Novena to St Francis Xavier, to serve as a community bond
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Between the claustrophobic lanes behind Shivaji Market in Camp is the gothic 150-year-old stone-and-mortar structure, the St Xavier's Church. Credited to be the founding stone of schools like St Vincent's and the Society of St Vincent De Paul, the church built in 1862 is celebrating the 150th anniversary.
The event that began on Saturday and will conclude on December 3 is a build-up to the anniversary. The primary motive as parish priest Fr Bertie Rozario puts it is to unite the community. "The Novena celebrations that began on November 24 saw the mass being held in Konkani," says Vally Crasto, member of the Parish animation team organising the programmes. He adds, "We also had a Goan folk dance festival presented by members of the Goan community. Over the days we would have other such cultural programmes."
The theme of the celebrations this year is "We are the Church...We are the People." The first mass was held in the church in 1862 by Father Basil Haefely SJ, who was also the founder of St Vincent's.
In addition, Carsto mentions that each and every individual community from the church will attend the mass daily. "For instance we will have one community presenting a western dance, or an Indian dance, and others putting up skits to depict the life of St Francis Xavier, our patron saint," he adds.
The mass is held every evening.
Interestingly, he points out that the celebration is more about the community than the building itself.
"Yes our parish priest Fr Bertie Rozario has taken up the issue of uniting everyone. People from all walks of life come to the church given its quiet and serene surroundings in the middle of the city. Over the next few days, they will also be showing glimpses of the birth, and life of St Xavier." He adds that they hope this event will make the scattered community members to come together and celebrate the 150th anniversary.
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