Colombo, Sri Lanka (Tuesday, 01-27-2015, Gaudium Press) The first celebration of Sri Lanka’s first saint, Joseph Vaz, canonized by Pope Francis on January 14, was held on Saturday in Kurunegala, in the northwest of the country, where the saint lived his mission for a long time. The parish of Galgamuwa still retains traces of his presence. This year, the Diocese of Kurunegala began the pastoral ministry by launching a “Year of the Child”. Hence, more than 6,000 children from 98 Sunday catechism school attended the first Mass celebrated in honour of the new saint.
In a homily, Card Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo led the ceremony, concelebrated by Bishop Harold Anthony of Kurenegala, and dozens of priests who distributed communion to more than 4,000 faithful.
Fr. Joseph Vaz, an Oratorian priest, was born on April 21, 1651, in Goa, in what is India today. He arrived Sri Lanka in April 1687 through Jaffna in the north, at a time when Dutch colonizers persecuted Catholics and sponsored Calvinism as the official religion.
Cardinal Ranjit noted St. Vaz “trod every Sri Lanka beach, visited many, many villages and helped Catholics to keep the faith. He faced many difficulties and sufferings, but did not abandon his mission, keeping close to Jesus and walking forward.” The prelate urged children to pray and love Jesus more, asking for God’s blessing to be another Joseph Vaz. (Source: AsiaNews)