Sunday, August 14, 2011


Savio Silveira sdb
MATUNGA, AUGUST 14, 2011: Down the years, the Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna at Matunga, has witnessed many a breathtaking moment. From the visit of Pope Paul VI in 1964 to the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2007, for which even the Rector Major was present – you would have thought that the Shrine had seen it all.  But, no… the arrival of the Casket with the Relic of Don Bosco far surpassed these past glories. To use a popular phrase, this event was in a class of its own!
By 5.00 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, the entire road from St. Joseph’s Wadala to Don Bosco Matunga was lined with students, chattering excitedly, restlessly looking down the road, awaiting that magical moment when the Relic of Don Bosco would arrive. At precisely 5.50 p.m., led by a motorcade of flag waving past pupils and an ensemble of spirited drummers, the procession accompanying the Relic arrived at the gates of the Shrine. The students lined up on the road, had by now broken out into a rapturous applause. Amidst the din, Fr. Ian Doulton announced over the public-address system: “The casket has arrived, Don Bosco is among us!”
Waiting on the steps of the Shrine to receive the Relic were His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Provincial Fr. Michael Fernandes, Rector of the Shrine Fr. Edwin D’Souza and a host of Salesians. With them were also leaders of other Faiths who were present to welcome Don Bosco to the city of Mumbai. As soon as the casket was lowered from the vehicle, a short moment of inter-faith prayer was held, during which the different leaders prayed that the pilgrims who would visit the Relic may grow spiritually and that through the intercession of this Saint, harmony may reign in our city.  Then, escorted by the flag bearers, lezin dancers and prettily made up angels, the casket and the concelebrants proceeded to the school quadrangle, which was already crowded with devotees. Here, the inaugural prayer service was held, which was followed by a well crafted skit on the ‘Dream of Don Bosco’. Next, were the ‘words of welcome’ by the Provincial. Addressing Don Bosco, Fr. Fernandes said: “Welcome Don Bosco, welcome to our city of Mumbai. You are now in your own Shrine, and we are delighted to have you among us”.
The Eucharistic celebration then commenced, with Cardinal Gracias as the principal celebrant. In his homily, the Cardinal focused on Don Bosco who was a shepherd of the young, a devotee of Our Blessed Lady, and a disciple of Jesus. The Cardinal called on the gathering to emulate these qualities in their own life. “Young people today are facing a variety of problems and pressures. We must learn from Don Bosco how to care for these our youngsters, beginning from the children in our own families,” pointed out Cardinal Gracias. “To live a good Christian life, we have to be close disciples of Jesus, and great lovers of Our Lady, like Don Bosco,” the Cardinal added. The renowned Stop Gaps Choir led the singing during the Eucharist, adding to the splendor and solemnity of the occasion.  After the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Gracias released a new music album of hymns on Don Bosco, inaugurated the exhibition on the life of the Saint, and also declared open the veneration of the Relic.
Concluding the evening of festivities, the Rector of the Shrine Fr. Edwin D’Souza thanked the huge number of devotees present for their admirable allegiance towards the Shrine. “You come ever so often to pray in this Shrine, and I am confident that you always receive the graces you seek. Trust in Our Blessed Mother, trust in Don Bosco and you will see miracles happen,” said Fr. D’Souza. Ending his speech on a high note, Fr. D’Souza exclaimed: “Don Bosco is among us, let us celebrate!”  Not just Matunga, the whole of Mumbai is celebrating!

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