OSWALD SOARES – MCCP’s lender of last resort
By Antony D’Cunha
Oswald Soares – a banker by profession, proved to be the MCCP’s lender of last resort during early days of its struggle. He played a key role and led MCCP through troubled waters towards the safe harbour. He has served MCCP in the capacity of President for three terms (1993 -1994, 1997 -1998 and 2000 – 2001) and Chairman twice – that itself is a testimony of his enduring spirit and focused commitment towards community building.
Hailing from Katapadi, he is married to Dr. Philomena and the couple had a long spanning career in Muscat before relocating to Dubai, U.A.E in the recent past to take up business career. While pursuing his role as an entrepreneur, he is also involved in various social activities in U.A.E. He was also a member of KE (Kanara Entrepreneurs) Global Board together with Mr. Ivan Fernandes, Mr. Albert Rodrigues, Mrs. Shobha Mendonca, Mr. Charles Gomes, Mr. Mark D’Souza, Mr. Anil Rego and others. He was also invited to Muscat as a part of KEL to deliver lectures in the seminar organised by MCCP for the benefit of young professionals/entrepreneurs of our community in Muscat.
We are privileged to unfold an exciting story of MCCP’s Golden personality and his passion towards community building.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATIONAL CAREER
Oswald Soares, was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) and spent his early childhood in Mumbai. Later moved to his homeland Katapadi, Mangalore and hence, he has inherited fine values of our homeland & developed keen interest in Konkani culture.
He did his primary Schooling at St. Philomena’s Convent School, Kemmannu which set strong foundation for physical, intellectual and social values, in him. He did his High School and College studies from the Milagres Educational institutions, Kallianpur and graduated from the prestigious Milagres College, Kallianpur, Udupi District. He went on to excel in academic as well as extra-curricular activities right from the primary schooling and has won several distinctions for excellence. He has actively participated in student unions. He was also an active member and office bearer in All India Catholic University Federation (AICUF).
He did his Post Graduation from the renowned Sydenham College, Bombay University. He has also passed Banking examinations conducted by the Indian Institute of Banking & Finance formerly known as The Indian Institute of Bankers (IIB), for professional bankers.
MEMORIES OF THE PAST – MCCP DAYS
He has the distinction of joining the first ever Executive Committee of MCCP. He is proved to be the MCCP’s lender of last resort during early days of its struggle. He played a key role and led MCCP through troubled waters towards the safe harbour. He has served MCCP in the capacity of President for three terms (1993 -1994, 1997 -1998 and 2000 – 2001) and Chairman twice – that itself is a testimony of his enduring spirit and focused commitment towards community building. Being an ardent supporter and strong pillar of MCCP, we interacted with Oswald Soares, to have an insight on his thoughts about MCCP and took a walk down the memory lane. That conversation proved to be a treasure of rich inputs, and the excerpts of which are relayed below in the interview section. Our interview with Oswald Soares, has unfolded some interesting leads for us to take note and incorporate in the system to take MCCP towards next level.
He started his career with Indian Overseas Bank, Mumbai. There he worked for 3 years and pursued CAIIB studies to take up banking as a career. He moved to Muscat and worked in various Banks including BankMuscat for over 25 years. During his professional career he went on to win accolades and prizes for excellence in marketing.
THE ROAD AHEAD – ROLE AS A BUSINESSMAN
His relocation to Dubai, U.A.E, has opened up host of opportunities for business and business activities. There also he is involved in various social activities and is a member of Kanara Entrepreneurs Limited (KEL). KEL is a global, non – profit, mutual benefit corporation chartered by individuals from the Kanara region in India to encourage, support, guide and nurture entrepreneurship among professionals originating from the Kanara region. This move helps him to navigate into unchartered areas and address the contemporary issues for the benefit of young upcoming entrepreneurs from our community.
INTEGRATION OF NATIVE VALUES
The MCCP (Mangalorean Catholic Centre of the Parish – Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, Ruwi,) turns 20 this year. Mangalore diocese turns 125 this year with about 160 parishes in its fold popularly known as Rome of the East spread across Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts in Karnataka and a part of Kasargod district in Kerala in Western coast of Indian peninsula. Konkani being the common language among the Mangalorean Catholics they have attained a unique identity of Konkani Roman Catholics. MCCP is proud to be a part of that glorious tradition/origin and has always strived to promote and instill those values in our younger generation over the past 2 decades.
During MCCP’s inaugural day on 19th August, 2011 Oswald Soares was the Chief Guest. We took that opportunity to speak to him about MCCP’s Past, Present and Future to have an insight on his thoughts. Following are the excerpts of that conversation:
Q: Time and again you have proved to be the MCCP’s lender of last resort. You have led MCCP through troubled waters towards safe harbour. Having said that what makes you exceptionally committed to MCCP and its growth?
A: There were factions in our community in the beginning. There were groups with different opinions, which was quite understandable. To bring them together and form a seamless Association was my first and foremost task. It needed careful observation and delicate steering. I always wanted to have a Community Association. I felt at that stage a lack of true leadership in our Community in this respect. The Community was at a nascent stage and under the circumstances needed a selfless, forthright, dedicated and resourceful candidate. If one could fit into these parameters everything would be easy. The passion keeps one moving.
Q: Your enduring spirit and focused commitment towards community building seems to be the driving force behind your involvement in community development? What motivates you towards this noble cause?
