Fr. Lino Fernandes SFX is the pastor of Blessed Mother Teresa Church in Siadih, in Jharkhand State. He led a group of parishioners on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Bandel and the tomb of Mother Teresa. The journey "was long and arduous, and some have had to sell their cattle to pay the expenses." The memory of the encounter with the Blessed, 25 years ago, and the revelation: "I still guard as a treasure a gift from her, a picture of Mother Teresa with a child".
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Led by their pastor, the tribal Mundari of the Jharkhand State celebrated the Jubilee of Mercy passing through the Holy Door of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bandel and concluding the gesture with a visit to the tomb of Mother Teresa, patroness of their parish.
Fr. Lino Fernandes SFX, missionary of Pilar, spoke to AsiaNews about the emotion of his parishioners: "What a joy and how much enthusiasm for our humble tribal, some of whom traveled outside of the Jharkhand State for the first time in their life". The Marian shrine of Our Lady of Bandel is the oldest eastern India. Recalling the joy on the faces of the tribals when they prayed over the remains of the patron saint, the priest reports: "The Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis is an extraordinary gift to our parish. Our Blessed Mother, Mother Teresa, really made Calcutta the 'City of Joy' ".
Fr. Fernandes spoke of the two-day pilgrimage that he undertook with some members of the parish made up mostly of tribal Mundari, many of whom live in remote areas and below the poverty line. "For them - he says - it was very difficult to cover the cost of the trip. For our people this pilgrimage was great experience. Some have had to sell their livestock and other agricultural products to pay the expenses. "
The priest also describes the fatigue of a long journey: "It took 12 hours to reach the Howrah railway station [the hub of the city of Calcutta, ed]. Some religious Daughters of the Cross accompanied us and then they found housing for women in their school, near Howrah Station ".
The day of arrival, the group took another train to Bandel, about 40 kilometers from Calcutta. "In the sanctuary we celebrated Mass and then we passed through the Holy Door, which is the front door of the basilica. The faithful were really excited and prayed to Our Lady of Bandel to intercede for them and have mercy on them. "
"Our people are simple, and with humility of heart have prayed for protection and grace. They have a great maternal trust in Mary ".
The following day they went to pray at the tomb of Mother Teresa. Despite heavy rains, he continues, "we reached his house. When I passed the entrance door, I remembered the time when I met the blessed 25 years ago. On that occasion she gave me a picture of herself along with a child: I still keep it as a treasure – he reveals -. And when I came to her grave I felt her presence. Tears of joy poured down my face. "
The group concluded the visit with a Mass and prayers: "We entrusted our parish, which is dedicated to the blessed. We prayed for tribal youth and we thanked for this Jubilee of Mercy and for the upcoming canonization of Mother Teresa. "