Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A pilgrimage to celebrate "the proclamation of the Gospel, the joy of faith and the joy of serving Christ," recalling the first converts of the Diocese of Jadshedpur (Jharkhand). It was in this spirit that Fr. Lino Fernandes SFX, pastor of Blessed Mother Teresa of Siadih, led his Mundari tribal communities to the shrine of Our Lady of Kuntpani to celebrate the feast of Kuntpani Mata today.
The celebration takes its name from the village of the same name. Here, on 8 November 1873,
six tribal families were baptized, becoming the first Catholics in the area. "These people - said
Fr. Fernandes to AsiaNews -
came from the poorest and most
marginalized sections of society.
In total freedom and
absolute joy they asked to enter the Church, embracing the Catholic
Since then, the shrine is a place of pilgrimage for many people, Christian and non, who come to pray to the Virgin from various areas of Jharkhand, Orissa and other rural areas.
The priest, a
missionary of Pilar (Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier,
born in Goa in 1887),
left yesterday morning at dawn with a group, made up of tribal Christians and non-Christians.
"Many of them - he tells AsiaNews - come from the most
remote parts of the diocese. We
arrived in Kuntpani in the
afternoon and the kids had
rehearsed the preformance that they will give today.
The Mass in fact is preceded by traditional tribal dances".
"Our parish - he explains - has been preparing for a long time, organizing prayer services and reciting the rosary together. It is Mary who draws all people to her and through her and to her Son Jesus, with his unifying force. Even during the bus ride we prayed and sang tribal hymns. It was a moment of grace for the Church".