There are several associations of the lay people in the Church. Some of them are very held. We have many confraternities that are many centuries old in Goa. The lay associations enable laypeople to serve God and humanity and sanctify themselves. Among these many lay associations, the legion of Mary occupies a special place in the heart of mother Mary. 7th September 2021 is a red-letter day in the life of any legionary. It marks the centenary of the legion’s existence in the world. It is indeed a moment of grace for everyone in the entire church. Although due to the global pandemic the legionaries are currently not meeting and offering their service to the Body of Christ, they continue to pray with for the Church seeking to glorify God, serve the remembers of the Church and sanctify themselves in the spirit of Mother Mary. This unique and special devotion to Mother Mary was founded by a layperson Br. Frank Duff in Dublin, Ireland 100 years ago. Legionaries all over the world rejoice and thank God for the blessing of this great milestone. The object of Legion of Mary is the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayers and active co-operation, under ecclesiastical guidance. It is indeed a blessed time to thank God and Mother Mary for bestowing millions of graces through mother Mary and her legion in the Church.
We in India and in Goa join this global centenary celebration. The legion of Mary came into our country in Madras in the year 1931. It came to Goa in the year 1952 in the village of Assagao in Bardez taluka through Legion envoy Peter Norman and a local Br. Cecil D’Souza. From there it blossomed to Mapusa, Panaji, Verna, Cuncolim, Chinchini Navelim and manifested a rapid growth. Today we have three comitia and 18 Curiae and around 280 Presidia of Legion in Goa. Legionaries from Goa are blessed to establish Legion preasidia in Sindhudurga and Aurangabad dioceses. Legion of Mary has played a great role in shaping the faith response of the lay faithful in Goa. It has been the nursery that provides us lay leaders in the Church. Several of our legionaries have become priests and religious in the Church. Legion has given us catechists, leaders of the Small Christian communities and Parish Pastoral councils. Legion serves a school of Christian leadership. Besides, in the Parish, the legionaries become a great pastoral arm of the Parish Priest. They visit the old, sick and lonely people and bring joy to them. They take the church to these people and in a powerful way provide care and service to the lonely and the sick. Legionaries serve the Church in different capacities animating the Body of Christ.
Covid-19 has affected legionary activities. There is a silver lining with it. Legionaries are challenged to deepen their prayers and seek to deepen relations with people that they visit using modern technology of communication like the phone. This need will increase as the days go on since there is increased migration of the young to Europe leaving the Old people at home. The coming future is not going to make the legion of Mary irrelevant. The need for the apostolic activities of the legion will certainly increase in the days to come.
The Church in Goa joins the legionaries thanking God for the centenary of the Marian way of being Church. The spirit of this celebration is not dampened by the restrictions imposed by covid-19. The legionaries while taking care of their own health do everything they can to serve others. Reaching out in prayer was the mainstay of a legion during covid times. There were several plans to mark the great occasion but had to be curtailed due to the pandemic. Led by a sense of care for the other in the true Marian spirit, the leader of the legion is Goa has decided to make a documentary on legionary spirituality and its importance. It is done especially to reach out to those who do not really know legion. On 7th the legionaries will join online the mass celebrated by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Mumbai at seven in the evening and will pray the Holy Rosary with families in their homes.