Cause for the beatification and canonization of card. Thomas Coorey opens
by Melani Manel Perera
"To Serve and not to be served" the motto of the cardinal, who concentrated his efforts in the religious education of children and missionary formation of young seminarians. He also founded the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka in Tewatta.

Tewatta (AsiaNews) - Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith has officially opened the cause for the beatification and canonization of Cardinal Thomas Coorey, during a Eucharistic celebration hosted yesterday in the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka in Tewatta (Archdiocese of Colombo).

Cardinal-designate Ranjith celebrated the function with the Papal Nuncio Joseph Spiteri, Archbishops Emeritus Nicholas Marcus and Oswald Gomis, Fr. Clement Waidayasekara and Fr. Nicholas Senanayake. Nearly 200 nuns and priests of the archdiocese attended the mass. All the relatives of Mgr. Cooray were present, along with large crowds of faithful - some two thousand people -  from the Archdiocese of Colombo. Mass was celebrated in three languages: Sinhala, Tamil and English. During the homily Archbishop Owald Gomis, who worked closely with Cardinal Cooray in the past, said that "today is a day to be written in gold in the history of Sri Lanka." He recalled the simple and exceptional holiness, the deep faith and courage of Card. Cooray.

Card. Coorey, who was born in 1901 in Periyamulla (Negombo), was ordained priest in Rome in 1929 in the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In 1947 he was appointed archbishop of the Archdiocese of Colombo. "To serve, not to be served" was his motto: In 1950 he founded the minor seminary, focusing his commitment on the missionary formation of young seminarians. In addition, under his leadership the Church in Sri Lanka found ways and means to bring religious education to schools.

In 1940, the beginning of World War II, Archbishop Jean Marie Masson made a vow to build a shrine in Tewatta in honor of Our Lady, if the country was spared the ravages of war. Card. Coorey kept this vow and began to build the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka.

At the end of his homily, Mgr. Gomis said: "Today we gathered to thank the Lord for the life and commitment committed of Cardinal Thomas Cooray. And we pray God to bestow the necessary blessings for his beatification and canonization”.

Thomas Cooray was appointed cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1965. President of the Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka for 30 years, he retired from office in 1976. The Cardinal passed away in 1988, and his remains are buried in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, in the basilica built by him. Card. Cooray’s  is the first Sinhalese for whom a cause for beatification and canonization has been opened.