As Pope Francis, in a glittering ceremony in Vatican, anointed two Kerala-born priests – the Blessed Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Blessed Euphrasia – as saints, a city church had special reason to celebrate.
The Blessed Cyriac Chavara Church, Kandivli (East), named after Father Chavara, concluded a three-day grand event, which saw 3,000 people take part every day, on Sunday.
This was the biggest celebration in recent times at the 26-year-old church run by Syrian Christians, said Reverend Father Sinto Chalissery.
A pandal was set up at the Sai Sports Complex in Kandivli on Friday, designed as the church altar. Life-sized statues of the two new saints greeted the visitors.
Sunday marked the conclusion of a biblical convention by the Andheri, Malad and Borivli zones of the Diocese of Kalyan, under which the Kandivli church falls.
Mar Thomas Elavanal, bishop of the Diocese of Kalyan, called the saint the Apostle of Christian families.
“He was a pioneer in the field of Christian education and came wp with the idea of pallikoodams [churches with schools], which is now practised by Christian institutions all over India,” he said.
Bishop John Rodrigues, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay, said the two priests are shining examples of the faith and are models of holiness.
“Saint Chavara was a visionary and a pioneer. He was always on the move, constructing monasteries, opening schools, initiating a press and founding two congregations.”
On Sunday, the celebrations began at 4pm with the recitation of the rosary, followed by the biblical convention led by Reverend Father Benny Puthennada and a team from Mother Home Retreat Centre, Pariyaram, Kerala.
This was followed by the Adoration ceremony led by Father Benny, and a special blessing ceremony for children by 35 priests from all over Maharashtra.
The grand Festal Mass, named Thirunal Qurbana, commenced around 8pm with the Chancellor of the Diocese of Kalyan, Reverend Father Justin Kallely, as the main celebrant. This was followed by a cultural programme where some biblical shows were performed.