Sancoale: Thousands of faithful participate in walking pilgrimage

Media Release

Sancoale, Feb 18: Catholics in Goa gathered before dawn on February 18, for a special pilgrimage to the historic Sancoale Church. Known as the Bhavarthachi Yatra (Pilgrimage of Faith), this pilgrimage, has become an annual lenten event on the first Sunday of the Lent season, organized by the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman for the sixth consecutive year, on the theme ‘Let us journey together on the path of penance and be proclaimers of hope.’ St Joseph Vaz wrote a letter of bondage to Our Lady at this old Church of Sancoale on August 5, 1677. 

Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão Archbishop of Archdiocese of Goa and Daman led the eucharistic celebrations at the old Sancoale Church. Fr Ligorinho D’Costa, convenor of the committee formed for walking pilgrimage, Fr Kennet Teles, parish priest of Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale and rector of the St Joseph Vaz Sanctuary, Sancoale, Fr Lucio Dias, episcopal vicar for the South Zone,  Fr Barry Cardozo, director for social communications media, Fr Savio Fernandes, executive secretary of council for social justice and peace,  Fr Peter Gama, parish priest, St Anne's Church, Parra,   Fr Peter D'Melo, rector, All India Mission Seminary, Pilar, Fr Mariano Silveira, parish priest, St Christopher's Church, Tivim, Fr George Dias, Chaplain, Our Lady of Rosary Church, Carvota-Lotoulim, Fr Ian Figueredo SDB, rector, Don Bosco, Lotoulim, Deacon Clive Dias, Deacon Anthony Melvin Gomes and 77 priests concelebrated.

"Our responsibility entails embracing a life in communion with Jesus, thereby illuminating the paths of truth, justice, peace, and righteousness," expressed Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrão. "If we find ourselves ensnared by corruption, falsehoods, or contributing to societal discord instead of embodying peace and truth, let us deeply contemplate our choices during this Lenten season and seek renewal in our lives," urged the Prelate. Describing the Synodal Church, Cardinal Filipe Neri emphasized its essence as one that embraces communion with Jesus, progresses in faith, and selflessly serves others, while shining the light of Jesus into society. Encouraging the faithful gathered in great numbers to forsake sinful paths and embrace renewal during Lent, he emphasized placing Jesus at the core of our lives, serving others, fostering communion, and spreading the light of faith in society, in order to establish a true Synodal Church in the archdiocese of Goa and Daman. Cardinal Filipe Neri, also serving as the president of the conference of Catholic Bishops of India.

Cardinal Filipe emphasized that by embracing communion in our daily lives, we embody citizenship in the kingdom of God. He urged the faithful to abandon divisive paths and instead concentrate on fostering communal living. He appealed to the faithful for a renewal of life and a commitment to serving others.

Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrão emphasised that we are all pilgrims on this earth, both our Christian and human existence can be likened to a pilgrimage. He pointed out that on the day of our baptism, as the disciples of Jesus, we began our pilgrimage of faith and God accompanies us in our journey. Just as Jesus deepened his bond with his Father during his earthly journey to fulfill his divine mission, so too are we called to strengthen our relationship with God as we navigate our own paths.

Cardinal emphasized that through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are welcomed as participants into the kingdom of God. This Kingdom represents the new life bestowed upon us by Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection. Highlighting different facets, Cardinal Filipe Neri elaborated that the kingdom involves a renewed connection with God through prayer, scripture, and the sacraments, particularly the eucharist. It entails serving one another with liberty, fostering a fraternal community through acts of service. Furthermore, it's about illuminating society with the essence of Jesus through our communal existence.

Cardinal appreciated the 18000 faithful across Goa, who came on foot to the Old Sancoale Church in the wee hours of the day and participated in the adoration to the blessed sacrament and the eucharistic celebration.

Five locations were chosen as starting points for the walking pilgrimage in Goa: Bambolim, Neura, Verna, Cansaulim, and Vasco. Participants began their journey at 2 am. and reached their destination, the Sancoale Old Church, before 4:30 am, covering a distance of 10 km.

Adoration to the blessed sacrament, was conducted by the seminarians of All India Mission Seminary, Pilar while liturgical singing was led by the parish choir of Our Lady of Merces Church, Merces. Fr George Ratos, parish priest of Immaculate Conception Church, Paroda while Fr Afonso Mendonca, director of the Diocesan Centre for Liturgy, animated the liturgy. Fr Ligorinho D’Costa, Convenor of the Walking Pilgrimage committee, expressed gratitude in a vote of thanks. 

Around 800 volunteers from the diocesan youth centre, and parishes such as Loutolim, Mapusa, Paroda, and Sancoale Parish, offered their services. St Luke Medical Guild and the Catholic Nurses Guild provided valuable assistance throughout the pilgrimage.  

