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431 April 2004
A new mission is opened in Guinea-Bissau
Italian delegation of Senegal has opened a new mission at Farim in Guinea-Bissau.
Fr Celso CORBIOLI arrived there last October 27 with Bro. Bernard KALING, a
young Senegalese Oblate who has finished his theology studies. Farim is a two-day
journey by car from Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The former parish priest
of the mission, Fr. Giovanni (PIME) welcomed the new missionaries with a celebration.
The other member of the community, Fr. Carlo ANDOLFI, arrived in mid-December.
The mission at Farim began during the Portuguese colonial period. Already in
1650 Portuguese missionaries were present there. However, at that time the missionaries
did not go to the villages but only concerned themselves with the praça,
i.e. the town centres inhabited by the Portuguese.
Two other towns are attached to the Farim mission, each with their praça:
Mansaba (30 km to the south) and Bigene (40 km to the west). There are still
many houses from the colonial times. The true mission ad gentes started
with the arrival of the PIME Fathers (Italian Foreign missions). Their movements
however were limited and controlled by the colonial regime. Around the town
centres there are villages, called tabankes. A few years ago the work
of evangelisation resumed in some of these. The baptized are in the centres,
while in the tabankes there are only catechumens and pre-catechumens.
In Farim, the central parish, we find the church (built in the ‘50s), the presbytery,
meeting rooms, a sports ground, a carpenter shop, and a little space to raise
cattle and to do gardening.
The Muslims are the majority in the three centres. In the tabankes, on
the other hand, there are Muslims and animists, who are open to Christianity.
In general, the choice of religion is according to the ethnic group. For example,
the Mandinga are almost 100% Muslim, while the other groups (Balanta, Mandjacos,
Fula...) are open to Christianity. Curiously, the villages of these ethnic groups
are one aside of the other and it is thus normal to pass from a Mandinga village
to a Balanta, and so on. Each ethnic group has its language. To communicate
between themselves they use a Creole that is based on a modified Portuguese
and seasoned with words borrowed from the local languages.
The relationship with the Muslims is good, there is even friendship, but there
is still a long way before dialogue. Fr Celso says that he is always met with
love, patience and attention during his visits to the tabankes. Once,
after visiting a sick person in one of the villages, he went to greet the Muslim
chief before setting out again. The man was so struck by this mark of respect
that, gathering other dignitaries, he accompanied the priest to his car and
promised to return the visit. “Love and respect, says Celso, are already evangelisation.”
A river divides the territory of the mission. To cross it there is only one
boat that goes back and forth. It is often necessary to wait a long time for
it to return from the other bank. A bridge would be ideal. Fr Celso has friends
who built several in his old mission at Fonjumetaw (Cameroun). Undoubtedly they
will be able to repeat the feat here.
“I ask for a prayer – he writes – so that the peace process, which started with
the coup d'etat last September, can continue in Guinea Bissau.” The current
president of the transitional government is above politics and doing his best
to see that the country regains the confidence of the international community
and can look towards a better future.
Life in Lusaka sometimes Risky
in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, is not always tranquil and free of danger. Fr.
Ron Walker, the pastor of the newly established Mary Immaculate parish learned
that even a parish building committee meeting can be hazardous. In a letter
to Fr. David Kalert, U.S. Oblate Provincial, Fr. Ron Carignan, the Delegation
Superior, reported some frightening events of March 18, 2004.
At approximately 7:00 pm that night, armed robbers attacked the members of the
parish building committee who were having their weekly meeting at the church,
which is still only a tent. There were two robbers, one armed with an AK-47
assault rifle. All the committee members were pushed to the floor. Fr. Walker
who did not move fast enough to satisfy one of the robbers was hit on the side
of the head and pushed to the floor. Ron has quite a bruise near his left eye
as well as a black eye.
