The Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, chaired, this afternoon at the Lunch Room of the National Assembly in Port Louis, the first ministerial meeting of the Task Force on the Father Laval (Père Laval) Pilgrimage 2021.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Housing and Land Use Planning, Minister of Tourism, Mr Louis Steven Obeegadoo, the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Disaster Risk Management, Dr Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, the Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Georges Pierre Lesjongard, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Recreation, Mr Jean Christophe Stephan Toussaint, as well as other ministers and Members of Parliament were present at the meeting.
Several representatives from Governmental institutions and socio-cultural associations were present to discuss and share their proposals as to the advent of the pilgrimage. The meeting aims at ensuring that the Father Laval pilgrimage is held in the best possible conditions.
In a statement, Prime Minister Jugnauth recalled that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, strict sanitary measures will have to be observed, and these will result in organising the pilgrimage in different conditions. He however reassured that the pilgrimage this year will be able to take place within the best conditions, before pledging that Government will take on board the majority of proposals raised by the various socio-cultural representatives.
The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction following the meeting and informed that this year, the organisers of the pilgrimage advocate that there is a need to restrict the number of pilgrims who will converge towards the shrine of Père Laval.
According to him, the organisers will encourage, as far as possible, devotees to follow the Mass, which will be broadcasted on television and on the radio, at home or in their respective localities. Prime Minister Jugnauth appealed to pilgrims to act as responsible citizens by observing all strict sanitary measures and avoiding gatherings.
The organisers, on their part, have proposed that exceptionally this year due to the COVID-19 situation, the pilgrimage of Pere Laval be commemorated from 16 August to 30 September 2021. This proposal aims at allowing a maximum number of pilgrims and followers to celebrate their faith in a responsible and safe way.
During the meeting, the different concerned authorities listed out the numerous arrangements which will be made for, namely: rehabilitation of roads and the shrine of Père Laval, lighting facilities, stand-by teams from the Central Electricity Board, live CCTV images in the shrine of Père Laval to better monitor movement of pilgrims, facilities to register pilgrims who will converge towards the shrine, metal barriers and fencing so as to better enforce sanitary precautions, provision of Wi-Fi facilities, and provision of banners, amongst others.
Jacques-Désiré Laval (18 September 1803 – 09 September 1864) was a French Roman Catholic priest who served in the missions in Mauritius. He is known as the “Apostle of Mauritius” due to his tireless work in aiding the poor and ill. Every year on 08 September, men, women and children around the island, leave their houses and start on a long march to the shrine of Father Laval at Sainte Croix, where prayers are said. The death of Father Laval is commemorated on 09 September each year.