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July 5, 2015

A flashback to one hundred years ago would allow us to see the jubilation of those first 12 families who, together with Fr. Joseph Maria Braz de Souza, were instrumental in the building of a chapel in Valnai (now Orlem). Their legacy was celebrated today as jubilation was magnified in the present church bursting at its seams! The joint endeavour of the eighteen thousand parishioners of Orlem, today, was displayed in the red, gold and silver themed décor inside and outside the church and the Grotto, adorned in blue.

Before commencement of the celebratory Jubilee Mass, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the main celebrant, was felicitated by Mr. Raymond D’Lima, who was the key person involved in the construction of the new church building in 1976.

In his homily, Oswald Cardinal Gracias raised this question, ‘Who is Jesus to you?’  He spoke of a church that encourages us to establish a relationship with God, making this possible through an intimate knowledge of Him – strengthening faith, building a community founded in love and service.  Most importantly, His Eminence spoke of outreach to the poor which is not an option but must be a wholehearted commitment. Quoting from Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si, Cardinal Gracias emphasised the connection between care for the environment – God’s creation – and care for all peoples especially those who come from deprived areas of the world.  The two are inseparable.

His Eminence expressed his gratitude to all the priests, the religious and laypersons who have helped spread the faith over the years, culminating in this centenary year. He exhorted everyone to continue to grow, to live the Gospel message, to love and to serve, building on this glorious past.

Fourteen concelebrants  - priests who have served and who currently serve, a congregation that entered enthusiastically into the celebration of the Eucharistic, a 35-member choir that saw the church of Our Lady of Lourdes resonating to the glorious sound of the responses and the hymns, made this a day to remember.

As the Mass ended, the band outside the church broke into the harmonies of traditional songs.  And everyone received a slice of cake!

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