Year of St. Joseph Vaz; Focus on poverty alleviation and reconciliation
The Catholic church in Sri Lanka has declared 2017 ‘The year of St. Joseph Vaz’ and hopes to discover further details about Sri Lanka’s great apostle’s life as well as the places he visited. There will also be a special focus on poverty alleviation and the spreading of harmony among different religions and racial groups- virtues St Joseph Vaz brought to Sri Lanka.
The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told a media conference “We know that he came to Sri Lanka in 1687 and died in January 1711. However, our intention is to reveal more information about his courageous work towards Sri Lanka’s Catholics and the world.” The Cardinal added that St. Joseph Vaz’s burial place was yet to be discovered.
It was revealed that the saint had gifted a cross to a family at Sillale in Jaffna and that the family’s descendants still had this cross. Another such cross has been found at the Mahagalgamuwa Church in Kurunegala. The St. Joseph Vaz year was inaugurated on January 14 in a special service held at 6 p.m. at St. Lucia’s Cathedral in Kotahena and presided over by the Cardinal.
According to the cardinal, another feature of the St. Joseph Vaz year will be the focus on restoring the dignity of impoverished and marginalised people. Accordingly, a free morning meal is to be distributed to children in schools located near parish churches.
Pilgrimages will also be arranged to Goa, the birthplace of St. Joseph Vaz.
Another highlight will be a new vision by the church to promote reconciliation. “St. Joseph Vaz set a tremendous example for reconciliation by learning both Tamil and Sinhala, the local languages in Sri Lanka. He not only spoke both languages but lived peacefully with people belonging to both ethnic groups,” Cardinal Ranjith said. “Following in the footsteps of St. Joseph Vaz, we should live peacefully with people belonging to other ethnic groups. We hope that those who belong to other religious and ethnic groups will also cooperate with us in bringing about reconciliation,” he added.
(Source: Daily Mirror)