For those who knew Father Ubald personally, there is no doubt in our minds that he is in Heaven soaking in the joys of eternal life with the Holy Trinity, Mary, the saints and his beloved Rwandan family. Many have said that they never encountered holiness quite like his, nor had seen someone accept the crosses he endured with such joy and resignation to the will of God. How could he not be in Heaven? And so, we begin the process of asking the Church to officially canonize our dear Father Ubald so that we can be sure of his intercession before the throne of God on our behalf. The process can take many years, but it is never too early to start the work that will make his sainthood a reality.
To begin, the Church requires a waiting period of five years after the death of a candidate to ensure that the person’s reputation of a life of holiness is real and lasting, not just a case of notoriety or fame. After the five years have passed, a cause for sainthood can officially be started. In the meantime, we all play a vital role in promoting his work as an apostle of forgiveness and peace, as making him known is an important part of this process. Let’s use this time to tell everyone we know about Father, his love of Jesus and Mary, his great work of healing in Rwanda and the United States, and his teachings on forgiveness. Give out copies of his book, Forgiveness Makes You Free, and send around the YouTube link to his documentary, Forgiveness: The Secret of Peace. Tell people of your interactions with him and the miraculous healings that Jesus worked through him. Teach others of the joy you experienced when you first met him or heard him preach.
After the five-year waiting period has passed, the process becomes much more formal. The steps are as follows:
1. A petitioner asks for a cause of canonization to be opened. This person or persons can be any member of the People of God or any group of the faithful recognized by ecclesiastical authority. The petitioner is the one who asks the Bishop to begin the investigation which could ultimately lead to canonization.
2. The Bishop who begins the cause appoints a postulator, a person appointed to collect documents and testimonies about the life and holiness of the candidate, with the goal of showing “heroic virtue,” or virtue that is well above the average person’s. The postulator looks to the candidate’s reputation for holiness by examining his writings and living witnesses. This phase can take years to complete depending on the volume of documents to be translated and gone through.
3. After the investigation into the candidate’s writing and life is complete, the Bishop sends his findings (called a postio) to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome for review. If the Congregation reviews and approves the request, the cause moves on to cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for their vote. If all is approved and no objections are made, the Pope gets the final say. If the Pope says yes, the candidate may be called venerable and people may seek his/her intercession. If at any point, the cause is rejected, the effort ends with no appeal.
4. The final step is that of beatification and canonization. These steps require miracles, one to be declared a blessed (beatification) and one to be declared a saint (canonization).
For now, let’s pray fervently that God will aid us in every step through this process, opening doors that need to be opened, and granting us the favor of Fr. Ubald’s guidance along the way. Jesus, we trust in you! Father Ubald, pray for us!