Festival of Our Lady of Velankanni – 2022 at Our Lady of Refuge, San Jose, CA

After experiencing a few uneasy years, finally we were blessed with a gift of back to normal and healthy environment to celebrate Our Lady of Velankanni festival at Our Lady of Refuge church (from September 2 to 10, 2022), and very many children of our Holy Mother came in full-force from all over the places and filled-up the church to get blessed from Mother of God!

Thanksgiving & Welcoming:

We humbly Thank our ever-loving God for continuously blessing us abundantly and giving us an opportunity again to celebrate our Lady of Good Health in a divinely beautiful house of God!

We are thankful that the Most Rev. Bishop Jude Paulraj, could join the celebration, and lead the feast Mass for us. His Homily was lovely and touching into our hearts as he explained some experiences from his pastoral life, which conveyed that we can serve our family and others happily even in a very challenging situation without worrying about what the future holds for us and with the firm faith that we are all handmaids of loving God who knows how to take care of us all. Bishop also challenged our minds about why St. Mary was chosen as the Mother of Jesus.

We are very grateful Thank the Pastor Rev. Fr. Hugo Rojas, Rev. Fr. Antony Nguyen, and all in the Our Lady of Refuge church parish and the diocese of San Jose for their continued kind care and support for our Sacred Heart Tamil Catholic Group. It was also a great privilege for our community that Fr. Hugo Rojas and Rev. Fr. Antony Nguyen could join the Bishop in celebrating the feast Mass!

Words can’t explain how Thankful and Grateful we are to our beloved Rev. Fr. Chandrasekar for continued to be a spiritual guide for our community, and conducting Holy Mass for us whenever needed. Even though it takes around three hours one way to come to us, Rev. Fr. Chandrasekar gladfully lead the festival for us – starting with inaugurating the festival (flag hoisting and Holy Mass) until the concelebrating the feast Mass with the Bishop and lowering the flag. We were also delighted with Father’s Spanish speaking skills which helped immensely to communicate with many from the Spanish community who joined us in the feast Mass.

Our Sacred Heart Tamil Catholic community thrives because of ever dedicated pool of community leaders, volunteers and generous donors! The grand success of this feast is the fruit of the dedicated support of these vital folks and below are some highlights of their contributions: -       Planning, organizing, and executing the festival activities.
-       Fund-raising effort (growing and selling plants) and generous donations.
-       Soul pleasing choir performance by our super skilled choir team.
-       Heart pleasing decorations of Altar, Madha statues, and Madha carrier, by our best artistical minds in our community.
-       Allowing us to be in-touch with Holy Mother daily through Novenas by our prayer gurus.
-       Spreading the happiness through Madha’s visitation by our coordinators.
-       Altar serving, and other ministerial contributions by our younger generation.
-       Providing the food (dinner) to all, the Jesus way, and serving the food, the disciples way.
-       Capturing festival’s memorable moments through photos and video by our selfless experts.
-       Finally, doing the hardest and most inconvenient jobs by our ever-hard-working volunteers - - like, assembling & setting-up, un-assembling & cleaning-up, and moving things into and out of storage, so on.
-       Many other contributions that may not have been covered above by our dedicated people.

Finally, we thank all the children of Mother Mary, who were from multiple ethnic backgrounds, came together as a single family to celebrate and honor our common Holy Mother.

The Celebration (from September 2 to 10, 2022):

Flag-hoisting (September 2, 2022):

On the inaugural day, all of us assembled at church first and then processed outside along the main driveway to the back of the church. After reciting the first Novena, Rev. Fr. Chandrasekar raised the blessed Velenkanni Madha’s flag, and then, everyone went back inside the church to partake in the Holy Mass. After the Holy Mass came to conclusion, two small Madha statues were blessed and given to the two families to take to their homes for presentation during Novena time. The inaugural day ended with the potluck dinner and fellowship.

Novena Remote (September 3 – 10, 2022):

Many families from our community & friends enthusiastically participated in the Novena remotely from the 2nd day through the 8th day of the festival.  Each of these days, the two Madha statues continued visiting two new homes. The Madha statues at the visiting homes were decorated and viewed by all who participated in the Novena each day.

The Feast Day (September 10, 2022):

The Feast Day started with final day Novena and followed by the Holy Mass, celebrated in multiple languages (English, Spanish and Tamil), lead by the Most Rev. Bishop Jude Paulraj along with concelebrated by Rev. Fr. Chandrasekar Paulraj, the Pastor Rev. Fr. Hugo Rojas, and Rev. Fr. Antony Nguyen. Four ladies from our community performed Arathi to the Most Rev. Bishop and all the Rev. Fathers at the beginning of the Holy Mass. In turn, Bishop and Rev. Fathers also performed Arathi to all who gathered at the church. During the offering time, many lined-up in the center aisle and offered gifts to God. Children also performed Anjali to the Eucharist with light, flowers and perfume during the Eucharist time. The expert choir groups spiritually immersed all of us with their divinely music and singing in different languages (Spanish, Vietnamese, English and Tamil) during the Holy Mass. Many from different ethnic background speaking different languages (Pilipino, English, Vietnamese, Spanish, Tamil and Malayalam) did the ‘Prayers of the Faithful’. Towards the end of the Holy Mass the Bishop and the Rev. Fathers were honored with shawls, garlands and gifts by our community! & priests and finally men carrying Madha’s statue in the carrier. The procession proceeded along the parking lot, existed the church campus through the driveway between the church and the parish-hall, r eentered the church campus through the main driveway and reached the destination in-front of the church and the procession was concluded with the Bishop’s final prayer.

After the procession, everyone proceeded to the outside back of the church, where the Bishop lowered the Our Lady of Velankanni flag as an indication that the festival has come to an end. Then, Delicious dinner was served, and the community members had an opportunity for fellowship with each other. As usual, our dedicated hardworking volunteers stayed till the end to do the un-assembling, cleanup and moving things back to the storage.

We Thank our God for all His Blessings in completing this festival very successfully, and we pray for His continued blessings so that we can be of instrumental to glorify Him and His Mother.

We are looking forward to another year of grand celebration for our Lady of Velankannni in the Year 2023!

Sincerely In Christ,