MUMBAI, India – On the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Archdiocese of Bombay celebrated World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount in the Bandra area in Mumbai.

This was part of the Global Rosary Relay for the Sanctification of Priests, an initiative launched in 2009 by Marion Mulhall, founder of the World Priest Global Apostolate.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, said the Global Rosary brings the whole world together “praying for our priests.”

“It is a sign from all over the world as a gratitude for what the priests are doing and also an appreciation of their work and an assurance that everybody is with them and works with them and is praying that they be faithful, committed, and dedicated to their responsibilities,” he told Crux.

“It began some years back and I remember, it was different cathedrals all over the world. I felt that since so many people come to the basilica it would be nice to shift this rosary from the cathedral to the basilica,” he said, explaining why the event took place at Our Lady of the Mount.

“I have met the organizers also and they were very happy. I think that year after year, in the month of June on the Feast of Sacred Heart they pray for priests,” Gracias continued.

“I feel it is so important and necessary and I encourage our people to pray for priests. The priesthood is a very challenging task today with so many responsibilities. The Church is evolving and with that, the responsibilities of the priest are also evolving. We need more vocations too which is something that is so important for Mumbai,” the cardinal told Crux.

Father Vernon Aguiar is the rector of the Basilica Our Lady of Mount, and he led the Global Rosary Relay for Sanctification of Priests.

Introducing the first decade of the Glorious Mystery, Aguiar emphasized thar we’re not “simply observers of historical events but are participants – experiencing the joy of Christ conquest over death.”

The basilica currently undergoing restoration was adorned with beautiful flowers and lights reflective of the Glorious Mysteries assigned to the Basilica.

Earlier in the day, Vice-Rector Father Sunder Albuquerque announced the inauguration of the new offices of the basilica which would serve the Archdiocese of Bombay and the community.

Speaking of the new office inaugurated at the basilica, Gracias said it will be used for the service of the archdiocese “and the peoples of all Faiths.”

“This office besides having administrative functions is also the hub for the charitable apostolate of the basilica and the pastoral and spiritual guidance,” the cardinal said.

“The idea is to make every shrine, every basilica, all over the world available to the people and also be an instrument of spreading the Good News. The basilica is a dedicated shrine of our Lady. Mary brought Jesus to us and we ask Mary once again, to bring Jesus to us,” Gracias added.

“In this new office, our priests are available for facilities available like counselling et cetera. There are also a lot of people of other faiths who wish to have guidance and counselling. The idea is to be available when people have personal problems,” he added.

He also noted that Friday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

“We reflected on this at Mass and continue to reflect on it. It is the sacrifice of our Lord, the love of our Lord giving of himself up totally on the Cross. The Lord always reached out to the poor, those at a disadvantage and he makes himself available to us and wants us to do the same. The Basilica also should be an instrument and an assistance to people who are in need,” Gracias said.

“At the Basilica, medical benefits are given to the poor and needy irrespective of caste or creed. Giving medical aid is something that has to be done and our charitable work flows from the graces of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – it is the horizontal beam of the Cross. Love flowing from the Sacred Heart to us to others, this is what a priest is called to give our lives over to helping and supporting the other,” the cardinal added.

“This new office makes this more convenient and welcoming for the people. Now it is more easily available and accessible. We are instruments to give God’s mercy and love to the people in a tangible way without any distinction of caste, creed, et cetera. All people should see the Love of God,” Gracias said.