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Historic celebration of the Syro Malabar Mass in the Basilica of the National Shine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC on Saturday, Sept 7th 2013.
Indian American Catholic Association, that represents Catholics from the Indian subcontinent including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, celebrated its Annual Pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in honor of Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni on Saturday Sept 7th 2013. As part of the Annual Pilgrimage, Solemn High Mass of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church was celebrated for the first time at the Great Upper Church of the Basilica, fondly known as America’s Catholic Church. The main celebrant for this historic event was Major Archbishop of Syro Malabar Church, His Beatitude George Cardinal Alencherry. Cardinal Alencherry celebrated the Syro Malabar Mass in English, along with His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, His Excellency, Bishop Jacob Angadiath and 20 other Priests from all over the United States. A 130 member Choir organized from different parts of the country came together to sing beautifully at this special celebration. The Choir was arranged by Fr. Joseph Palackal CMI and conducted by Mr. George Thaila. The pilgrimage began with a Procession from Mary’s Garden outside the magnificent Basilica at the Nation’s Capital. Pilgrims from various parts of the United States participated in procession to the Great Upper Church of the Basilica holding banners of Saints from the Indian subcontinent, Kerala style ceremonial umbrellas (Muthukkuda), drummers playing Kerala style drums, Statue of Our Lady of Vailankanni wearing a beautiful Sari and singing Marian songs along the procession. Once the procession reached the Upper Church, Holy Rosary was prayed at the Church. After the Rosary, Solemn High Mass of the Syro Malabar Church was celebrated by Cardinal Mar Alencherry and concelebrants included Cardinal Wuerl and Bishop Angadiath and other Priests. Msgr. Walter Rossi, Rector of the Basilica, welcomed Cardinal Alencherry and other celebrants to the Basilica. The Pilgrimage was attended by about 5000 people, who packed the Basilica. Cardinal Wuerl preached Homily during the Mass and praised the strong devotion of the Indian Catholics for Our Blessed Mother. Cardinal Alencherry, in His Eminence’s concluding remarks praised and thanked Cardinal Wuerl for his leadership in the Catholic Church and his ministry to the multicultural and multinational Catholic population that makes up the Washington Archdiocese. As President of Indian American Catholic Association Puthupparampil Scaria, I said vote of thanks to the celebrants and participants and pointed out the historic nature of the day’s events pointing out that it is the first time Syro Malabar Mass is celebrated in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National shrine and it is an honor and privilege to have Head of the Syro Malabar Church celebrate this Historic Mass. After the Mass, large number of children and adults received individual blessing from Cardinal Alencherry and Bishop Angadiath. Function in the Church concluded with recital of Novena to Our Lady of Vailankanni. According to initial estimates, this was one of the largest gatherings of Indian Catholics in the Basilica, at the Nation’s capital. A large number of Pilgrims participated in a reception after the service.
I like to thank each one of you who have helped organize this special Pilgrimage and also those who participated in this memorable event. It indeed was a historic event and IACA can take pride in organizing such an event.
Puthupparampil V. Scaria, PhD.
President – IACA