St Joseph Vaz Feast celebrated with traditional fervour in California

Immigrant communities from Goa, Kanara and Sri Lanka and their friends participate in the Feast

St Joseph Vaz Feast celebrated with traditional fervour in California

St Joseph Vaz Feast celebrations at the Parish Hall of the Cathedral of Christ the Light in the Diocese of Oakland California.


The 46th Annual Feast Mass of St Joseph Vaz, the first canonised Saint of Goa, Kanara (India) and Sri Lanka was celebrated with traditional fervour at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, seat of the Diocese of Oakland California, on January 28.

The Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Fr Brandon Macadaeg, Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Light, for the various San Francisco-Bay Area immigrant communities from Goa, Mangalore-Kanara, and Sri Lanka and their friends.  

In his sermon, Fr Macadaeg referred to those who heard the voice of God and in the same way, St Joseph Vaz responded to the voice of God telling him to go to the abandoned Catholics of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Describing St Joseph Vaz as a great missionary who responded to the call of the Lord, Fr Macadaeg said St Joseph Vaz went to a country where the only King was a Buddhist and where the only Christian denomination allowed was the Calvinist one.  

“The Apostle who came from India went from village to village, not allowed to wear a cassock, and the people recognised his voice. Why did the people recognize that the Lord was speaking through him? The answer was that it was that he spoke with compassion and the people recognised the voice of the Lord speaking through him,” said Fr Macadaeg.

Among those present at the Mass included Alendro Da Costa and Velenson Gomes, two Goan Jesuit seminarians from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, who attended the Mass and volunteered to help on Sunday. They will be ordained in Goa in September 2024. 

Filomena Saraswati Giese, president of the Joseph Naik Vaz Institute in Berkeley, California along with Alendro DaCosta and Velenson Gomes, Goan Jesuit Seminarians at Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley.

After Mass, a light South Asian lunch was served in the Parish Hall followed by a PowerPoint presentation about the life and work of the Indian-Sri Lankan Apostle.

There was lively discussion among those attending about his methods of evangelisation which included inculturation and a very big role for the laity.

The audience also discussed the ongoing significance of his life and work under persecution in Kanara, India and in Sri Lanka to the Church in South Asia today.  St Joseph Vaz re-built both these churches under conditions of hostility and outright bans on Catholic missionaries and priests and Dutch “Plaakats” or laws banning the Catholic faith in both these regions.

The Mass was sponsored by the California-based Joseph Naik Vaz Institute which worked among the South Asian diaspora around the world to publicise the memory and work of the “Apostle of Sri Lanka and Kanara” and the need to have him canonised since 1978.

The Institute petitioned three Popes – Pope St John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis – to act on his Cause. The Catholic Voice, an illustrated diocesan journal of the Diocese of Oakland, published an interesting article of the long involvement of the members of the Joseph Naik Vaz Institute with making this Indian-Sri Lankan Saint known and petitioning for his Beatification and Canonization. It was Pope Francis who decided to canonize St Joseph Vaz in 2015. 

(The writer is president of the Joseph Naik Vaz Institute in Berkeley, California)

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