the Eucharistic Congress held in 1964 in Mumbai’. Since a few families offered objection for the building of the church in this area the Moodbidri Town Panchayath took two years to grant the license to build the church. The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1969 and the Church was inaugurated by Rt. Rev. Dr. Basil D’Souza, then Bishop of Mangalore.
People still say that Mr. B. A. Saldanha really went out of the way to provide required material for the building of the church while Rev. Fr. F. X. D’Souza worked day and night to collect required funds and the whole burden of supervising the building work was diligently shouldered by Mr. I. L. Pinto. The church was inaugurated on 2 May 1971 .
Courtesy: Rev.Fr. Mark Walder (Silver Jubilee Sovenier of Corpus Christi Church - 1996)