05/26/2016, 14.08
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Bishop of Pune: The new shrine to St. Anthony, "monument of mercy" for the poor

by Nirmala Carvalho

The structure will be inaugurated on May 29. The first stone was laid in 2012 by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio in India. The sanctuary over the years has attracted the faithful of every religion. It became the "symbol of the relations among the faithful." The Bishop of Pune hopes it will foster fraternity and friendship.

Pune (AsiaNews) - The Diocese of Pune in Maharashtra State, has completed the construction of the new Shrine dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, which will be inaugurated on May 29. The blessing ceremony of the new building will be presided over by Bishop Thomas Dabre, Bishop of the Diocese. Speaking to AsiaNews he says: "In response to the spontaneous devotion of the faithful and people of other religions, we have endeavoured to promote it. We raised the already existing Shrine to the status of Diocesan Shrine, and now taking into account the growth of the devotion we have expanded the capacity and the facilities of the Shrine. We are grateful to all who have given us spiritual and material support. We will present the new shrine as a monument in the Year of Mercy".

The construction of the place of prayer was blessed by Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio in India, who laid the foundation stone of the sanctuary in September 2012. The completed building is decorated with stained glass windows and can accommodate up to 200 worshipers. It also has a large car park.

Bishop Dabre says: "The devotion to St. Anthony highlights the presence and power of the Divine operative, in the lives of Holy men and women, St. Anthony of Padua being one of them. Thus the devotion to St. Anthony is in truth the recognition of the power of God to transform lives and help human beings in their needs and troubles. We are living in an age of materialism, atheism and indifference to God and to spiritual values. Interest in consumerism and hedonism is on the increase in the present day age of globalization".

 For these reasons, says the Bishop, "Therefore devotion to St. Anthony  of  Padua is to be appreciated all the more as it is counter cultural, in that it comes as a corrective to the materialistic tendencies. God must be given the first and highest place in human life. Secondly the presence of God to which the devotion of St. Anthony of Padua witnesses is  operative for the good and well-being of all human beings, especially the needy and the poor".

 The goal of the diocese, he adds "is to promote the Shrine of St. Anthony as a manifestation of God’s Mercy to the poor, the suffering and the needy. We hope and  pray that the Diocesan  Shrine of Anthony emerges as a powerful instrument of God’s Love and Mercy and also of our love and mercy to all, especially the needy and the suffering".

The Bishop hopes that the site "will become an instrument of evangelization, of peace and harmony. People of other  religions stand before God along with Christians as His (God’s) children”. This - he concludes - can help create a spirit of brotherhood, friendliness and kindness among all the devotees. For now, it is already a symbol of the relationship between religions. "

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