ASIA-OCEANIABlessing of Marian Shrine
Twenty five years ago, the hilly
region of Kaliori was a deserted area. Nothing was found there, not even water.
But the workers who were building a Marian Shrine were asked to keep on digging.
At last, the water came out. They used the water to mix the materials for
erecting the grotto. After the building of the Shrine was finished, the spring
stopped running. It was considered a miracle, a sign of God’s favour and
blessing for the building of the Marian Shrine of Kaliori.
Pilgrims are welcomed at the Marian Shrine of Kaliori, located in Central Java, Indonesia. They can celebrate Eucharist and pray at the spacious grotto; pray the Stations of the Cross; visit the mausoleum of bishops and priests; pray at the rosary garden; make a retreat; or even have a camping experience on the grounds surrounding the Shrine. Pilgrims may also visit the hostel for the elderly, run by some Sisters, the Daughters of Mary and Joseph.
The beginning of the Shrine was the initiative of some local Catholics who wished to have a Marian Shrine especially for the people of Purwokerto Timur Parish. The parish priest, Fr. Patrick McANALLY, accepted the idea as part of the parish planning, but later on, the Shrine became a diocesan project. Thanks to the support of the parishioners as well as of Fr. Patrick and other Oblates, such as Frs. Charles BURROWS and John CASEY, they were able to purchase several hectares of land. On 15 August 1988, a ceremony was held to begin constructing the Shrine.
The Shrine was inaugurated on 8 December 1989 by the Bishop of Purwokerto who then entrusted it to the care of the Oblates of the Indonesian Province. Since then, the Oblates faithfully provide spiritual services to the pilgrims and other visitors. The Shrine’s statue of Our Lady was blessed by Saint John Paul II.
Because the Shrine was beginning to show its age, the Shrine team decided to renovate and widen it to accommodate thousands of pilgrims from all over the country. In 2012, a committee for the renovation was formed. They erected a new and larger grotto. The new grotto can accommodate up to 100 persons inside it.
For 25 years, the Shrine has been a place where people come for blessings. The dry and deserted region now has been transformed into a green and tranquil area. Happy to see the change, the Bishop calls the place “The Shrine of Mary the Faith Soother”. The Shrine also provides economic “blessings” for the poor people who sell food and souvenirs there. Indeed, blessings always flow from this place! (Indonesian Triennium Team)
At the invitation of the bishop of Trincomalee diocese in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, the Colombo Province of the Oblates accepted to begin a mission at Kuchchaveli-Kallarawa in the district of Trincomalee. On 13 February 2015, the provincial, Fr. Rohan SILVA, formally commissioned Fr. Jesu Ramesh WARNAKULASURIYA to begin the new mission. The Oblates in the new mission will be especially engaged with the fisher folk, both resident and migrant, as well as with people engaged in other occupations.
Fisher folk from the Western Province of Sri Lanka came to the fishing village of Kallarawa in 1949. At that time there were about eleven families. The fisher folk did not have permanent houses. A small church building dedicated to St. Anthony was constructed at Kallarawa.
By the year 1960 the number of families increased to about forty. They did not have facilities for transport, health care and education of their children. Eventually this village became the largest purse seine Centre, north of Trincomalee town. During the fishing season at Kallarawa, the fisher folk came annually from the Western coastal belt of Sri Lanka without fail. Between 1968 and 1977, there was a resident fishing population of about hundred families. In 1978 a school was built. During the off season (rough sea), the people were engaged in farming. They lived joyfully. After 1985 twenty new families settled down at Kallarawa. However, due to the war between the Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the deaths of several fisher folk caused by LTTE between 1985 and 1995, the fisher folk became refugees in a school at the Mineral Sands Corporation. Those who lived in this village from 1949 to 1995 lost everything they owned. By June 1995, there were thirty seven families in the army camp.
With the end of the war between the Sri Lankan army and LTTE, the fisher folk started coming again from the Western coastal belt of Sri Lanka. Fr. Jesus Ramesh will meet people struggling to survive with hope of a better future. He will reside initially in the parish of Nilaveli in the district of Trincomalee, an Oblate parish, which was begun by the Oblate Province of Sri Lanka in 1970 with Fr. Bertram THIRIMANNE as parish priest and ministered by several Oblates of the Colombo Province till 2014.
At present, Fr. Jesu Ramesh will need basic facilities such as shelter in a suitable location from where he will be able to begin reaching out to the people to proclaim the Good News of salvation, minister the Sacraments, build Christian communities and promote social concern. He will be supported by a team of Oblates in the future when residential facilities will be available since the missionary and pastoral ministry is going to be a community effort.
Fr. Jesu Ramesh is conversant in the Sinhala and Tamil languages which the people, including the fisher folk of Kuchchaveli-Kallarawa speak. He did his theological studies in Rome and obtained a Licentiate in Pastoral Theology at the Lateran University, Rome. He was ordained in 2011 and has served in two parishes in the Archdiocese of Colombo and has been an educator at De Mazenod English Academy at Negombo. (Fr. Emmanuel FERNANDO)
In every district, many activities took place to commemorate the Triennium. In each of these activities, the theme of the first year, “A New Heart,” was highlighted. According to Fr. Antonius SUSSANTO, Chairman of the Indonesian Triennium Committee, the three-year event will be a good moment for strengthening the ties among Oblates themselves and between Oblates and lay people.
Triennium activities in every district were diverse. Some were followed with enthusiasm but some, less so. As we continue our preparation and celebration through the second year of Triennium, it is hoped that all districts could catch up with the goals set by the central Committee. “Eventually, we hope that Triennium will become a blessing for the Oblates and the people we serve,” said Fr. Antonius. (Indonesian Triennium Team)