Photo : Stanly Bantwal
July 17 : The Closing Session of the Diocesan Inquiry of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the first Mangalorean Servant of God Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas which was held on 17 July 2019 at St Sebastian Church, Bendur, Mangalore marks a milestone in the history of the Diocese of Mangalore. It was presided over by Most Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, the Bishop of Mangalore. The solemn ceremony ignited in the hearts of many that greater hope of Mangalore soon having their very own saint in the person of Mgr. Raymond Mascarenhas.
On Sunday, 14 July 2019 a Thanksgiving Mass officiated by Most Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Bishop Emeritus of Mangalore Diocese was offered at St. Sebastian Church, Bendur.
The ceremony began with a prayer service conducted by Rev Fr J B Saldanha, Parish Priest of St Sebastian Church, Permannur. Thereafter, Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha, Sr Rose Celine, Superior General of the Bethany Sisters and Rev Fr Vincent Monteiro, the Parish Priest placed floral wreathes on the tomb of the Servant of God. Sr Rose Celine, presently the petitioner of the Cause, welcomed the gathering and requested Bishop Saldanha to preside over the Closing Session.
In his presidential address, Bishop Saldanha portrayed the Servant of God Raymond Mascarenhas as a holy and committed priest of the Diocese of Mangalore. He highlighted four main aspects of his priestly life: his commitment to the priestly vocation with great pastoral zeal, love for the Word of God and Eucharist, a new vision for the Church and the society, and his sacrificial love for the poor and the neglected particularly girls. He emphasized that the Servant of God Raymond Mascarenhas is an inspiration for the people and exhorted the people to pray that the Servant of God Raymond Mascarenhas is declared as a model of sanctity for all of us and as an effective intercessor before God.
At the outset of the ceremony, Rev Fr Naveen Pinto, the Notary presented the documents to the Episcopal Delegate Rev Fr Henry Sequeira. Rev Fr John Mendonca, the Promoter of Justice, declared ‘no objection’ in transmitting the documents to the Holy See. Thereafter, the officials connected with the responsibilities of the Board of Inquiry took an oath declaring that they have faithfully fulfilled their tasks. Bishop Saldanha began the oath-taking and was followed by Rev Fr Henry Sequeira, the Episcopal Delegate, Rev Fr John Mendonca, the Promoter of Justice, Rev Fr Naveen Pinto, the Notary, Rev Fr Vincent Saldanha, the Vice Notary, Sr Lillis Kattakayam BS, the Postulator of the Cause, Sr Molly Sharon BS, the copyist, and Sr Hilarita BS, the Language Translator.
The Episcopal Delegate Rev Fr Henry Sequeira, then authenticated the integrity of the documents and handed them over to the Bishop. The Notary read out the minutes of the entire procedure. The authenticated minutes were inserted into the three packages. Thereafter, the Bishop officially sealed the suitcases containing the three sets of documents. The Bishop then decreed the closing of the Diocesan Inquiry. Thereafter, the Bishop entrusted Rev Fr Victor George D’Souza, the Chancellor, with the original set of the documents namely the Archetype arranged in 15 packages to be placed in the archives of the Diocese of Mangalore. The other two sets known as the Transcript and the Public Copy arranged in 30 packages were entrusted with Sr Lillis Kattakayam BS, the officially appointed carrier under oath. She was instructed to send the same to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Vatican City through the Nunciature in New Delhi for further study of the life and virtues of the Servant of God Raymond Mascarenhas.
Bishop Emeritus Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, then expressed his appreciation for the work done and invoked God’s blessings for the completion of the Roman Phase of the Cause. The Bethany Sisters along with Bendur parishioners paid tribute to the Servant of God through a song.
The Postulator, Sr Lillis Kattakayam BS proposed the vote of thanks. She acknowledged the services of all those who had laboured for the Cause in various capacities whereas Sr Rose Celine BS, the Superior General honoured Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha and Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza for their unique services at the opening and closing of the Diocesan Inquiry. Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha honoured the members of the Board of Inquiry, the Historical Commission Members, Theological Censor, the three Superiors General Sr Jyoti BS, Sr Wilberta BS, and Sr Rose Celine BS who played key roles as the petitioners of the Cause at different times. Rev Fr Vincent Monteiro the Parish Priest of Bendur and his predecessors Rev Fr Antony Shera and Rev Fr Peter Noronha too were thanked for their contribution in the whole process. Sr Lillis BS was appreciated for her eleven years of generous service as the Postulator. Sr Dona Sanctis BS compered the programme.
In 2007, Sr Jyoti BS the Superior General of the Congregation through the officially appointed Postulator Sr Lillis Kattakayam BS presented the petition (Libellus) to the Bishop of Mangalore requesting to initiate the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Cause of Mgr Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas. The Diocesan Inquiry of the Cause was opened on August 17, 2008 by Most Rev Dr Aloysius P D’Souza, the Bishop of Mangalore. During the past eleven years the Board of Inquiry interviewed a hundred and one eye witnesses and hearsay witnesses.
The Historical Commission members Rev Fr J B Saldanha (Convener), Sr Mariette BS, (Secretary) and Rev Fr Peter Mascarenhas MMS collected a large number of documents connected with the life of the Servant of God visiting 90 archives and libraries from all over India and Rome. All these materials are now sent to Rome for further studies.
The Servant of God Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas was born in a devout Christian family and was a zealous and committed diocesan priest of Mangalore Diocese. He is the Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany, Mangalore. He served the parishes as an assistant priest, parish priest, and Vicar General of the Diocese. His services as a dedicated priest and Vicar General of the Diocese of Mangalore as well as the Founder of Bethany Congregation and the Bethany Educational Society are truly meritorious. He was the founding parish priest and the builder of St Sebastian Church, Bendur where his mortal remains lie today.
A large number of priests, Bethany Sisters, Religious brothers and sisters, parishioners, the relatives of the Servant of God RFC Mascarenhas, and the faithful witnessed the Closing Session and prayed that the Servant of God may soon be raised to the honours of the Altar.