The GOA UK, Goan Chaplaincy conducted the day-long event at Aylesford in Kent
It was a day filled with spiritual and social fervour as a large number of Goans from in and around London participated in the annual pilgrimage at the Friars in Aylesford on September 24.
The Goan Association UK has been organising the pilgrimage at Aylesford – a prominent pilgrimage site in Kent – with the help and support of the Goan Chaplaincy for the past few years, to meet the spiritual needs of the Goan community, informed Ravi Vaz, president of GOA UK.
Coaches from various locations across the UK were contracted to make it convenient for pilgrims to attend and bring the community together in prayer.
“We had about 400 people attending the pilgrimage. The coaches came from north, south and east of London. Most people came by coaches that we had from Hounslow, Southall, Wembley, Woodgreen, Ilford, East Ham and Kingsbury. This year, the Swindon coach couldn’t come as many people in Swindon were attending a Tiatr which had come from Goa,” said GOA UK PR and Social Director Bella Fernandes, who was in charge of organising all the coaches.
“Without the coordinators in each of these locations, this would not have been possible,” said Fernandes.
The day began with Confessions on the lawns in a tranquil surrounding by the pond. This was followed by the Rosary where the statue of Our Lady, which was decorated in flowers, was taken around the grounds in procession and brought back to the main altar.
The Mass was then celebrated by the Goan Chaplain Fr Patrick D’souza and concelebrated by Fr Feroz Fernandes, with the choir directed by Inacio and Jose Mendes leading the congregation.
“This year, we dedicated the Pilgrimage to pray for the soul of the late Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on the Feast of Our Lady on September 8. Some pilgrims also brought along with them pictures and memorabilia of their loved ones to be placed before the altar to be prayed over,” said Vaz.
“It was a very solemn occasion where the community came together to pray for one another and also for their own personal intentions.”
After Mass, the Pilgrims made their way to a traditional Goan buffet meal catered by Jacques Café from Hounslow. A team of volunteers helped serve the food and soft drinks to the pilgrims.
After lunch, the pilgrims attended a talk, reflection and adoration led by Fr Feroz Fernandes, which was inspirational and the highlight of the day.
Later in his address, GOA UK President Ravi Vaz thanked the priests, volunteers, choir and pilgrims for contributing to the success of the Pilgrimage.
He also thanked some of the donors for their contribution towards the pilgrimage and welcomed those who would like to participate at the Pilgrimage in future.
He informed the community that the GOA UK would continue to host the Pilgrimage every year in September and would also continue to subsidise the coach, food and provide free drinks so that the Pilgrimage is more accessible for the benefit of the wider community in these difficult economic times.
Vaz also mentioned that they were able to subsidise such events from revenues generated during the UK Goan Festival hosted by them in the summer.
After Adoration, the pilgrims were treated to a free round of Masala Chai and Coffee, followed by an evening of entertainment, raffles, music and dance on the lawn, presented by Inacio. It was a moment to socialise and catch up with some of their friends.
“As the sun began to set, the Pilgrims made their way to their respective coaches and vehicles to make their journey back home, bringing to an end a spiritual and fulfilling day, with many promising to return for a similar pilgrimage next year,” added Vaz.