- 509 March 2011
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435 September 2004
Chapter opens in Rome
34th General Chapter of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate opened in
Rome on Monday, August 30th. The day began at 9:00 a.m. with a Liturgy of the
Word in the cavernous church at the General House of the La Salle Brothers of
After brief readings from the Gospel of John (John 7,37-39; 19:21; 20:22) the
assembly invoked the Holy Spirit using a prayer composed by John Paul II. There
was a sung invocation of the Spirit between each section. The members of the
Chapter then went in procession to the Chapter Hall carrying lighted candles.
Colored candles were used to symbolize the six Regions and the internationality
of our religious family.
In the Chapter Hall, Fr Bernard KERADEC, Commissioner of the Precapitular Commission
reported that the documents of accreditation were in order and then called the
roll. 96 Oblates will take part in this Chapter, 40 ex officio members and 52
elected delegates, plus four Oblates invited by the Superior General. As the
church bell tolled 10 o’clock, Superior General, Fr Wilhelm STECKLING declared
the 34th General Chapter open.
The members of the Chapter, Oblates from the General House and the Italian Province
gathered in the main church for the opening Eucharist at 11:30 a.m. The were
joined by many friends and representatives of religious congregations that are
closely associated with us.
A Chapter full of hope
An Interview with the Superior General
planning, choosing the right men, as well as fraternity, a sense of belonging
and identity are the major elements that will mark these intense days of work.
On the eve of the Chapter, Fr Pasquale CASTRILLI met Fr Wilhelm STECKLING, who
is finishing a first six-year term as Superior General, and put these questions
The Oblates come to this General Chapter after a long process called Immense
Hope. Can you speak to us about this project? What fruits has it borne for
Hope is a title that evokes not a limited or modest hope, but rather the
completely new view of history brought about by the intervention of God in his
Son Jesus-Christ. The Oblate project called Immense Hope is a community
process of evaluation. Requiring four years, it was focused on our “missionary
practice” and not on principles or ideals, for which we have already an excellent
base of documentation. We present ourselves as missionaries of the poor and
the abandoned. So, we wanted to check if we were present among them and if we
were known for that. After some initial hesitation, the Congregation responded
enthusiastically to this project. Participation is estimated to have been 96%.
Each Province will bring the fruits of this work to the Chapter in the form
of a missionary strategy, in order to share and to help each other.
What will be the principal topics for
the 34th General Chapter?
The General Chapter itself chooses the topics to be taken up. Nevertheless,
questionnaires were sent out and the answers indicate a preference for certain
topics: concern for the poor today, the missionary formation of our candidates
in a more international context, youth ministry – which is somewhat a new topic
– the question of how to be more missionary in the parishes, and finally the
sharing of Saint Eugene de Mazenod’s charism with the laity. We had asked for
proposals for a Chapter that would deal with concrete topics to help us with
our work rather than one that would draw up broad plans.
What are the new missionary frontiers
for the Oblates? What are the most difficult areas in the world where the OMI
are currently working?
The first two are easy to identify, thanks to some moments of collective
reflection we had in these past years. There were three international symposiums,
two on the evangelization of the secularized world and one on inter-religious
In fact, I think that evangelization
of the secularized world is one of our major missionary challenges.
As one concrete step, we recently founded a new international community in Birmingham,
England that will begin its activity this autumn.
The second area, I would say, is inter-religious dialogue.
In certain countries, this goes on in a serene way, for example in Senegal or
in Thailand. In many other places, it must face the problem of fundamentalism.
We should not forget that during the past seven years we lost two missionaries
who worked among the Muslims in the Philippines. One of them was the bishop
Benjamin De Jesus.
In third place I would put reconciliation and the healing
of wounds inherited from the past, a field where the OMI are active,
as for example in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Guatemala.
As for the fourth area, it seems right to mention the
increase in poverty in Latin America and Africa, in countries like
Zimbabwe, Haiti, Congo, and Angola. The causes are many, often war or AIDS.
