Laymen representing all parishes in Chilaw diocese
met recently to discuss plans for diocesan activities this year, particularly efforts to help speed up the canonization of Blessed Father Joseph Vaz, the Apostle of Sri Lanka. “Father Joseph Vaz (who died in 1711) suffered greatly spreading the word of God in Sri Lanka. So we see the canonization process as an opportunity to show our heartfelt gratitude to our beloved apostle,” said S. Joseph Fernando, chairman of the diocesan Laymen Apostolate Committee. The committee comprises 44 laymen representing all 44 Chilaw parishes. It gathers three times a year to outline diocesan activities. Reverend Father Sato Nonis, the priest in charge of the committee, said the meetings are a good example of how laypeople can take the lead in improving diocesan life. “A diocese does not belong to priests but to laypeople. They should take the lead in these affairs,” he said. At the meeting they decided to promote special devotion to Father Joseph Vaz by conducting Novenas and prayer meetings in parishes and homes. They are also to encourage mentioning his name at every Mass, in the Eucharist prayer in the invocation of the saints, and invite the faithful to pray for his speedy canonization. “Joseph Vaz planted the seeds of Christianity in our land. As laymen we should set an example by following an exemplary way of life,” said W.S.Kumara Fernando from Marawila parish. Father Joseph Vaz arrived in Sri Lanka in 1687 and is recognized as having established Christianity in the country. During his lifetime he built a built a network of Churches, chapels and several schools and hospitals. He died on January 16, 1711 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on January 21, 1995.