By Nirmala Carvalho
Mangalore, July 20, 2019: Catholics in Mangalore have celebrated the conclusion of a diocesan inquiry into the cause of canonization of Father Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas, the southern Indian diocese’s first Servant of God.
On July 17, a solemn ceremony was held at the Church of St Sebastian, the clergyman’s final resting place. The event represents a milestone in the history of the local Church, which hopes to have its first saint soon.
Father Mascarenhas, who was born in 1875 in Shivamogga, in Karnataka, found the Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany of Mangalore.
During his life as a priest, he served several parishes. He also founded the Church of St Sebastian, where he was buried in 1960. In 2008, he was declared a Servant of God.
In 2007, Bethany Sister Jyoti, then general superior of the congregation, appointed Sister Lillis Kattakayam as postulator. Sister Kattakayam requested the local bishop for an investigation. On August 17, 2008, Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore gave his consent.
Since then, Fathers J B Saldanha, Peter Mascarenhas and Bethany Sister Mariette (the three members of the historical commission) visited 90 archives and libraries throughout India and in Rome to collect the necessary documentation, which is now in the Vatican for further studies.
The closing ceremony of the diocesan process saw the participations of hundreds of Catholics, nuns, priests and relatives of the Servant of God.
During the service, Father Henry Sequeira, episcopal delegate, authenticated the integrity of the documents and handed them over to Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha of Mangalore, the current prelate.
The postulator will deliver a copy of the documentation to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican, through the Apostolic Nunciature in New Delhi.
In his address, Bishop Saldanha stressed the virtues of the Servant of God, namely his commitment to the priestly vocation, his pastoral zeal, his love for the Word of God and the Eucharist, his new vision for the Church and society, and his sacrificial love for the poor, in particular for abandoned girls.