ONLINE CAMPAIGN TO CANONISE Pe. JOSE VAZ by Mayabhushan Nagvenkar brought to you by Saturnino Rodrigues

(An Excerpt from the Internet)
Panjim, Sept 16 : Back then, when the world travelled on horseback instead of motor cars, and hawks were used to take messages across, the canonisation of Catholic saints was largely a result of excited word-of-mout regurgitation of miracles  and outreach - besides devotion, of course - are the tools of a campaign launched by the Goan diaspora across the world to anoint as a saint an 18th century priest of Goan origin who is also known as the "Apostle of Sri Lanka".
Blessed Pe. Jose Vaz
The Roman Catholic Church is celebrating the 300th death anniversary of Blessed (Bl) Joseph Vaz, a Goan Catholic missionary credited with strengthening the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka.
To coincide with the event, an online petition aggressively urging the Pope to canonise Father Vaz in 2011 on the  300th anniversary of his death, Jan 16, has been generating interest in Father Vaz is just one step away from becoming a saint after he was beatified by Vatican on Jan 21, 1995, in Colombo. With several thousand signatories accumulated in a short span of time and the "deadline" still a few months away, the organisers are going full throttle to garner support.
"Canonisations are in part a result of an outpouring of support from ordinary people. The Pope can grant the exception to the miracle for the case of a martyr if enough people show that we care," the cover letter accompanying the petition reads.
"Your signature to this petition will help send people's support to the Pope for Blessed Vaz's long delayed and just canonisation. Together we can make this canonisation happen."
Interestingly, the origin of the petition can be traced to California, US, to the doorstep of the Joseph Vaz Institute (JVI), based there. The institute claims it has been championing the cause of Father Vaz since 1980.
"The canonisation is an important priority for us because this is the best way to preserve his memory and get his work recognised," Filomena Saraswati Giese of the JVI told IANS on e-mail.
The process of becoming a Catholic saint is lengthy, often taking decades or centuries to complete.
The petition goes on to urge the Pope to expedite the process as "his canonisation also means much to the native clergy and native members of religious orders."
Interestingly, the petition has not found favour with the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, which is also celebrating the third centennial jubilee.
"We have aligned with Sri Lanka to celebrate the centennial, but we have not aligned with them (JVI)," said Fr Eremito Rebello, the priest in-charge of the Blessed Joseph Vaz Sanctuary located in Sancoale, 25 km from here.
"They (Sri Lankan Catholics) are a bit fanatic and believe that the church is not canonising Bl Joseph Vaz because he is not of fair skin. But we do not hold that view and believe that god will grant a miracle needed to canonise him as saint. It will take time, but it will happen," Rebello said.
According to the procedure set down by the church, sainthood is granted to "exceptionally" holy men and women.
For centuries, saints were chosen through public opinion.
In the 10th century, however, Pope John XV developed an official canonisation process. Canonisation has been revised in the past 1,000 years, most recently by Pope John Paul II, who canonised around 300 people.
The Goa Archdiocese, meanwhile, has its own plans for a grand celebration. The Liturgical year has been dedicated to Father Vaz and round-the-year programmes are being organised, including pilgrimages to Sri Lanka.
"Besides weekly prayer services, all parishes in Goa will organise pilgrimages to the shrine in Sancoale," Rebello said.
Father Vaz had travelled to Sri Lanka as a missionary in April 1687 at a time when Catholics were facing persecution from Dutch colonists and died there in 1711. (IANS)


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