07 Editorial - Cardinal celebrates Eucharist at Karjat Shrine to mark Fatima Centennial

posted May 18, 2017, 8:08 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 10:53 PM ]
The Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, presided at the Eucharist of the Centenary Celebrations of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, to celebrate the canonisation of two of the shepherd children - Jacinta and Francisco (the youngest, non-martyred canonised saints of the Catholic Church) at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at Karjat (in the archdiocese of Bombay), where more than 3,000 Catholics converged.

The Centenary Celebrations on May 13, 2017 - a day dedicated to praying for Peace - began with pilgrims praying the Rosary and the 'unfurling of the flag', as a symbol of raising our petitions to the Lord in prayer. A hymn sung as the flag was unfurled gave the message and purpose to all devotees for coming from distant places to this remote area at Karjat.

During the Eucharist, the Archbishop of Bombay blessed the new altar of the Shrine. Cardinal Oswald Gracias also renewed the Act of Consecration of the Archdiocese of Bombay to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. "Let us live the message of Fatima. Pray for peace and make sacrifices emphasising the power of prayer," the Cardinal urged the faithful.

In his homily, Cardinal Gracias said: "At Fatima, the Blessed Virgin spoke of the World War. Wars continue today, in different forms and dangers, turmoil, upheaval and violence all over the world. Wars are also in our personal lives, in the struggle between good and evil. For this, it is important to pray, pray for peace."

According to Cardinal Gracias, "in families there is a growing need to pray." Therefore, he invited all to "pray the Rosary in families, praying for peace in our homes, in family relations and in the world."

The Centenary Celebrations included the celebration of the canonisation of the two visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta, the first holy children who were not martyrs. The relics of Francisco and Jacinta (brought officially to the Fatima Shrine, Karjat two months ago from Portugal) were incensed by Cardinal Oswald Gracias at the conclusion of the Eucharist, and the relics were solemnly exposed for veneration.

"This shrine is envisioned as a place for 'peace' and a house of prayer, which is the need of the hour," Fr Fernandes said. "The devotees [of Mary] are encouraged to spend time to relax from their busy state of life." The priest said Our Lady of Fatima is so popular because her message "is so simple, but loaded with tremendous power. Her message was a call to achieve peace through mercy. Mother Mary was attributed an additional title in the Loreto litany 'Mary, Queen of Peace,' just seven days prior to her apparition at Fatima. Mother Mary has shown that peace in the world can be attained only through acts of mercy."

"The distinguishing characteristic of a shrine is that it is a place of pilgrimage," Fr Fernandes said. "A number of people come to Fatima Church as pilgrims, and today the Shrine of our Lady of Fatima is one of the more famous shrines, and is sometimes referred to as the Fatima of the East," the Rector explained.

"It is a great joy that our local people embraced this centenary. The shrine of Fatima at Karjat is placed in the midst of a non-Christian locality. Importantly, non-Christians have welcomed this devotion, and this devotion has fostered interfaith relations," said Fr Calistus.

(A report on the Eucharistic Celebration at Fatima Shrine, Karjat by Nirmala Carvalho)