Extension of Minor-Basilica in Ulhato, Ranchi, India
Project location: INDIA, Ulhato
Project start date: June 2013 - Project end date: June 2014
Project number: 2013-068
Beneficiary: Ranchi Catholic Archdiocese
Ulhatu is the first Marian Shrine in Chotanagpur. The shrine is adorned by the statue of Our Lady of Halle, Mary Mother of God and Seat of Wisdom. This is closely linked to the Servant of God Fr. Constant Lievens the ‘Apostle of Chotanagpur'. His missionary vocation had its roots in his devotion to Our Lady of Halle. In fact when due to ill health he had to go back to Belgium, and while there he prayed to Our Lady of Halle, invoking her intercession for him to return to India and promising to build a Church in her honour.
Unfortunately his plans failed as he never came back physically. However, during his missionary work here which lasted hardly seven years, he began with 56 Catholics in the whole area entrusted to him. When he died, he left 80,000 baptized Catholics and more than 20,000 catechumenates. In November 1993 the mortal remains of Fr. Livens were brought to St. Mary's Cathedral, Ranchi.
A new Parish Church was built at Ulhatu to replace the old one. The new Shrine was blessed and inaugurated in November 1995. Many devotees from different Parishes started flocking at the Shrine. Annual pilgrimages have been popular among the school and college students.
In recognition of its enormous spiritual fecundity, the Shrine was accorded ‘Sub-Conditio' the title of Minor Basilica through a Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued on 30 November 2004.In the meantime the extension works began because the Church became too small for the increasing crowds of the pilgrims. In this process in accordance with apposite norms, we have undertaken modification and decorations within the sanctuary which would offer better liturgical disposition in view of a more dignified celebration of the Sacraments, in particular Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The elevation of the Ulhatu Marian Shrine to the Minor Basilica is conditional. Extension of the Church, beautification, fixed confessionals etc. The project envisages to address these immediate problems so that more pilgrims could be accommodated for the liturgical services and fulfill the norms of the Sacred Congregation. The work will be entrusted to the qualified professional architects and builders of experience and under the supervision of the Archdiocese, the project will be completed.
Once the project is completed more and more pilgrims are expected not only from Ranchi Archdiocese, but also from other dioceses and neighbouring states. The project will fulfil the norms and conditions laid down by the Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship which has elevated the Shrine to Minor Basilica. Pilgrimage to the Ulhatu Shrine will strengthen the faith of the people and the place will cater to the spiritual needs of the people in manifold ways.
The Ulhatu Marian Shrine is already established and flourishing. The Nando Peretti Foundation has awarded a grant for this project for its extension and to fulfill the norms of the Congregation of the divine worship which has declared the Ulhatu Marian Shrine as Minor Basilica ‘Sub- Conditio'.
The Archdiocese has successfully completed two projects supported by the Foundation- Lievens Academy Project, Lohardaga and Loyola Hostel, Ranchi.