The Church of Our Lady of Health of Velankanni, is a catholic shrine and a worship centre in Irla, most popularly known as Irla Church. The church is located near Society Road, Vile Parle (West). The organization carries out a number of social and other religious activities to facilitate well-being of the society and their community. Many of their social services include giving financial help to needy families, providing them with basic resources like food, clothing, etc.
They aid 44 families in the vicinity of the church who are poor, underprivileged and their children go to Hindi, Marathi, English and Gujarati medium schools. The parish also helps them with the needs of their houses and the education of their children with books(exercise and text), fees and their tuitions. This is done irrespective of their caste and creed. Background and nature of the Parish The Shrine of Irla is dedicated to Our Lady of Velankanni, Patroness of Health, Its existence is due to untiring efforts of Fr. Bruno Venturin P. I. M.
E and to the great sacrifices of all devotees. The foundation-stone was blessed and laid by the Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay. Mgr. Winnibald Menezes , on the 26th of January 1975. The following year the Shrine was completed and on the occasion of the Nativity Celebrations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Rt. Rev. Dr. Alfonso Beretta, P. I. M. E. , Bishop of Warangal (A. P. ) blessed the Shrine on 8th September, 1976. A year later, His Eminence, the late Cardinal Valerian Gracias, graced the Nativity Celebrations with his presence all the devotees were touched by his visit.
He celebrated the Eucharist and in his homily he paid glowing tributes to Fr. Bruno Venturin, an Italian missionary, who has provided for the devotees at Irla a place of Veneration to Our Lady of Velankanni. Fr. Bruno Venturin was a member of the Pontifical Institute for Missions Extension (P. I. M. E) The Statue of Our Lady of Velankanni within the Shrine is attributed with miraculous power and day by day attracts more and more devotees from every caste and creed even from great distance.
The Novena Services have been held every Saturday since 1968 when the P. I. M. E fathers first came to Mumbai. The parish gives hospitality to the Alcoholics Anonymous Group every Tuesday at 7. 30 pm. For tackling Social and Civil problems there is a Community Centre called ‘The Ankur Vikas Kendra’. About P. I. M. E The Pontificial Institute for Mission Extension (P. I. M. E), is an international community of Priests and Lay Missionaries, who dedicate themselves to the spreading of the Gospel throughout the world.
We dedicate ourselves to collaborating in the growth of the young churches, by sharing our specific charism, also through membership in the institute with persons of any national origin. We live as a family of Apostles, offering one another mutual support in the communion of life and activities, in order to help each member live his missionary vocation. We invite and prepare those who feel the call to join in our missionary task. We also work to animate the missionary consciousness of our local communities, through personal witness and mass-media. We keep a preferential evangelical option for the poor and marginalized of society.