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Sea of Devotees Throng the Feast of St Joseph Vaz- Mudipu celebrated in Pomp & Gaiety

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Sea of Devotees Throng the Feast of St Joseph Vaz- Mudipu celebrated in Pomp & Gaiety

Mangaluru: All roads led to Mudipi Church, as thousands of people traveled from far and near to join in the celebration of the Feast of St Joseph Vaz, at the Shrine dedicated in the name of the Saint in Mudipu. Canonized by Pope Francis in Sri Lanka in January 2015, St Joseph Vaz is remembered and evoked by the faithful on this Feast day, held on 7 December 2018. The feast is celebrated on three days- 6, 7 and 8 December. St Joseph Vaz has now reached a larger-than-life proportion after being declared a Saint in 2015. Devotees flocking this Mudipu shrine have only been growing with every passing year.

Mudipu Church/Shrine built on picturesque Mudipu hill is a place of great importance which has a special history behind it. F. Joseph Vaz, born in Goa in the year 1651, April 21, worked in the Diocese of Mangaluru from the year 1681 to 1684 and reached Mudipu preaching the Good News. He went house to house teaching catechism and serving the poor and the marginalized. This brought great joy to the people and was eagerly looking forward to his coming. But some people were against him and were trying to destroy him and his work. The place where they tried to harm him and kill him for his faith is marked even today upon the hill at Mudipu. Even today the faithful visit this place with great reverence and devotion.

Later Fr Joseph Vaz went to Sri Lanka and died there. For his virtues and the kind of life he led, he was made venerable in 1989 and declared “Blessed” in 1995. On 14 January 2015 he was canonized a Saint and given the honor of the Altar, which was a great and joyous day for the people of Mudipu. A 300-year-old aspiration of Catholics in Sri Lanka, Goa, Kundapur, Karwar, Mudipu/Mangaluru and elsewhere for declaration/crowning of Blessed Joseph Vaz by Pope Francis as a Saint of the universal church became a reality on that day. The Pope canonized the illustrious Goan priest at a Eucharistic mass in Colombo- Sri Lanka on 14 Jan 2015 in what many regard as an official stamp to the sainthood already declared by the people even during his life time.

Three years later, the number of devotees coming to Mudipu Shrine has increased, and today being the second day of the Feast celebration of St Joseph Vaz saw a sea of devotees throng the Shrine for the 10.30 am festal mass concelebrated by Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha- Bishop of Mangaluru Diocese ( this also being his first mass celebrated at the Shrine after being the Bishop), along with bevy of other clergy namely- Fr Benjamin Pinto- Director of the Shrine; Fr J B Saldanha- Dean of St Joseph Vaz Deanery/Mangaluru South Deanery; Deacon Shaun Rodrigues of the Shrine; Fr Vijay Machado- Liturgical Animator, also joined by many other priests.

Prior to the celebration of the Mass, the Bishop along with the priests were led to the Altar, escorted by the Holy Cross Brass Band from Eliyar Padav. Nearly fifty priests from the Deanery have joined in the celebration, also helping out in the confessions and other necessities pertaining to the festal celebration. In his Homily Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha giving an example of a sister determined to give her kidney tom her ailing brother, the Bishop said, “Just like this story we should also be determined to help others in need. If you happen to be close to God, you also need to be close to human beings. Just like Saint Mother Teresa was close to God, she was also very lose to people, including the lepers. Do you know that Salt plays a crucial role in maintaining human health. It is the main source of sodium and chloride ions in the human diet. Sodium is essential for nerve and muscle function and is involved in the regulation of fluids in the body. Sodium also plays a role in the body’s control of blood pressure and volume”

“Even animals require some salt to survive. In Mathew 5: 13 it says “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet”. Just like salt which is need for us to survive, we as Catholics are needed to save our faith. We are being haunted from many sources trying to destroy our religion, but we need to stay strong and believe in our faith and thereby keep it strong and alive. I am happy to see a large gathering here, which shows that Mudipu Shrine has made a history, with devotees from all walks of life coming here for favors. We should all make a strong commitment to stay united and keep our Catholic faith strong”.

Bishop concluded saying, “We should all follow the footsteps of Saint Joseph Vaz. We should respect our faith and strictly believe in our religion. Like Fr Vaz was a great devotee of God and always engaged in prayers, we should also be sincere devotees and indulge ourselves in prayers, and also spread the good news about our faith and religion among others. Fr Vaz is our own priest, he was among us, he gave us sacrament, he took care of the sick, helped the poor, and he was a friend of everyone on this sacred Hill. Let us ask Saint Joseph Vaz to make us lead a good and religious life, bless and protect us, and make us good Catholics”.

At the end of the Mass, Fr Benjamin Pinto thanked everyone for their support and encouragement in making the Feast celebration a grand success, and appealed for their support in future too. The Bishop handed over a candle each to those who had contributed to the feast celebration. The mass was followed by a sumptuous lunch for all the pilgrims in attendance. Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Fr Benjamin Pinto said, “Tomorrow, 8 December Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’souza, Bishop Emeritus of Mangaluru Diocese will be the main celebrant of the festal mass. Concluding mass will be at 8 pm on 8 December concelebrated by V Rev Msgr Maxim L Noronha- Vicar General, Mangaluru Diocese. Anna Santarpane was held yesterday, today and also tomorrow for all the pilgrims attending the feast from 12.20 pm till 2 pm “.

“Also during the year, everyday mass will be held at 10.30 am at the Shrine; on every Friday-Adoration, Confession and Holy Eucharistic celebrations and Novena prayers are held from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm, followed by lunch for all the pilgrims” added Fr Pinto. Roshan D’souza- Vice President and Marcel D’souza- Secretary of the parish council also joined in the conversation.

Ending the report with a paragraph from the Homily given by Pope Francis during canonization of Fr Joseph Vaz-“Dear brothers and sisters, I pray that, following the example of Saint Joseph Vaz, the Christians of this country may be confirmed in their faith and make an ever greater contribution to peace, justice and reconciliation in Sri Lankan society. This is what Christ asks of you. This is what Saint Joseph teaches you. This is what the Church needs of you. I commend all of you to the prayers of our new saint, so that, in union with the Church throughout the world, you may sing a new song to the Lord and declare his glory to all the ends of the earth. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised (cf. Ps 96: 1-4)! Amen”.

Let the above message from Pope Francis given to the Sri Lankans also hold good for us Indians, while we celebrate the feast of St Joseph Vaz. Let us all remain as strong and good faithful Catholics, and also follow in the footsteps of St Joseph Vaz.

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