The Oblate congregation in Sri Lanka has intensified calls for a member priest’s canonization, three decades after he was shot dead during the JVP insurgency in Sri Lanka.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation said it plans to move officials in the Vatican and local Church to initiate the canonization process of Father Michael Rodrigo who was shot dead while celebrating Mass on November 10, 1987.
Father Roshan Silva, Oblates’ provincial of the Colombo province they plan to start a campaign to recognize the heroic life of Father Rodrigo, marking the 33rd anniversary of his death.
“I will consult with the authorities in Rome” to initiate the canonization process, Father Silva said while addressing an online gathering that included a bishop, priests, nuns and laypeople.
The congregation plans to appoint a vice-postulator to help the canonization process, which starts with a diocesan inquiry to see if the candidate led a virtuous life witnessing to the faith.
Father Silva said they also plan to approach Bishop Julian Winston Sebastian Fernando of Badulla to start the investigation as the process’s preliminary step. The bishop’s diocese covers Alukalawita village in Buttala, where Father Rodrigo was killed.
An unidentified gunman shot Father Rodrigo while he was celebrating Mass inside Subaseth Gedara, a Christian-Buddhist dialogue center he started in 1980 in the village. He was shot through the window of the center.
During the insurgency Father Rodrigo, who had deep sympathy for young people had actively intervened to prevent young people’s arrest and release the arrested. The military maintained that Father Rodrigo had helped insurgents, but the priest replied to the military that he could not drive away those who came to the place of God.The priest’s murder continues to be a mystery as it was never investigated.
Born in a middle-class family in 1927, Father Rodrigo became an Oblate in 1948 and was ordained in Italy after seven years of study in Rome. He was a teacher of philosophy, Buddhism, psychology and logic for 16 years at the National Seminary in Kandy.