The greatest gift given to Shirva by Msgr. Hilary Gonsalves is St. Mary’s High School. It was started on 1-6-1947 as a middle school having I, II, and III Forms with Mr. Aiya Durai as the headmaster. The next year Fr. Aloysius Rebello replaced him. Within two months he was recalled to Milagris High School, Kallianpur and Miss Precilla Lewes succeeded him. On 1-6-1949 Mr. Louis Mendonca a Young and energetic local youth became the headmaster. At the end of June that year permission was given to open IV Form with a maximum strength of 25. Hindu High School was started in 1946. Government forbade to admit students who had already joined Hindu High School. The first batch of SSLC exam appeared in 1952 and gave 30.6% result. The headmaster and his assistants took it as a challenge and worked hard to improve the results. The hard work paid dividends. The School got cent percent results in 1958, 1960, 1964 and 1965.
In 1955 permission was granted to bifurcate IV Form. As 8th standard was abolished in Higher Primary Schools in 1963 the 8th standard had three divisions. In 1980 the public examination in Higher Primary Schools was abolished and St. Mary’s had to open six divisions in the 8th.
The work of the hall began in 1959 and ended in 1965. The old students helped in erecting the stage. Mr. S. G. K. Shetty, Sales Manager of Dinesh Mills donated enough cloth for the screens.
The progress of the School was rapid. In 1967 XI Standard was opened. A new building was added to the east of the main building. Bp. B. S. D’Souza blessed and inaugurated in 1970. Third December 1971 was day of immense joy for St. Mary’s. Fr. Hilary Gonsalves the founder of the School, was made “A Chaplain to the Holy Pope” with the title of Monsignor. He celebrated the Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee, a unique occasion for the people of Shirva. The next day he was given a heartfelt farewell.
Fr. Aloysius Rosario became the Correspondent on 9-1-1972. Under his guidance and Mr. L. Mendonca’s leadership the Silver Jubilee of the school was celebrated under the presidentship of Mr. Badri Narayana, Hon-Education Minister of Karnataka. St. Mary’s was one of the very few institutions to become a Junior College that year. To commemorate the Silver Jubilee a new building was constructed on the northern side. Sri Aroor Ram Mohan Rao laid the foundation. Mr. Edward Gonsalves a retired Judge and Msgr Gonsalves Nephew inaugurated it on 16-2-1979.
26-8-1975 was a sad day for St. Mary’s. Its founder, Msgr. Gonsalves, Maker of Modern Shirva, went to the abode of the creator of this universe for his reward. The next day his funeral took place in the portico of the church. Before that his dead body was brought in a procession from Irminz to the Church. It was kept on the stage built in his memory.
St. Mary’s needed an open-air stage for cultural activities as the hall proved too small. Mr. Lawrence D’Souza, a business magnate in Kuwait, an old student and an admirer of Msgr.Gonsalves donated the stage, the staff room above it and the life size statue of Msgr. Gonsalves.
The teacher’s day in 1980 was eventful for us. Principal L. Mendonca was awarded best teacher State Award. The management, Staff, Students, Old students and the public felicitated him. The next year he retired after serving the school for 32 years as headmaster. By that time the name and fame of the School had reached all the corners of the World. He was given a fitting farewell.
Mr. Alban Rodrigues who joined St. Mary’s in 1949 as a student of I form succeeded him. The number of students went on increasing in PUC section. He maintained a diary about the students. For second year students too an interview was made compulsory. The rush for science class was so great that it had to be bifurcated. St. Mary’s always got first rank in Udupi Taluk. In 1990 in Arts section St. Mary’s stood first in the state and in commerce section it stood second, really a creditable achievement. In 1993 District level sports meet for P. U. College was held successfully in St. Mary’s grounds.
In 1996 Mr. Alban Rodrigues retired and Mr. Felix Andrade was appointed Principal in charge. The next year Mr. J. B. Miranda came here as the Principal. Meanwhile Fr. Lawrence Gomes had assumed charge as the Correspondent in 1994. The Golden Jubilee of the School was celebrated in November 1998. Bp. A. P. D’ Souza presided over the function. Dr. Muzzafar Hussain Assadi proposed the School toast. Former Correspondent and retired teachers and rank students were honoured. A Souvenir called “Swarna Shikara” was released. A Science block was constructed to memorate the event.
Through St. Mary’s gets good results, the rank holders only four. They are Cornad Furtado SSLC, 1996, Sri. Sadashiva PUC – Science 1981, Sri. Rathnakara Shetty and Kum N. K. Hemalatha in Commerce. In Athletics Kum. Benedicta D’Souza and Kum Ida Mendonca have taken part in the National events. The ranks came when Mr. Mendonca was the Principal.
Fr.Valerian Pinto, the present Correspondent took charge in 2001. He repaired the buildings, renovated the hall, constructed separate toilets for boys and girls, and raised the height of the compound wall. In order to get rid of trespassers he closed some entrances and erected a gate to the main entrance. Computers are provided. Midday meal scheme is introduced. Separate library and laboratory are provided to the high school section.
The old students of St. Mary’s are found in the nook and corner of the world holding high positions. They have an Old Students’ Association.