Young Catholics: Pope Francis and St Joseph Vaz are "our heroes"
by Melani Manel Perera
Tens of thousands of young people came together in Colombo's Galle Face Green for the canonisation of the Apostle of Sri Lanka. For a young woman, who is thinking about becoming a nun, the new saint "encourages us Sri Lankans to devote ourselves to others, now more than ever." Young Catholic man said, "I want to dedicate myself to proclaiming the Word of God to others".

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of young Catholics "feel pride" in having "our saint," and having Pope Francis and St Joseph Vaz as "our heroes," sentiments they expressed in Galle Face Green, a park in Colombo, where the Indian missionary, known as the Apostle of Sri Lanka, was canonised this morning.

In his homily, the pope urged priests and lay people "to look to Saint Joseph as a sure guide", noting that the saint "shows us the importance of transcending religious divisions in the service of peace."

Krishani Waasalathanthri, who is thinking about becoming a nun, was in the crowd that witnessed the ceremony. She hails from the Diocese of Kandy, the area in which the saint began his work of evangelisation.

"This canonisation," the young woman told AsiaNews, "comes at a very important time in my life. It encourages us all Sri Lankans to devote ourselves to others, now more than ever. It is a push to be involved in the practice of true love, in understanding the needs and the faith of others. "

For Shivantha Gunasekara, from the Catholic Diocese of Colombo, today's is "an exciting and memorable day."

"I made a promise to myself," she said. "I want to dedicate myself to proclaiming the Word of God to others, whenever I get the chance. Doing this, I can feel every day the joy I am feeling right now. "

Wimal de Mel, 40, is a businessman. Married with one daughter, he had lately strayed away from the Church.

"The arrival of this pope changed my life dramatically," he told AsiaNews. "I started to forgive the priests and bishops who had misbehaved with me. I went back to church and started to heed Francis' words."

Indeed, "Pope Francis's entire life is an example for us young people," said Champika Livera, a young man from the Diocese of Chilaw.

"Now I am no longer afraid of speaking the truth and saying what I think, because I know that the Holy Father does the same."

Likewise, "We are very fortunate to have such a good pope at this historic moment because he is a challenge to all of us," said Samanatha Kumara, a young man from the Diocese of Kurunegala, one of the farthest from Colombo.

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