The annual Marian Novena and Pilgrimage were held at the Mariam Ashram in Diang, Chittagong, from February 1-11.
Deeply devoted to Our Lady, Servant of God Brother Flavian Laplante initiated this novena and pilgrimage in 1976. It was in this same year that the late Bishop Joachim Rozario, C.S.C., of then the Diocese of Chittagong, declared Mariam Ashram a national shrine and place of pilgrimage in fulfillment of the personal dream of Br. Flavian. For the past 47 years, this annual pilgrimage continues during the second week of February with thousands of pilgrims flocking to Diang and the Mariam Ashram.
The pilgrimage began on February 10 with the recitation of the rosary followed by a Mass offered by Fr. Bijoy Rebeiro, O.M.I. A common supper, organized by the Marian Pilgrimage Central Committee, was later enjoyed by all, after which was Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confessions.
Later in the evening, Fr. Leonard Reberio, C.S.C., Vicar General of the Archdiocese blessed the newly constructed Rosary Garden. Inaugurated in 2019 by the late Archbishop Moses Costa, C.S.C., during the jubilee year commemorating 500 years of the Catholic Church in Chittagong, the Garden was11 years in the making and contains 20 stations, one for each of the four mysteries of the Rosary. In tribute to the Congregation of Holy Cross, two additional stations were also added, one dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows and the other to Saint Joseph.
In his words of thanksgiving recognizing the many benefactors for the Garden, Br. Stephen Binoy Gomes, C.S.C., who initiated this project, said, “As it would be made in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I had deep faith that she would help to implement the construction of the Rosary Garden. I also strongly believe that we have received this Rosary Garden from God through many different people.”
Following the blessing was the recitation of the rosary and the traditional candlelight procession.
The highlight of the event was the concluding Mass attended by approximately 3,000 people on February 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The celebrant was again Fr. Rebeiro, who filled in for Archbishop Subrato Lawrence Howladar, C.S.C., who was suffering from COVID-19.
After the Mass, Br. Sylvester Mridha, C.S.C., extended his thanks to the many pilgrims who were present for the Mass. It is reassuring to know that the spirit of Servant of God Brother Flavian Laplante continues to live in the hearts of those who come to pray at the Mariam Ashram.