Moodubelle: Annual Parish feast celebrated with great fervour and gaiety


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Report by Dr. Eugene D’Souza
Pictures by Anil Alva

Moodubelle, 06 January 2010: The Annual Parish Feast in honour of the Patron Saint of Moodubelle, St. Lawrence was celebrated with great religious fervour and social gaiety on Wednesday, 6th January 2010. Spiritual preparation in the form of nine days novena and the vespers (Besp) on the eve of the Annual Feast had already set the tone for the grand celebration of the Feast. Parishioners with their fine festive dress and jewels and radiating smile and happiness on their face attended the feast mass at 10 AM.

The devotees of St. Lawrence are well aware of the service of St. Lawrence to the church and the circumstances that led to his martyrdom. Saint Lawrence was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out, Pope St. Sixtus was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping and asked the Pope where he was going without his Deacon for which the Pope replied Lawrence that he too would follow him in three days. Being happy that he too would follow the Pope, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand and even sold expensive vessels to have more to give away.

The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. The Saint said he would fulfil his wish in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church and presented them as the wealth of the church to the Prefect.  In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow and cruel death. The Saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but Lawrence was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames and eventually earned the crown of martyrdom.

There were two early Masses, one a 6.30 AM and the next at 7.30 AM for the parishioners who were unable to attend the solemn Feast Mass due to their pre-occupation at home. However, majority of the parishioners made it a point to participate in the Feast Mass that was celebrated at 10AM.

Prior to the Feast Mass, ‘Candles of Honour’ were distributed to the members of the Parish Pastoral Council, Gurkars of the Wards and all other parishioners who had contributed for the celebration of the Feast (Mud-dham). Mrs. Meera Lobo, Secretary of the Parish Pastoral Council read out the list of the persons to be honoured and Fr. Joswey Fernandes presented the ‘Candles of Honour’.

Before the Feast Mass, Mr. Henry Fernandes, President of the Parish Pastoral Council welcomed the chief celebrant, Rev. Dr. John Fernandes, guest priests, all the parishioners and their guests who had come to attend the Annual Feast. Before the Feast Mass, the inauguration programme of the Centenary Celebrations of the founding of the Parish of St. Lawrence at Moodubelle was conducted. The parish of St. Lawrence in Moodubelle was established in 1910. Rev. Dr. John Fernandes inaugurated the Centenary Celebrations by lighting the lamp and unveiling the symbolic poster with the motto ‘Let Us Unitedly Build the Parish Community’.

The symbolic picture with hands holding each other means that the parishioners are with one heart and one mind; grill and olive branch indicates that the patron saint of the parish, St. Lawrence is our model; the Bible shows that we are in the light of the Word of God and the outer circle symbolises that we are called upon to be the living light of the world and remain united as a parish.

The main celebrant of the Annual Parish Feast, Rev. Dr. John Fernandes is the Head of the Department of the Chair in Christianity in the Mangalore University. He was earlier a Professor in St. Joseph’s Seminary, Jeppu, Mangalore and the Founding Director of the Mangala Jyothi. He is also the recipient of the award from the Conference of the Catholic Priests of India (CCPI).

In his homily, Rev. Dr. John Fernandes explained the meaning of the Jubilee giving examples from the Old Testament. For the Israelites, among the many celebrations, the Jubilee celebration was the most important one. Jubilee is the time when people should start something new. Though the calendar feast of St. Lawrence has been celebrated on 10th August every year, the Annual Parish Feast or the ‘Vodlem Festh’ has its own significance as it is celebrated in commemoration of the establishment of the parish.

The parishioners participated in the Feast Mass with great devotion and full involvement. The choir by its superb singing of hymns increased the devotion and participation of the people.  At the end of the Feast Mass, Fr. Joswey Fernandes complimented the parishioners on the occasion of the Annual Feast and wished them and their relatives in other parts of India and abroad a happy Annual Feast.

People were found milling around the Shrine of St. Lawrence to burn candles in response to the favour received from the Saint and also to seek additional favours. The non-Christian brothers and sisters were also seen praying devoutly to St. Lawrence and burning candles.

The narrow road from the church compound up to the school-college complex resembled like the stream of human beings looking at the stalls on both sides selling assorted items or bargaining with the vendors. According to Mr. Henry Fernandes out of 119 stalls, 115 were hired by various traders right from sweets to artificial flowers and bangles. There were 7 religious stalls to the left of the shrine selling religious articles from statues to rosaries and religious books. Seven ice-cream outlets did brisk business since yesterday’s Besp. Three spots were utilized by the merry go round and cradle wheels. ICYM stall had a large number of youth and curious crowd trying their luck in lucky games and lucky draws for the rooster. The tickets were 5 rupees each for the rooster costing around Rs. 900. The amount thus generated would be utilized for various activities of the ICYM.

With the passage of time the crowd gradually began to melt as people were eager to go home for their own social celebration of the Annual Feast. With guests from different parishes paying visit to their relatives and friends, the family and social interaction would increase the bond between their own near and dear ones.

Though the Annual Parish Feast has come and gone its spirit will linger throughout the year as the St. Lawrence Parish is celebrating its Centenary Year from January 2010 till January 2011. So folks cheers and meet you next year for another grand celebration that will combine the Annual Parish Feast with the closing ceremony of the Centenary Year.

Bellevision wishes Happy Annual Parish Feast to all our readers and supporters.

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Comments on this Article
Fr. John Ronny D’ Souza, Mumbai/Edmer Sun, January-10-2010, 11:14
Thks for sharing with us important events of Moodubelle which makes us feel as if we are still in Moodubelle. Keep it up!
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