Those who were present at the Public First Session of the Diocesan Enquiry for the Process of Canonization and Beatification of the Servant of God Fr Avertanus Fenech, might recall that after His Grace the Archbishop declared open the Canonical Process, the Vice-Postulator presented a long list of witnesses to be interviewed by the appointed Tribunal. The interview is an official one, questions are very precise and comprehensive. Moreover, to make sure the process is a fair one, the Tribunal itself has the obligation of calling other witnesses not presented by the Postulation, and in the Proclamation of the Edict by the Bishop, those who know anything about the Servant of God are called to give their testimony.
Evidently, no-one can declare open a Cause of Beatification and Canonization, if not the Bishop, through the proclamation of the Edict in all the churches of the Diocese and then the public declaration in the solemn rite of opening of the Diocesan Enquiry and the start of the first session where the Tribunal is set up with members who publicly accept the nomination by the Bishop and publicly take an oath of appointment. Other celebrations, rites and bestowing of titles to a candidate, at best, have no added value whatsoever, and at worst, these might be judged as cultus indebitus which in turn will impinge on an eventual opening of the Process.
My task as Vice-Postulator was that of presenting to the Archbishop an initial list of witnesses to which others might be added by myself and to which the Tribunal has to add ex officio. Gathering a list of witness is a feat… but it is also a beautiful experience! It’s a feat because witnesses have to have something to say on the three pillars (vita sancta, fama sanctitatis, and fama signorum) of a Canonical Process for the Cause of Beatification and Canonization. However it is also a beautiful and empowering experience as you touch upon the need people feel to joyfully tell a story! Perhaps an untold story, an unheard story… the story of the little ones. Lately I was thinking that we are daily bombarded by big stories of power, of influential people who lead us into the illusion that theirs is the true story, and usually we do not get much of beautiful and empowering stories on our media! We are bombarded daily by messages of war, strife, tensions, scandals… as we say, no news is good news! However in my position of vice-postulator I feel blessed by people who have stories to tell, beautiful stories, joyful stories, echoing the Good News of the Incarnate Risen Christ who shines in the life of his saintly disciples like the Servant of God Avertanus Fenech.
May our dear Lord bless us with more beautiful stories and may we all find Joy in sharing the stories of the “great things God has done for us, Holy is his Name” (see Lk 1: 46-55).