Many of our brothers are serving quietly in such contexts. However, they no
longer want to remain quiet before such situations. This affirms the need to
work for justice, peace and the integrity of the planet, making the voice of
the poor heard where the decisions that affect them are being taken. The Oblates
were recently recognized as a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) by the United
Nations, and thus we will have a way to intervene on these subjects.
As a fifth frontier I would mention the new and special
mission opening in the communist and former communist countries:
Romania, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, Turkmenistan and China.
We are already present in these countries, and there is so much missionary work
to do. There is also much openness on the part of these peoples. It is often
a mission of first evangelization.
The Oblates, like most apostolic Congregations
of men, are decreasing numerically. How does a Superior General see this reduction
in personnel? What challenges arise from it?
True, manpower is decreasing, particularly in the Western countries. However
not all the Congregations are experiencing a drop in their overall personnel.
There is hope for us Oblates in the fact that despite an 11% drop in our total
number during the past six years, the number of new candidates increased by
4% and currently stands at 676. These changes, say the experts, correspond to
general demographic changes. We, in fact, had a study made of this subject.
That means that we Oblates – and I believe soon also the whole of Western society
– must be flexible and change. For example, that will require us to be open
to foreigners, to close many places where we have been present for decades,
and also to open new missions. It is important not to want to do everything,
to keep everything, which only results in a dispersal of personnel. We must
absolutely maintain living communities. For that the western mission, which
always gave to Africa, Asia, and Latin America, must humbly start to receive.
In the West, the true problem is not the decrease in manpower as such. The risk
is rather to lose our spirit. We can be good missionaries with a small number,
as the founders showed us, and as we can see today for example in a Province
How do you see the future of the Congregation?
What are the more urgent matters?
That can be easily deduced from what we have said. In a world and a Congregation
that is going through a great demographic change, it is necessary to share more:
personnel, finances, experiences. To be able to do that, formation in a more
international and missionary context is essential. That implies crossing borders,
for example by cooperating with neighbouring countries. In Europe Oblates in
Spain and Italy are already doing this.
We are not yet accustomed to taking such steps. But the Church is Catholic,
universal and the kingdom of Christ knows no borders. In the world today, we
can be a concrete sign of the co-operation and also of the harmonious cohabitation
between various cultures and various peoples. I believe that our traditional
Oblate family spirit, with its Marian inspiration, must be stressed more. It
is, I believe, a question of spirituality, of a spirituality of Immense Hope
in the generosity of God who, for us Oblates, found expression in the big heart
of Saint Eugene, a heart as big as the world, as one bishop who knew him well
Nations’ NGO accreditation
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the Department of Public
Information (DPI) of the United Nations, at its July meeting, approved the Missionary
Oblates of Mary Immaculate for association with the Department.
Associated NGOs are entitled to designate one main and one alternate representative.
These persons have access to United Nations facilities and to all open meetings
of the United Nations bodies, which they can attend as observers. Frs. Eliseo
Mercado and Seamus Finn (General Service-JPIC Director and Associate Director)
are our designated representatives at UN bodies in Geneva and New York. Representatives
are also invited to attend the Thursday NGO briefings organized by the Department,
featuring United Nations officials, Government delegates and other experts,
This association constitutes a commitment to disseminate information and raise
public awareness about the purposes and activities of the United Nations and
issues of global concern. Associated NGOs are expected to focus a portion of
their publications and information activities on the work of the United Nations.
Eugene returns to the Madeleine
On June 24 a new main altar containing relics of St. Eugene de Mazenod was consecrated
in the church of the Madeleine, in Aix. This event was originally scheduled
to be part of the May 21-23 Triduum celebration of St. Eugene’s feast in Aix
and Marseilles. Due to delays in restoration work at the church, the dedication
was put off to this date.
So, 191 years after those Provencal Lenten sermons to the artisans, servants
and poor in March 1813, Eugene returns to the church where he began his mission
of evangelising the poor. This gesture is an indication of the esteem the diocese
has for its saintly native son.
