‘Bhavartachi Yatra’- a Unique Pilgrimage Walk to Sancoale-Goa near to St Joseph Vaz Shrine
Sancoale, Goa: On Sunday, 10 March 2019, being the First Sunday of Lent, during the wee hours of 2 am, the Catholic community across Goa, both from north and south, took a ‘Walking Pilgrimage’ (Bhavartachi Yatra) to Sancoale from various parts of Goa. Shedding light on this one-of-its-kind unique event of the Catholic church of Goa, the convener of the ‘Walking Pilgrimage’, Fr Alfred Vaz speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “The aim of the Pilgrimage Walk was basically to understand the salvific (leading to salvation) value of suffering, to spread the joy of being a Christian, to gain God’s grace in our difficulties and also an occasion for personal conversion”.
He further said, “This walking pilgrimage will also be an occasion to overcome weaknesses, both in mind and body. For those who are addicted to alcoholism and other vices, this exercise could help overcome weaknesses and experience personal conversion. ‘Walking Pilgrimage’, a spiritual exercise of the Catholic Church in Goa, will be an annual event or feature on the first Sunday of Lent, and the venue, old church of Sancoale”. Now, why Sancoale and not any other religious place in Goa? “It’s precisely because the son of the soil, St Joseph Vaz, during his spiritual journey in Sri Lanka, was a walking pilgrimage, sharing the message of Christ to the less fortunate,” Fr Vaz said.
The theme of the Eucharistic celebration was ‘Man does not live by bread alone’. Fr Vaz further said that it was an opportunity given by the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Rev Dr Filipe Neri Ferrao for the church in Goa to walk with Christ, who first walked to the Calvary for us. “The shepherd (bishop) will also be walking with his flock to the final destination. As youth is the vibrant force of the Church, the bishop wanted people, especially the youth, to be on the forefront in order to make this event spiritually successful ” he added.
In order to make this spiritual journey fruitful and successful, the convenor of the ‘Walking Pilgrimage’ speaking to Team Mangalorean said that six venues across Goa were identified, namely Goa Velha and Mandur in north Goa and Vasco, Cansaulim, Verna and Quelossim in south Goa. “Except Old Goa deanery all parishes from Sattari met at Mandur, whereas all deaneries from north Goa assembled at Goa Velha. Faithful from Canacona, Quepem, Sanguem, Raia and Verna deaneries gathered at Verna church and people from Chinchinim, Benaulim and Margao began their journey from Cansaulim. Besides the main six venues, there were also sub-centers along the way to cater to the needs of the sick.” he added.
Regarding the timings for the pilgrims to embark on this spiritual journey, all the parishioners were requested to arrive at their respective centers before 3 am and volunteers of the host parish briefed about the Walk, and only then they began the spiritual journey. As the pilgrims walked down to Sancoale, they were requested to maintain silence and pray simultaneously. The Pilgrimage Walk culminated at around 6 am, which was followed by a Eucharistic Mass at 7 am. The special sweet buns with a Cross topping (seen in the article) for about 10,000 pilgrims was sponsored by Royal Foods of Verna, Goa, apart from other sponsors who provided tea, coffee and snacks in the morning along the route.
Buses that dropped the people at their respective centers in the morning, later picked them up from the parking zone at Sancoale, after the Eucharistic celebration. The Eucharistic celebration at Sancoale began at 7 am, with the Archbishop as the main celebrant. The faithful also had an opportunity to put down their petitions on a paper and drop in an erected furnace at the venue, and later, the bishop said a special prayer with incense and raise them up to God.
It is learnt that a special Way of the Cross had also been sent to all the parishes in view of the Walking Pilgrimage, besides, on Ash Wednesday, the fasting and prayer has been offered for the success of the event. Prior to this Sunday Pilgrimage Walk on Sunday, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, priests were available for confession to the parishioners in their respective parishes.
Pictures by Cajetan Pereira, Navelim-Goa