Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Fr. Briston Britto sdb
AHMEDNAGAR, FEBRUARY 15, 2011: A gathering of hundred and three Catholics, consisting of thirty four couples with family and children gathered together to celebrate World Marriage Day 2011 at St John’s Church, Bhingar.

On February 13, at the 5.30 pm evening mass, a liturgy of a different kind was being enacted. The preparations for this began two months ahead with the clergy asking themselves one basic question: Whose need is it, the people or ours? With this focus in mind a series of preparatory meeting was held by the core group and organizers of the program of St. John’s Church, Bhingar.
The couples were informed that on February 13 World Marriage Day would be celebrated all over the world and they were free to design and create the celebrations if they wished. The liturgy was well planned. The celebration had personal and intimate sacramental moments for the couples. Every couple was reminded that in the sacrament of marriage the husband and wife are the celebrants of the sacrament and the priests are mere witnesses. It was an occasion to compose their new spontaneous vows to express their commitment to each other and in gestures and words they communicated it. The rest of the congregation watched the couples celebrate the solemnity of marriage in the life of a Christian. The liturgy was not clergy driven but owned by the people as their own and this made a radical difference in the entire tempo of the celebration. Every one present expressed their appreciation for the liturgy conducted this way.
A specially designed offertory procession presenting a Wedding album as the book of God’s historic romance with the couple enriched the celebration. Mrs. Jovita D’Souza facilitated the mobilization of the couples who wished to attend Mass.
Vianney and Fiona Carvalho sang the hymns with a nuptial theme. Fr. Bento D’Souza was the main celebrant. Fr. Blaise Fernandes preached a touching homily. Fr. Briston Britto concelebrated and gave the vote of thanks.
A social family get-together, games and exercises followed by a community meal, brought the couples together and kept families united. Professor Franklin Coutinho compered the show. Vanessa, Ronap and his team were the hosts of the evening at Thapar’s Inn, Tarakpur.
All left remembering the poem:

“The woods are lovely dark and deep,
And we have promises to keep
And miles to walk before we sleep,
And miles walk before we sleep.”

This pocket of the Nashik diocese in the diocese of Ahmednagar knows that every second Sunday of February is celebrated a World Marriage Day. Fr. Bento strongly feels that no celebration touches the souls of Catholics as deeply as the celebration of this parallel adult sacrament in the church. All other groups set up in church merely support the clergy-centric, established, institutional, traditional system. Affirming marriage movements in parishes can promote the total renewal of the church, even if it be, just in pockets.
Opening the doors to Christ and a return to Don Bosco means opening new spaces and empowering couples to pioneer a new path for growth and renewal in their lives. When the celebration ended, the Salesians realized that the need to celebrate is a need of the people, not just our own.

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