One of the robbers kept yelling: "Kill them... kill them... shoot
them all." The gun bearer stood some meters from the group so it would
not be possible to jump him. The other went through everyone’s pockets. They
threw car keys on the floor saying they were not interested in cars. They collected
about one million kwacha (€175), three cell phones and all the content of wallets
such as drivers licenses, credit or bank cards. They left as suddenly as they
arrived, running off into the cemetery next to the church property. It could
be that the headlights from a vehicle approaching the church may have scared
them off. A full report was made to the local police.
Fr. Carignan also noted that there is a lot of this violence going on. In the
same week, four sisters and a priest were robbed at a local convent and all
five were beaten up – the priest quite seriously. (From www.omiusa.org)
5000 take part in the peace pilgrimage
Was it by chance this year that the annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Our
Lady of Peace immediately followed the tragedy attack of March 11 in Madrid?
Fr Alfonso BARTOLOTTA writes: “On March 13-14 we welcomed approximately 5000
pilgrims to the shrine of Our Lady of Peace at Temento to celebrate the joy
of our faith “Announcing the Gospel of Peace.” The brothers of the Taize community,
who are also missionaries in Senegal, led the night of prayer and reconciliation.
It is a great annual event, which brings together many Christians of various
dioceses and areas of Senegal and the neighbouring Guinea Bissau. The desire
of all, expressed in prayer, it is the gift of peace in Casamance and in the
whole world. “In this circumstance, as usual many hot meals were used to the
2nd Interprovincial novitiate opens
A sign of cooperation between the Provinces, and definitely of internationality,
in the English-speaking sub-region is the opening of the second inter-provincial
novitiate at. Our Lady of Peace Novitiate opened on February 10 with 20 novices:
6 from Kenya, 4 from Zambia, 3 from Namibia, 2 from Zimbabwe, 5 from South Africa
(2 from Natal, 2 from Northern Province and 1 from the Central Province). Except
for some difficulties obtaining student visas for some of the young candidates.
the year has begun as planned. The novice master is Fr. Maurus KANTANA. He is
assisted by Fr Linus Ngenomesho and Bro John Nangoro.
There are another 20 novices at Our Lady of Hope Novitiate in Johannesburg,
the sub-region’s other novitiate. With the opening of the novitiate all the
empty buildings in Döbra are again fully used, with new content – a pastoral
centre and a novitiate. Namibia Provincial, Fr. Philipp PÖLLITZER comments:
“And both are being run without a financial loss! This is twice the fulfilment
of one of my dreams.”
“The Passion of the Christ”
Mel Gibson’s recent film has raised more controversy than any other religious
film in many years. Yet, it is proving to be one of the most popular films of
the year, judging by box office returns. There are cries of “anti-semitism”,
“blasphemy”, and “disgusting violence.” The Vatican has withheld official comment
of any sort, yet Pope John Paul II received in private audience James Caviezel,
the actor who portrayed Jesus.
A good number of Oblates shared their impressions of the film – both positive
and negative – on the OMIWORLD web site Forum. Cardinal Francis GEORGE, OMI
of Chicago, in an interview prior to the release of the film encouraged people
to see it. Excerpts of the interview are published below.
Card. George: Gibson’s Film Powerful, but Needs to Be Seen without Anti-Semitism
In an interview published on the Dominican’s website, Cardinal George noted:
“The images are so forceful, so powerful, that your imagination is changed.
You live with new images of the Passion.”
The Cardinal continues explaining that “There is a priest in the archdiocese
who has a lot of experience in filmmaking, and he has sent out to the parishes
all the information on the film and how to participate in viewing it. I have
sent out the documents from Rome and the United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops on how to read the Passion stories in the Gospels. I would encourage
people to see the film.”
However, according to Cardinal George, more needs to be said about the controversy
over anti-Semitism, which has become an important element of the debate surrounding
The Cardinal says that even though “the torture” inflicted on Christ is “attributed
to the Romans in the film” it is undeniable that the “push to have him condemned
is attributed to some of the Jewish leaders, even though the Romans are primarily
responsible. Jesus had enemies among his own people. He also had friends and
disciples among his own people.”
