Sri Lankan Oblates press for canonization of murdered priest


Sri Lankan Oblates press for canonization of murdered priest

Pictured left: A priest incensing the tomb of Oblate Father Michael Rodrigo, who was shot dead on November 10, 1987.  Oblates have started campaigning for his canonization on his 33rd death anniversary.  (Photo:

No one has taken responsibility for the murder of Father Michael Rodrigo in 1987

The Oblate congregation in Sri Lanka has intensified calls for a member priest’s canonization, three decades after he was shot dead during a communist insurgency in this island nation.

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, a 60-year-old priest shot dead while celebrating Mass on Nov. 10, 1987.

Father Roshan Silva, Oblates’ provincial of the Colombo province, said on Nov. 9 that 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.

“I invite all of you to pray … [so that we see him] as a saint during our time,” said Father Silva.

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. Several bullets hit him in the head, and Father Rodrigo fell dead on the altar with a broken skull.  Blood spattered the clay walls, and the chalice bowl was filled with blood.

By Quintus Columbage

Published on the UCA News website.