Sancoale Catholics protest over relocation of St Vaz’s feast

Panaji:  Nearly 200 protesters staged a dharna outside the Goa Archbishop’s official residence in Panaji on Dec 9, protesting against the Church’s decision to relocate of the feast venue of recently anointed saint Joseph Vaz.

The Church decided to relocate the venue from a sanctuary dedicated to the saint in Sancoale village, to the larger precincts of the Our Lady of Health Church, located a short distance away.

The parishioners from Sancoale village located around 25 km from Panaji, have now threatened to boycott Christmas donations to the Church during the upcoming festive season.

“If the Church does not want to take the parishioners into confidence over the relocation of the feast of St. Joseph Vaz on January 16, then we will boycott donations. We have no choice. The Church does not need our money, if it does not want to listen to us,” Santan D’Souza, one of the protesters told reporters in Panaji.

“We have faith in our saint. We will leave it to him to solve this issue, but we will not participate if the feast is shifted from his sanctuary to another place,” he said.

Born in Goa in the 1600s, Vaz was canonised in 2015 by Pope Francis in Sri Lanka for propagation of the Catholic religion in the island nation. His father hailed from the Sancoale village and as a young child St. Vaz studied elementary school in Sancoale and his home is now regarded as a sacred sanctuary.

Goa’s Roman Catholic Church, which positions itself as a religious and spiritual guide to the state’s Catholics, who account for more than a quarter of the state’s population however said, that the decision to organise a feast at a bigger site was necessary, because St. Vaz’s stature had increased since his canonisation and more devotees were expected to attend the event.

“The Archbishop explained to them that, after becoming a saint, Fr. Joseph Vaz had ceased to belong to Sancoale alone or even to Goa and India, but that he now belonged to the whole Catholic world,” the Archbishop’s office said in a statement issued here.

“Even as a patron of the Archdiocese of Goa, which he was since the year 2000, Joseph Vaz belonged to the whole of Goa and as such, decisions about where and how to celebrate his feast did not vest with the parishioners of Sancoale but with the diocesan authorities,” the statement also said.


Source: UCAN India