Festival of Our Lady of Velankanni – 2022 at Our Lady of Refuge, San Jose, CA
"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son."
Yet, this love extends further, embracing us all in its infinite warmth. As a testament to this affection, Jesus gave us His Holy Mother, a precious gift that transcends human understanding. It is a gift bestowed upon humanity before His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
In reverence to this divine favor, devout souls from far and wide converged to partake in the festival of Our Lady of Velankanni Madha, uniting as a single, harmonious family within the hallowed embrace of the Our Lady of Refuge Church. The Velankanni Madha festival, commencing September 8 and culminating September 16, provided a sacred occasion to venerate and exalt our Holy Mother. As her devoted children, we were able to approach her with unwavering confidence in prayer.
The festival was a soul-enriching, divine experience marked by the grandeur of the Holy Mass officiated by Rev Fathers Gabriel Augustine, Chandrasekar Paulraj, and Danis Ponniah. A candle-lit solemn procession, shining in its illumination, graced the occasion, carrying the Holy Mother in a beautifully decorated carrier.
Dedicated leaders and coordinators, generous contributions from benevolent donors, and tireless volunteers made the success of this grand celebration possible through the confluence of divine grace and the profound love of our Holy Mother.
In the spirit of gratitude and welcoming, we extend our humble thanks to our ever-loving God for His continued blessings, permitting us once again to celebrate the benevolence of Our Lady of Good Health.
Our heartfelt appreciation to Rev. Fr. Gabriel Augustine, who consistently serves as our guide and celebrant of the Holy Mass -- his leadership, from the festival's inauguration through the celebration Mass and flag-lowering, remains a source of inspiration. We also thank Rev. Fr. Chandrasekar Paulraj for his continued support for our community, for being a celebrant of the Holy Mass, and for delivering a devotionally impactful sermon. We are also happy and thankful to Rev. Fr. Danis Ponniah for being the main celebrant of the Holy Mass and immersing us all in a devotional experience.
Our Sacred Heart Tamil Catholic community thrives due to the unwavering support of our dedicated leaders, volunteers, and generous donors. The resounding success of this festival is a testament to their commitment and devotion. Their contributions encompassed:
- Meticulous planning, organization, and execution of festival activities.
- Soul-soothing choral performances by our exceptionally talented choir team.
- Beautiful decorations of the Altar, Madha statues, and the Madha carrier.
- Facilitating daily connections with the Holy Mother through Novenas conducted by our prayer guides.
- Spreading joy through the visitation of the Holy Mother to several of our members' homes.
- Participation in altar service and other ministerial roles by our younger generation.
- Capturing memorable moments of the festival through the expertise of our selfless photographers and videographers.
- Undertaking complex and often unsung tasks, such as assembly, disassembly, cleaning, and storage management, by our dedicated volunteers.
- Countless other contributions by our devoted community members.
Finally, we express our gratitude to all the devotees of Mother Mary, who came together as one family to celebrate and honor our Holy Mother.
The Celebration (from September 8 to 16, 2023):
Flag Hoisting (September 8, 2023):
On the inaugural day, we assembled at the parish hall before processing along the main driveway to the rear of the church. Following reciting the initial Novena, Fev. Fr. Gabriel Augustine raised the blessed Velankanni Madha's flag. Subsequently, all returned to the hall to partake in the Holy Mass. The day concluded with a potluck dinner and fellowship.
Live Streaming Novena (September 9 – 15, 2023):
Throughout the festival's second through eighth days, numerous families from our community and friends ardently participated in the Novena remotely. Each day, two Madha statues visited two new households, bedecked and admired by all Novena participants.
The Festival Day (September 16, 2023):
The Festival Day commenced with the final Novena and culminated in a Tamil-language Holy Mass presided over by Reverend Fathers Gabriel Augustine, Chandrasekar Paulraj, and Danis Ponniah. At the commencement of the Holy Mass, four women from our community performed the Arathi ritual for the celebrants, who reciprocated the gesture to the congregation. During the Eucharist, children offered Anjali with light, flowers, and perfume. The melodious strains of the choir, delivered in Tamil, enveloped the congregation in a spiritually enriching ambiance.
Towards the conclusion of the Holy Mass, the Rev priests were honored with shawls, garlands, and tokens of appreciation from our community. This was followed by a procession in which men carried the statue of Madha in a carrier. The solemn procession waded through the church campus and around the church, concluding with a final prayer.
Subsequently, at the rear of the church, the Our Lady of Velankanni flag was lowered, signifying the festival's conclusion. A splendid dinner was served, affording community members an opportunity for convivial fellowship. As is customary, our dedicated volunteers remained steadfast, diligently overseeing the disassembly, cleanup, and return of belongings to storage.
We offer our heartfelt thanks to God for His abundant blessings in the successful culmination of this festival, and we pray to Him for continued favor, enabling us to be instruments of His glory and that of His Holy Mother.
With great anticipation, we look forward to another year of grand celebration in honor of Our Lady of Velankanni in 2024.
Sincerely In Christ,