An exhibit dedicated to Saint Joseph the Apostle of Sri Lanka
by Melani Manel Perera

Catechism students from three parishes have set up 15 stands, made of different materials and with digital media. The preparation lasted two months. Parish priest of Bolawalana: "Young people are our future". Two students: "We did not know where to start and we prayed to St. Joseph. And he also gave us good weather. "


Colombo (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of people attended an exhibition dedicated to St. Joseph Vaz, considered the Apostle of Sri Lanka, to which the local Church devoted the year 2017. The exhibition, formed by various stands set up by young catechism students, was held on September 16 and 17 in the outer spaces of the parish of Bolawalana, which is part of the Diocese of Colombo. Father Terrance Bodiabaduge, the pastor, explains that the goal is to "make the students more aware of the wonderful life of St. Joseph Vaz, so that we Catholics can be inspired by his missionary spirit."

Born in India in 1651 into a Portuguese family, he arrived in the island then called Ceylon in 1687 to support local Catholics at a time of persecution at the hands of Dutch Calvinists. Pope John Paul II described Joseph Vaz as the greatest missionary that Asia has ever had. Saint Joseph Vaz was the first to understand the urgency of re-establishing the island’s Catholic community and give impetus to priestly training and the work of the laity. With this in mind, he set up the Congregation of the Oratory of Goa to train missionaries to be sent to Sri Lanka. The island-nation’s first saint learnt its two main languages, Sinhala and Tamil, in order to create friendly relations with Buddhist monks.

The exhibition was titled "Foot steps of the Faith". The priest reports: "We have spoken of the origins of our Church. Because there is no greater or more glorious history than our Catholic Church. So many people have sacrificed their lives for faith. It is thanks to these people that today we have our religion and we can practice our faith. This exhibition is to remember our past and its prominent figures. "

The Jayabima, Uluambalama and Bolawalana catechism students set up 15 stands, created with different materials and digital media. The preparation lasted two months. The booths reproduce various moments of Church history: Jesus commands his disciples to go and preach the word of God in the world; the feast of Pentecost; the most difficult times for Christians, with the Church built by the blood of the Apostles; the arrival on the island of Portuguese missionaries and [the persecutions of the Calvinists] of the Netherlands [to the detriment of Catholics, ndr].

"We chose the young people - says Fr. Bodiabaduge - because they represent our future and must have a proper knowledge of our past. " The student Anne Prashanthi  spoke of her fellow classmates reaction to news of the exhibition's layout: "We gladly welcomed the parish priest's initiative because honestly we did not know much about the life of St. Joseph Vaz. We searched for information on books and asked priests and sisters. "

Two other students, Thehansa Lakrandi and Imashi Athaliya, reported that they “were a bit afraid at the beginning, because we did not know where to start. But then we asked St. Joseph to illuminate us. And St. Joseph gave us the ideas and also the good weather. If there had been rain, the whole show would have been ruined. "

SRI_LANKA_-_0921_-_Esposizione_1.jpg SRI_LANKA_-_0921_-_Esposizione_1.jpg SRI_LANKA_-_0921_-_Esposizione_1.jpg SRI_LANKA_-_0921_-_Esposizione_1.jpg