During his recent visit to Sri Lanka, Pope Francis canonized the Indian missionary to Sri Lanka Joseph Vaz. A mass was celebrated to honor the new saint at Saint Anthony’s Church in Jaffa on Saturday, January 24, 2015.

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Saint Joseph Vaz was born in 1651 in Goa. In 1676, he was ordained a priest and soon after his ordination, he started going barefoot to live like the poor and acquired a reputation as a popular preacher and confessor. After a period as a missionary in Canara, he joined with other priests forming an Oratorian community. Hearing of the distressful situation of the Catholics of Ceylon (today’s Sri Lanka) who reportedly had no priests for many years, he finally arrived there in 1687. He spent his years in the country sustaining the Catholic population and renewing the faith. He died in 1711, aged 59.

The feast of Saint Joseph Vaz is on January 16 and the Konkani speaking community in Jaffa celebrated on Saturday, January 24, 2015 at St. Anthony’s Church in Jaffa. The celebrant was Rev. Fr. Cyril Walder O.P. After the Holy Mass there was a procession and a fellowship dinner.