STORIES OF COURAGE AND COMPASSION
For centuries, St Michael Church, Mahim, has been a beacon across the Mahim Bay to all those who venture into the sea for their daily livelihood. Since March of this year, with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, our parish has also begun shining her light landward, upon the people of Mahim - us Mahimkars.
Ever since our city of Mumbai went into lockdown, from March 25, 2020, our parish has been trying its best to reach out to all those affected. It began with distribution of cooked meals to around 250 individuals daily - both parishioners and non-parishioners. Over the course of the last four months, this number has increased to 280 meals a day. The number of meals required is collated through effective coordination between Fr Ashwin Castellino and four parishioners representing the four zones within the parish. A team of 3-4 volunteers picks up the meals, and takes them to the six distribution points. From here, other volunteers collect the meal packets, and distribute them in and around Mahim. What stands out from this service is the joy seen on the faces of all the volunteers, despite the risks involved.
It doesn’t stop here, though. St Michael Primary School is being used as a centre to house medical personnel from Hinduja Hospital, who are working tirelessly to treat patients in their care. There are also two homeless individuals who have been given shelter within the church premises, and eight others who have been taken to the Migrant Relief Shelter set up at St Peter’s Church, Bandra. A study has been undertaken by the Parish Pastoral Council to identify specific needs of the families during this pandemic. With the current economic situation, many parishioners have either lost their jobs or are not getting paid, resulting in a large number of families not being able to afford even basic necessities. Although rations are being given to some of these families, there are various other areas of concern. Discussions are ongoing to review and implement strategies to help such families, until they are back on their feet, once the lockdown is lifted.
The aforementioned initiatives are tangible, and the results can be quantified. However, the intangible benefits experienced by us parishioners are the spiritual blessings we have been receiving since the start of the lockdown in the form of ‘Family Primetime Prayertime @ 9’—the Prayer Services being streamed live every night at 9 p.m. The innovative ways of prayer our priests have been coming up with are enticing even those of us who are not very spiritually inclined to log in at the appointed hour.
Our heartfelt gratitude goes to our team of priests - Fr Lancy Pinto, Fr Simon Borges, Fr Bento Cardozo and Fr Ashwin Castellino - for all they have been doing to ensure that Jesus’ light shines down on each one of us during this unique and unprecedented time. Our parish is exemplifying the verse from scripture - “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbour.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)
Avril D’Mello St Michael Church, Mahim