Parish by parish, the grounds at Don Bosco, Matunga, started filling up as parishioners joyfully arrived to participate in the culmination of the Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress – the spiritual, uplifting, encouraging finale to the celebration of the Sacraments and Works of Charity in the week gone by. The Golden Jubilee of the 38th International Eucharistic Congress indeed witnessed a strong renewal of the outpouring of faith that was the hallmark of the original event.
The closing Eucharist was presided over by the Apostolic Papal Nuncio, His Excellency, Salvatore Pennacchio and concelebrated by Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay,12 Archbishops and Bishops from the western region Bishops Conference and 200 priest from the Archdiocese. His Excellency, in his homily, drew attention to the strength, courage and joy that we all draw from the Eucharist and carry through our own lives, as we witness to the Gospel. He emphasised the theme of the Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress: ‘I am Catholic… I am alive!’ and how we can make this even more meaningful. He was uplifted by the faith of Catholics here and commended us for being an example to the rest of the world.
At the conclusion of the Eucharist, His Excellency presented to the Archdiocese a relic of Blessed Paul VI, the late Pope who had visited Bombay and created history through his participation in the 38th International Eucharistic Congress. The congregation was blessed with the relic and His Eminence, Cardinal Gracias, mentioned that it would be sent from parish to parish later in the coming year.
From the anthem of the International Eucharistic Congress, held in 1964, sung here as the Entrance Hymn to the closing with Tera Noor, the 87 strong choir, whose members were drawn from various parishes, encouraged the congregation to raise their voices in heartfelt, melodious praise.
The Eucharistic Celebration was followed by a cultural program in the distinguished presence of the Governor of Maharashtra, His Excellency, Shri Vidyasagar Rao.
First, Cardinal Gracias presented a report on the 50 years between the International Eucharistic Congress and the present time. He dwelt on all that the Catholic community contributes to the city, the State, and the Nation in terms of Education, Healthcare, and Social Outreach. His Eminence also called on all Catholics of the Archdiocese to come forward with even greater enthusiasm because there was need to do much more: to extend all that we already do to those who have less, the poor and the marginalised.
His Excellency, Shri Vidyasagar Rao, in his speech, thanked the Archbishop for the invitation to this auspicious event. He spoke with glowing praise for the Catholic Community commenting that though we are less that 3% of the total population of India the contribution of our Community was of immense importance in nation building. He called on the Catholic community to participate in the Civil and Defence Services and in government offices. The Governor commended the education we offer to the students who pass through our institutions, more so because of the ethical standards that we impart and called for more training for skilled workers, and he praised us not only for our peace-loving ways but also for our harmonious integration with people of all faiths, noting that our works reach out to all without discrimination.
An evocative dance sequence was followed by a short film encapsulating the theme ‘I am Catholic, I am alive’. Drawing from the teachings of Christ, who now lives with us through the Eucharist, the film highlighted the message that we are not merely followers but must be like Him in all that we do. The eponymous, evocative anthem composed especially for the Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress was then sung by Dominique Cerejo, whose inspiring rendition added an unforgettable dimension to the magnificent music and message.
The closing of the Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress was attended by approximately 7000 The entire event was conducted in both English and Hindi so that everyone present was able to receive the message and participate.
The energy was palpable, the participation wholehearted and the faith was joyfully evident as the grounds resounded to that wonderful refrain, ‘I am CATHOLIC….I am ALIVE!”
Click the link below to download the anthem