Dr. (Sr.) Mudita Sodder is associated with the congregation, which runs Sophia College, among other institutions. At present she is posted at,  Tarumitra Ashram and Bio-Reserve Centre, Digha Ghat P.O, Patna 800011, Bihar, India.
 On the occasion of annual Devotions to MOTHER OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR, which begins on 18th, June, she has described the history of nine novenas at MAHIM, which has really turned into a PHENOMENON.
Come 18th June and all roads lead to the second Church in present-day Mumbai, and the first on the Island of Bombay namely St Michael’s Church in Upper Mahim, built in the 16th century. This Church is historic and with the installation of the miraculous facsimile (icon) of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (OMPH) on September 8, 1948 by Fr Edward Placidus Fernandes, it became a phenomenon! This ‘sacred complex’ and mini-pilgrimage shrine, witnesses incredible crowds who gather there every Wednesday to make the Perpetual Novena to OMPH.
 Part of the Mahim Phenomenon is the fact that the Wednesday devotion goes on 24 hours of the day. Even when the doors of the Church are closed, devotees come and pray outside the closed doors, put garlands and light candles at the grotto of our Mother. It is edifying to often see a taxi without passengers pulling up in front of the shrine and the driver going in for a brief prayer, before resuming his nocturnal rounds of the city.
 The Mahim Phenomenon is the happy combination of two elements. It is an expression of Indian popular religiosity which runs deep in the Indian psyche and culture. However, if anybody were to suggest that Indian popular religiosity is essentially superstitious, escapist and other-worldly, with no concern for the concrete down-to-earth problems of daily living, then the healings, miracles and strong faith of the devotees or even a visit to the shrine during the Preparatory Novenas for the Feast on June 27th will be enough proof of the contrary.
 The other predominant element in the Mahim Story is the charism for popular pastoral approaches that the diocesan priests have inherited from their patron, St John Marie Vianney. Monsignor George Fernandes, the Vicar from 1950-1961, was a fluent and impressive preacher and helped to draw large crowds to the Novenas.
 The Perpetual Novena format has something to do with the fact that devotees return Wednesday after Wednesday, month after month, year after year. According to Fr Luis G Hechanova, “It was a stroke of pastoral genius of the Redemptorists in the United States who thought of the Perpetual Novena format and through this format devotion to OMPH spread so rapidly and enduringly to many other lands. Devotees desiring to join in the Novena may begin from any Wednesday they choose and continue the devotion for nine consecutive Wednesdays.
 The title OMPH could be another possible explanation for the popularity of this devotion. More than anything else, it keeps reverberating in the Indian heart and soul for every Indian knows the value of a mother. The mother-and-child motif could perhaps also be an attraction for devotees of other faiths.
 Mahim is a religious phenomenon that defies explanation, and no one can really explain why this devotion exploded far beyond all expectation and engulfed the whole city. The only possible explanation worthy of the phenomenon is to attribute this avalanche of devotion to the mysterious workings of God’s grace and God’s spirit. Through the Perpetual Novena to HIs Mother, Christ the Redeemer has given the people access to himself as the primary source of redeeming grace.
 To use computer terminology, Mary the Mother of God is the Provider i.e. Server (even if not the only one) that links them to Christ the Redeemer and His entire network of grace. May all those who go for the preparatory Novenas for the Feast beginning from 18ht June be amply blessed by our beloved Mother who will link them to her loving Son Jesus.
 Dr (Sr) Mudita Menona Sodder RSCJ
 Sophia College, Mumbai
 11th June 2012.

English: St Michael's Church in Mahim, Mumbai

St Michael’s Church in Mahim, Mumbai            (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: St Michael's Church in Mahim, Mumbai

St Michael’s Church in Mahim, Mumbai            (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A more recent and accurate picture of...

A recent picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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