Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao

Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao presides at Goa Velha Deanery Lenten Penitential celebration at Sts Simon and Jude Church, Mount Ganxim, Batim on 18 February 2018: witness of unity and faith

Nine Parishes of Goa Velha Deanery: Agassaim, Azossim, Batim, Curca, Goa Velha, Mandur, Neura, Siridao and Talaulim took part in the Penitential Way of the Cross, then Rosary from their respective areas and some from Batim Church at around 330 pm. They were led by respective Priests and carried banners depicted names of the Parish and wards. Youth were at different locations to guide. Then they joined the silent Adoration at the Church on the Holy Mount.

Archbishop Filipe Neri was welcomed by Goa Velha Dean Fr Roland Carvalho at the Statue of Mother of God at 440 pm. As they entered the Church, the traditional welcome song to Archbishop was led by Fr Ubaldo Fernandes, Batim Parish Priest. The solemn High Mass began at 450 pm with 16 concelebrants. Deacon Joseph Fernandes assisted. The readers were from the different Parishes. In his homily, Archbishop said: “in a spirit of penance, we are taking part in this penitential celebration. After being baptised, with the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was led to the desert. He fasted for forty days as preparation for His mission. Jesus proclaimed His message, ‘Repent, the kingdom is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel. Repent, the kingdom is at hand.’

Through Jesus and through Baptism we are renewed and heirs to the kingdom. What is the meaning of the kingdom of God?  1) In this kingdom of God, there is new relationship with God. Are we living like God loving children? In my life, am I giving first place (primacy) to God and Jesus, by Holy Mass and the word of God? Or have I begun to be enslaved in sin? In my life, in my family, have I denied life and become enslaved to self-centredness? 2) Freedom leads to serving one another, or do I demand others to serve me? Am I enslaved to selfishness, riches and bodily pleasures thereby serving myself and satan? 3) We must be united in community and friendship with understanding in our lives, families, communities. Have I broken this by anger and enmity?  4) Like Jesus, we must spread all around us the light of truth, justice, peace, goodness and righteousness. Have I become untruthful and living a life enslaved to vices?

By doing a good confession, experiencing Jesus’ intimate love this Lent season, let us follow His loving way and renew our lives. Many had a personal experience of Jesus, renewing their lives, like Zachhaeus in Luke 19. He was a sinner, far from God. He was enslaved to sin and vices. But, when he comes to know that Jesus will pass that side, he spares no effort to see Him. Just as Jesus watched Zachhaeus, so also He watches each one of us, however sinful we may be and however astray we maybe, Jesus is concerned for each one of us.

Similarly, Jesus says to each of us that He wishes to enter our lives. Zachhaeus life was completely changed by personally experiencing Jesus: 1) He made Jesus the centre of his life, by making his offering. 2) He met Jesus, so he got true freedom. Earlier, he was enslaved in sin with money and vices. Half of his possessions he pledged to give to the poor. He came forward in true freedom to serve others. 3) He stated that he would give half of his possessions to the poor. Since Jesus showed concern for Zachhaeus, he pledged to do the same by building and strengthening the community, friendship with others. Zachhaeus became the community builder. 4) If he defrauded anyone of anything, he pledged to give back four times as much. Since he met Jesus, he spread the light of truth, justice, peace, goodness and righteousness in the community. And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Salvation means new relationship with Jesus, new relationship amongst us and in the community.

God has favoured us with this merciful and graceful Lent season. We do not know if we will be favoured with this next year. This merciful season, Jesus reminds us, “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel. This Lent season, like Zachheus, let us very deeply experience Jesus by repenting and becoming community builders and through our witness spread the light of truth, justice, peace, goodness and righteousness; through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother and the two Patrons of this Church Sts Simon and Judas, to Our Heavenly Father, earnestly pray at this Mass.”

Fr Ubaldo sang the post communion Hymn to ‘God My Father.’ Fr Roland thanked everyone, especially Archbishop, Fr Ubaldo, local MLA, Panchayat, and Electricity Department. He mentioned that Archbishop could decide on having this once a year. Archbishop congratulated and thanked all especially the Dean, Parish Priests, all Priests, nuns, brothers, leaders, laity, youth, elders, children who partook with great difficulty in spirit of penance. Scripture mentions Jesus and also Moses going to mount to pray to be united to God. This was decided this lent, to cultivate a spirit of penance and reparation. He mentioned that this Lenten Penitential celebration can be Archdiocesan level, God willing next lent, with all as witness of unity and faith.   

He said that Goa Velha Deanery is the first (in the Archdiocese) for this. In a spirit of penance, we have climbed this mount and offered Holy Sacrifice of Mass. Let us retain the penitential spirit throughout lent season. Let us pray that this season of lent be a time of grace and blessing for us, our Diocese and the universal Church and through us to the whole of mankind. 

About 1,200 attended. The Church renovation was completed with fresh painting, new mikes, electrical points, washrooms and clean compound. The local Batim Parishioners led by Fr Ubaldo spared no efforts in all areas. Choir was ably performed by Maina Batim.