Church of Our Lady of Velankanni, Irla, Mumbai
50th Annual Novena to Our Lady of Velankanni (Aug 30th - Sep 8th, 2017)
Golden Jubilee year (1968 - 2018)
It is well known that the history of the devotion to Our Lady of Velankanni is traced back to a small town of Vailankanni located near Nagapattinam to the South of Chennai. It is believed that, Our Lady dispensed miracles to mankind through three significant appearances to ordinary people at different locations in and around Vailankanni, Nagapatnam, Tamilnadu. Her first appearance with baby Jesus was to a Hindu boy carrying milk. In the second event, Our Lady appeared and cured a crippled boy selling butter milk, after which people started calling Our Lady ‘Mother of Good Health’. In her third appearance, Our Lady rescued Portuguese sailors from a violent storm. On being taken to the thatched chapel at Vailankanni by the local fishermen, as a gesture of thanksgiving to Our Lady, the sailors set up a small permanent structure which today has grown into a huge sprawling township. The devotion to Our Lady of Velankanni has spread to many parts of India.
Irla, situated just off S.V. Road between Vile Parle and Andheri is a well-known landmark, thanks to the Shrine of Our Lady of Health of Velankanni. It was in October 1967 that the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) touched base in Irla. At the midnight Mass on December 25, 1968, late Rev. Fr. Bruno Venturin (PIME), announced that he would build a Chapel for the people of Irla and the Chapel (now named the Prayer Hall) was officially inaugurated on 14th April 1968 (Easter Sunday).
The opinion of the then Parishioners was divided on dedicating the Chapel either to Infant Jesus or to Our Lady of Velankanni. One of the late parishioners, moved by the devotion and miraculous powers of the Shrine in Vailankanni, prevailed on the others. The late Rev. Fr. Venturin hoisted the flag to mark the commencement of the first Novena Devotion in honor of Our Lady of Velankanni at Irla on August 30, 1968, which was followed by official declaration of the Shrine as a quasi-Parish on September 8, 1968 i.e. the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. Foundation was laid for a new church building in January 1975 and the quasi Parish status was upgraded to a full-fledged Parish on September 10, 1978.
All through the past 50 years, the PIME Missionaries have been rendering their service to Irla Parish. PIME’s presence began with Fr. Bruno Venturin, PIME (First Parish priest 1968-1978), Fr. Tributious James Raja, PIME (1978-1981), Fr. Lino Dal Balconi, PIME (1981-1984), Fr. Benito Picassia, PIME (1984-1988), Fr. Augustine Palett, PIME (1988-1994), Fr. Carlo Rimondi, PIME (1994-1997), Fr. Antonio Grugni, PIME (1997-2003), Fr.George Thailammanal, PIME (2003-2009), Fr. Augustine Palett, PIME (2009-Feb 2017), and Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni, PIME (from March 1st 2017) at present rendering his service as Parish Priest.
We conduct Novenas in honor of Our Lady of Health of Velankanni (OLHV) every Saturday in English, Marathi, Konkani and Tamil. Annual Novenas are conducted from 30th August to 7th September, followed by the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady on 8th September, which is a grand celebration of the faith of the devotees in OLHV. Devotees from in and around Mumbai and also from overseas, including those of other faiths, visit the Shrine throughout the year. Numerous devotees gather to attend the Annual Novenas. Two major highlights of the devotion to Our Lady of Velankanni at Irla are the ‘Healing and Blessing of the Sick’ and the ‘Solemn Procession’ that are held on Saturday and Sunday respectively during the Annual Novena.
Testimonies pour into the Shrine on the miraculous power of Our Lady of Velankanni. Health related issues have found miraculous cure through the intercession of Our Lady of Velankanni. The generosity of the devotees helps the Shrine to give medical aid to the sick and needy, subsidize education as well as finance missionary and welfare causes. Petitions of the devotees find a special place during the Novena prayers.
Year 2017 marks the 50th Annual Novena to Our Lady of Velankanni in Irla. With the starting of the Novena this year on 30th of August, we will begin our Golden Jubilee year (1968-2018). In this Golden Jubilee year we focus on our faith and we work together in order to strengthen our parish community.
May God bless you and may Our Lady of Velankanni intercede for all those who seek her protection.
Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni, PIME
Creato: 29 Agosto 2017