But these elements should help overcome the controversy over anti-Semitism allowing
us to “try to think how a Jew [would] watch this. That's part of living as a
community: we internalize the reactions of others, whether they're Jews or atheists
or Protestants or Hindus. We try to live together. We have to be ourselves as
Christians with the right to say, "Jesus is Lord;" but we have to
say it in such a way that others don't take fright. That's the challenge of
this film. I hope you'll see it, and I hope it will not harm interfaith relations.”
(February24 – Vidimus Dominum and Albert Judy, OP USA Dominican Life Today website)
Medal of Merit for Fr. Kuroczycki
The chapel of Saint Casimir’s Institute in Vaudricourt proved too small
to accommodate all the friends of Fr. Joseph KUROCZYCKI who came from all corners
of France and Belgium to assist at the conferral of the Medal of Merit of Poland
by the Consul General Mr Chojnacki Marek. This medal is awarded by the President
of Poland in recognition of Fr. Joseph’s priestly ministry, and of his charitable
and social services to the Polish immigrants.
On this occasion Father Wilhelm Steckling, the Superior General, underlined
the remarkable work of development and modernization of the Stella Maris Family
Holiday Center. Fr. Kuroczycki devoted himself during more than twenty years
to this place of relaxation and encounter for the families of Polish origin
who have settled in the north of France.
It was in 1948 that Polish Oblates responsible for the pastoral care of these
families set up a youth camp in tents by the seaside. Some years later land
was bought at Stella Plage, not far from the English Channel, about thirty kilometres
south of Boulogne-sur-Mer. Some wooden barracks were bought from the American
Army thus making it possible to accommodate families that otherwise would not
have had a chance to get away for a vacation.
Today the Stella Maris vacation village is a complex of ten buildings with 90
rooms, including some equipped for handicapped people, and able to accommodate
approximately 300 people. The air-conditioned restaurant seats 350 people. There
are leisure attractions for all ages, available day and night. The spiritual
care of the vacationers is also a characteristic of the village. The chapel,
dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa and Saint Eugene de Mazenod, is the center
of the village. Oblates of the delegation of France-Benelux and the Obra scholasticate
assure the presence of priests and several masses each Sunday.
Eugene de Mazenod and Provençal
Last March 11, Elisa Cogliandro, a student at Bocale in Calabria, defended a
thesis entitled "Eugene de Mazenod and Provençal". Elisa had not known
previously the Oblates or "Costruire", the Italian Oblate youth movement.
For the choice of her thesis she asked the help of professor Cesare Magazzù,
assistant professor of the history of Christianity at the Department of Studies
of Late, Medieval and Humanistic Antiquities of the University of Messina. He
proposed that she look further into the figure of Eugene de Mazenod. Having
found little bibliography and not knowing what to do, she went on the Internet
and found the address of the Oblate community at Gesso (Messina). Fr. Fabio
BASTONI was able to show her all the bibliography she would need and thus the
subject of the thesis took form: the relation of Eugene to the Provencal language.
Elisa’s study points to Provençal as the main means “which he (St Eugene) used
to communicate the love of God to the poor.” After having outlined the great
periods of Eugene de Mazenod’s life, in the second chapter, the author widens
the horizon to the revolutionary upheaval and the transformations that followed
it in France. Then “the objective is focused on Aix-en-Provence, and particularly
on the social context in which Eugene lived his childhood: an attractive society
and at the same time, a not very edifying one.”
The third chapter recalls the beginnings of Eugene de Mazenod’s apostolate,
the first preaching in Provencal in the church of the Madeleine, the Sunday
instructions for the poor and the activity of the Missionaries of Provence.
Using the correspondence and some pages of the Founder’s diary, Elisa underlines
the enthusiasm which accompanied preaching in the local language, defined by
Fr Jeancard as “an intellectual, moral and Christian regeneration of the working
This originality of the Founder did not please everyone! On the contrary, he
had to face difficulties and to wage a true battle to maintain his principles.
