News : John Malvino Alfonso OCD    
Pics : Joseph Fernandes

Goa, Dec 3 :  “ It is urgent today to proclaim the kingdom of God. There is no time to be lost in  gossip, there is no need to  wait for everyone’s consensus, what is  necessary is to go out and proclaim”, said  Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal.

Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli was delivering homily  on the theme ‘ Following Jesus, like St. Francis Xavier, Let us foster Communion, Participation and Mission ‘ at the Solemn festal mass of St Francis Xavier celebrated at Old Goa on 3rd December, 2022.  Fr. Romeo Monteiro gave the Konkani  translation of the homily preached in English.

“Let us allow Jesus to enter in our lives who invites us to go out to the margins of life and proclaim the Gospel. Let us resolve to give Christ the central place in our lives and to obey his command to go therefore to make disciples of the whole nation”, Prelate added.

Archbishop Leopold Girelli, Apostolic  Nuncio to India and Nepal presided over the Eucharistic celebration along with Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal  Ferrão, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Bishop, Fr. Jose Remedios Fernandes, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, Fr Romeo Monteiro, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman,  Fr Rosario Oliveira, Parish Priest of Se Cathedral Church, Old Goa, Fr Patricio Fernandes, Rector of Bom Jesus Basilica, Old Goa,    Fr. Xavier  Braganza, Parish Priest of Our Lady of Desterro Church, Desterro,  Fr Roque Costa,  Chaplain of St. Sebastian’s Chapel, Panaji,  Fr. Mauricio Colaco, Assistant to the Parish priest of Holy Cross Church, Santacruz, Deacon Franky Carvalho,  Deacon. Ashliff  Correia  and 50  priests as concelebrants.

Recalling the life and mission of St. Francis Xavier, Apostolic Nuncio said that    St Francis Xavier is known as  one of the greatest preachers  of Apostolic zeal  since the time of the apostles. “After the great ambition to bring the world to Jesus Christ, he proclaimed the Gospel to all people especially  the poor and the sick, spending most of his time ministering  their needs”,  Archbishop Leopoldo said.  

He expressed his joy to know that  St. Francis Xavier is fondly revered by several Goans irrespective of caste, creed and religion and is popularly and affectionately called as the GOYCHO SAIB. Several people from all over the country flock to this Basilica to seek  God’s protection and Grace through his intercession.  “It was this saintly priest, who walked the streets of this city giving solace to so many  and  imparting to them   the values of the kingdom of God”, he said. 

“Each one of us should take cognizance  of  our God’s given talents  and use them  for building up the kingdom of God. And if we are faithful to his calling, he will equip us for our work in his vineyard. No matter how tough our challenges may be. Every believer of Jesus Christ, as the light of the world , called to shine  before others.  There is an urge to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Who is the true light that enlightens everyone”, Apostolic Nuncio said further.   He referred to the constitution of Dei Verbum of the Second Vatican Council  which reminds the faithful of Christ's command to the Apostles and  others associated with them to preach the Gospel to the  world.

Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão welcomed the Apostolic Nuncio, Priests and religious, Ministers , MLA’s, Government Officials and pilgrims from Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, Belgaum, different parts of Goa and  thousands of faithful participated in the feast mass. Fr  Mansueto Fernandes, Assistant Parish Priest of  Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs   Church, Assolna led the liturgical singing for a meaningful liturgy. Fr Afonso Mendonca, Director of Diocesan Liturgical Centre, animated the liturgy and  Fr. Clive Diniz was the liturgical commentator.  Fr. Patricio Fernandes, proposed a vote of thanks.  Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão appreciated Fr. Patricio and his collaborators for  organising  the Novena and feast of St. Francis Xavier in a prayerful atmosphere and expressed his sentiments of gratitude to all those present for the solemn feast mass.

Chief Minister of Goa, Dr Pramod Sawant,  few Ministers and MLA’s, several  political party’s representatives. and  other govt officials were present on the occasion.

There were ten masses on the feast day. Novena in preparation for the feast began on 24th November wherein each day was dedicated for the intention of all the centres, commissions and other bodies of the Archdiocese. A day for the Priests, Religious Brothers and consecrated women were also dedicated. There were masses in Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Portuguese, and English apart from Konkani during the days of Novena. One/two deaneries together celebrated 8.15 a.m. and 9.15 a.m.mass during the days of novena.

An inter-religious prayer meet was also organised in the main pandal during one of the days of Novena. Men religious congregations  also celebrated evening mass during the days of the novena. Pilgrims from Kolhapur, Belgaum  and Sindhudurg came walking for the Novena and feast of St. Francis Xavier. Many Goan devotees too walked to old Goa for the feast.

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