BIS #7050 Celebrating Mary and the Girl Child across INB

By Br Aliester D’Souza for BISMumbai

On 8 September 2023, the institutions of the Salesian Province of Bombay celebrated the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary with ardent fervour and devotion. Also, the Church in India celebrated this day as Girl Child Day.

At St Dominic Savio Parish, Wadala, the nine-day novena was seen as an occasion by the Parish Priest, Fr Kenneth Pereira, to catechise the faithful on the precepts of the Church. Held in three languages - English, Tamil and Marathi - this event brought together parishioners from different communities to celebrate the Mother of the Church. The animation by the children and youth added youthful energy and enthusiasm to the celebrations. Also, each day, the children brought food grains, other groceries, and stationery items for the offertory. These will be distributed to the poor and needy in the parish community. In addition to the religious aspects, the feast also provided opportunities for social interaction and fellowship. Various competitions were held for the children attending the Tamil services.    

At Our Lady of Dolours Church, Wadala, the theme of the novena was ‘Friends of Mary’. The children animated the Novena masses daily with the prepared liturgy based on the theme, led by their catechists. They also displayed a theme-based chart and performed small acts or prayer dances in honour of Our Lady. The presence of different priests from across the diocese who celebrated the Holy Eucharist and delivered enlightening sermons added more meaning to these days of the novena. Furthermore, to foster community spirit, the parish's youth group organised a lively Housie night for parishioners during the Novena, providing a wonderful opportunity for parishioners to come together in devotion to Mary. 

At Don Bosco Parish, Makarpura, the novena was based on Fratelli Tutti, the encyclical of Pope Francis. The birthday celebration of our Lady began with a devout procession from Auxilium Convent to the Parish. The main celebrant of the feast Mass was Fr Aubrey Fernandes SJ, the Director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Forsaken. Fr Fernandes preached on the promises assured by God through our Beloved Mother Mary and stressed how, as a simple native girl child, she was the most powerful woman on earth who humbly did the will of God as a perfect model, disciple, and apostle. After the Mass, the girl children of the parish gathered in front of the altar and were blessed with a special prayer. 

Don Bosco School, Borivli, celebrated the Nativity of Mary and Girl Child Day with a prayer service conducted in every class for the Primary Section. The Catholic students of the Secondary Section joined for the Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Principal, Fr Flovi D’Souza.

On the occasion of Girl Child Day, an awareness session was conducted for the girls at Don Bosco, Naigaon. The girls were shown a series of succinct, motivational videos and PowerPoint presentations with strong themes. When speaking to the girls, the co-ordinating supervisor, Ms Dorothy Fernandes, emphasised the value of education for girls. She underlined the importance of every girl child maintaining their concentration, being determined, having great dreams, being empowered, and taking action.

Sahayak Mata Parish, Kawant, celebrated its feast day on 10 September. 350 parishioners gathered for the festive celebrations which were a culmination of a prayer-filled novena. One of the most striking aspects of the celebration was the active participation of the past pupils of the institution. They not only attended the celebration but also played an integral role in organizing the day, highlighting the enduring connection between the institution and its alumni. Fr Mayank Parmar, the Parish Priest said, “I am delighted to see the total participation of the parishioners. The celebration was not of the priests and nuns of the parish but it was very much the celebration of the parish community which helped in bonding themselves to the Christ and his Mother and among themselves.”