By Fr Mervin Noronha SVD
Pics by George and Anaida
Bellevision Media Network
Nairobi, Kenya, 21 Jun 2012: June 17, 2012 will go down as a memorable day in the history of the small but vibrant Konkani Catholic community living in Nairobi.
The joyful tears and great piety on the faces of everyone gathered around the grotto was its testimony as the magnificent statue of Mother Mary, made at Simon & Co Mangalore, was unveiled at the shrine of Our Lady of Consolata, Nairobi. The 3000-plus congregation that gathered round the grotto burst into singing, dancing and ululation as the 9-foot-tall statue stood before their eyes with amazing grandeur.
When the Mangalorean and Karwar Catholic community floated the idea to donate a statue of our Lady Consolata to the newly proposed prayer garden and grotto, various options were discussed in sourcing the statue, prominent being Italy, Kenya and India.
But when the costs were compared, India became the obvious choice. Moreover, the members felt that it would help them to relate to the Mother more closely and inspire the future generations if the statue came from their motherland.
Basil Serrao, a Mangalorean entrepreneur and vice chairman of the Consolata parish council, followed up with the idea of getting the statue from Mangalore. It was available at half the cost of the Italian quotation and without compromising on quality. Meanwhile the Konkani Catholics took the lead to raise the entire sum and get the statue to Nairobi.
A dream come true, the statue is now standing tall, radiating beauty, grandeur and protection to all who visit the place and it is a great tribute to the tremendous love and devotion the Mangaloreans have for their heavenly Mother.
Mother Mary has already shown her miraculous power along her long and tedious journey from Mangalore to Nairobi. The first was the immediate clearance of the huge consignment by the customs authorities in Bangalore without any hassle.
In the context of increasing cases of smuggling out antiques of value in the name of religious articles, the Indian government of late is very strict on export shipments. But Mother’s statue was cleared without much scrutiny. Secondly, the company that did the packaging and forwarding condoned the entire cost of the job. Thirdly the customs in Nairobi let the statue in without any hitch and at a good discount.
Mangalorean women faithful who stood at the feet of the statue could not take their gaze away from her face and one could see even tears of joy welling up in many eyes. It was a vivid testimony of the deep love the faithful have for the Mother and a sense of deep satisfaction at the initiative they took as a community to give expression to their faith in concrete action.
As Michael, one of the members said, ‘The Mother is very dear to all of us and the hymns we sing in her honour nourish our faith.’ Spreading the devotion to Mary, the divine mother, is one way of making the community’s presence felt among the local people. And June 17 has done just that.