Orlim: St. Michael’s Church in Orlim , Goa completed 450 years on May 8.
Parishioners at the church began preparations for the special occasion three years ago. The main focus for the church was on bringing the community together and a special emphasis on creating an environment friendly atmosphere .
Orlim may be one of the smaller land locked villages in Salcete, but its church’s historical significance in promoting Christianity is undeniably huge. This year, St Micheal’s Church that was built in 1568 celebrates 450 years of existence.
A feat of this sort deserves a celebration and the church began preparations three years ago with the aim of building and strengthening the faith, family and community-building and rehabilitation being the main focus. The church was consecrated on May 8, 1568, the feast day of the apparition of St Michael at Mount Gargano.
According to historian Valmiki Faleiro in his book ‘From Mathgrām to Margão’ until 1575, the church was served by priests from Margaon who attended services in Orlim once a week.
“The church structure was destroyed and rebuilt thrice in that century. Destroyed again, it was rebuilt in stone and mortar in 1590 at the cost of the villagers,” he says.
Apart from celebrating the community, the church also took an active step towards minimizing the use of plastics and instead added color to natural products like coconut palms, cloth and paper.
Current parish priest Fr Roger Godinho along with his predecessor Fr Eustaquio de Abreu along with the Fabrica committee and the PPC executive chalked out a detailed three-year plan to mark celebrations. The first year was dedicated to creating awareness among the village of the concept of the jubilee year.
“Through the sermons during mass and through PPC, ward wise and parish group meetings we explained the concept of jubilee and how it should be celebrated. The first year was also a year for reconciliation, whether it is of families, neighbours, at the work place or with the servants working in your house,” said Fr Godinho.
It was a year where the church urged its parishioners to forgive each other’s faults and provide a year of rest to the animals and fields in the village. The second year was all about building basic Christian communities whereby families would reach out to each other and foster a relation of communication and cooperation.
“The third year was a culmination of the first two years with a special focus on rehabilitation. It was during this year issues relating to drugs and alcoholism surfaced and through the education imparted in the first two years, it was easy for families to help other families going through a rough time,” said the parish priest.
Walking within and around the church, one may be surprised not to see extravagant decorations; and sticking to its environment friendly theme, the church has stayed away from plastic and thermacol decorations.
“There were many parishioners that came to me and said we should put up printed banners and decorations. But I was adamant about not having plastic sheets hanging inside the church that would after the celebrations cause pollution and waste. Instead I had asked parishioners including the youth to try and paint on cloth. It took a while but it was a success,” he said.
The youth went one step further and created a miniature model of the village using paper, cloth and cardboard. They spent hours creating this model that includes the church itself, the St Pius X Convent and School, chapels and holy crosses, post office, fields, wells and even River Sal that flows along the border of the village.
Since April 29, the church has been conducting a week-long celebration that included administering First Holy Communion and Confirmation; organising a cultural day; association day, religious day and reflection day. The closing ceremony of the celebrations will be held with a special mass at 5 p.m. on May 8 presided by Cardinal Oswald Gracias followed by a cultural program