PANJIM: The parishioners of Piedade have taken a step forward for the cause of canonization of 18th century missionary Fr Jacome Gonsalves, son of the island, in whose ancestral house now is established Our Lady of Divar High School, run by Goa Archdiocese, in Divar.
Fr Jacome died on July 17, 1742 in Bolawatte, Sri Lanka and was buried there. The parishioners at Our Lady of Piety Church held an annual commemoration day to pay tribute to the great missionary. But this year, it was held two days later for the benefit of the devotees.
On the occasion, the parishioners formulated a plan to undertake the preliminary work of instituting the cause of canonization of the illustrious villager.
During the ceremony, Fr Eremito Rebelo, former vice postulator for the cause of St Joseph Vaz, garlanded the portrait of Fr Jacome, placed at the side of the main alter for veneration. Earlier, the portrait, which is more than 200 years old, was kept in the parochial house.
Parish priest Fr Jose Dias during the religious service welcomed Fr Eremito and paid rich tributes to Fr Jacome and his missionary work in Sri Lanka.
“He is very famous in Lanka for his work in reviving the Catholic faith, but here he is a forgotten or unknown hero,” Fr Dias told the congregation.
Further, he urged the parishioners to activate the movement for the priest’s sainthood and sustain it till the goal is achieved.
Fr Eremito in his homily provided a detailed history on the life of Fr Jacome, from his birth at his maternal house in Chorao, on June 8, 1676; priesthood academics, his great work in Sri Lanka and the miracles that happened.
He advised the parishioners to write to the parish priest of Bolawatte and Bishop of Chilaw District with a plea to take up this cause.
He also suggested to the parishioners and islanders to form a committee to undertake the preliminary work of instituting the cause of canonization for Fr Jacome and urged to form a prayer group which is the need of the hour to speed up the process.
Fr Eremito concluded by saying, “St Joseph Vaz planted the seed of Catholic faith in Sri Lanka and Fr Jacome watered and nourished it.”
The devoted son of the island left his house in 1705 to join St Joseph Vaz in the island nation of Sri Lanka, as a missionary of the Congregation of Oratory of the Holy Miraculous Cross and never returned to his native place.
After the sainthood of St Joseph Vaz on January 13, this year, in Sri Lanka, the dependable lieutenant of St Vaz, is slowly getting the recognition in the island nation. A section of Sri Lankan Catholics adore Fr Jacome for his contribution to society and have full faith that the priest will be a saint, this was witnessed by the pilgrims from Divar during their visit to Sri Lanka in January.
Fr Jacome is considered as the ‘Founder of Catholic faith and literature in Sri Lanka’ along with St Joseph Vaz. After the death of the saint on January 16, 1711, the talented priest took over as the fourth successor of St Vaz, as vicar general of Sri Lanka in January 1717.
Fr Jacome has written 42 books in various languages, 22 in local dialect (Sinhala), 15 in Tamil, four in Portuguese and one in Dutch.
Former parish priest Fr Anil Kumar along with Assistant Parish Priest Fr Francis Pereira initiated the process of making Fr Jacome known to the villagers and people of Goa.