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Friday, December 2, 2016
Two special days in an Indian parish
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¬†On Sunday our parish: St Xavier's, made a special pilgrimage to Sardana organized by the Vincent De Paul Society. Sardana has a beautiful church dedicated to our Lady of Graces. The church was built by a Muslim queen Begum Samru. She is also known as Zeb-un-Nissa, and was christened Johanna Nobilis Somer when she was received into the Church. Somer was the adopted name of her husband, Walter Reinhard. Sombre later twisted into samru by the Indian tongue. She was a highly talented lady of great generosity who died in 1836 aged over 90. Antonio Reghellini, who was a native of Vicenza ≠ Italy, was the architect of this monumental church. The altar and its surrounds are of marble set with coloured stones. Much of the rest of the interior is also in marble, and everything is of the very highest craftsmanship. It is illuminated from an octagon set in the dome, from which the sun streams in. The Basilica is a pilgrimage centre. People of religions come to pray to Our Lady of Graces here. Although the Basilica is a designated National Monument, the Indian Government contributes nothing at all to its upkeep. The Catholic diocese of Meerut takes care of the shrine. The pilgrims left Shahbad-Daulatpur in the morning. After a three hour ride they reached the Shrine. The parish priest celebrated the Eucharist in the side altar of the shrine which is adorned with the famous miraculous portrait of Our Lady of Graces. In his sermon the celebrant explained the importance of listening and following the Lord to remain close to Our Lady. After the Eucharist the pilgrims spent time to pray in silence. They also bought religious articles and got it blessed by keeping them at the altar of Our Lady. The church is surrounded by a lovely mango grove. In its shade the pilgrims shared meal. It was truly a fellowship meal as every one shared with one another what they have brought. The pilgrimage united the parish family in prayer. --- On Monday, the students and staff of St Xavier's School, Shahbad-Daulatpur celebrated Labour Day by honouring the support staff during their school assembly. The junior school kids led the support staff by holding their hands and sat them on the stage where they were presented with bouquets of flowers. Mrs Manisha, one of the teaching staff, expressed gratitude for untiring work of the support-staff in and around the school. Fr Victor Edwin SJ thanked them for their presence in the school. He told the gathering the support-staff's untiring work under the guidance of Fr Zach SJ, the administrator has made the campus green and clean. Both the speakers stressed the dignity of human labour. Fr John Ravi SJ, the Principal and Fr Zach the Administrator then presented the staff with gifts. Victor Edwin SJ St Xavier's Church, Shahbad-Daulatpur, Delhi
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