Jude reaches out to the desperate
search of solace
the middle of the road of life almost everyone comes across
moments of desperation and despair. When met with situations
where all hope seems lost there are those who tend to look up to
the heavens for help. A sanctuary for such people has been St.
Jude's Shrine at Indigolla in Gampaha. It is one of the few
churches in the country famed for miracles and visited by large
numbers belonging to all faiths.
high level of patronage - both by Catholics as well as those from
other faiths throughout the years - is testimony to the Saint's
ability and power in helping the desperate, said a strong devotee and
a long standing resident of Indigolla, retired school principal
Francis Jayakody. He said what is special about the church is that it
is not just the Catholics that come seeking help. "There are
Buddhists, Hindus and even Muslims who come to St. Jude's Shrine for
assistance. After the first visit they keep returning and some even
come from overseas. There are people I know who on their occasional
trips back home make it a point to visit St. Jude's before they leave
again," said Jayakody.
for the anguished
Administrator, Rev. Fr. Wilfred Pinto said "even though it may be
a malady defying all human skill, a sickness for which there is no
apparent remedy, an anguish of soul or distress of heart, poverty,
misery, even despair, St. Jude will show you a way out of your
troubles, if not through your own solution, at least in a better one
conceived of in the mind of the one above us all and in us all."
church's previous administrator, Rev. Fr. Elmo Dias had started a
number of social development projects in the Indigolla area said Fr.
Pinto and that he hoped to continue the good work. Some of these
programmes include scholarship schemes for school children as well as
the annual distribution of school books. The church also sponsors a
foster parent scheme for needy children. A nourishment programme named
soup kitchen is amongst the dozens of church's charity work and the
programme had been started with the assistance of housewives of
Indigolla. It is run on Tuesdays and Fridays where around 60-70
children and elderly are given a nourishing meal said Fr. Pinto.
Pinto is keen on starting a counselling service to the numerous
depressed and those that visit the Shrine burdened with mental
anguish. "There is the need to talk to someone as in this kind of
situation letting out one's problem certainly helps. I spend a lot of
time with them, listening and even Fr. Elmo did the same thing. But we
are not qualified counsellors," said Fr. Pinto. According to him
plans are underway to obtain the services of two qualified counsellors
who could be present at the church. "There will also be a priest
qualified in the US who will be available from time to time,"
said Fr. Pinto.
a time where religious intolerance threatens to add to the country's
numerous woes the Indigolla St. Jude's Shrine can be described as a
perfect example of religious harmony. "We work in very close
relationship with the Buddhist temples in the neighbo- urhood. We
invite the Buddhist monks for our important functions and they do the
same. On church feast days for the large number of vehicles that bring
in devotees the Indigolla temple premises provides parking
space," said the priest. Both Fr. Pinto and Indigolla temple's
Buddhist monks sit in the advisory board of many of the community
organisations such as the Gampaha-Bandarawatte Welfare Association.
"The cordial relationship we have with the temples is something
we are proud of," he said.
majority of residents living in the church surroundings are Buddhists
but never in the church's 50 year history has it ever been accused of
attempts of religious conversions said Fr. Pinto, adding that on
church feast days it is most of the Buddhist people in the
neighbourhood who volunteer to help. "All those from other faiths
who have been coming here for years have come on their own free will
and it is because they have had good reason to believe in the
Saint," said the priest.
quote Fr. Elmo Dias 'St. Jude's Shrine has attracted thousands over
the years as St Jude is the Saint who makes possible what seems
impossible. He helps one to reach for the unreachable. He is God's
special Saint for an impossible mission. He is the Saint of hope.
Indigolla has become a hamlet of hope and a spiritual oasis,'"
added Fr. Pinto.
Shrine is the first church to be dedicated to St. Jude the
patron of those in despair. The shrine had been the brainchild
of Rev. Fr. Philip Dissanayake who bought a five acre piece of
land at Indigolla to build the church in consideration of the
several Catholic families living in Indigolla. The foundation
stone for the church was laid in March, 1952. A statue of St.
Jude brought from Rome was placed in the Shrine. The Church
celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2002.
the church's growing number of devotees, Fr. Elmo Dias initiated
the building of a new church which would increase the seating
capacity for devotees from 180 to a 1000. The foundation stone
for the new church was laid in September 1999. With the
contributions coming in expeditiously from both local and
overseas devotees the new church was completed within just four
years and was opened to the public in July 2003.
is St. Jude?
number of newspapers continue to publish notes of thanksgiving
to St. Jude almost daily. One may well ask 'who is St.
Jude?", and why this devotion?'
Jude is known as the 'Forgotten Saint" and the "Patron
of Desperate Cases.' The confusion of the name of St. Jude with
the name of another Jude, Judas Iscariot - the traitor who
betrayed Christ has been the reason for the Saint to be called
Jude's parents were Cleophas and Mary of Cleophas. He was the
grandnephew of St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of the
Blessed Virgin Mary. He is thus, a nephew of Joseph and Mary and
a cousin of Jesus.
the origin of the devotions to St. Jude "Patron of
Desperate or Hopeless Cases" is obscure, the first miracle
performed by the Saint is considered to be curing of leprosy of
which the King of Edessa had been suffering from.
his entire ministry St. Jude was the subject of all sorts of
persecution and suffering. And history has it that St. Jude died
a martyr's death - a victim of clubbing. His body it is believed
lies in a crypt in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.