It was a delightful, prayerful and spiritually rewarding experience for all of us who participated in the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Velankanni in the Church of the Resurrection (Sunnyvale, CA), which is the home of the Sacred Heart Tamil Catholic Group. It was great success to the glory of our Mother Mary as it was apparent from the great number of her devotees who filled the Resurrection church on the day of celebration on September 6, 2014.
We thank God for His Grace and Blessings on this festive occasion in honor of His Holy Mother and guiding all of us through this spiritual journey to be closer with Him and Mother Mary. We also take this opportunity to thank Vicar General Rev Msgr. Francis V. Cilia for being with us in celebrating Velankanni Matha feast, and it is a great honor for us that he was with us to bless us all. We also thank the “Church of the Resurrection” parish for the full support and all the help such as providing us with a marvelous facility for the celebration and for all our regular periodic religious activities. Next, we are proud that the Sacred Heart Tamil Catholic Group is comprised of great volunteers and members and we Thank all for their abundant help, voluntarily sponsoring various needs for this feast, and participating energetically and enthusiastically in this celebration, which helped tremendously in planning and conducting this celebration successfully to the full satisfaction all who participated. We gratefully note that everything needed for the celebration was sponsored by our community members – and this include Matha statue, Carrier, decoration material (such as jasmine flowers was ordered and delivered overnight directly from Madurai, India), dinners on the celebration days, so on, and we thank for their generosity, and pray that God bless them abundantly for their generosity toward the Glory of God and Mother Mary. Finally, we thank all who came to be with us in celebrating Matha’s feast, and it was a great feeling to see that multiple ethnic communities from different states in India and from different countries participated in this celebration of our Mother Mary – and it says that there is no ethnic and language barrier when it comes to celebrating Mother Mary.
Feast Day (Sept 6. 2014):
Those who came to church early (before 6.30) on the feast day were amazed by the beautiful statue of Mother Mary with Baby Jesus (ஆரோக்கிய மாதா & குழந்தை இயேசு) placed near the side entrance (near the parking lot) of the church in an attractively decorated carrier. The decorations were primary done with fresh flowers, which included fresh jasmine flowers directly imported from Madurai, India, through overnight delivery. At around, 6.45 PM, Vicar General blessed the statue and the ninth day novena prayers was recited, and then procession started from the church lead by the Vicar General, Fr. John Rose, and altar servers, followed by the long line of Matha devotees who were escorted behind them by Matha statue carried by the faithful in the carrier and finally was followed by the choir and prayer lead team reciting rosaries and singing song. The rosary was recited in multiple languages. The procession proceeded along the pathway towards Farana Center, crossed the church parking lot to exit the church parking lot entry point to continue the procession along the walkway on the side of “Sterling Road” bordering the church campus and finally the procession entered in front of the church where the big charismatic statue of the resurrected Jesus located and the Velankanni Matha statue with people carrying it in the carrier was stationed in front the statue of resurrected Jesus for the final prayers and blessings. It was a great treat to the eyes and souls to see the Velankanni Matha statue in such a setting – in which the resurrected Jesus appeared to bless His Mother and everyone around her statue. Once final prayers and songs were recited, Vicar General offered his final prayer, and then everyone piously went back into church to participate in the Mass and Matha Statue also was brought into the church and placed at Altar.
The Mass was celebrated by Vicar General and Fr. John Rose. During the homily time, Vicar General invited all children to Altar to sit around him to explore the background around the feast and various other spiritual matters, and the children actively participated responding to questions from Vicar General and asking their own questions back to Vicar General. It was a great learning experience to all. After the Mass ended, people lined-up and gave pious respect to the Matha statue one by one.
After the Mass, everyone proceeded to Farana Center for the dinner. Matha statue also was moved to be on the stage. During the dinner, kids entertained all of us by singing and dancing on stage. During this time, there was a documentary on Velankanni Matha which was educational. At the end of celebration, everyone was happy to take some blessed flowers, which were used in decorating the Matha statue’s carrier, to their home.
God has gifted Sacred Heart Tamil Catholic Group with a wonderful parish which helps the SHTCG community flourish spiritually maintaining our own cultural identity. As a Tamil catholic community, we are very grateful for such an opportunity given by the parish, and we like to give back to the parish whatever way possible. Our community leaders and members believed celebrating Our Lady of Velankanni feast at this parish would bring lot of benefit which include --- showing our commitment to the parish, and bring our cultural based spiritual tradition to the parish, and at the same time, we all benefitting from our Mother Mary’s blessing. The parish also showed great interest and excitement in celebrating this feast honoring our Mother Mary at the parish.
Background on the feast at the parish:
It all started and concluded within the amazingly short span of less than 2 months –-- from thinking about celebrating Our Lady of Velankanni (sometime around middle of July, 2014) to actually celebrating it (August 29 - September 6, 2014). To conduct this feast meaningfully and provide spiritual benefit to the community, many things needed to be done rightly and quickly. One of our community volunteers worked with people in India to make and bring a beautiful Matha Statue directly from Velankanni, Tamilnadu, and one of the families from our community who traveled back from India in August brought the Matha statue with them for the feast. Another community volunteer worked with local wood craftsman in making a beautiful carrier for the Matha statue, which also included ideas from other community volunteers and members incorporated. Community as a whole energetically and enthusiastically participated in spiritual and material preparation and anticipation of the feast – for example, many members actively participated in the 9 days of novena starting on August 29, 2014, conducting novena in Farana Center some days and remotely through conference rest of the days, and concluding it with feast celebration on September 6, 2014. All in all, it was beautifully well organized with generous help, full cooperation and active participation from our community members.
For More Detail:
You could see the pictures from the Matha’s festival celebration at the following link:
All in all, it was a great start of the tradition celebrating Our Lady of Velankanni at Church of the Resurrection, the home of the Sacred Heart Tamil Catholic Group.
Once again, thank you all for celebrating Velankanni Matha feast, and being part of us in this celebration!
Yours in Christ to the Glory of Velankani Matha,
Sacred Heart Tamil Catholic Group