A: I was one of the initial members of the Indian Cultural Association (now known as Indian Social Club Muscat). I was not seeing many Mangalorean Catholic members there. The vibrant Mangalorean Catholic Community required to have their own niche association. I always felt the need for one. But we were not moving forward because of vested interests. The vibrant large Catholic Community with their talented children had lot of energy that needed to be properly propelled and channelized. At that stage our then Parish Priest late Rev. Fr. Augustine Antao, was very cooperative and supportive for all our proposals and activities as well. Initially, for instance, there used to be a fee for the use of Parish Hall. But we successfully negotiated for waiving off the fee for the Mangalorean Community functions. Due to some technical reasons, we brought the Association under the Parish umbrella and gave a proper platform and named it ‘Mangalorean Catholic Centre of the Parish’. Parish Hall became the centre of the Association’s activities. Our children were not getting enough of opportunities in schools to develop their talents – in the sense to participate in various sports, cultural as well as extra – curricular activities. My love for children, and with the help of some Community leaders and certain parents along with the prevalent Executive Committee members we initiated a number of cultural, sports, entertainment and other extra – curricular activities, so much so our annual calendar used to be packed with multifarious activities. The Parish Hall was lacking proper sound system and lighting arrangements. We used to borrow or hire these systems. MCCP generated its own finances to have well equipped systems in both these respects. There was lot of support from every corner. That itself was motivating. I used to have tears in my eyes, at the beginning, when fellow ordinary – members used to phone/walk into my office offering their services by asking as to what way he/she could be of help for the Association. What could have I asked more to be the driving force behind MCCP?
Q: Being an expert in community building with golden heart for philanthropic benevolence, what steps do you suggest with a view to take MCCP towards next level?
A: MCCP is progressing well year after year. Every year has been a milestone, achieving higher standards of performance. I observe that every President along with his/her able Executive Committee Members is striving hard to give his/her best and raising the bar for performance. It is a good sign. A sense of true commitment. Please keep it up. This spirit and tempo should be maintained. Or else what is the heaven for? But it is not easy with our jobs in hand – it is demanding, it is hard work, it is selflessness. The Executive Committee should work as a team. I have always compared the Association to a relay race. The baton has to be passed on year after year. The fresh blood has to flow in with new ideas, new zeal and fervor. It should be purely on democratic way. Candidates should come forward voluntarily. Much depends on the President and the Executive Committee in leading the Association and its performance. I feel that every member in turn should serve in the Executive Committee if the capabilities permit. They should, however, be hardworking, diligent and selfless. At the end of the day one will have no regrets. I am sure only self – actualization.
The Association should be dynamic. We should build up our activities on new dimensions and dynamism. For instance, culturally, in programmes, we should not dwell too much on the traditional way the Mangalorean life used to be like drinking, ridiculing our own language and way of life. Rather it should be tastefully and proudly presented. Our programmes should focus more on current affairs and address current issues and current problems. We have to relook or revisit the whole range of our activities so as to attract young talents. We have to rope in as many youngsters as possible in Executive Committees, programmes and audiences as well or else we will be a lost generation. The setting up of the own web-site and presentation of the programmes in internet channels is brilliant and progressive moves. I am proud, that in the past we have steered well, as much as possible and am confident that for the future, the able Presidents and the Executive Committees will gear up the Association for this.
Q: What message that you want to convey to all MCCP members in particular and other fellow Mangaloreans in general on this glorious occasion?
A: First of all, we must thank the Almighty God for giving us the MCCP. It is not like any other Association. It is unique. It is because of some of the stalwarts of the community, their tireless efforts, the Parish Priests, the Authorities and because of their benevolence, today, we are enjoying the fruits. The Association has been endorsed and blessed by our ex – Bishop Rt. Rev. Bernard G. Gremoli. It is in one of the audiences arranged by our late Fr. Augustine Antao, when going was getting tough, the ex – Bishop asked me to get involved more and continue with MCCP. I may aptly recall here that once our late Fr. Augustine Antao, rightly announced ‘MCCP is my hands and my feet’, which sums up the role it had been playing in the Parish of Sts. Peter and Paul. So our activities be a shining example to the other communities in the Parish. The services rendered are very much appreciated, especially, of MCCP members in particular and of the Mangalorean Community in general.
MCCP has also extended a helping hand to the needy here in Muscat and to all our visiting Priests and Artists with their projects, be it educational, social or religious. Let us keep up the tradition but with discretion.
I call upon every Mangalorean to join MCCP and to share and care among themselves. It has become a second home for us. It has become the essential part of our everyday Muscat life. Can we live without MCCP?
I take this opportunity to thank you for giving me an opportunity in the ‘Past Lanes’ here at your beautiful website. I being the initial Working Committee Chairman, many times President and Chairman of the Association, MCCP is close to my heart. I have been reading in the media and watching on the websites the various activities of MCCP. MCCP is a special Association. Nowhere we can find a similar one. I miss it very much. The community feelings, the community activities, the community celebrations, we don’t find them anywhere.
I feel honoured to serve the Association and thank God, the Almighty for giving .me the opportunity. In doing so, I thank all who have supported me in my endeavour. To name a few, Jerry D’Mello, late Mick Max, Vincent Machado, Dr. Pereira, Apolinaris D’Souza, successive Presidents along with the Executive Committee members, Spiritual Directors, Sponsors and Benefactors and all those who stood by me behind the scene. Due to the professional involvement and commitments my wife was not involved much in MCCP activities. But she was active in her own way in counseling the young adults in medical field initiated by the priest. I thank you on behalf of my wife and my own behalf for the wonderful opportunity given to me for sharing with you my experiences and some of the ideas regarding MCCP.
I congratulate every member on the 20th Anniversary Celebrations and wish the very best. Long live the Mangalorean Catholic Centre of the Parish.
We at MCCP would like to take this opportunity to wish the couple both personal and professional prosperity.