In keeping with the rubrics for the consecration of an altar that require the
First Vespers to be celebrated in a church other than the one of the altar to
be consecrated, solemn Vespers were held on the evening of June 23 in our Church
of the Mission.
The following day, the consecration of the altar took place in the presence
of a full church at the Madeleine. Twelve Oblates were present, among whom were
Bernard DULLIER, Provincial of France and Baudouin MUBESALA, representing Fr.
General. In his homily the Archbishop-Bishop of Aix, Claude Feidt, spoke eloquently
of Saint Eugene whose relics are incorporated in the altar, and of his relationship
with the church of the Madeleine and of the Oblates and their missions.
The rearrangement of the sanctuary and the new altar are part of a major restoration
project at the church. Our “correspondent” in Aix, Fr. Edward CAROLAN, notes
that the rest of the church remains to be done. Part of it is in a very precarious
condition with wooden scaffolding to support one of the side arches. He adds,
“The financing of such an operation on a state-community basis is just about
as complicated as anything you might find in Italy, so it may take some time
before everything is done.”
With the Pope and the young people
The Corriere della Sera, the most important Italian daily newspaper,
published many reports on the visit of John Paul II to Lourdes on August 14
and 15. In its August 15 edition, it speaks about the presence of young people
at this Marian shrine. The article opens with some observations by Stefano Giannarelli,
one of the young people who performs in the musical Aquero (see OMI
Info 434), which is inspired by the Lourdes story. After having spoken about
his experience in this musical, Stefano, who is an engineer, says: “What is
Lourdes for the young people? Nothing more than the Gospel and the Gospel is
Good News, which tells us that all does not finish with death. Lourdes is a
corner of heaven....”
In the same article, Fr Saverio ZAMPA, who together with Fr Yves CHALVET, is
in charge of the Youth Service at the Shrine, underlined the differences among
the young people: “The young French, English or Irish perhaps have a more marked
social character. On the other hand, the Italians come with more personal motivation.
But, for all of them the contact with the sick constitutes the most difficult
and the most gratifying thing. It helps to break down all barriers. When they
return home most of these young people will put themselves at the service of
Some say that behind this massive presence of young people at Lourdes lies perhaps
a reaction to the protests of ‘68. These young people are indeed the children
of that generation. Fr Zampa, who is 45 years old, does not hesitate to say
that he finds that exaggerated: “The social and political backgrounds are different!
When one of their children wants to go to Lourdes, some parents let them, while
others are opposed to it....”
Ten thousand young people came to Lourdes during the Pope’s visit. Among them
were four thousand French and three thousand Italians. Four thousand stayed
in the buildings or tents at the Youth Village, for which is entrusted to the
Oblates. “In my opinion – Saverio concludes – one can divide these young people
into three categories: the curious, those who are searching for something and
those who are decided to have a faith experience. The latter give themselves
body and soul to it.”
And to those who would ask, with a bit of malice, whether the shops of religious
articles do not disturb the pure and demanding heart of these young people,
Stefano answers: “We are not yet in Paradise, here as everywhere there is good
and bad seed.”
FRANCE – LOURDES
The Pope’s visit and the Oblates
The Pope’s recent visit to Lourdes, earlier reported by OMIWORLD, was also a
special time for the international community of Oblates who work at the Shrine.
Friday August 13, the day before the Pope’s arrival there was a Youth Vigil
in the St. Pius X underground basilica. This evening of prayer was led by the
Oblates who are in charge of the shrine’s Youth Service: Frs Yves CHALVET DE
RECY, Saverio ZAMPA. Norbert KINGANI and Brother Gabriel OBI. There were more
than 7,000 young people who took part in this Marian event, presided by Cardinal
Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon. Most of the texts were composed by Frs Chalvet
de Récy and Zampa, and then translated into English, Italian and Spanish by
the Oblates responsible for each of these language groups.
