05/12/2010, 00.00
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Karwar: Bishop and priests in the Holy Land to renew commitment to mission

by Nirmala Carvalho
Tomorrow the pilgrimage of 65 diocesan priests begins, headed by Mgr. Derek Fernandes. Bishop of Karwar: an occasion for "conversion and prayer." The trip is organized by the prelate, who raised money to cover expenses of participants. The return to India on the eve of Pentecost.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – In the Holy Land together with diocesan priests is a moment "of repentance and renewal, conversion and prayer." This is the message of Mgr. Derek Fernandes, Bishop of Karwar, the Indian state of Karnataka, within hours of departure to the place where Jesus was born and lived "My hope - says the bishop - is that through this pilgrimage, we [priests] can become witnesses of our encounter with Christ and be able to continue our task of announcing the Gospel”.

Mgr. Derek Fernandes will lead a group of 65 priests, 13 to 21 May, visiting the places where Christianity was born. In February, the bishop had already visited the Holy Land, with a first group of 55 priests. "On the occasion of the Year for Priests proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI - said the Indian prelate - I thought it would be useful for our priests to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, together with their brothers." "This was my dream," adds Mgr. Fernandes, who personally organised and collected the necessary funds so that all of the men could participate.

The Bishop of Karwar explains the program of the pilgrimage to AsiaNews, which begins tomorrow "feast of Our Lady of Fatima and ends on the eve of Pentecost." The first stage is the ruins of the synagogue Korazym, Mount of Beatitudes, where there will be a personal confession. Then they will move on to the primacy of St. Peter, where the famous rock stands. "On May 14 priests celebrate Mass near the rock," said Mgr. Derek, who will celebrate his birthday that day. Following five days in Galilee, the place of Jesus' childhood, before moving to Jerusalem where on the evening of the 18th an prayer hour will be held with the renewal of priestly vows at the Upper Room, the place where Christ instituted the sacrament of 'Eucharist and the priesthood. "

The pilgrimage will be an opportunity to "ponder and examine the life of Jesus," said the bishop.  The group are expected to return to India on the eve of Pentecost: "This is a source of hope for a new beginning - Mgr. Derek concludes - for a renewal of our missionary commitment. "

Fr. Lorens D'Silva, director of the diocesan communications, participated in the pilgrimage of the first group of priests, in February, and speaks of an experience that is essential to "renew our vow to the priesthood in the presence of the bishop, Mgr. Derek".  Emphasizing the combination of the pilgrimage with the Year of Priests - which will close in June - he adds that it "served to better understand the Scriptures" and he concludes, "I will never be the same, we will never be the same."

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