By John M Alfonso OCD
Pics: Joseph Fernandes
Sancoale, Feb 27: Catholics across Goa has taken a walking Pilgrimage (Bhavarthachi Yatra) at the wee hours to Sancoale Old Church on the First Sunday of the Lent on February 26. St Joseph Vaz wrote a letter of bondage at this old Church of Sancoale on August 5, 1677. Five venues across Goa were identified. Goa Velha, Mandur, Verna, Cansaulim and Vasco were the five centers which were identified from which faithful began the Walking Pilgrimage at 2.00 a.m. Faithful reached the destination, Sancoale Old Chuch before 4.30 am by covering 10 km to participate in the Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharistic Celebration.
Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão presided over the Eucharistic celebrations held at the Old Church Sancoale. Fr Ligorinho D’Costa, convenor of the committee formed for walking pilgrimage, Fr Alfred Vaz, former convenor of the committee formed for Walking Pilgrimage, Fr Henry Falcao, director, St Joseph Vaz Spiritual Renwal Centre, Old Goa. Fr Kennet Teles, parish priest of Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Fr Manuel Dias, rector of the St. Joseph Vaz Sanctuary, Sancoale, Fr Lucio Dias, episcopal vicar for the South Zone, Fr Simon Diniz, parish priest, St Philip and James Church, Cortalim, Fr Savio D’souza, director, Diocesan Youth Centre, Fr Felix Lobo, Fr Silvestre D’Souza, OCD, superior of Carmelite Monastery, Margao deacon Ashliff Correia, deacon Prinson Oliveira and 70 priests concelebrated.
“All followers of Christ need to have the mind and heart of Jesus. One cannot be a Christian, disciple of Christ with his own mind and heart.” Said Fr. Henry Falcao, Fr. Falcao was delivering a homily at the Eucharistic celebration. Referring to the theme of the Pastoral year, ‘Follow Me’, Father Falcao appealed the faithful to become fishers of men. “Every Christian through Baptism becomes a fisher of men. We need to cooperate with Jesus, to fulfill his dream through our communion with the Trinity and participation in the mission entrusted to us.” Fr Falcao said. “Dream of Jesus is to clothe human beings with Grace. As the apostles left their nets to follow Jesus, we need to leave our nets to become fishers of men. We need to use the nets of love, mercy and forgiveness, given to us by Jesus,” he added.
Referring to the holy place of the ruins of the Old Sancoale Church, where the walking pilgrimage is held, Fr Falcao reminded the faithful of the letter of Bondage to Our Lady written by Our own St Joseph Vaz, who walked to the places like Srilanka to fulfill his dream to proclaim Jesus.
Cardinal Filipe Neri speaking on the occasion appealed around 18000 faithful to have renewal in life, strengthen communion with each other and wholeheartedly participate in the mission of Jesus.
Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament was conducted by Divine Mercy Movement led by Fr Freddy Lobo. Fr Mansueto Fernandes, assistant to the parish priest of Assolna led the liturgical singing. Fr Afonso Mendonca, director of Diocesan Centre for Liturgy, animated the liturgy. Fr Ligorinho D’Costa, convenor of the committee formed for Walking Pilgrimage delivered the vote of thanks. Volunteers from Diocesan Youth Centre, Parishes of Loutolim, Mapusa, Paroda, Ambaulim and Sancoale volunteered their services. St Luke Medical Guild and the Catholic Nurses Guild were of great help.
The Walking Pilgrimage was organised by the Archdiocese of Goa Daman to understand the salvific value of suffering, to spread the joy of being Christian, to gain God’s grace in our difficulties and also an occasion for personal conversion. It is organised in Sancoale because of the son of the soil (Sancoale) St Joseph Vaz, during his spiritual journey in Sri Lanka, he walked sharing the message of Christ to the less fortunate.