Saturday, August 14, the Oblates joined the other chaplains at the Massabielle
Grotto to recite the Angelus with the Pope. In the afternoon, during the recitation
of the rosary, six young people from the Youth Service, among whom was an Oblate
postulant from Vietnam, joined the representatives of the Shrine, the sick,
and their nurses around the papal car. That evening, during the candlelight
procession, Fr Yves Chalvet carried the gold rose offered to the Shrine by Pope
On Sunday, August 15, all the Oblate coordinators (Frs GRIFFIN, BIFFI, BARZEN,
GONZALEZ, KEMSEKE, CHALVET) introduced the mass presided by the Pope and concelebrated
with him and the other chaplains.
Shortly before his departure, Pope John Paul II received all chaplains at the
Notre Dame reception building. The Oblates were present with sixty youth volunteers
of the Youth Service, who sang for the Holy Father under the direction of Fr
The Oblate language coordinators were close to the Holy Father during the departure
ceremony at Massabielle Cave. The entire community was mobilized for variety
of tasks during the visit: the press, the ceremonies, translations, the vigil,
the rosary, and leading the volunteers.
A great celebration!
The art of evangelizing young people
Evangelizing the young people’s world by means of various artistic disciplines:
song, music, the theatre, and media... that was the goal of the July 18-24 camp
organized by the Costruire (To Build) movement for young people in contact
with the Oblates in Italy. Eighty-five young Italians, between 18 and 25 years
of age, gathered near Rome for this session. They were accompanied by 11 Oblates.
Besides the workshops on the artistic disciplines, there were also two “schools”:
one to train the young people in their Oblate charismatic identity; the other,
to form leaders to work with the Oblates in youth missions and to lead groups.
Particularly significant was the visit to the General House where Fr Wilhelm
Steckling, Superior General, presided the Mass. In his homily he touched upon
the theme of the camp: Evangelizzarte (This is a neologism made from
the Italian words “evangelise” and “art”). “This word that you have invented,”
he said, “joins together the Gospel and art. That is good because there is really
a bond: the Gospel puts us in relation to God, the source of all beauty.” He
then quoted from the sermon of Eugene de Mazenod in the church of the Madeleine
The participants also visited the studios of an Italian television station and
the Vatican Radio. According to Fr Pasquale CASTRILLI, one of the persons in
charge, “This camp has let loose the talents and creativity of our young people
who are becoming more and more aware of their responsibility in the evangelization
of other young people.”
60 years since 5 Oblates were shot by the Gestapo
The French daily La Croix of July 23 published an article signed by Constance
de Buor that recalled the execution of five French Oblates during the Second
World War. It was sixty years ago, not far from Fontainebleau: they were felled
by Gestapo bullets, victims of the last hour for acts of resistance. The Oblate
Superior had indeed agreed to hide a stock of weapons at the La Brosse-Montceaux
castle (Seine-et-Marne) that housed the scholasticate community. The weapons
had been received by parachute from a subdivision of resistance fighters. July
12, 1944, a first wave of material left the Oblates’ cellar, which was used
as a hideaway, and was sent to Paris. July 22, the remainder of the weapons
left the castle to be given to the “Honor” network of the Paris police force,
which was to take part in the liberation of the capital. Two days later, the
Gestapo, which had undoubtedly been tipped-off, invaded the chateau. Even under
torture the Oblates did not reveal the names of those they had helped. Two priests,
two scholastics and a brother were shot, while the remainder of the community
was carted off to Fontainebleau and then Compiègne, to be transferred to Germany.
Their journey to Germany was interrupted by the Liberation in August. “Since
1941, the Oblates had fought against anti-semitism. In several communities,
the religious hid Jewish children or were involved in acts of resistance and
many Fathers were deported,” recalled Fr Bernard DULLIER, Provincial Superior
On July 24th, the town of La Brosse-Montceaux celebrated the 60th
anniversary of this event. After a gathering at 2 p.m., at the town hall, in
the presence of the deputy and mayor of Montereau, Yves Jégo, a Mass was celebrated
at the chateau by the bishop of Meaux, Albert-Marie de Monléon, and George Gilson,
the bishop of Sens-Auxerre. Also present were Frs Bernard Dullier and Thomas
Klosterkamp, Provincial Superior in Germany. After the official dinner, a sound
and light show recalled this history.
