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By Fr. Shilanand Kerketta
Faithful welcome the Relics at Kunkuri Cathedral
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New Delhi, Jul. 23.  About two kilometers before Kunkuri a small township, in Jashpur district of Chattisgarh, the clergy, faithful and people in large big numbers greeted Don Bosco. Women folk and children sang and danced continuously along the road till the Casket reached the Cathedral as the sky kept showering upon them gentle rain. Umbrellas after umbrellas followed the van carrying the Relic. Meanwhile, the bystanders of the township watched in amazement and wonder. The crowd was so big that the casket was lowered with great difficulty. The cathedral was bursting with the large number of faithful.
After a small welcome ceremony, the Eucharist was celebrated in honour of St. John Bosco. Fr. Sikander Kispotta, V.G. was the chief celebrant. He was flanked by Fr. Michael Peedikayil, Provincial, Fr. Shilanand Kerketta, Vice Provincial, Fr. Joe D'Souza, Fr. Tarcisius Kerketta, Fr. Leader Xalxo SJ Rector of Loyola and Fr. Marcel Ekka, principal of Loyola High School, Kunkuri. About 100 priests of the diocese concelebrated at the Mass. The homily was preached by Fr. Shilanand Kerketta and he invited all present to imitate the holiness of the Saint.

Immediately after the Eucharist, public veneration followed. About twenty thousand people waited patiently, moved slowly to the relic while praying and expressing their love and esteem for the saint of the young. The veneration continued for nearly three hours. This was followed by a night vigil with Don Bosco. Again over thousand people kept awake with him.

WITH DON BOSCO AT JOKBAHLA AND JUMAIKELA: On 21st night it poured in Jokbahla. Culverts were overflowing, streams in spate. Nature was playing truant. But the spirit of the people of God was high, and their fervour so strong as to defeat the fury of the rain and flood. Consequently, a strong assembly of about thousand laity filled the old church to capacity to keep watch with Don Bosco at Jokbahla one of the oldest institutions of the province. The film ''Johny'' was screened for them to re-awaken in their minds the early days of little Johnny Bosco.

There was no sign of rain stopping. On the other hand there was no stopping of their strong faith and longing to pray beside the Relic. The day began fittingly with the celebration of Holy Eucharist in the presence of Don Bosco presided over by Fr. Kishore Kujur, In charge of the Apostolic school, Jokbahla. In his introduction he highlighted the dream of Johnny Bosco that reveals his vocation in life. Fr. Shilanand Kerketta, Vice Provincial, underscored the Don Bosco's holiness lived in fulfillment of his vocation to serve the poor young. He also presented briefly the three devotions propagated by him: Devotion to Jesus, Blessed Virgin Mary and the Pope. The old church of Jokbahla was packed to the maximum. They were over thousand five hundred and the same number stood outside their under umbrellas. The veneration followed the Mass. Meanwhile school children sang to their hearts' content in honour of St. John Bosco. They occasionally shouted slogans which were responded to with great enthusiasm. The occasion was overwhelming.

Approximately 75 children both boys and girls pedaled their cycle before the Relic. A moving sight was yet to follow. Nearly Five hundred children ran behind the Relic shouting slogans loudly and fearlessly: Don Bosc ki jai,  Jab tak suraj chand rahega don bosco tera nam rahega (As long as the Sun and the Moon exist don Bosco's name will be remembered), ek do teen char, don bosco tera jay jaykar (one two three four, don Bosco be hailed). It appeared as though they were charmed by Don Bosco, like the pied piper. The relic was reverently and solemnly was positioned in the Church. There followed a short prayer service in honour of Don Bosco. The veneration rendered to Don Bosco's relic by the faithful at Jumaikela was impressive. They were orderly, disciplined and devout. It was done with perfection.

During the day as the relic was transported from Jokbahla to Jumaikela and to Kunkuri, it made several stops for ceremonial welcome with arti, flower petals, garlands and bouquet of flowers. As the vehicle moved slowly, its back doors were kept open and people could touch and be touched by Don Bosco through sacred articles which they brought for his blessing.


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