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News Mumbai Province (INB)

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Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna celebrates its Diamond Jubilee
By Karen Laurie
Mumbai, Nov. 14. When over 100 priests con-celebrate a Eucharistic celebration, which is presided over by the 10th successor of Saint Don Bosco, Rector Major Father Angel Fernandez Artime, and a choir of 50 brothers add their melodious touch to the service, you know that an important milestone is at hand.
Rector Major, Father Angel Fernandez Artime celebrates the Diamond Jubilee Mass along with the Salesians, Salesian Family members and Laity on the Shrine Grounds, Matunga, Mumbai, India.
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The iconic Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna, which was built in 1957 by the great visionary, Father Aurelius Maschio, marked its red-letter day, the Diamond Jubilee of the Shrine on November 12. Two bishops, namely Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes, Bishop Barthol Barretto and His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias celebrated the Solemn Jubilee Eucharist in the morning, while the Rector Major presided over the festive Jubilee Eucharistic celebration on the Shrine grounds at 5.30pm.

Father Ian Doulton, Editor of Don Bosco's Madonna magazine, urged the laity to rise to welcome Father Artime, saying, ''We welcome you on behalf of the Salesians of Don Bosco to the 60th Diamond Jubilee of our Shrine, we are honoured by the presence of the 10th successor of Don Bosco, Father Angel Fernandez Artime.''

An army of little angels led the procession of priests and finally the Rector Major out of the Provincial House. It was Father Artime's first real interaction with the laity in the city and he immediately brought smiles to the faces of the faithful by blessing them and saying ''God bless you,'' as he walked to the majestic altar 100-metres away.  

Father Edwin D'Souza, the Rector of the Shrine, described the Rector Major's presence as, ''The best Diamond Jubilee gift we have received.'' Father D'Souza said, ''It is with a heart filled with gratitude that I stand here this evening to extend a heart-felt and affectionate welcome to our dear Rector Major.''

''It was on the 20th of April, 2016, that I wrote to Father Maria Arokiam Kanaga, our Regional Superior about our plans to invite our Rector Major for our Jubilee celebrations. We were privileged to have Father Chavez, the previous Rector Major for our Golden Jubilee and we were looking forward to having our present Rector Major for the Diamond Jubilee. He replied, 'Anything for Don Bosco... ' Our Rector Major did not disappoint us, after his visit to Bangalore and Guwahati he was passing through Mumbai for just a day to preside over our Diamond Jubilee celebrations, for this we are immensely grateful.''    

A group of young girls from Auxilium Convent High School, run by the Salesian sisters, then performed a Bharatnatyam prayer dance that added to the celebratory fervour. Father D'Souza presented a tribute to the Salesian visionary, Father Maschio, who's portrait stood near the main altar. ''I would like to place on record our appreciation and admiration of him for the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady that he gave to the city and people of Mumbai. On his behalf I express our immense gratitude to his family who have given him so freely and lovingly to the Salesians. We pledge to continue the vision of Father Maschio,'' he said.

A group of little flower girls then filled the path of the Rector Major with petals as he and the con-celebrants, Father Kanaga, Father Horacio Lopez, Rector Major's Secretary, Father Godfrey D'Souza, Provincial of Mumbai and Father Edwin D'Souza, ascended to the main altar. The Rector Major addressed the gathering in Italian with the help of Father Kanaga who was an able translator.  

''It's a real joy to meet all of you in Mumbai for the first time. In the name of Jesus I want to thank all of you for having come here this evening. A loving embrace to those who are very close to us Salesians, the young people, the boys and the girls. This wonderful evening all of us are gathered here to thank God for the last 60 years,'' he said.

''In Turin, Don Bosco did all that he could and constructed the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians and there is written on top, 'This is my house from here my glory shall go forth.' Today, Our Lady of Don Bosco's Madonna reaches out to so many people around the world. I was able to see the Shrine only this afternoon. It is so beautiful to see it and the thought struck me in the last 60 years how many people came to rest under the mantle of Our Lady, how many married people came to dedicate their life to Our Lady and how many men and women religious came to pray to Our Lady for protection of their consecrated life,'' he said.

''Our Lady always accompanies us in all circumstances in our life, to have such a faith in Our lady, Don Bosco said, is a way to get miracles. But we don't need to see big miracles or healings, very often we find enough courage to continue our life at the feet of Our Lady, so I invite you to thank God for the graces he gives to us through the intersession of Our Lady. I invite young people here to intensify this love of Our Lady in their hearts.''

Following the Eucharistic celebration, Father D'Souza felicitated the Rector Major, while Father Doulton invited Giovanni Bernasconi, on behalf of the benefactors the world over, to present a bouquet and to garland the Rector Major. He also read a citation to Pervin and Minocher Damania - for their long-standing service to the Shrine choir - and requested the Rector Major to present it to them.

Father Artime released a special coffee-table book of the Shrine. Father Doulton highlighted the efforts of Rajen Nandwana, the photographer, and William Fernandes, the art director. Finally, Father Godfrey D'Souza and Father Kanaga also thanked the Rector Major for visiting Mumbai and making the Jubilee celebrations so special.

''This is a very rare event where you have both 60 years and the Rector Major's visit together. We come to the Shrine every Sunday, so it was only fit for us to come for the Jubilee celebrations and the whole mass was so beautiful. Even though the Rector Major was speaking in Italian it sounded so beautiful that I didn't want him to stop'' Bianca Mascarenhas, a devotee from Mahim said.

With the Diamond Jubilee of Her Shrine, Don Bosco's Madonna brought together the young, the old, the laity, the religious alltogether at the  banquet of the Lord, and they could all truly say, 'Don Bosco was among us!'


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