A Haitian Oblate bishop at the first
International Missiology Congress
Pierre-Antoine PAULO, coadjutor-bishop of Port de Paix in Haiti, gave a conference
at the first International Missiology Congress that was recently held at Kinshasa
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Haitian bishop represented CELAM, the Episcopal Conference of Latin America.
He expressed the wish that a pastoral and missionary partnership be established
as soon as possible between the CELAM and the SCEAM (Symposium of the Episcopal
Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) with the aims of promoting and directing
the exchange of pastoral agents between the local Churches of Africa and Latin
America, and of setting up a team of missionaries ad gentes similar to
Fidei Donum that could respond to the reality and spirituality proper
to these two regions.
Bishop Paulo also spoke about the vitality of the Church in Africa and Latin
America underlining the ethnic and cultural presence of Africa in Latin America.
The greatest number of Catholics is found in Latin America and the highest growth
rate in the number of Catholics is in Africa.
On July 17, at the closing session of the Kinshasa Missiology Congress, he spoke
again. He said that this congress already marked the first stage of missionary
collaboration between Africa and Latin America.
Interviewed by Fr Jean-Baptiste MALENGE for the Catholic Religious Television
Programme produced by the Social Communications Service of the National Episcopal
Conference of Congo, the Haitian bishop declared that he felt he had retraced
the “slave route” journey that brought Africans to Latin America.
An Oblate Formation Congress for South Africa was held at St. Joseph’s Scholasticate,
Cedara, from June 29 – July 6, 2004. The aim of the Congress was to evaluate
the effectiveness of the formation programs in Southern Africa, that is, to
establish whether the formation that is taking place in our institutions is
actually producing the type of Missionary Oblates that the Congregation and
the Church need at the present moment in history. Also investigated were the
ways and means to improve formation programs so that the young Oblates remain
relevant and competent vis-à-vis the challenges of the modern society.
This Congress gathered the Provincial Superiors of all the Oblate Units in Southern
Africa, members of the staff from all the houses of formation, representatives
of the lay associates, and representatives of the scholastics. Special guests
were the Assistant General for formation, the General Councillor for Africa-Madagascar,
and the African representative of the General Formation Committee. In the true
sense of the word, it was a high-level “summit” meeting!
Archbishop Légaré dies
Archbishop Henri LÉGARÉ died in Ottawa on July 19, 2004, at the age of 86.
He was born on February 20, 1918 in Willow Bunch (Saskatchewan). After his classical
studies at the Gravelbourg College, he entered the noviciate of the Missionary
Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Saint-Laurent (Manitoba) in 1937. From 1938 to
1944, he pursued philosophical and theological studies at the scholasticate
in Lebret where he was ordained a priest on June 29, 1943.
In 1944, he began specialized studies in social sciences: from 1944 to 1947,
at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Laval University, where he obtained a masters
degree, then, from 1948 to 1950, at the University of Lille (France) where he
defended a doctoral thesis. In 1947 and 1948, he had been a professor at the
Saint Norbert Seminary (Manitoba) and a journalist. He returned there to take
up the same duties from 1950 to 1952.
Fr Légaré was named director of the Association of Catholic Hospitals in Canada
in 1952, a post that he held until 1957. At the University of Ottawa, he was
Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences from 1954 to 1958, then vice-chancellor
from 1958 to 1964. After a three-year stay in Manitoba, he was named Bishop
of the diocese of Labrador-Schefferville on July 13, 1967, and then promoted
to Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan on November 21, 1972. He left his pastoral
duties in 1996 and retired to the Oblate community at Assumption House in Ottawa.