The final chapter describes the hostility met by St. Eugene from the old clergy
and the nobility. “The former, seeing a part of their flock leaving their services
felt their inviolable pastoral rights offended; the latter, filled with revolutionary
ideology did not accept the use of dialect, which they considered “a monument
of slavery, and the language of political federalism.”
The Ciotat incident is treated with detailed attention. The mayor of the place
saw behind this “speciality” of the Founder and his missionaries the signs of
a political tendency and dragged them before the courts. “Finally, in the fourth
chapter, in order to contradict any charge of a political nature, the choice
of Eugene is seen in the perspective of an entire pedagogy tested during a long
apostolate, dedicated to answering to the motto of the Congregation: “He sent
me to evangelise the poor.”
P. Fabio Bastoni attended the defence of the thesis. The professor appreciated
both the title as well as Elisa’s research. In the course of the defence, he
noted the imposing figure of Eugene and the presence of the Oblates in Messina
– a fact that was also underlined by the other professors of the board. It was
likewise pointed out how Eugene, motivated by pastoral reasons and not linguistics,
was “involuntarily” one of the precursors of the rediscovery of Provencal and
the movement that followed it.
Ecumenical and intercommunity experiences
The new community at Roman in Romania is a formation community, in keeping with
the desire of the religious superiors and the Bishop of Iasi, in whose diocese
the community is located. Five of the six young men who form part of it go each
morning to the Franciscan Theological Institute to attend courses of philosophy.
The sixth, Valentine, will finish his noviciate soon.
The community did not want to remain closed in upon itself. So, benefiting from
the end of the winter and owing to the fact that two of its young members, Nicu
and Adrian, are of orthodox origin, the community invited the local orthodox
priest for a visit. Of course they took care to warn the Catholic priest so
as not to break the good ecumenical relations.
Parintele Mihai Popovic, accompanied by his wife, thus honoured the Oblates
with a visit. It was a special and meaningful evening, marked by common prayer,
a shared table (with exemption from the very strict orthodox fast) and a long
Valentine, who is 24 years old, is from Husi. He is the only Oblate novice at
present. Although alone at the noviciate he has some companions anyway because
he follows a joint program with seven novices of the Congregation of Saint Joseph
of Murialdo and four Verbites.
MANITOBA (Taché Community)
Two missionaries honoured by Belgium
Fathers Charles Choque, OMI and Joseph Meeùs, OMI will receive the decoration
of the “Knights of the Order of the Crown” bestowed by H. R. H. King Albert
II. The Belgium Ambassador Mr. Daniel Leroy will present the decorations to
them during a ceremony at Rankin Inlet, (Nunavut) in May 2004.
According to the ambassador, “This decoration has been bestowed upon them because
they dedicated their whole priestly lives, or a great part thereof, to the Inuit
amid very difficult living conditions. Belgium would like to acknowledge their
lives of dedication.”
Religious congregations say no to environmental pollution
Hydro-Quebec, the State owned electric company, wants to go ahead with its
project to construct a gas-fuelled power station in Beauharnois, several kilometres
outside of Montreal, despite all the opposition to the project. According to
all the evidence, this project would cause environmental pollution.
A group of twenty-two Quebec religious congregations, who have stocks in Hydro-Quebec,
plan to meet André Caillé, the president of the Company, to ask him to put aside
the power station project at Suroît. It seems that the project, valued at 550
million Canadian dollars, would emit as much greenhouse gas as 600,000 cars.
That would increase the total emissions of Quebec by 2,5%, whereas to respect
the Kyoto Protocol, Quebec should rather reduce its emissions by 6%.
