Podanur is one of those places of almost anonymity on whom sudden importance is thrust just by some quirk of history, while places like Vellalore, now an ordinary village within Podanur, which once, in the 1’ Century B.C to 3 century A.D. was a very floursing and important trading center and town as the Roman Coins and inscriptions testify. It was the coming of the South Indian Railways towards the end of the 1 9” century that brought about the magical transformation. Podanur, because of its central location, between Madras to Cochin, Mangalore, Ooty-down to the Southern parts of the then Madras Presidency, became the second importan center of the Southern Railway system, Madras being the Head quarters. Podanur had the Vital Railway Workshop, till1940. Coimbatore town had to be satisfied with a small descirpt Railway station with just 2 trains to and fro daily, passing through it! Any how the sudden rise and sudden fall of Podanur was mainly due to the Railway workshop’s presence! from 1935 its importance began to decrease when the main Railway workshop was shifted to Golden Rock Trichy and just as a consolation prize the S.T. Section was left behind!
With the coming up of the Railway Workshop an ever growing number of Railway employees was on the rise, bringing man Furopeons, Anglo-Indians who were dominating the Railways till our Independence (1947) and labourers, drawn from all parts of the South of whom considerable number were Catholics. Hence the Diocese obtained a plot from the Railways and putup temporary church (which now serves as the Prestytcry) Fr. Robin, Parish Priest of the Cathedral constructed a beautiful church in 1901-02 and it was blessed by Bishop Bardu, as it was looked after by the Cathedral parish priest. In 1904, Podanur was made separate parish with Mettupalayam and Shoranur as its substations Fr. A. Lefrancois (1904-06) was the first Parish Priest, but he died on 26-2-1906 at Coimbatore. When the Parish was established it had a Catholic population of 410 (while that of Coimbatore was 3000). Thus, it became one of the “Anglo-Indian dominated” parishes of our Diocese. Even today there is a presence of them, though reduced in size, due to migrations to other countires.
Fr.J.B.Petite (1906-1935) was a Parish Priest, constantly on “the churning wheels” (of the Railway Trains), shuttling between Shornur and Mettupalayam with a “free Train Pass”. He built the church steeple in 1919, and extended the church. Built a church at Mettupalayam in 1922. Shornur was handed over to Calicut Diocese in 1923. Fr. S. Ambrose (1935-50) after creating a record of sorts as cathedral Assistant for 25 years, he was Parish Priest of Podanur for another long innings of 15 years till his death on 2-9-1950. He constructed 3 houses for rental as source of income to the Parish. In 1943 a Convent of the Presentation Convent and a Mother and Child Welfare Hospital was started by them which gradually but steadily expanded into the multi-storied and Modern Hospital with all modern medical facilities in 1995. He made all the preparatory work of building materials for the construction of the compound wall for the church and a Grotto in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes, but it had to be stopped, and it was completed due to the untiring efforts of his successor Rev. Fr. S. Maria Soosai (1950-66) and was blessed by Bishop Savarimuthu in 1960. The ancient chapel-turned Presbytery was also renovated. Later a beautiful altar was erected. As the old church was insufficient for the congregation, Fr.C.S. Madalaimuthu pulled down the old church and built a new-church and a roadside Grotto of Our Lady of Velankanni, both blessed on 20-12-1998 by Bishop Ambrose. The Presbytery was renovated part by part in the year 2002. St. Antony’s church at Kurichi was renovated on 03-02-2002. Since the cemetry is at a distance, for the convenience of the people, a spacious chapel was constructed at the cemetry in 2002. A new Parish Hall was also constructed by Fr. C.S. Madalai Muthu and blessed by Bishop Amborse. In the year 2005 the GoldenJubilee of the parish was celebrated on a very grand scale,as a rememberence of which Fr. Rozario (Junior) brought a Souvenier.
Weekdays : Mon: 6.00 a.m & Other days 6.00 p.m
Sundays : 6.30 a.m, 8.15 a.m (English) & 5.30 p.m (Tamil)
St. Joseph’s Church,
Podanur, Coimbatore – 641 023.
(Estd. 1904 Area: 12 Sq. km)
Phone No. 0422 – 2411249
For more information please visit: www.coimbatorediocese.org