Vijayawada: The three-day Mother Mary festival will commence at the Catholic Church (St. Mary's Church) at Gunadala from February 9.
Addressing the press on Thursday, Bishop Joseph Raja Rao Telagatoti said that the celebrations will formally start in the presence of senior pastors who have completed 25 to 50 years of service.
Bishop Raja Rao said that like every year, the festival will begin with a ceremonial Mass in the grounds of Bishop Grassi High School located on the foothill of Gunadala hill. “All sections of the people, irrespective of caste and community, are welcome to participate in the festival and get blessings of Mother Mary and Jesus,” the Bishop said.
He said that devotional and development activities are being organised on the Gunadala hill in the city for the past 97 years.
Giving a brief history of the celebrations, the Bishop said that an orphanage was officially opened on June 24, 1924. “Fr Arlati installed a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes (Mother Mary) in a natural grotto on the Gunadala Hill slope the same year. From then, Catholics continued praying to Mother Mary at St. Mary’s Church and the number of devotees has increased every year,” he said.
At present, the Gunadala Mother Mary shrine is the second biggest in India after Velankanni Church in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, the Bishop said. Bishop Raja Rao said that the church staff have completed all arrangements to ensure that the Gunadala Mother Mary festival celebrations are a grand success.
APSRTC officials said that special buses would be pressed into service from several towns of the state to St Mary’s shrine during the three-day festival. Meanwhile, the SCR has said that it would run special trains from various parts of the state to Vijayawada.
Vicar General, Monsignor M. Prasad said that as many as 10 lakh devotees of Mother Mary would participate in the festival from all corners of state and also from other states.
About 150 rooms have been arranged at the church premises for the devotees who like to stay during night time and open places were also renovated at GMM premises for the convenience of the devotees, he added.
Spiritual and cultural programmes would be organised during the three-day festival at the shrine premises.
Rector William Jaya Raju, Social Service Centre director P. Thomas and others were present....