Although 30 is not such a big period of time for an institution, still, it is an important mile stone in its relatively brief history. In theological terms it is a Kairos moment. It is a moment to look back with gratitude and look ahead with hope. For Shimoga Multi-purpose Social Service Society (SMSSS), just completing its 30 years in existence, this is indeed a moment of grace and of untold opportunities.

On such eventful occasions Pope Francis advises us to look back on the past with gratitude and praise, look at the present with joy and satisfaction, and look forward to the future with confidence and enthusiasm. I am sure that all the stake holders of SMSSS will certainly do this. And, while they are at it, they will surely marvel at the unfailing providence of God who has never ceased to accompany them along this arduous but exhilarating journey every step of the way, really holding them by hand and guiding them along the way like the Good Shepherd with His crook and the staff always there for us even in the valley of darkness.

Therefore, a song of praise and thanks to the good Lord for His immense generosity and kindness, manifested in so many different ways, sometime mysterious, during these 30 years, will surely rise up from the hearts of everyone who has been closely associated with the institution.

Next to God, it is those human beings who let themselves be used as fitting instruments in God’s hands for the steady growth of SMSSS, who need to be gratefully remembered. Just to mention a few names, Archbishop Emeritus Ignatius Pinto, the first Bishop of this fledgling diocese who had the foresight and apostolic zeal and social sensitivity to put the SMSSS on a strong and sturdy foundation. If SMSSS is such a widely acclaimed and universally appreciated institution today, it is because of the firm and solid foundations he laid as our first Bishop. “If you want to see monuments look around” sings the Latin poet. Chaitanya is indeed a memorial to the strong, steady and sturdy leadership of Archbishop Pinto. But more than the structure made of stone and cement, it is the thousands of beneficiaries, poor men, women and children, who are the living memorials of the tremendous good work done by SMSSS down these three decades. To Archbishop Pinto go our words of affectionate appreciation and gratitude.

Then comes Bishop Gerald Isaac Lobo. He came to this diocese as its second Bishop with tremendous experience in the field of social apostolate which he put to good use in and through SMSSS. With his proverbial love for the poor, his far sighted plans for the education of children, his great dreams of seeing our catholic youth occupy positions of leadership in civil services, and his dynamic leadership he has brought SMSSS to this stage of growth and fruitfulness. To Bishop Lobo too our heartiest thanks.

Then come a series of very remarkable, highly successful and truly far-sighted Directors. I can mention here Frs Mark Patrick D'Silva, Clement D’Souza, Gilbert Lobo, Veeresh Moras, Richard Pais and now Clifford Roshan Pinto. Each of them has left his imprint on the institution. To all of them, on behalf of the entire Diocese, I extend sincere and deep gratitude.
One particular matter of great satisfaction for all of us is the very successful and highly effective venture called “Stree Bandhu”. The amount of good that this creative initiative has been able to do during the few years of its existence is truly astounding. Let me take this opportunity to thank all those who are the architects as well as the foot soldiers of this powerful instrument of empowerment of women.

As we, therefore, look back with gratitude the journey the SMSSS has travelled during these 30 years, we clearly see how the good Lord has accompanied us unfailingly, giving us courage to face challenges, strength to overcome weaknesses, and zeal to spread His message of hope and empowerment, liberation, and compassion to the poor. The successive Directors have been given the vision to make ambitious plans, desire to dream impossible dreams and to make the Church a beacon of hope to all those who feel excluded, lost, abandoned, cheated, exploited, disadvantaged, disempowered, damaged and deprived. We also recognize with immense appreciation and thankfulness, the unstinted cooperation of the dedicated and committed staff in making SMSSS what it is today.

Let me conclude with an earnest and deeply felt prayer that our motto: SERVICE OF FAITH AND FULLNESS OF LIFE, may always be the guiding light of SMSSS as it continues to serve the last, the least and the lost in this diocese, bringing our people to find a safe shelter and ready refuge in the heart of a God who is infinitely loving and compassionate; merciful and forgiving, so that this powerful personal experience makes them come alive in all dimensions of their personality – physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, intellectual and social, which, in fact, is the fullness of life, which Jesus promised us when He said: “I have come that you may have life, life in all its fullness”. Whatever we do in this diocese, whether in parishes or educational institutions or social work centres is to bring every man, woman and a child to have this fullness of life in Jesus Christ. It is the Lord’s work. We are only His servants. That, in a nutshell, is indeed the mission of SMSSS.

Therefore, on this occasion, let us first of all raise our hearts and minds to the good Lord, the giver of all good things, in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for all that has been accomplished in and through SMSSS during the past 30 years. Let us look at the past with gratitude. Let us look at the present with joy and let us look to the future with hope. Let us also re-dedicate ourselves, as one, united diocesan family to the service of faith that brings fullness of life to all.

Yours in the Lord's Mission

+Francis Serrao SJ
Bishop of Shimoga & President, SMSSS

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The Shimoga Multipurpose Social Service Society ®
Alkola Circle, Sagar Road,
Gopala Post- 577 205
Shimoga, Karnataka, India

Phone: 8762137914 (Office), 8762137941 (Icdp)

Email: [email protected]