Bishop Derek Fernandes, of Karwar Diocese in Southern India, says that the sacredness of Holy Week is emphasized in his Diocese. Speaking to Sr. Carmel Ann of Vatican News, Bishop Fernandes says that during the 40 days of Lent the faithful of his diocese are instructed and accompanied towards a meaningful celebration of the Paschal feast .
In the Lenten season the priests of each deanery dedicate a day to a particular parish, visit every Catholic house, meet their people and instruct them on the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They then call them to a common place and listen to Confession. This, he says, has enabled some 98 to 99% of the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent.
On Palm Sunday the focus is on the youth of the parish who take charge of the procession through public roads. This year ‘Christus vivit’, the post Synodal document of Pope Francis, has made them aware of the expectation of the Mother Church and generated extra enthusiasm calling them to be responsible youth of the parish.
Easter Vigil is celebrated even in the smallest of parishes and follows the Neocatechumenal Way liturgy with a lot of singing and constant interaction with the faithful.
The bishop also speaks about why certain liturgies are celebrated even before the specified day. He says that the Chrism Mass is held a week ahead in his diocese, since many parishes are far away from the Cathedral and the presence of every priest at the Chrism Mass is mandatory. This also enables representatives from every parish to accompany their shepherd who joins the rest of his brother priests and the bishop to celebrate the liturgy of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist.
He also adds that his diocese lays importance on family life and he speaks of his wish that every house be blessed in the presence of all members of the household, for he says, it is not just the house that is blessed but the members of the family residing there.
The Diocese of Karwar, which was erected more than 40 years ago, is part of the Archdiocese of Bangalore in South India that counts 67 parishes and many substations. It cares for over 50 thousand Catholics spread across the district of Karwar in Karnataka. Since 2007, Karwar-born Bishop Derek Fernandes is the spiritual head of this diocese.