The Oblates are among the twenty-two religious communities who form the Group
for the Social Responsibility of Businesses. This example of solidarity by several
religious communities is to be applauded since it is for the benefit of the
whole of humanity. (Apostolat)
Activities of the Oblate Missionary Center
Last March 26, two representatives of the Oblate Missionary Center and two
from the Apostolat International magazine were among the guests at the
“Mission at Home” benefit supper which was organized to come to assistance of
the missions of Canada’s Far North. More than 200 people answered the call,
among them were several religious institutes. The Italian community of the Our-Lady-of-Defence
parish in Montreal was the host. The Superior General of the Priests of the
Foreign Missions, Fr Laneuville, spoke about the recent American Missionary
Congress in Guatemala, and Mrs Huguette Leblanc, director of the Saint-Peter
the Apostle Charities, gave her impressions of the mission in the Far North.
She also spoke about the work of Fr Nicanor Sarmiento, a Peruvian Oblate, who
is a missionary with the Innus of Labrador.
The Oblate Missionary Center was also happy to welcome Raymond Marie POULIN
from Chile for a period of rest after three years of intensive work. The OMC
is fortunate to be able to receive the fellow-members returning from the missions
abroad. The personnel of the Center thus could follow closely the weeks of crisis
of the Haitian people with the help of Raymond MARQUIS and Gerard CLOUTIER.
Now, the attention becomes more directed to the Chilean mission, more particularly
in union with the seven colleagues who continue to work in that country. The
two oldest members, Fathers Lionel GOULET and Arthur SMITH, are experiencing
presently some serious health problems. Garcia LUSSIER assists Fr Lionel at
the Lourdes shrine in Iquique, in the north of the country. Claude BRISSON is
working in the Pampa with the miners of Marie Elena. In Santiago, Guy BLANCHETTTE
is as always enthusiastically involved with youth in the Scout movement and
Jean-Marie TREMBLAY is the treasurer of the new unified province of Chile and
Three faiths celebrate an ordination
The Muslims brought their agong and kulintang, musical instruments
made of bronze, while the indigenous Manobos brought their wind instruments.
They came to attend a rare religious event, the ordination to the priesthood
of Fr. Jay VIRADOR. The last ordination that the people of Pikit witnessed was
twenty years ago. It was then a purely parish affair of the Catholic community.
Fr. Virador’s ordination was a unique event that can be considered a fruit of
the peace-building efforts and inter-religious dialogue promoted by the parish
priest, Fr. Roberto LAYSON and the other religious leaders in Pikit.
Pikit parish is one of the oldest in the Archdiocese of Cotabato (Mindanao).
From the time of the arrival of the first group of Christians in 1913 Christians
and Muslims lived peacefully side-by-side. The spirit of bayanihan (helping
each other) was very much alive. Irrespective of religious differences all worked
together during the planting and harvesting seasons or when community projects
required a lot of manpower.
This community spirit unfortunately broke down when the armed confrontation
between the government and Islamic separatist forces erupted. The long years
of bloodshed pitted Christians against Muslims and separated the two faith communities.
The Pikit parish’s open welcome to thousands of displaced persons during the
conflict, and the Church’s efforts to create “space for peace communities” has
contributed to the process of healing and reconciliation that made it possible
for the entire population to celebrate together. (See OMI Interviews at www.omiworld.org)
Preparations for the joyous even went on all through the night before the ordination.
Some of the tables were marked, “For our Muslim Visitors.” At the back of the
church the men butchered a cow, pigs and chickens. They cooked until dawn.
Not so far away, in the house of a Muslim friend, says Fr. Layson, Bapa Butch
performed the sumbali, a Muslim ritual of sacrifice before an animal
is butchered. Halal food that would be served to the Muslims visitors
was also being prepared there.
On the day of the ordination, vehicles loaded with Muslims and Christians from
the Space for Peace communities arrived. During the reception, after the two
hour-long ordination ceremonies, the Muslims played their agong and kulintang
while the Manobos played their wind instruments. Muslim and Christian students
danced. Elders from the three faith groups gave speeches.
The three peoples shared food and laughed as if no war had taken place in Pikit.
