In January 1922, the first four Spanish members of the Congregation of the Mission arrived in Cuttack (India) to assume responsibility for the new missionary endeavor in the Orissa territory. They were Fathers Valeriano Güemes, José Mª Fernández, Ramón Ferrer and Manuel Coello. The latter died in Cuttack in 1934. Frs. Fernandez and Ferrer died in Madrid and Seville in 1936 and 1941 respectively, and Fr. Valeriano Güemes remained in India until his death in Mohana in 1978.
Born in Quintanarruz (Burgos, Spain) in 1890, Fr. Güemes devoted himself soulfully to the evangelization of that mission area, and his memory is especially remembered in Mohana, where he died and is buried. His grave, in the surroundings of the parish church, is visited daily by the fervent faithful Christians and there are always candles and flowers at his grave. He died on December 12, 1978, and on the 12th of each month the villagers offer mass in his memory and visit his tomb. The fame of the holiness of Fr. Güemes is deeply rooted in the hearts of those Christians and this led to the initiation of the process of his canonization.
Mateo Nayak, Visitor of North India, recently reported that they have received from Rome the “Nihil Obstat” for Fr. Valeriano to be declared Servant of God by the Bishop of Berhampur. The celebration of this declaration will take place on August 12 in a Pontifical Mass to be officiated by the Prelate. All the members of the Vincentian Family join in the joy of the Congregation in India and we trust that the cause of the great missionary who was Fr. Valeriano Güemes will continue.
Santiago Azcárate Gorri, C.M.