One of the most popular Marian pilgrimages was held at the Mary, Queen of Fatima Shrine at St. Leo’s Church in the Mymensingh diocese in Bangladesh's northeastern Sherpur district on October 28.
This year the theme chosen for the pilgrimage was "Fatima Rani Ma Maria (Queen of Fatima, Mother Mary) in communion, participation, and mission."
"Due to the pandemic and safety restrictions for the last two years, we have limited faithful attendance to the event. But this year, thousands gathered," said parish priest, Torun T. Bonowary.
"The pilgrims prayed for the peace, unity, and harmony of the world, especially for Bangladesh through the intercession of Mother Mary," said Father Bonowary.
In his homily, Father Gabriel Corraya, a priest from the Archdiocese of Dhaka, said, "This Mary's pilgrimage is a symbol of faith in life for us. Today, we have come here with deep faith and trust to be strong in our spiritual life. And this pilgrimage festival reveals our faith in God,"
"We have received many blessings and graces from God through Mother Mary in our lives, so today we thank Our Mother Mary," said the vicar general.
"Let us pray all together, especially through the intercession of Mother Mary, for the peace of our families, our country, and the whole world, because she always protects us from all dangers," he added.
In his message, Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi of Mymensingh diocese assured the pilgrims, saying, "Mother Mary is with us. I expressed my gratitude to all those who join in the pilgrimage, like every year, to express devotion, faith, respect, prayer, and love to our Mother Mary."
Agnes Cruze, a devotee, said: "I am participating in this Marian pilgrimage because I received many blessings through Mother Mary in my family life. Every year I attend this festival because whenever I come here I feel peace in my heart and mind."
Thousands of pilgrims found the event spiritually enriching and meaningful.
"Mother Mary is with us by the grace of Jesus Christ. When I came to the pilgrimage, I felt like I was sitting in peace on my mother's lap."
The shrine in the Garo Hills, near the Indian border, is covered by the Mymensingh Diocese, with over 82,000 primarily ethnic indigenous Catholics. It is about 200 kilometers northeast of the capital, Dhaka.
The Diocese of Mymensingh comprises the civil districts of Jamalpur, Kishorganj, Netrakona, Sherpur, Tangail, and Sunamgonj.
The Baromari Mariam pilgrimage is one of the most popular events in Bangladesh. The other two pilgrimages are to the St. Anthony of Padua Shrine in Nagari, Gazipur district in Dhaka and Our Lady of Lourdes in Diang, Chittagong district.
Every year, the activity attracts thousands of people who join in a candle-lit prayer of the rosary, reflections, adoration of the Holy Eucharist, Stations of the Cross on the hill slope, and a special feast day Mass.
According to the pilgrimage committee reports, this year's Marian pilgrimage was attended by over 60,000 people, with 39 priests and many nuns from different congregations in Bangladesh.
The shrine in Baromari was inaugurated in 1997 in response to Pope John Paul II's call for "pilgrimages of faith" leading up to the anniversary of Jesus Christ's birth in 2000.
Many Muslims and Hindus also come to the gathering to offer gifts. - Nikhil Gomes
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