After 50 years , Eucharistic Rally draws huge crowds
The Colombo Eucharistic Rally held last weekend was a great success. Organised by the Archdiocese of Colombo together with the Blessed Joseph Vaz Trust, under the leadership of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Rally was conducted at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo from August 31 to September 2.
Held after nearly 50 years, the Rally drew large numbers of Catholics from the Archdiocese of Colombo. Schoolchildren as well as adults from Colombo, Kalutara, Negombo and Gampaha flocked to the event over the long weekend, despite the threat of rain. The statue of St. Joseph with an umbrella over it was placed on the front lawn in supplication for good weather. Miraculously, the rain kept away for the three days.
The Rally began each day with the celebration of Holy Mass at 8 a.m., in the College Chapel. The celebrants on Friday were Auxillary Bishops of Colombo, Emmanuel Fernando and Maxwell Silva while on Saturday, the celebrants were three Jubilarian priests, Father Bertram Dabrera, Fr. Joseph Benedict Fernando and Fr. Sixtus Kurukulasuriya who were ceremonially welcomed by the western bands of St. Joseph’s College and St. Bridget’s Convent respectively.
After the Mass on the first day, the Bishops declared open the vocations exhibition held at the Fr. Stanley Abeysekera Auditorium. The exhibition which was open on all three days of the Rally showcased the mission and work of 45 religious congregations aimed at creating awareness and motivating young Catholics to join these congregations. The well laid out exhibition also displayed the apostolate programme of the Archdiocese of Colombo.
Throughout the three days, groups of parishioners and religious organisations from the Archdiocese participated in Eucharistic devotions at allotted times in the chapel.
The day’s programme concluded with a choral concert by the Archdiocesan Choir at 5.30 p.m. on the first day. The choral concert the next day was by Pueri Cantores, a combined schools choir of 93 choristers, who had recently performed for the Pope in Rome.
The highlight of the closing day was the open air Holy Mass celebrated by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith in the college quadrangle. The Cardinal gave a moving sermon and a combined choir of over 700 singers drawn from the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese led the singing in English, Sinhala, Tamil and Latin.
The solemn Eucharistic procession was led by 12 school bands each followed by groups of prefects, students and parishioners of the Archdiocese parishes. The Cardinal bearing the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament rode in the decorated carriage at the end of the procession. A large gathering participated in the procession.
When the procession re-entered the college grounds, a still larger crowd of devotees had gathered in the Beira grounds where the closing ceremony was being held. The school bands and choirs were on platforms on either side of the raised Altar. A huge crowd of clergy, men, women and children were awaiting the Blessed Sacrament as the combined bands and choirs sang ‘The King is Coming’.
The grounds filled with people carrying little red lanterns with lighted candles, was a sight to behold, reminiscent of the candlelight procession at Lourdes. After the solemn benediction, the combined bands and choirs gave a magnificent performance of religious songs. The day concluded with a display of fireworks over the ground.
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