|A couple youths at Holy Family Mission in Yeleswaram|
hand painted the statues for their new entrance arch.
|This "before" photo shows the arch |
before its renovation.
Dozens of his faithful chose to take vows as "Deekshas," meaning they lived Lenten penitence with a special intensity. Fr. guided them through daily scripture readings and prayers. As many as 60 others followed St. Louis de Montfort's exercises for the first time, leading them to Jesus through consecration to Mary. Fr. Varghese translated the de Montfort prayers into the people's Telugu language daily, then presented a talk nightly as he led people through the consecration journey. He, himself, renewed his de Montfort consecration, which he made for the first time last year.
As Lent unfolded, Fr. Varghese and his people also beautified their mission.
One event set off a domino effect of blessings. Fr. Varghese blessed a new Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine 10 kilometers distant in his mission outpost in Yerraverram, and a conviction took hold of one of his parishioners at the mother church, back in Yeleswaram.
At Holy Family Mission, a man and his wife had donated an Our Lady of Good Health statue to Fr. Varghese's mother church last year. The man was so moved by the beauty of the new shrine and refuge of prayer at the village of Yerraverram, he offered to meet half expenses of constructing another grotto to house his Our Lady of Good Health statue at the mother church in Yeleswaram.
|Our Lady of Good Health|
is distinctly Indian in
appearance, a rare
image of the Blessed
Mother in Indian sari.
Other projects progressed at Holy Family mission at a miraculous pace. A new entrance arch for the church and concrete replacement of church steps, handicapped ramp, and portico, unfolded as parishioners worked to beautify their compound before Easter. Because the needs of these day laborers, or "Untouchables," are so pressing, any sort of physical building up of their mission has been a struggle. Funds usually go to feed people, especially during times of monsoon and crisis; rescue children from child labor situations; help the poor pay emergency medical bills and bury their dead.
Crumbling concrete in this handicapped ramp, stairs and patio below,
made for dangerous footing at the mission.
For Holy Family Church and its missions to be blessed with refreshed concrete, two new Marian grottoes and a new entrance archway in just a matter of weeks, is a miracle and an amazing uplift to the spirits of these poor laborers.
|Faithful gather for the arch and grotto |
blessing at Holy Family Mission on the Feast
of St. Joseph.
Jesus in the new entrance archway now blesses passersby on a main road in Yeleswaram, and the grotto of Our Lady of Good Health faces off the back of the compound, toward a street where many broken families live. This street is rough and has seen its share of brawls, but now features a new oasis of peace and prayer.
|Moments before the unveiling of the Mission's |
new entrance arch.
When the funds came to him in the final possible moments to complete these mission projects in time, Fr. Varghese wrote that he was "so happy and jumped and danced like David the King."
|The shrine of Our Lady of Good Health |
features an innovative design, where
faithful can enter from the street or the
Thankfully, most of the work was finished in time for the Mass.
"The blessings were very solemn, " wrote Fr. Varghese. "The priests are all happy. More (than) that, people are happy. More than (that), Mother Mary is happy…So that's why I am happy.
"The grotto is blessed by Fr. Mareddy. The Archbishop congratulated and sent blessings...After the Mass I was able to give yellow rice to the people.
|Five priests traveled in to bless the new arch and grotto, |
a special honor for Fr. Varghese, as he celebrates
his 10-year Jubilee.
Blessing yellow rice
to be distributed to the people.
|Fr. Varghese (left), and Fr. Mareddy, from the Diocese of Orissa, up north.|
|Crowds gather as the new shrine of Our Lady |
of Good Health is unveiled.
|Receiving Communion at the feast day Mass.|
|A sign board tells the story of Our Lady of|
|St. Joseph now takes his rightful place|
at Holy Family Mission.