The Novena of St. Francis Xavier that started at Old Goa's Church on November 24 has been drawing huge crowds since five days.

In keeping with the Pastoral Focus of the Archdiocese for the year, all the 10 Themes of the Novena and Feast of St. Francis Xavier this year are based on ecology.

Considering the fact that Goa is an eco-sensitive State and it has been rocked by eco-related issues of late, the Pastoral Focus chosen for this Pastoral Year (June 2011-May 2012) is: Covenant between Human Beings and Creation: Divine Love's Manifestation”.

A Pastoral Focus is a thrust that the Church in Goa chooses for all its activities for that particular year beginning in June and ending in May of the following year, according to a press release from the Goa Diocese here.

Though, the Novena and Feast of St Francis Xavier has always been popular with Goans of all castes and creeds, this year's themes for 10 days have generated added interest as they have a particular significance to the prevailing situation in Goa. In keeping with the fact that Goa is celebrating the Golden Jubilee of its Liberation, the Church in Goa thought of making a meaningful contribution to the occasion by choosing a Pastoral Focus for the year that will speak to Goa of our times and invite everyone to reflect deeply on the socio-politico-cultural-economic realities facing Goans and work to preserve the fruits of liberation so as to attain a truer, fuller liberation.

The Pastoral Focus takes its inspiration from “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth), the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI on Integral Human Development written in 2009.

Inspired by the wisdom in Indian tradition, from the third day, the Themes for the Novena have been based on the five elements of the nature — water, earth, air, fire and ether.

Dwelling on the need to preserve water, the preachers on the third day tried to convince the Faithful about the need to make responsible use of Water, which is a source of life itself, and save it for the future generations.

On a topic that has seen a lot of dust being raised of late in this coastal State, the theme for Sunday “Our Land is Our Identity” was aptly expounded by preachers.

Striking feature

A striking feature this year is that the organisers have ensured that the sermons don't remain just sermons.

At the end of the mass, everyone takes a pledge to do something about what is reflected on for that day. Those who cannot make it to Old Goa can see the live streaming of the 6 a.m. or 8.15 a.m. mass on

The Pastoral Letter of the Archbishop of Goa on which the Novena Themes are based can be bought at The Diocesan Pastoral Secretariat, Institute Piedade, Panjim (2432730), or Pauline Book and Media Centre in Panaji (2231158) or Mapusa (2253329) or Lighthouse in Margao (2703119) or Jivitacho Sondex at Basilica in Old Goa (2285319).

All the 10 themes this year are based on ecology