The Muslims and Manobos came to share the joy of the Christians and the Christians
were happy to share that joy with them. (Roberto Layson in OMI Philippines
Archbishop of Cap-Haitien:
“Security and civil administration essential in the north.”
“Things are slowly getting back to normal, but the crisis is a long way from
being resolved,” Monsignor Hubert Constant, President of the Haitian Bishops’
Conference, told MISNA by telephone from the northern city of Cap-Haitien, of
which he is the Archbishop.
“Two hundred French troops from the international peacekeeping contingent arrived
in the city about a week ago, and it can be said that the mood is fairly peaceful.
People are going about their business, but here everyone is living from one
day to the next,” continued the prelate. “On the contrary, there are reports
of unrest in Fort Liberté (56 kilometres east of Cap-Haitien, near the border
with Dominican Republic), where armed gangs are looting and pillaging. It is
vital that security be restored,” added our interlocutor, insisting on a rapid
deployment of foreign troops, ”if only to act as a deterrent”.
In the northern areas, the civil administration has not yet been restored. “In
some towns or villages, individuals are proclaiming themselves mayor, but no-one
has yet been designated by the central government,” continued Archbishop Constant.
“In the Cap, a committee has been created to identify people for presentation
to the executive at the given moment”. Fuel is beginning to reach Cap-Haitien,
but only those residents in possession of a generator can expect to have electricity.
“It is possible to see the beginnings of new political reconstruction, but the
country needs a major economic boost,” continued the prelate. The Bishops’ Conference
has not commented on the question of the nomination of the new government, led
by the new Premier, Gérard Latortue. “We hear good things about the people who
have been chosen,” concludes Monsignor Constant, “but we will judge the ability
of the new government by the facts.” (MISNA – www.misna.org)
of Churchill-Hudson Bay: Sunday Lectionary Year C. Inuit translation
of the English lectionary published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
in 1992. The New Testament quotations are from a translation of the New Testament
by Théophile DIDIER, published by the diocese in 1982. The Old Testament quotations
are from texts translated by Didier and Eugène FAFARD, and revised by Robert
LECHAT in 1995 and 1996. This edition is a revised text of the Sanaktailisiutiit
Year C published by the diocese in 1997. Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay, 2003,
Desktop publishing is by Patrick Lorand. 353 pp.
FERNANDEZ Pablo (Spain): Los Misioneros Oblatos de María Inmaculada en España
(1882-2000). (The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Spain – 1882-2000)
A history of the Oblate Province of Spain and its missions. Private printing.
Noviciado – El Abrojo, 2000, 267pp.
NSOLO Abel Habell (Congo): Voeu de pauvreté et mondialisation. Point
de vue d'un religieux africain (Vow of Poverty and Globalization. The Point
of View of an African Religious.) How to conceive religious poverty in a continent
where indigence is a reality before being a word? Will African religious succeed
in keeping their heads above water in an unstable and unhealthy economic environment?
How to concretely live the requirements of the vow of poverty without giving
up the values of African solidarity? How to hear again today the cry of the
poor in the context of globalization? The author, novice master in the Congo,
tries to answer these questions. These pages are intended to provoke reflection.
This accounts for the somewhat provocative character of certain suggestions.
Kinshasa, Éditions Baobab, July 2003, 48 pp.
O’DONOVAN Richard (Anglo-Irish): The Church of Saint Mary Help of Christians,
Holyhead. The author traces the history of this community from its early
years (12th century) up to the present day. Emphasis is on the post-Reformation
period. The Oblates have served the parish since 1896. Private printing. 270
Statistics by Age Groups
Anniversaries - May 2004
60 Years of Religious Profession
Years of Religious Profession
Years of Priesthood
Years of Religious Profession
Years of Priesthood
Suffrages for our Deceased
will keep alive the memory of our deceased and not fail to pray for them,
faithfully offering the suffrages prescribed on their behalf.” (Const. 43)
OMI INFORMATION is an unofficial publication
of the General Administration of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
C.P. 9061, 00100 ROMA-AURELIO, Italy
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