By Fr Francis Rodrigues, Raknno
Karkala, Jan 27, 2015: The three day festival of the renowned Shrine of St Lawrence in Attur, Karkala began with new vigour and devotion here on Tuesday, January 27. The first Mass of the three-day festival was celebrated at 7.30 and the second Mass was celebrated at 9 a.m. This year the actual festal celebrations have begun on 25th Sunday with the Procession of Confraternity. There were three masses on Sunday 25th and 5 special Masses on Monday 26th as it was a public holiday. There were special masses on Monday for the children as well as the sick with special prayers for them. Monday was crowded with devotees.
Most Rev. Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo the Bishop of Udupi together with Fr George D’Souza, the Shrine Rector is guiding the festive celebrations. The Bishop of Udupi is residing in the shrine for 5 days to guide the festivities.
‘Consecrated Christian Life’ is the theme of the annual shrine festival this year as Pope Francis has declared that a Year of Consecrated Life (YCL) be celebrated throughout the world from the First Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014 and to be closed on the World Day of Consecrated Life, February 2, 2016. The historical shrine of St Lawrence at Attur-Karkala fills the devotees who come to the shrine with grace to live their lives with consecrated commitment.
A number of devotees from different corners of Karnataka and neighbouring states of south India have come into the Shrine. With great devotion they are partaking in the Holy Masses. The visitors are seen devoutly visiting the relic of St Lawrence, confessing their sins, visiting the pool at the shrine and receiving flowers and holy water in the shrine. After every Mass there is a special prayer for the sick in Konkanni as well as Kannada languages. A number of priests and deacons are laying hands on the devotees and are praying for health and happiness of the devotees.
All together there are 38 Masses during the festival this year in Kannada, English, Malayalam and Konkanni languages including 5 masses on Monday 26th and 3 masses on Sunday 25th. There will be 12 masses on the first day, 11 masses on the second day and 8 masses on the last day which is celebrated as the ‘Guiding Mother Festival’ (Giadh Mayechi Porob). The last mass would be at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday.
Most Rev. Dr Francis Serrao the Bishop of Shimoga would be celebrating the special Mass in Kannada at 6 p.m. on Tuesday 27th. The main festival Mass on Wednesday, January 28th will be celebrated by Most Rev. Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza the Bishop of Mangalore at 10.30 a.m. Most Rev. Dr Lawrence Mukkuzhy, the Bishop of Belthangady would be celebrating the Malayalam Mass on Wednesday 28th at 8.00 a.m. Most Rev. Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo the Bishop of Udupi would be celebrating the festival Mass on Thursday 29th at 10 a.m. .
The devotees come in lacks to this Shrine with different reasons. To be cured of the mental-physical sicknesses, to experience the quietness of prayer, to experience the peace amidst the number of tensions of life, to thank the Lord for the favours received, to receive the blessings from God etc and etc. Many come in groups by walking devoutly hundreds of KMs to the shrine transcending the barriers of religions.
This is for the third time that the annual shrine festival is being celebrated after the establishment of the new Diocese of Udupi. The campus has been extended by leveling the ground for the devotees and the confessions have been arranged near the shrine in a new building. A new bock with 40 modern toilet facilities, urinals and wash basins has been put for the usage of the devotees. The residence for the priests who come for confessions and other spiritual ministries has been arranged in a new three floor building near the shrine. Three new parking places have been arranged for the public together with earlier places. A new parking place for VIPs and pass holders has been prepared adjacent to the miracle pond. The miracle pond has been renovated so that even the elderly and sick persons can get near the waters and feel the grace by touching the waters. 74 CCTV cameras have been installed for the safety of the devotees.
The Chief Minister of the state Mr Siddaramayya has assured that he would visit the historical shrine on 28th Wednesday. According to Fr George D’Souza the Rector of the Shrine the Chief Minister would be here with the necessary security clearance and would be laying foundation stone for the newly planned ‘Christian Community Hall and Pilgrim Centre’ to be built in the shrine campus and also will inaugurate the newly erected three floored office and residential block.
Even though geographically the Attur-Karkala shrine belongs to the Udupi diocese, priests, religious and deacons from the undivided Mangalore diocese and other neighbouring dioceses have willingly involved themselves in the shrine festivities especially in the confessional ministry.
Arrangements have been made systematically to cater to the needs of the devotees. The Rector, the Chaplain, parish vice-president Richard Pinto, local panchayat administration, police and administrative services, Attur parishioners, Karkala Deanery Catholic Sabha, diocesan as well as religious priests, sisters and lay leaders have joined hands with spiritual zeal as to make the festival a great success.