Thousands of Faithful participate in the Walking Pilgrimage of the Archdiocese of Goa

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Thousands of Faithful participate in the Walking Pilgrimage of the Archdiocese of Goa

GOA (SANCOALE): Catholics in Goa gathered before dawn on February 18, 2024, 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 5th August 1677.

Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão Archbishop of the 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 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, to establish a true Synodal Church in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. Cardinal Filipe Neri, also serves 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 accompanied us in our journey. Just as Jesus deepened his bond with his Father during his earthly journey to fulfil his divine mission, so too are we called to strengthen our relationship with God as we navigate our paths.

Cardinal emphasized that through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are welcomed as participants in 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 and 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 2:00 a.m. and reached their destination, the Sancoale Old Church, before 4:30 a.m., 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 Mercy 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 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, propagate the jubilation of embracing Christianity, seek divine grace amidst life’s trials, and foster individual spiritual transformation. Taking place in Sancoale, it honours 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 participate in the Walking pilgrimage to Sancoale were asked to recite the rosary, and 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 chapels 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 for 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.

Br. Malvino Alfonso OCD Pics Joseph Fernandes

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