Udupi: The Gangolli and Kundapur parishioners of the diocese are all set to be celebrate the Sainthood of Blessed Joseph Vaz, who will be raised to Sainthood by Pope Francis in Sri Lanka on January 14.
Blessed Joseph Vaz, who served in various places of Coastal Karnataka and performed miracles, is a priest from the coastal region. He will be raised to the altar of sainthood for the first time in the history of Coastal Karnataka.
Blessed Joseph Vaz was born in Benaulim, Goa on 21st April, 1651. His parents, Christopher Vaz and Maria de Miranda, were devout and pious Catholics who took great pains to bring up their six children in the love and fear of God. It was, therefore, not surprising that Joseph, their third child, who was of medium height, slim and wiry, gentle and kind, extremely pious and very loving to the poor, had made up his mind at a very early age to become a priest of God. Being the favourite of the entire household, the others did all they could to foster his priestly vocation, particularly his father who made all the sacrifices in order to ensure for Joseph the best education that Goa could give to a bright and intelligent young man who was doing well in his studies. He was ordained a priest in 1676 at the age of 25 and served in different parishes of Goa till 1681. Later, he was sent to Canara. Fr Joseph Vaz travelled from Goa barefoot. He served in Honnavar, Basrur, Kundapur, Gangoli, Mulki, Mangalore and Ullal Panir.
In 1681, he came to Gangolli in Karnataka and started his missionary work. He rebuilt the church damaged by miscreants in Gangolli and also built a church in Kundapur. He also renovated a church at Basrur built by the Jesuits. He served in Gangolli and Kundapur regions till 1684. Later, he moved to Mangalore to continue his missionary work and then to Sri Lanka.
In 1690, the people in Srilanka were suffering due to the lack of rain. When Fr Joseph Vaz started to pray for it, the region was blessed with rain. This miracle led the Christian community to grow and flourish in Sri Lanka. Joseph Vaz breathed his last in Sri Lanka on January 17, 1711. Fr Joseph Vaz was a courageous soldier of Christ, a dedicated Indian missionary and a humble servant of God. Recognizing his missionary work, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him as blessed Joseph Vaz in Colombo on 21 January, 1995.
Chapel of Blessed Joseph Vaz
The people of Kannada Kudru – Gangolli constructed a chapel in the name of Blessed Joseph Vaz in 1997 for his service in Gangolli. The chapel is the only one in the Diocese of Udupi which was inaugurated by Bishop Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza. Every Tuesday devotees irrespective of caste and religion in Kannada Kudru offer their prayers and organize novena in the chapel. Once in a month the priest offers mass.
The canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz as St Joseph Vaz in Sri Lanka has brought pleasure among his devotees in Kundapur and Gangolli. On January 14, Msgr Baptist Menezes will offer mass in Kannada Kudru Blessed Joseph Vaz Chapel. A vehicle rally with the statue of Blessed Joseph Vaz has been organized on January 15 from Gangolli Port area to Kundapur followed with the Eucharistic celebration. A diocesan level programme has been organized on January 18 covering a vehicle rally and Eucharistic celebration by Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo, Bishop of Udupi.
To witness the canonization programme in Sri Lanka two of the devotees John and Irene Lobo from Gangolli will be participating in the holy programme in Sri Lanka on January 14. The couple have donated the idol of Joseph Vaz to be installed in Kundapur.
John Crasta, a resident of Kannada Kudru, speaking to Mangalorean.com said that it is an honour and matter of pride that Blessed Joseph Vaz is declared as a saint. “We used to visit the chapel daily and pray for his canonization as a saint.”
Clara Philomena Crasta of Kannada Kudru says that she visits the chapel daily and prays. “We had prayed for the speedy construction of bridge to Kannada Kudru and the bridge construction work is in full swing. It is a miracle of canonizing him as a saint,” she added.