Visit by Bishop of Bombay to Derry on St. Columba’s Day 60 years ago

Robbie McCarter pictured with Dr Pereira's Papal medal from the Pope.
Robbie McCarter pictured with Dr Pereira's Papal medal from the Pope.

On Tuesday, June 9, 1959 (Feast of Saint Columba), Dr. Pereira came to Derry to visit my late godmother, Agnes Cullen of 222 Lecky Road as he had been in London on Church business.

He decided to make the journey to Derry to meet Agnes who had been a penpal of his for a very long time. I was five years old, lived beside Agnes and was part of the visit.

At the time of the visit, Dr Pereira was the auxillary Bishop of Bombay based in Mount Mary’s Basilica in Bandra, Bombay.

When he arrived he was met by Rev. William McGaughey, Adm., Long Tower Church, who brought him to Agnes and her sister Cassie’s home.

It was a well planned visit and Agnes had a piece of red carpet on the pavement as he entered her home. Here, family, friends, neighbours and myself were all gathered to meet him, have tea and some home cooked food.

Dr. Pereira visited the home of Mr. Mahindar Chada (a local Indian gentleman) and his wife Joyce from Derry. There he also met their two daughters, Rosemary and Ann Chada.

Pictured at Waterside Railway Station on June 9th, 1969 are Dr Pereira with a young Robbie McCarter and Robbie's godmother Agnes Cullen.

Pictured at Waterside Railway Station on June 9th, 1969 are Dr Pereira with a young Robbie McCarter and Robbie's godmother Agnes Cullen.

He served tea to all their friends and family and signed family bibles as was the custom at the time. I also met their children Rosemary and Ann Chada that day.

Eighteen years later in 1977 Rosemary Chada, her father, her brother Brian and myself, met Dr. Pereira when we were on holiday in Bombay. I stayed one night in the Bishop’s Palace at his request.

Afterwards he visited us in our hotel on Juhu Beach close to the Arabian Sea. His driver took us around a lot of interesting sights in Bombay. He very kindly gave me the medal that Pope Paul VI gave him to commemorate the XXXV111 International Eucharistic Congress held from November 28 to December 6, 1964 in Bombay.

He continued to meet members of Rosemary’s family when they visited India over the years.

I married Rosemary Chada in the Long Tower Church on Tuesday, June 10, 1980 and I gave her the Papal coin as part of the ceremony.

Whilst in India in 1977, I asked the Bishop if he would ever come back to Ireland. He said he was 66 years old and he would not leave India as he wanted to die there.

He died 27 years later on December 19, 2004 at the age of 93 Agnes Cullen never left Ireland.

However on that day, she brought a little bit of another world to the Brandywell area of our city and stirred an interest in me to visit other countries with my beloved late wife, Rosemary Chada.

Pictured at Waterside Railway Station on June 9th, 1969 are Dr Pereira with a young Robbie McCarter and Robbie's godmother Agnes Cullen.

Pictured at Waterside Railway Station on June 9th, 1969 are Dr Pereira with a young Robbie McCarter and Robbie's godmother Agnes Cullen.

Life of Bishop Pereira

*Dr. Longinus Pereira, March 15, 1911 to December 2004

*Ordained priest, November 27, 1938

*Appointed auxiliary Bishop of Bombay, May 5, 1955

*Retired December 13, 1986

*Council father at sessions two and four of the second Vatican council held from October 11, 1962 until February 8, 1965.