The faithful also had an opportunity to put down their petitions on paper. The cardinal raised those petitions up to God through a special prayer. 

The walking pilgrimage, organised by the archdiocese of Goa Daman, aims to delve into the redemptive essence of hardship, to propagate the jubilation of embracing Christianity, to seek divine grace amidst life's trials, and to foster individual spiritual transformation. Taking place in Sancoale, it honors the native saint, St Joseph Vaz, who, during his spiritual expedition in Sri Lanka, journeyed on foot, sharing the teachings of Christ with the underprivileged. 

Those who could not participated in the walking pilgrimage to Sancoale were asked to recite the rosary, personal prayer and reflect on their life on the way to their parish church as part of their pilgrimage.

A special way of the cross was held in all the parishes and chapel of the archdiocese as a preparation for the walking pilgrimage. Fasting and prayers were also offered for the success of the event from Ash Wednesday to Saturday. Faithful also participated in the sacrament of reconciliation as a preparation of the pilgrimage. A special logo was designed by Abishai Mascarenhas from Ambora with a cross on the logo to identify the image of the cross of St Joseph Vaz, the feet represent the pilgrimage.

Spiritually Enriched: Participants

"Since it is organised at the begining of the Lent season, it's a great help for me to enrich my spiritual journey focusing on penance and sacrifice," said Natty Araujo of the parish of St Matthias, Sao Mathias, Divar. "It provides a significant opportunity for me to deepen my spiritual journey, focusing on concepts of penance and sacrifice. Reflecting on God's love and our response to it has been profoundly enriching. Walking alongside my fellow parishioners, engaging in the recitation of the rosary, hymn singing, and collective prayers for others have all contributed to a sense of joy and spiritual healing."

Natty, serving as the animator of the divine mercy group at St Matthias Parish, recalled her involvement in organizing adoration to the blessed sacrament as part of the divine mercy movement within the archdiocese. "The significance of this event is heightened for me due to its location, where St Joseph Vaz, son of the soil and the patron of our archdiocese, wrote a letter of bondage to Mother Mary. Participating in the walking pilgrimage has allowed me and my family to experience the abundant blessings of God and draw closer to Him," she reflected.

Fr Walter De Sa, the parish priest of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church in Panaji, believed that organizing the walking pilgrimage on the first Sunday of Lent provided a fitting entry into the Lenten Season. "Our parishioners were well-prepared in advance regarding the beneficial effects and the biblical significance of pilgrimage," remarked Father Walter. The substantial turnout from various parts of Goa highlighted the communal aspect of communion and collaboration.

Both young and old parishioners expressed eagerness to partake in the walking pilgrimage and the accompanying liturgical services. Completing a 10-kilometer journey on foot was considered a genuine act of penance by them, leading to a spiritual enrichment in their lives, as shared by Father Walter.

Sr Monita Dias, a Cluny Sister based at the Cluny Convent in Vasco, reflected on her participation in the walking pilgrimage, expressing how the adoration to the blessed sacrament and the mass facilitated a profound closeness to Jesus for her. She described the act of placing intentions beneath the foot of the cross and offering them up to God as a beautiful and meaningful experience. Sr Monita, who serves as both a teacher and a counselor, emphasized Ferrão significance of these spiritual practices in her life.

Alfredo Fernandes, a parishioner of St Sebastian's Church, Calvim, recounted his journey from Holy Cross Church, Bambolim, expressing initial uncertainty about being able to walk the 10 kilometers. However, the mantra "Let me walk for Jesus" instilled him with the courage to persevere. He marveled at the diverse participants, spanning generations and abilities, all united in the pilgrimage. Alfredo noted the humble participation of Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão, deeply engrossed in prayer without seeking attention. Reflecting on Jesus' journey carrying the cross and rising after falling thrice for salvation, Alfredo found renewed strength amidst fatigue. He appreciated the supportive volunteers and concluded that despite the challenges, the experience was enriching, marking another significant step in his spiritual journey.

Nelia Pereira, a catechist at Mother of God Church, Majorda, described her pilgrimage to Sancoale church as a deeply meaningful and spiritually enriching journey. She likened it to a form of meditation, bringing inner peace and a deeper self-understanding. Nelia, a teacher at Mount Mary Higher Secondary School, Chinchinnim emphasized that traveling on foot to a sacred destination was a profound experience intertwined with prayer, introspection, and a connection with nature. The absence of distractions along the way allowed her to immerse herself in silence, providing space to listen to her inner voice and reflect on unanswered questions. Nelia pondered on how she could deepen her faith during the Lenten Season, renew her passion for her beliefs, and demonstrate love for Jesus and others through acts of penance. Reflecting on the experience, she concluded that it was truly worthwhile.




Top Stories

Leave a Comment

Title: Sancoale: Thousands of faithful participate in walking pilgrimage

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will be held responsible.