On Wednesday Blessed Joseph Vaz will be declared a Saint by Pope Francis at Colombo, Sri Lanka. Many have toiled for this moment. Herald spoke to current Vice-Postulator for the Cause of Canonization,
Fr Eremito Rebelo, on the process.
Herald: As Vice-Postulator for the Cause of Canonization, your efforts as well as those of your predecessors, will be accomplished with the Canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz. How difficult was your task, especially as you had had to coordinate with a similar exercise being simultaneously undertaken in Sri Lanka?
Fr Rebelo: Canonization of Bl Joseph Vaz is only the climax of what has been done or gone before us. As the Holy bible says, “One sows and another waters but God gives the growth.” Many have done so much for the cause of Bl Joseph Vaz and wished to see this day; but could not. And only a few of us got the privilege to reap the fruits of the tree planted, watered and manured by a galaxy of our predecessors. May all of those who toiled to achieve this goal and passed on to the other world, rest in peace. And may those who are alive, rejoice as they see the fruition of their labours.
The fact that we got our first Goan saint during my tenure as Rector and Vice-Postulator is not important. What matters is the canonization of Bl Joseph Vaz, which was long overdue. It was the special interest taken by Pope Francis that has hastened the process. We have done nothing more than our duty. God sent Pope Francis at His own time to do the needful.
Herald: Do you feel that the canonization of Bl Joseph Vaz had been subjected to a lengthy delay, despite overwhelming evidence and documents?
Fr Rebelo: The lengthy delay for the Canonization of Bl Joseph Vaz was not due to any single factor but a number of them such as political, ecclesiastical and also the ‘susegado” nature of many of us. I think it is useless to delve into the causes of such a delay. Why waste our precious time to dig into the grave of worms. Let us look forward to what needs to be done now and in the future.
Herald: Are there efforts to rebuild the old historic church at Sancoale, where he wrote the letter of bondage to Mother Mary?
Fr Rebelo: The Archbishop-Patriarch after due consultation with his counsellors and those concerned has made plans to have a Basilica of St Joseph Vaz with spacious surroundings to execute the future plans of the Archdiocese as far as the growing devotion of Joseph Vaz is concerned. Though there has been suggestions to shift the location of novena and feast of St Joseph Vaz to more spacious environment outside Sancoale, the Archbishop was interested to keep the epicenter of Joseph Vaz’s devotion in Sancoale itself. With this in mind, he was interested in celebrating the sainthood of Joseph Vaz at the premises of the Old Church of Sancoale which Joseph Vaz would visit so many times as a parishioner and as a priest and also where he wrote the letter of bondage to Mother Mary on August 5, 1677.
Herald: Having been associated with Bl Joseph Vaz for 11 years, how has he influenced you as a person?
Fr Rebelo: At the end of the eleventh year of my services at the shrine, I do not know how much my presence has helped others but Joseph Vaz’ life has influenced my person and vision. Though initially, I was hesitant to accept this job, today I am extremely grateful to the authorities for having sent me to this place where the holy son of Goa, the Apostle of Sri Lanka and Canara gave a new direction to my life. “Gratias Deo”, Thanks be to God!