Fr. Valerian Mendonca - A Master of Religious Music
Last Updated on Monday, 01 May 2006 05:30 Monday, 01 May 2006 05:30
“Let us make our lives joyful songs of praise to God” says Fr. Valerian Mendonca. He means what he says. He himself is in the ongoing process of composing his life into a song of praise to God!
He is totally dedicated to music and wants to bring out the best of religious music and offer it to God.
Childhood and education
The life song of Valerian Mendonca started on 9th December 1949 when he was born in Shirva parish of Mangalore Diocese. Mr. Gabriel and Mrs. Seraphine Mendonca were his proud parents.
They had 8 children, four boys and four girls. Valerian was their 7th child, and the last 8th child is now an Apostolic Carmel nun, Sr. Rose Agnes who is the Principal of Ladyhill Pre-University College, Mangalore, a singer and composer as well.
Vally, as Valerian was fondly called had a simple, quiet and humble childhood in the rural Shirva parish. He did his primary studies in St, Joseph’s Primary School, Pilar, Shirva and his secondary studies in St. Mary’s High School, Shirva. He pursued his college studies in St. Aloysius College, Mangalore and obtained a B.Sc. degree with a first rank in English from Mysore University. Following the divine call, Valerian joined St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mangalore and did his Philosophical and Theological studies.
Through St. Joseph’s Seminary, he obtained a Bachelor of Theology degree from the Urban University of Rome. He also holds a M.A. degree from Mysore University and a diploma in Communications from Amruthavani Communications Centre, Secunderabad. Valerian Mendonca was ordained a priest on 7th April 1976.
A musician in the making
As a child in the rural hamlet of Shirva, Vally enjoyed listening to and singing songs. He was not at all aware that he possessed latent poetic and musical talents though he had heard that his father was a “gumtam” (drums) player.
During the priestly training in St Joseph’s Seminary, Bro Valerian learnt Western and Karnatic vocal music. He also learnt to play the musical instruments like Harmonium, Electrical Keyboard, Guitar, Violin and Accordion! One of his elder brothers, Alex, a music lover, had presented him with an Accordion. Bro. Valerian also was Choir Master in the Seminary during his theological studies.
Fr, Valerian is ever grateful to his music “guru” Fr. Walter Albuquerque S.J. a super music maestro! He holds in thankful remembrance those many others who helped in bringing out his musical talents. Conspicuous among them are: Rev. Dr. Fr. Charles Vas S.V.D., Rev. Fr. Clement Mascarenhas, Rev. Fr. Baptist Menezes, Rev. Fr. Stanley Tauro and Rev. Fr. Felix Noronha for whom Fr. Valerian wrote Konkani lyrics. Rev. Fr. Fred Mascarenhas was a great moral support in his musical endeavours. The parish priests with whom Fr. Clement worked during his pastoral ministry were also of great support. They were Rev. Fr. Gregory L. Da Cruz, Rev. Fr. Valerian D’Souza (senior), Rev.Fr. William Gonsalves. Of course, the choir members who Fr. Valerian Mendonca trained in various parishes of Mangalore Diocese also have definitely contributed in bringing out his musical talents.
Fr. Valerian Mendonca has composed many songs, poems and religious lyrics in Konkani and other languages like Kannada, English and Hindi. He has also a number of audio- cassettes and CDs produced. His liturgical compositions have acquired an international usage.
A) Songs and hymns
1) He has composed English Anthems for St. Joseph’s Engineering College, Vamanjoor; Pompei College, Aikala; St. Mary’s E.M.School, Udupi; Vidya Jyothi E.M. School, Vamanjoor.
2) He has composed Konkani Anthems for Indian Catholic Youth Movement, Jeevan Jyothi High School Camp; Parishes of Omzoor, Shirva, Kenha, Belman, Pangla, Bambil, Urva Kinnigoli etc.
3) Devotional Compositions in Konkani, 68 of which are printed in “Somyak Dhinvasuyam” the latest Konkani Hymnal of Mangalore Diocese.
4) Devotional songs in Kannada. Regularly for 5 years with his auditioned troupe of artistes Fr. Valerian has presented a number of Kannada devotional songs to All India Radio, Mangalore.
B) Audio Cassettes \ CDs
Fr. Valerian’s first cassette was of Christmas Carols titled “Natalachim Gitam” brought out in 1980 when he was a secretary of Canara Communications Centre.
From 1990 onwards Fr. Valerian Mendonca and Fr. Clement Mascarenhas jointly started bringing out cassettes and CDs in various languages:
1) Konkani:- Somyak Vandan, Moga Ulo, Jezu Mhojo Rai, Movall Mog, Shanti Sagar, Abba Bapa, Happy Christmas, Noman Moriye, Naman Zuze Vaz Bapa,
Somyachi Vodvik, Jezu Boro Govlli and Jivithacho Unddo. (12 cassettes).
2) Kannada:- Namo Parameshwara (1 cassette).
3) Hindi:- Pyare Yesu, Yesu Mera Meeth, Jai Ho Prabhu, Prabhu Ki Stuti and Jeevan Ki Roti (5 cassettes).
C) Major Musical Achievements
1) Fr. Valerian has conducted major choirs like Tricentinary Choir at Milagres, Kallianpur; Bicentenary choirs for Kirem and Kinnigoly parishes; Golden Jubilee choir at Tallur parish, etc.
2) His compositions are sung during liturgy in India and abroad.
3) His lyrics for Dr. Fr. Charles Vas S.V.D. are used internationally.
4) Along with Fr. Clement Mascarenhas, he has contributed to the quality improvement of liturgical singing.
D) Other Achievements
1) Of Course, Fr. Valerian Mendonca is first and foremost a priest who has striven to give the best of his time and talents to the People of God, his parishioners; in whichever parish he has worked.
2) He is also a celebrated teacher, currently the Principal of Pompei College, Aikala, Kirem, in Mangalore Diocese, giving out his best services for the students, staff, parents and to the public.
3) Besides poetry and music, which entails interacting with professional singers in Mumbai, Bangalore and Mangalore, Fr. Valerian pursues other hobbies as well, like Photography and Counselling.
In the end, inspite of all his good works and achievements, Fr. Valerian never expects any award or honour from any humans or institutions. He maintains that God’s blessings alone are enough awards and honours for him. He also urges others to give their best to God and says: “Only our best is good enough for God. Let us make our lives joyful songs of praise to God.”