Our Parish Calendar highlights places of Pilgrimage in the Archdiocese of Bombay and so the Malla Community chose the Shrine of Our Lady Of Velankanni, Uttan for our preparation towards Easter & Lenten outreach . On Sunday, 18th Feb 2018, twenty-three of us assembled near the New Sunrise Restaurant at 6.45 am and left by bus for Uttan. The road journey was uneventful, except for the fact that due to the indifferent condition of our roads, we were all given a thorough shake-up by the time we reached our first stop, The Mazarello Centre run by the Salesian Sisters.

During this short breakfast halt we were apprised of the work done by the Sisters with inmates which comprised children between the ages of 8 to 18 drawn from the very poor & marginalised sections of society. The children living at this home are provided with education and taught the basic values of living as a community. On completion of 18yrs, they are released into the mainstream of this harsh and cruel world with the thought that the time spent at this centre and with the education provided they would be able to cope up with their struggle that lay ahead. The children put up a short sing song programme for our benefit. Akshay spontaneously took out his guitar and we too sang a few songs with the kids. On the whole the children looked happy and well cared for. After presenting them with a grain donation of rice, dahl, sugar, etc we left to continue on our pilgrimage.

We reached the Shrine at 9:30 am and heard the 10:00 am mass. The Shrine located in the fishing village of Uttan, is set on high ground overlooking the Arabian Sea to the West with a lush and green hinterland to its East. It is quiet and peaceful and conducive to prayer and meditation. The Shrine is surrounded with the 14 Stations of the Cross on its periphery which are mounted on cement and stone. The Shrine itself very ornate on the inside and well maintained. However, the maintenance and upkeep of the area surrounding the Shrine leaves much to be desired.

After mass, we commenced with the Stations of the Cross – the main purpose of our pilgrimage. Speaking from my point of view and at my age, the initial stations were nice and easy. But as they progressed and started ascending the hillock, I found that I was tiring out and had to be assisted. Thanks to Christopher, who was like Simon of Cyrene to me and remained at my side, I completed the entire course. My thoughts went out to what Our Lord must have gone through on His way to Calvary – albeit a thousand times more. I thanked God for helping me out. Bernard conducted the Stations of the Cross making us see our Lords suffering through Mother Marys eyes making it very meaningful.

Finally, we then gathered together for some much needed rest and had our lunch. After tea, we headed back home with the thought of having spent the Sunday in a prayerful and useful manner in preparation for Lent and Easter.

By – Francis Dias