ST.JOHN’S MEDICAL COLLEGE ALUMNI NORTH AMERICAN CHAPTER FORMATION AND ORIGIN
Dr. Louis Monteiro, our ex Dean, who moved to the U.S, met me in April 1982, at our apartment in Brooklyn Heights, when I was a consultant/attending in Orthopaedics, he was accompanied by Eddie and Marguerita Pinto. After chatting for while, he came to the point, and said “ Thomas, we have been trying for years to organize an American Chapter, could you take charge and start one”. I was taken by surprise. I discussed with my wife Joy, and several of the Alumni, in New York area, and elsewhere, who said that they would strongly support the North American Chapter Fr. Percy also called me at that time. He was deputed by St.John’s in 1981-1982 at Arlington Virginia, for an MBA in management. He also spoke to me about it, and strongly supported the idea for a chapter.
After the decision was made to start the chapter, a meeting was held at Eddie and Marguerite’s house, at Trumbull Connecticut, with Dr. Monteriro, the Pinto’s and several other alumni present. The North American Chapter of the Alumni was formally formed in May 22nd 1982, with myself as president/convener with 129 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn Heights as the first address. A newspaper ad was placed as a display ad in the India Abroad paper, on June 25 1982, announcing the formation of the chapter, and asking for addresses to be mailed. With that, and with the help of various people across the USA, the number of addresses increased. Initially we had 50 addresses and within a year, we had more than a 150 names and addresses of alumni and in 4 years we had more than 240 addresses.
In December 1982, we moved to Oklahoma City, to do a fellowship in Joint Replacement and Arthroscopy, following which I started practice near Tulsa. The Alumni office correspondingly changed.
An ADHOC committee was found in December 1982 at a meeting in New York pending the first general body. The members were myself as convenor, and the committee members were Dr.Marian Kamath, Dr.Eddie Pinto, Ephrem Thoppil, Gynasunder Reddy, P Narayan, Kumar Belani, Louis Baretto and Jovita Crasta.
By January 1983, we collected 143 names, and addresses of which 133 were in the US, 7 Canada and 3 West Indies. The aims and objectives of the chapter was formulated in January 1983, with the aim of getting the chapter going and to have a convention and general body meeting, every 2 years, with a CME, and get together, the first being 1984, and to help St.John’s, and to help the alumni, to get residency programs.
The First North American Chapter convention, was held on May 26th 1984, at the Nassau County Medical Centre Recreation Hall. It was decided that the memorial day weekend, was the most convenient for everybody. By the time the conventional was held, we had 200 names and addresses. Jovita Crasta was helpful in getting the hall at no cost, as well as obtaining CME credits. There were two lectures in the morning, one by Peter Noronha, batch of 1964, on “ DECADES OF PROGRESS IN LEUKEMIA”, the second talk by Wenzel Vaz, Batch of 1967 on “ CT SCANNING AN UPDATE”.
The first general body meeting was held at 12.00 noon on 26th May 1984 with 65 alumni present. The fee of 18 US dollars for consultants and 8 dollars for residents was decided. The lunch and the party after, was attended by about 120 people. The constitution, and byelaws was discussed, and was approved at the second convention in 1986. The committee was formed with myself as Founder President, Peter D’sa as Secretary, Jovita Crasta as Joint Secretary, and Kumar Belani as Treasurer. The Committee members were Marian Kamath, Willy Gomes, Ephrem Thoppil and Liphard D’souza. The alumni was encouraged to contribute to the St. John’s Endowment Fund, which had just been started by Fr. Percy, and also to become life members of the parent body. Members were advised to help the younger alumni to get Residency slots and Fellowship positions.
The second convention was held on Saturday , May 24th 1986, at the same venue with a gathering of about 120 alumni with about 200 people including families attending, It was a grand affair. The organizing committee were Jovita Crasta, Peter D’sa, Marian Kamath, Liphard D’souza, Arun, Yesupriya, Willy Gomes, Ephrem Thoppil, Louis Baretto, and M J Varunny, plus the committee members.
The 2 CME talks were by Selwyn Baptist, First Batch, on “AIDS an Overview” and Dr. P Narayan, on “ Recent Advances in male interfertility”. At the general body meeting, the same officer bearers were asked to continue for another 2 years.
That night, there was a grand party at Marian Kamath’s house. Over 200 people attending, with singing and camaraderie, upto 3.00 a.m. Contributions were requested for the Endowment Fund, and for the various college departments. A good amount was collected and sent to St. John’s. After the meeting, the addresses had reached over 210 within a span of 4 years.
The 3rd North American Chapter Convention was held in Bangalore in 1988, to coincide with the St.John’s Silver Jubilee, we had now obtained about 240 names and addresses. The Silver function was a grand affair. We had a General Body Meeting, of the North American Chapter, which was well attended.
After 6 years as Founder – President & Convener, I handed over to the new committee, as I had earlier planned to move to Bangalore, and start HOSMAT – an Orthopaedics, Neurosurgery and Trauma Hospital. Though our actual move to Bangalore got delayed to 1993 .
It gives me a great pleasure and pride to see how the chapter has grown from very humble beginnings in the early 1980s to what it is now. It could only happen with the support and help of Dr.Louis Monteiro , Dr. Gerry Mascarenhas, Dr. Alfred Mascarenhas and Dr.Mary Ollapally, and the help and support of the North America Chapter, Committees and Members and the Alumni of St.John’s, Bangalore.
Fr. Percy Fernandes was a major guiding force, and support for the North American Chapter, in the 1980s & 1990s, as well as Fr. Bernad Moraes ( Now Arch Bishop of Bangalore ), and subsequently by Fr. Kalam and Fr. Lawrence.
The members of the chapter during its infancy & first decade that worked hard, and helped the organization to grow, were Marian Kamath, Jovita Crasta,Peter Noronha, Eddie Pinto, Ephrem Thoppil, Kumar Belani, Willy Gomes, Eunice Misquith, Selwyn Baptist, Liphard Douza, MT Varunny, Gyana, Balasunder Reddy, and many others.
Foot note :
I had the pleasure of attending the 1990 and 1992 conventions, which were grand functions, with larger attendance and again I made a trop to New York 1996 from Bangalore to attend the chapter function. There which was another grand function with another great party by Marian Kamath in the night.
On June 30, 2000, I attended the North American Chapter, at their General Body Meeting in New York, they gave me a plaque in recognition of the initial work done to get the North American Chapter started. I treasure it. Subsequently I attended the North American Chapter meetings on 2006 & 2008. I am a life member of the AANA