The Basilica of Bom Jesus at Old Goa has unveiled details of the novena and feast of St Francis Xavier. The theme this year is ‘Bhagevont. Fransisk-achi Dekh Gheun ami Jezuche Govai’ (By walking in the footsteps of St Francis Xavier, let us bear witness to Christ).
While devotees from all parts of Goa would traditionally converge at Old Goa for the novena and feast of St Francis Xavier, COVID-19 has reversed the tide this year and the liturgy will now be celebrated in every parish, chapel, and institution in Goa, in India and all over the world.
During the novena days, each dean who represents a cluster of parishes is chosen to celebrate the Konkani mass at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. A member of a few religious congregations, including the diocese, will celebrate the English mass at 8 a.m.
On the feast day, masses will be celebrated at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m in Konkani, 8 a.m. in English and 10:30 a.m. (high mass).
Since it’s not possible to congregate because of MHA restrictions, veneration of the relic will be allowed from November 15 to December 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on the feast day (December 3) from 2 p.m. to
The MHA guidelines also do not allow garlands, candles, water bottles, touching and kissing of statues, holy water fonts, etc. Dress code will be implemented while entering the premises.
Due to COVID-19, novena masses will not be open to the public at the Basilica. All masses will be live on the Basilica website (https://www.
bomjesus.org/), the Basilica YouTube channel: Official-Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa, and the Diocesan centre (https://www.archgoadaman.com/).
The novena masses will also be telecast on CCRTV, AE Media, GCTV and Goan Reporter. Daily from 5 a.m., there will be an adoration and prayers for 45 minutes before the blessed sacrament. You can also watch other programmes of a shorter duration on the life of St Francis Xavier, and the gist of the liturgy of the day.
Different novena masses have been assigned to various deaneries, congregations, regional and foreign languages, and prayers will be offered for the apostolate of the centres that function in the diocese.
November 24: Prayers for the Biblical Apostolate and masses are allotted to Calangute Deanery (6 a.m.), Benaulim Deanery (7 a.m.), Blessed Sacrament Fathers (SSS) (8 a.m.) and Tamil language (6 p.m.).
November 25: Prayers for the Youth Apostolate and masses are allotted to Raia Deanery (6 a.m.), Canacona Deanery (7 a.m.), Pallottine (SAC) (8 a.m.) and Malayalam language (6 p.m.).
November 26: Prayers for the Family Apostolate and the Sick, and masses are allotted to Ponda Deanery (6 a.m.), Pernem Deanery (7 a.m.), Dominicans (OP) (8 a.m.) and Hindi language (6 p.m.).
November 27: Prayers for the Social Apostolate and masses are allotted to Goa Velha Deanery (6 a.m.), Bicholim Deanery (7 a.m.), Redemptorists (CSSR) (8 a.m.) and French language (6 p.m.).
November 28: Prayers for the Liturgical Apostolate and masses are allotted to Siolim Deanery (6 a.m.), Quepem Deanery (7 a.m.), Carmelites (OCD) (8 a.m.) and Italian language (6 p.m.).
November 29: Prayers for the lay faithful and masses are allotted to Old Goa Deanery (6 a.m.), Mormugao Deanery (7 a.m.), Salesians (SDB) (8 a.m.) and Telugu language (6 p.m.).
November 30: Prayers for the priests, religious brothers and masses are allotted to Verna Deanery (6 a.m.), Chinchinim Deanery (7 a.m.), Diocesan seminary and priests (8 a.m.) and Portuguese language (6 p.m.).
December 1: Prayers for the women religious and masses are allotted to Mapusa Deanery (6 a.m.), Margao Deanery (7 a.m.), CRI sister congregations (8 a.m.) and
Marathi language (6 p.m.).
December 2: Prayers for the faith formation and masses are allotted to Panaji Deanery (6 a.m.), Sanguem Deanery (7 a.m.), Pilar Society (SFX) (8 a.m.) and
Kannada language (6 p.m.).
December 3: Masses have been allotted to Aldona Deanery (6 a.m.), Tiatrists (7 a.m.), Jesuit congregation (8 a.m.) and Spanish language (6 p.m.).
Dispersive yet collective celebration of Goyencho Saib 2020: Basilica rector
Basilica of Bom Jesus rector Fr Patricio Fernandes said the COVID-19 pandemic has made the whole of creation recoil into itself like a snail and come out creatively responding to a transforming world.
“Even religious external physical participation has turned into an internal, virtual and a spiritual one. The Pope in ‘Fratelli Tutti’ calls for more human fraternity and solidarity. Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao says: ‘We need to recognise in all these realities a God-given opportunity to reflect deeply on the way we relate with God, with fellow human beings and with nature’,” said Fr Fernandes. “The Archbishop proposes that we respond to the signs of the times as ‘witnesses’ of Jesus who is and who shows us the way.”
“From June 8, the Archbishop in his circular requested the heads of churches to consider reopening the places of worship for prayer keeping the SOPs under MHA guidelines. Recently, he beckoned for implementation of restricted participation,” he added.
Fr Fernandes said the Basilica Committee and his community and collaborators have long since been envisaging the reopening of the Basilica.
He said after notifying the ASI and taking the North Collector into confidence, the proposed new way of celebrating the novena and feast of Goyencho Saib was displayed, which would include a dispersive yet collective celebration of Goyencho Saib 2020.
“On November 10, a pilot experimental project was initiated to test the waters of the flow of devotees and tourists. Envisaging a structure, with a system of two canopies to implement the SOPs, and barricades to promote social distancing, a pilgrimage path for a religious experience meandering from the entry through the Sacro Sactorum to the relics of St Francis Xavier and from there to the exit was a satisfying and acceptable formulation.”
“On day one, while constructing the pathway, 1,200 people visited the Basilica and expressed a good feeling. The numbers increased to 1,550 (November 11), 2,200 (November 12), 3,100 (November 13), 3,650 (November 14) and 5,000 (November 15).”
“Signalling the official announcement of the opening of the Basilica, the people will gush in and empower us all to avail of a better experience,” he said. “It will be a paperless novena and feast this year. Kindly note that a corrected version of the poster of the novena and feast of St Francis Xavier with a serrated border is the official one. For watching the YouTube channel of the Basilica kindly scan the QR code,” he added.