Three questions posed by Goa-based journalist Alexandre Moniz Barbosa and my replies (which he translated into Portuguese) as part of his report titled “Uma missa com uma história que mantém viva uma língua”, published in Somos! 

You’ve been attending the Portuguese mass for years. For some time it was your family that was keeping it going. How was that experience?

I have been attending Sunday Mass in Portuguese since 1970, when the post-Vatican II Ordinário da Missa was published. As we spoke Portuguese at home, attending Mass in the same language was the most natural thing to do. My dear departed father helped out by allotting the Readings and we as a family were an integral part of the choir. In the 1980s, we witnessed traditional hymns slowly giving way to modern tunes (some of them Brazilian). That hymnal, Cantemos Juntos, is still in use.

Why do you think having a Portuguese mass in Goa is important?

Churches and chapels in Goa discontinued Mass in Portuguese two decades ago, but the capital city’s main church has held fast to tradition. Successive parish priests have happily obliged even though the number of attendees has dwindled over the years. It is also remarkable that even now there are people who feel comfortable attending Mass in Portuguese. When Goa’s tourist season begins, in October, Portuguese-speaking visitors make it a point to fulfil their Sunday obligation at the church of the Immaculate Conception.

How would you motivate youth to come to this Mass?

This Mass has a niche attendance. The labourers are few, so to say, and practical difficulties many. On the other hand, there are easier options available, in English and Konkani. All that has made it somewhat tough to keep the Mass going. However, of late, thanks to the revival of interest in Portuguese, many youngsters learning the language in schools and colleges are happy to come and even sing in the choir alongside the seniors. Recently, a young visitor from Maharashtra told me that he had felt transported to Portugal!

(Pic credits: AMB)