Institute of Joseph Naik Vaz in the Bay Area, California, USA
We are admirers of an Indian, hence South Asian, 17th century Catholic Saint, Joseph Vaz, who totally engaged himself in deep meditation and prayer while also working to solve the real life problems and difficult circumstances of the people. He is a saint who communed with Nature and wild elephants.
Our inter faith commitment is taken from the way in which inter faith trust and respect played out in his life. He served all the people, not just Catholics. His ancestors were Hindu and he kept his Indian heritage, language and culture. His lifestyle was that of a true Indian Sannyasi. He studied with the Buddhist monks of Sri Lanka and taught Meditation to children. He won the lifelong love and protection of the Buddhist King of Kandy from Dutch colonial forces who persecuted Sri Lankan Catholics for political reasons. At one point of his life, he was rescued by the Muslim physician of the King. We are all struggling with our religious identities and he is a model of mutual love and respect.