There was joy and devotion among parishioners of Christ The King Roman Catholic Church, Reading, UK, as they celebrated the birthday of Our Lady of Vailankanni, Queen of Good Health, on September 9 in collaboration with Associates of Vailankanni, a socio-cultural organisation of Goans living in Reading, a large town in the historic county of Berkshire in the South East of England.
Parish Priest Fr Daniel Msugh Agber was the main celebrant at the Feast Mass and in his homily, spoke about the story and miracles surrounding the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the town of Velankanni, Tamil Nadu.
The choir sang popular English and Konkani hymns to the accompaniment of music. After the Mass, the statue of Our Lady of Vailankanni was carried by devotees outside the church in a ceremonial procession led by the parish priest in an atmosphere of faith and glorious pageantry.
Associates of Vailankanni organised a social get-together later in the evening in the parish hall complete with authentic Goan cuisine, music, games, housie and non-stop entertainment.
“It is the 15th year that we are celebrating this wonderful feast. Mother Mary has blessed us devotees in so many wondrous ways and here in Reading, it is an occasion of great joy and excitement to organise this community event with the help and support of the parish,” said Nicklau Vales, a senior member of the organisation.
“I have to say that Danny Apap, a dynamic and enthusiastic volunteer from the parish, has been very kind and helpful to us over the years in organising the church service and related activities. We are deeply indebted to him for his kindness and support.”
The feast social event was organised by the coordinators, Jenny Augusta Fernandes and Braulio Pereira. A popular two-man band, ‘The Duo’ consisting of Lelis and Dezly played music which got the attendees on the dance floor.
RJ Roque Vaz, presenter of the popular Konkani radio show – Konkani Uloi London Fuloi - on Awaaz 99.8 FM, jammed with the band singing the birthday song for Mother Mary, both in Konkani and English. The honour of cutting the ceremonial birthday cake was given to the children. There were games and fun for the children as well.
“I have been attending this annual feast celebrations since 2015 and one of the salient features of this event is that it is a ‘Free Entry’ event. The food and soft drinks are on the house. The organisers have been kind and generous enough to invite devotees not just from Reading but from across the Goan diaspora in the United Kingdom. It is a homely atmosphere laced with great Goan hospitality, culture and tradition,” said Roque Vaz.
The special invitees Bihula Vaz (General Secretary), Assumpta Maria D’Costa (Vice President) and Roque Vaz (President of Golden Goa Association, Southampton) presented spot prizes to Exalda Pereira, Silburn Pereira and Aliana D’Costa respectively.
These devotees from Southampton, South England, along with their family and friends, travelled a distance of around 50 miles to Reading to participate in this annual event in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. The function was compered by Salvador Pereira.
The main housie prize, a wooden altar, specially designed and crafted by Salvador Pereira, was won by Eugenia Nunes, one of the choir members.
Aid to rehabilitate family of demolished house in Verna
The Associates of Vailankanni, a socio-cultural organisation of Goans living in Reading UK, raised an amount of £200 pounds and handed it over as aid towards the rehabilitation of the family whose house was recently demolished at Verna-Salcete.
The fund was raised through the housie sale during the 15th Annual Feast of Vailankanni in Reading.