Indian migrants gather in celebration of the Virgin Mary
NAZARETH – In the beautiful mosaic of Christian communities in the Holy Land is the Indian community. Fr. Jay, ofm, Chaplain for the Indian communities organizes significant celebrations and large gatherings of Indian migrants in the holy places. Assisting him are other Indian priests in Israel –Fr. John Kennedy, sdc and Fr. Pazy, ocd.
To conclude the month of Mary, Fr. Jay on Saturday, June 8, 2013, organized a procession and Mass in Nazareth and invited the Christian migrants from all over India, especially from Goa, Kerala and Gujarat who have come to work throughout Israel. Also invited were the staff of the Indian embassy in Tel Aviv and the Indian soldiers of the UNIFIL of the Golan Heights. Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, led the procession and celebrated Mass. Also in attendance were Indian men religious of the Nazareth community of the Missionaries of Charity and Indian women religious of the Sisters of the Child Mary and the Sisters of Nazareth. Among the faithful migrants were a number of little children with some older children and teenagers. Around 550-600 people participated.
The long procession started at the Fountain of Mary in the backyard of the Orthodox Church, and going to the Basilica of the Annunciation was led by a small Indian musical band. The statue of the Blessed Virgin, placed on a boat (an allusion to the Year of the faith), elegantly decorated “Indian style” and decked with flowers, was carried by men, while women, dressed in their Indian saris, threw flowers. Some played the role of angels while others carried several banners. The choir led the singing and the Rosary; another group was responsible for the liturgical service and still another took care of the general order, all in wonderful collaboration. At every street intersection the procession came to a halt and the Bishop blessed the location and incensed the statue. At the door of the Basilica, the procession was met by the Guardian, Fr. Ricardo Bustos, ofm and the parish priest, Fr. Amjad Sabbra , ofm, who, along with the Bishop, released two parrots and blue balloons.
Then, Bishop Marcuzzo celebrated Mass in English in the Basilica of the Annunciation, while the faithful responded and sang in Konkani (language of Goa, the majority among the migrants). In his homily, the Bishop urged the Indian faithful “to feel as ‘citizens’ in the Church of the Holy Land, to draw from the source of the Holy Places a solid and unshakable faith that they need in the difficulties of migrant life and the courage to give a Christian witness wherever historical circumstances and the Lord has sent them.”
Draw from the source of the Holy Places
At the end of the Mass, two young girls dressed as angels, performed a Marian ‘traditional dance’ around a seated woman, who represented the Blessed Virgin. Thereafter, the Bishop proceeded to give a special blessing to the children, gathered around the statue of the Holy Virgin. On behalf of the whole community, Fr. Jay, together with a few people, placed a typically Indian shawl on the statue of the Virgin Mary, as a sign of gratitude. The Latin Patriarchal Vicar, “on behalf of the Patriarch, the Auxiliary Bishops and Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ, Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew Speaking Catholics and overall coordinator of migrants, , warmly thanked the chaplain for the very valuable service that he gives to the community in general and in a special way for the success of gathering of closing the month of Mary, an initiative that requires great and lengthy coordination. With this initiative, among other things, the Indian community in Israel gives the local people a beautiful testimony of unity, faith and prayer.”
(Text of our correspondent from Galilee. Photo of AK)