Indian Community

We invite you to celebrate with us a Novena Prayer and Mass every third Friday of the month at 7:00pm at St. Paul Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Good Health

Our Lady of Good Health or “Our Lady of Vailankanni” first appeared to a Hindu boy who was under a banyan tree by a pond in the town of Vailankanni, India, during the 16th century. The boy was delivering milk to a rich man. Our Lady carrying her infant Son asked the boy to share some of his milk with her baby and he gladly did so. When the boy finally reached the customer’s home, he explained why he was late and why he was missing milk. On inspection, the customer saw that the milk container was full and asked the boy to take him to the Lady and he did so. While the Hindu people didn’t understand who she was, the small local Catholic population immediately understood it was Mary and our Lord Jesus.

A few years later, the Mother and Child appeared again. This time to a lame boy selling buttermilk. Mary also asked him to share his goods with her Son. He gladly did so and was healed! Our Lady then asked him to tell a local Catholic man of her desire to build a chapel in her honor. The boy ran to the man who already dreamt about building a shrine to honor our Blessed Mother. They returned to the site of the apparition and soon built a humble chapel was under the title of Our Lady of Good Health, “Arokia Matha.”

Years later, our Blessed Mother assisted Portuguese sailors in the midst of a violent storm. In gratitude, they built a new permanent chapel. Today it is celebrated as a sacred place, a place of miracles, for all God’s children: Christians, Hindus, and Muslims alike. It is affectionately called the “Lourdes of the East!”

Our Lady’s Shrine at St. Paul Church, Tampa, Florida

St. Paul Catholic Church is blest to be a vibrant multicultural Christian community of faith. Truly catholic or universal in nature, we hail from the four corners of the earth and are delighted to be home to our incredible Anglo, Hispanic, Filipino, Brazilian, Indian, and African communities.

Of these, our Indian community is one of the youngest. Almost six years ago, our pastor, Fr. Bill Swengros, asked Fr. John Kennedy, a visiting priest from India, to host a special Mass for the Indian community on December 19, 2014. It was a huge success. Blessed with gifted lay leadership and the spiritual guidance of Fr. Bob Romaine, the Indian community of Tampa Bay has fostered a strong devotion to Our Lady of Good Health and initiated a Novena, Mass, and dinner reception every third Friday of the month at 7:30 pm. All are warmly welcome!

Thanks to a generous benefactor, we soon secured an image of our Lady from Vailankanni and introduced her to our community. As the devotion grew, we have been blessed with numerous miracles thanks to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Health. Fr. Bill continued to challenge the community to allow God to dream within them. Soon it became clear that Our Lady of Good Health and her infant Son Jesus were asking us all to share “our milk” … to step out in faith and to provide a special home for them.

As a result, the community designed a special shrine which resembles the Shrine in Vailankanni, India. A gifted team of parishioners were formed to design and build this wonderful testament to faith. We are especially grateful for Arnel Artus for our beautiful mural. Our prayer and hope from the beginning is that Our Lady of Good Health Shrine would inspire our children, our children’s children, and generations to come and be a sign of hope that people of faith… Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists … and even those who claim no particular religion may unite one day in prayer to God for peace and justice to all.

The message of Our Lady of Good Health is clear: we are all children of God. We are all called to share our “buttermilk” with those who thirst. We are all called to reach out to those in need, especially the young and disabled. We are all called to be sensitive to those whose lives are “shipwreck.” We are all called to work for peace and justice for all! Our Lady of Good Health, pray for us! Santo Niño, hear our prayer!