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For other uses, see Sandor (disambiguation).
Church of St. Thomas the Apostle
Saint Thomas Church, Sandor-Saloli
Dedication St. Thomas the Apostle
Diocese 22 May 1998 Diocese of Vasai
Provost and rector Very Rev Fr. Francis D'Britto

Sandor(* 19°22′00″N 72°48′15″E / 19.366539°N 72.804165°E / 19.366539; 72.804165Coordinates: 19°22′00″N 72°48′15″E / 19.366539°N 72.804165°E / 19.366539; 72.804165 ) is a village in the Vasai-Virar region of the historic Lata region of the North Konkan, located in the District of Thane in Maharashtra state, India. The natives of Sandor are predominantly Catholics who converted with the arrival of Portuguese in the region, although there had also been some Nestorians descended from converts made by the Apostles, St. Thomas the Apostle and Bartholomeo the Apostle.


The natives of the Vasai region are predominantly people whose culture derives from a composite of the Konkani substrate, overlaid by the Portuguese, Marathi and British rulers. The Sandorians are predominantly of the Vadval sub-ethnic group, and speak the Vadval dialect, which is considered by the government as a dialect of Marathi, although this view is disputed.

Following the conversions of 1564, a Portuguese noblewoman,Donna Irina, had a chapel, Our Lady of Help (Nossa Senhora da Ajuda) built in the village for the converts. The first mass was held in this chapel on 11 November 1566 by the Jesuit missionaries. A Sandorian tradition states that St. Gonsalo Garcia, martyred by the Buddhists in Japan, was present as a young boy at the foundation laying ceremony of the chapel.

The chapel was renamed after St. Thomas the Apostle, when in 1565, his picture was brought from the fort and enshrined in the chapel. It seems that sometime or the other a new church was built a little further towards the north occupying the actual site on which the present edifice stands. The church was destroyed by Muslim Arab invaders from Gujarat in 1571, and was reconstructed in 1573.

Fr. Pedro de Almeida S.J., was appointed the 'Pai dos Cristaos' for 1574–1576, with charge of the Christians of Sandor and Papdy parishes.

In 1679, Arabs from Gujarat once again attacked and damaged the church. In 1690, a certain invader by name of 'Kakaji' also attacked and damaged the church.

The Maratha invaders of 1739 did not destroy the chapel, although the Jesuits were forced to leave and it was thereafter served by the secular priests.

The chapel was enlarged in 1889. The three altars of the chapel are from one of the original churches in the Bacaim Fort. At some time, a cross and a grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes was added.

It is not known when the chapel was elevated to the rank of a parish church, but from the evidence, it seems to be some time before 1574.

Subsequently, the parishes of Our Lady of Remedies at Remedy, Our Lady of Grace at Papdy, Mae de Deus (Mother of God) at Palle, Our Lady of Mercy at Merces and St. Michael the Archangel at Porim (Manickpur) were carved out of it (1574–1606).

Sandor and the rest of the Vasai region were not disturbed by the intra-Catholic Padroado-Propaganda conflict as the region remained firmly faithful to the Archbishop of Goa and refused to accept the authority of the Vicars Apostolic of Bombay and their successors, the Archbishops of Bombay.

In 1886, the northern part of the Archdiocese of Goa was carved out as the Diocese of Damao, including the Vasai region, and it was only in 1928 that the two dioceses (Damao and Bombay) were merged, so that the Vasai region came under the Archbishops of Bombay for the first time in 1928.

At present, the parish of Sandor also serves the village of Saloli. The church celebrates its feast 9–15 December every year, and has a big feast in the evenings.

The village of Sandor has now been made part of the Municipal Corporation of Vasai-Virar.

Church based charity/social organizations[edit]

Started in 1971 under the leadership of Very Rev. late Msgr. Philip Tavares the then parish priest of the Church. This society is a part of Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Paris, France, an international organization of Roman Catholic lay men and women of all ages, whose primary mission is to help the poor and less fortunate.

Founded in 1833 by Frederick Ozanam, a French lawyer, author, and professor in the Sorbonne University of Paris to help impoverished people living in the slums of Paris, France.

The Society numbers about 950,000 in some 132 countries worldwide, whose members operate through "conferences". A conference may be based out of a church, community center, school, hospital, etc., and is composed of Catholic volunteers.



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