Rt. Rev.Dr. VINCENT DEREIRA OCD (1880 – 1974)
First Bishop of Trivandrum (1937-1966)
Born on 12.02.1880 in Osten De in Belgium. 1905 June 17th ordained for the diocese of Bergen. 1924 September 7th he joined the Noviciate of Carmelites. After becoming a Priest in that order he came to India and landed in Quilon in 1926. He was the Rector and Professor in St.Theresa’s Theological Seminary. Then he succeeded Bishop Aloysius Maria Benziger and became the Bishop of Quilon in 1936, May 13th. He was Bishop of Quilon only for one year. When Diocese of Trivandrum was bifurcated Holy Father Pius XIth appointed him first Bishop of Trivandrum Diocese in 1937.
The new born diocese had to be treated like a new born child. He did things courageously and boldly showing his motherly and fatherly concern. Most of the parishes were in utter poverty. People were poor and uneducated. He, having in mind the economic well being of the diocese, took a lot of initiatives with the co-operation of Bishop Benziger and collected money from foreign countries. Because of his strong prayer life, he could overcome all the problems of the diocese that he faced.
Between 1937 to 1966 the Diocese of Trivandrum grew step by step in all in the fields. The number of Catholic Faithful increased and the missionary activities of the diocese got deepened and strengthened. When the diocese got bifurcated there were only 9,10,000 (Latin) Catholic people. In 1966, it was raised to 2,96,000. In the new born diocese, the Bishop could bring up 15 high schools, 68 Primary schools, one training school, three colleges ….etc with the help of his auxilary bishop Rt.Rev.Dr.Peter Bernard Pereira.In 1955, May 20th the parishes from Pallithura till Erayumanthura, which were belonging to the fifth district of Kochin Diocese, were included in the Diocese of Trivandrum.This is the main reason for the sudden increase in the number of (Latin) Catholics in the diocese.
In each parish they founded pious associations, as well as social action programmes. With the co-operation of the Parish Priests small savings, protection of the people, distribution of food grains to the needy, and such other schemes were done for the development of the society.
In the field of pastoral ministry, catechism and its examinations were done for the first time during his time only. YCS, a movement for the youth, was begun actively in his time. His time was the golden era of all the Pious Associations in the diocese. Pious Associations like Legion of Mary, Marian Sodality stood in the forefront for the spiritual growth of the parishioners. Recognizing the social and church activities of Justice Joseph Thaliyath, the High Court Judge of Travancore, and Justice Muthunayakam Pillai, he honoured them by giving the title of “Shevelier” – the order of St.Gregory the Great, from the Holy Father. He became the saviour of the poor people of this diocese. He was a loving Father and guileless shepherd. After shepherding the diocese for 39 years in the light of the vision statement of the Vatican II in all the ways possible, he retired from the office as Bishop of Trivandrum on 24th October 1966. As he was leaving the diocese, all could see the development of the diocese socially, economically and spiritually by the great sacrifice done by the Carmelite Missionaries of Belgium and Bishop Dereira. He spent the rest of his life in the Carmelite Ashram, Eaprez in his own country Belgium. On 29th December 1974 he commented his spirit in the hands of God the Loving Father.