by Ashwin Fernandes
KARJAT, MAY 17, 2017: When Pope Francis was leading the centenary celebrations of Our Lady of Fatima- Portugal on May 13, the members of the Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA) Matunga Unit, went on a pilgrimage to Asia's first Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima at Karjat.
The group reached for the unfurling of the flag of our Lady of Fatima. The scene of the apparition was creatively set up at the new altar extension. There were around 3,000 other pilgrims, Catholics and of other religious confessions, at the Shrine, to witness this important historic landmark.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias consecrated and blessed the new altar of the church, sprinkling holy water and chrism oil. He also renewed the act of consecration of the Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"Let us live the message of Fatima. Pray for peace and make sacrifices emphasising the power of prayer. At Fatima the Blessed Virgin spoke of World War. Wars continue today, with 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," Cardinal Gracias said. "It is important to pray, pray for peace in our homes, in family relationships and in the world."
Thereafter Cardinal Gracias blessed the pilgrims with the relics of the two little shepherds Francisco and Jacinta who had just been canonised in Fatima, by the Holy Father, around the same time. The parishioners and well wishers had organised a fellowship meal, where all pilgrims lunched together. In the afternoon, Eucharistic adoration and family consecration followed.
"The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at Karjat was built in the year 1935, and houses the statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought from Portugal in the year 1920, years before the approval - of the Fatima apparitions - in 1930 by the Holy See," Father Callistus Fernandes, Rector of the sanctuary said. He added, "The distinguishing characteristic of a shrine is that it is a place of pilgrimage." A proposal to give the Shrine a more official status, naming it the 'Archdiocesan Shrine of Fatima' has been presented to the Archbishop.
The ADMA members returned with their hearts content of having the opportunity to spend this historic day in prayers and devotion to our Blessed Mother, which is one of the primary objectives of this Marian Association.