Bandra’s St Andrew Parish celebrates 400 years

St Andrew Parish Church in Bandra (Mumbai) had celebrated 400 years since its founding. Festivities started on 22 November 2015 and ended sunday after a year of activities.

Dec 06, 2016

MUMBAI: St Andrew Parish Church in Bandra (Mumbai) had celebrated 400 years since its founding. Festivities started on 22 November 2015 and ended sunday after a year of activities.

During the year, the parish carried out social outreach activities for poor and needy children, spiritual support for families and medical support for the indigent.

"In the 17th century, the whole area was Catholic,” Mgr Dominic Savio Fernandes, auxiliary bishop of Mumbai, told AsiaNews. “We have celebrated with gratitude the 400 years of the Christian faith, of Christianity and the fact of being disciples of Christ."

Inspired by the First Reading of the prophet Isaiah (11: 1-10), Mgr Fernandes explained that "all creation lived in peace and harmony. God created nature and the animal world, and everyone lived in harmony. There was peace – humans, animals and the rest of nature lived in a peaceful universe, where there was no need to destroy one another. Because of Adam’s and Eve’s sin, distrust and dissent came to the world. But with the new coming [of the Lord] everything will be restored – peace and harmony to all creation."

Now, he said, "We are waiting for the new coming of Christ, and we must prepare for it. Twice a year we are given time to prepare. One during Advent and one during Lent."

In the parish of St Andrew, he added, "the sun's rays light up the church and we are called to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Son who enters our lives. Whenever we follow God’s will, he is born again within us."

The reference to "sun rays" that illuminate the church is due to the building’s unique construction. At 7 am on the day of the equinox – spring (21 March) and autumn (September 22), a small opening in the centre of the front allows sunlight to shine directly on the tabernacle.

Built in 1595, and elevated to the status of parish in 1616 with the arrival of permanent clergy, the church was restored on several occasions, always respecting the initial plan. In 1966 the wooden porch was replaced and the front part was restored.

This year’s celebrations included more renovation: interior and exterior roof work, weather proofed exterior and interior, frontage plastering, Saint Anne stone cross, compound wall repairs, lighting, fans, and sound.

The annual celebrations entailed several cultural activities and events in favour of interfaith dialogue, as well as the publication of a book on the history of the parish and its development. Mumbai’s local population, known as Koli, was converted to Christianity in the 16th century by the Portuguese.

The ‘Mission Sonshine’ by Fr Magi Murzello, a noted educator and rector of St Andrew's High School, was one of the initiatives for the 400th anniversary. He encouraged a series of meetings among parishioners centred on bringing Christ to the centre of their life.

Known as a friend of the environment, the clergyman sponsored the reading of Laudato si’, Pope Francis’s green encyclical, for the purpose "of raising awareness among the people of God of issues such as dialogue, integral ecology, ecological spirituality, transparency and thanksgiving."--Asia News

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