After some months of speculation and suspense, reality dawned on the parishioners and devotees alike that our parish would soon have a new shepherd under the aegis of the Archdiocese of Bombay drawing curtains on the 55 odd years of glorious PIME’s presence.  Though it was an emotive issue for all, the countdown was nearing and with little time at their disposal, the various lay organizations came together to chalk out a program for the 8th May – a day set aside by His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias for the final changeover.

Accordingly, the 8th of May was circled in red.  His Eminence was the main celebrant at the Eucharist along with nine PIME fathers, including our Parish Priest Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni and our Assistant Parish Priest Fr. Praveen. The Cardinal was felicitated with a live band,  a floral tribute, arti and a welcome speech. The Cardinal’s homily was a touching tribute to Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni who spearheaded the parish for five long years, doing yeoman service along the way.  The back drop, the Altar, Our Lady’s grotto, The Prayer Hall, The Adoration Chapel are only some of his projects.  The church was filled to rafters on 8th May.   Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni in his reply to the Cardinal thanked each and every one for their support, cooperation and assistance throughout his tenure.  Many were left teary eyed.   The Cardinal sensing the emotions of the people commented tongue-in-cheek,  if it was possible to start Marian devotions at the PIME project at Taloja for leprosy patients. Fr Ravi’s smile said it all.

After the Eucharist, PPC meeting was held in the prayer hall where the new incumbent Fr. Clement De lima was introduced.

The evening’s Eucharist was concelebrated by Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni  and Fr. Praveen to thank the good Lord and His blessed Mother Mary for the countless blessings showered on this parish through her intercession.   Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni emphasized that we should never forget the fact that it was our beloved mother whom the Spirit used mightily to work marvels in the parish of  Irla.  Fr. Ravi attributed his recovery from his illness  in the past, to our Blessed Mother. Immediately after the Eucharist there was a cultural programme, all the communities put up some eye-catching performances.   Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni whilst thanking everyone for all that they meant to him, exhorted the parishioners to always be welcoming and kind to the devotees who silently but convincingly give witness to Christ and His mother. A sumptuous buffet rounded up the festivities

Taking a cue from the Cardinal’s homily, without losing any time, Fr Ravi Thanaiah Marneni accompanied by a band of parishioners carried the statue of Mother Mary to Taloja on 9th May and installed it at Swarg Dwar [Gate of Heaven] in a befitting manner.  Novenas and  Prayers were recited.  A heavy  Breakfast  was served to all  the parishioners.   A round of housie regaled everyone.  After thanking Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni and wishing him a safe flight to Milan, parishioners nostalgically returned home.   A day well spent, a farewell is sweet sorrow, it is said.


We thank the Lord and our Mother for the gift of PIME to the Parish of Our Lady of Velankanni, Irla.  I had come to this Parish when I was at the age 12 and remember each Shepherds beginning from Fr. Bruno Venturin till Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni.  Fr. Bruno taught us how to win hearts with simplicity and gentleness.  Fr. Rajarussel Tributus thought us the importance of being punctual for Mass and listening to Word of God.       Fr. Lino Dal Balcon loved regional music, he even learnt Konkani and celebrated Mass to be one with the Devotees.  Fr. Benito Picassia was watchful and always left us with pointers to think through the week.  Fr. Carlo Rimondi was extremely friendly and witty with the Devotees and Parishioners and always reached to the poor.  Fr. Antonio Grugni inspite of his medical field and attention to the leprosy patients, made time for the Parishioners, Devotees and the youth especially the teenagers (my Son owes his teenage years to Fr.Antonio Grugni). He encouraged me to by an Animator, my journey of service to the Church started, and it only grew leaps and bounds.

Fr. George Thailammanal encouraged new Parishioners to offer their services. Fr. Augustine with his simple life uplifted many poor families.  He guided and encouraged me  to offer my service to the Church. Then was Fr. Ravi Thanaiah Marneni bought about tsunami of changes in the church, encouraged us to be a part of many spiritual works.  Apart from the beautiful structural changes  to the podium of Mother Mary, the Altar, the Grotto, the 40 ft. Brass flag pole the first in  Mumbai all bears witness to the Missionary and Visionary zeal of PIME.

We will never forget the PIME as they have engraved their service on our hearts.   The devotion to Our Lady of Velankanni will continue to bear testimony to PIME Fathers for generation and generations.  May our Mother bless all the PIME Fathers and the PIME Institute and shower her blessings today and every day.  Dear Fathers we will always remember you for all you taught and did for us and our prayers are with you always.

PIME moved out of Mumbai…. But not forgotten