MANGALORE, Dec 19, 2023: The spirit of Christmas enveloped the St Anthony Ashram in a vibrant celebration as Most Rev. Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, the Bishop of Mangalore and Chairman of St Anthony Charity Institutes, graced the premises on Sunday, December 17, 2023. The atmosphere was ablaze with festive fervor, adorned with colorful stars, radiant lights, and a magnificent 20-foot Christmas tree, setting the perfect stage for the occasion.
Amidst this picturesque setting, all the residents of Jeppu Ashram, adorned in the signature Christmas red caps, gathered for an evening filled with joy and color. Rev. Fr J B Crasta, the Ashram’s Director, extended a warm welcome, expressing that the residents, unable to venture out, deserved an outdoor celebration to experience the delight of Christmas.
Addressing the gathering, Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha remarked, “Christmas is an eager anticipation to connect with human hearts. It is a time when God, desiring to meet us, assumed the innocence of a child rather than the guise of an aged figure or Santa Claus. He embraced humility and poverty to enrich us all.”
Highlighting the significance of the season, Bishop Saldanha emphasized the anticipation of those in orphanages, always hopeful and eager for someone to care for them. He urged everyone to extend the humility and simplicity of Jesus’ heart to touch the lives of the less fortunate during this Christmas season.
The celebration saw Bishop Peter Paul slicing a Christmas cake alongside distinguished guests, the Ashram director, priests, and residents, spreading cheer with the distribution of Christmas prizes to all the residents. Additionally, the Bishop unveiled ‘Miracle,’ a post-centenary magazine of the St Anthony Charitable Institutions, edited by Rev. Fr Rupesh Tauro, the former assistant director of St Anthony Ashram.
Adding a digital touch to the festivities, Bishop Peter Paul inaugurated the newly designed website, www.stanthonyashram.in, for St Anthony Charitable Institutions, Jeppu, and existing website www.stanthonyshrinemangalore.com for St Anthony Devotion Trust, Jeppu. These websites, overseen by Fr Anil Fernandes, Director of Canara Communication Centre, Mangalore, aim to enhance the institutions’ online presence.
In a heartwarming display of solidarity, Abhaya Friends, Mangalore, captivated the audience with soulful renditions of songs and delightful skits, eliciting laughter and joy among the ashram residents. Bishop Saldanha extended his blessings and appreciation to Mr. Nirmal, the president of Abhaya Friends, and its members for their altruistic service and commitment.
Concluding the event, Rev. Fr. Gilbert D’souza, St. Anthony Chaplain, conveyed gratitude, while Sweedal and Joel, the Ashram students, efficiently compered the programme, ensuring a memorable and spirited celebration for all in attendance.
Report and Photos: Canara Communication Centre