A unique celebration of the feast of St Anthony
Today, June 13, is the feast of St Anthony of Padua. The saint is held in great reverence in Goa and in almost all the parishes across the state, the 13-day novena (trezen) in honour of St Anthony of Padua begins with the commencement of the month of June, culminating with the feast. There’s one chapel that does it differently
Goa is home to a number of churches and chapels dedicated to St Anthony of Padua. These include the churches at Siolim, Galgibag in Canacona, Veroda, Cabo da Rama and Tiracol in Pernem, and many chapels scattered in various villages.
While most of the churches observe the 13-day novena (trezen) from June 1 before celebrating the feast on June 13, at St Anthony’s chapel in Deusua, Chinchinim preparations for the feast begin on the first Tuesday of June and the feast is celebrated on the following Sunday of June 13, instead of the proper day dedicated to the saint. Over the years, the devotion in honour of St Anthony has become so popular in Chinchinim that people from different walks of life simply flock to this ward in the wee hours of morning, till dusk, seeking blessings from the saint. Besides imploring for graces, thanksgiving is also offered by the devotees for various favours received from the miracle worker. The chaplain of St Anthony’s chapel in Deusua, Fr Hermogenes Fernandes, informs that the strength of the Catholic community is between 600-700, with around 230 Catholic houses. “But it is more than a parish,” he says, “and the appointed priest works more than a parish priest.” “Irrespective of religions, devotees from across Goa, namely the villages of Chorao, Aldona, Siolim, Collem, Curdi and other remote villages flock the place during the novenas,” Fr Fernandes reveals. The faithful seek favours such as employment, children, cures from serious illnesses and finding of lost objects. “When favours are granted, news spreads through word of mouth and the number of devotees visiting increases annually,” informs Fr Fernandes. The chaplain also discloses about the feast of the tongue of St Anthony, which is celebrated annually on February 15. “The devotion was there, but it was lukewarm among the parishioners. But after propaganda on the newspapers in 2017, it gained recognition,” he notes. “As the crowd keeps flocking the chapel for the feast of the tongue,” Fr Fernandes says, “there are two masses in the morning and one in the evening. Due to the increase in number of vehicles during the novenas and feast, parking area has also been allotted for two and four wheelers to avoid congestion.” Fr Fernandes also mentions about the Mission Group, which was formed 14 years ago during the tenure of Fr Johnsie Colaco. “It is a celebration of missions on 4 Sundays in the month of October and the stalls erected are taken care of by the catechists.” The profit earned from the sale of items in the stalls is distributed to the poor in the mission areas across India. “The first trip was in Mangalore and a visit to the destitute by eight catechists, followed by visit to orphanages, AIDS patients in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Calcutta, Bhopal, Karnataka and Jharkhand.” “All the eatables are prepared by the parishioners and catechists,” he informs, “and the profit earned through sale of items is willingly distributed to the less fortunate in the missions. It is an annual trip to different mission areas and our parishioners get firsthand information and experience by living with those in need.” The feast of St Anthony will be celebrated at Deusua, Chinchinim on June 16, with masses beginning from 5 am, followed by high mass at 10 am
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