100 Years since the Crowning
The year is 1904. The Oblates have been in charge of the Shrine of Notre-Dame
du Cap for hardly two years. Full of enthusiasm, they write to their confrere,
the Procurator of the Oblates to the Holy See: “We wish to have Our Lady of
the Cape crowned. Certainly you will do what you can to hasten the forwarding
of the Brief [letter of authorization]. The crowning of our dear Madonna, the
first Virgin to be crowned in Canada, will be a unique event.... You are not
unaware that here winter comes early. We want to have the ceremony before the
bad weather, and for this reason we would be grateful if you could speed up
the Roman slowness. You could give either the title of ‘Our Lady of the Cape’
or ‘Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary’. We find both terms in the files.”
The pope, Saint Pius X, answered in the affirmative and indicated that the Bishop
of Trois-Rivières, François-Xavier Cloutier, could crown Our Lady of the Cape
on his behalf. The pope was delighted with the devotion of the people towards
the Virgin Mary. He also said that he was “happy that the jubilee of the Immaculate
Conception could be marked by a sign of such affectionate piety.”
The organizers of the event think big. “We look beyond the limited confines
of one diocese. Is it not the love of the country that inspires and prepares
these imposing solemnities? It concerns the whole of Canada. This must be a
October 12: “From early morning all the confessionals are besieged. The distribution
of communion is endless. Boats, steam locomotives, private cars bring new pilgrims
constantly.” At half past ten, to the sound of the bells and the booming of
the canon, the bishops leave the Oblate residence in procession for the specially
prepared platform. The cross leads the way; then come the altar boys from the
seminary in their beautiful attire, the priests in surplices, many canons, Father
Frederic, carrying a richly decorated stand with the crown reserved for the
Madonna, then the bishops: the Apostolic Delegate, Bishop Cloutier of Trois-Rivières,
the archbishops and bishops of the following dioceses: Quebec, Montreal, Nicolet,
Ottawa, Kingston, Halifax, Vancouver, Rimouski, Saint-Hyacinthe, Valleyfield;
Chicoutimi, Sherbrooke, Burlington and Saint-Boniface.”
The Apostolic Delegate celebrated the Eucharist under the big tent set up in
front of the Small Shrine. “The fifteen bishops were on each side, at the bottom
of the altar. Near them or behind the armchairs, there were nearly four hundred
priests, and in the distance, the immense crowd. They all wanted to see, like
so many Zacheus!”
Finally, came the ceremony of the crowning by the Bishop of Trois-Rivières,
in the name of Pope Pius X. The crown was blessed and placed on the head of
Notre-Dame du Cap to the sound of the bells and canon blasts. “The crowned statue
was then carried by four priests to its original shrine. When it passed, the
crowd fell to its knees, and send it kisses. Many past benefits seemed to live
again in the memory of each pilgrim....”
"Oh! That October 12 was sunny and bright, but it was not warm. How could
we expect the heat of July or August? It did not matter to the thousands of
people who were not able to get under the immense tents in front of the shrine.”
For many years, the Virgin of the Cape was celebrated on the anniversary of
her crowning. But October 12 is often “cold and windy” as in 1904. That is why
since 1919, the big celebrations at the Shrine take place on August 15.
I have quoted the contemporaries of the event. These few texts testify to their
devotion and piety towards the One who welcomes us with open arms in the “Small
Shrine.” (Hervé Aubin, O.M.I. Revue Notre-Dame du Cap, June 2004, p.
SRI LANKA – COLOMBO
Bishop Edmund J. Fernando dies
The bishop emeritus of Badulla, Edmund J. FERNANDO died July 16, 2004 in Colombo.
He was 83 years old.
Born on March 25th 1921, at Pitipana, Negombo, he made first profession
as an Oblate in 1944. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1949, his first
assignment was as assistant parish priest in Borella. He was subsequently on
the staff of St Aloysius Minor Seminary in Borella, parish priest at Moratuwa,
and Vicar Forane for the Moratuwa District until he was appointed novice master
at the Kalutara novitiate in 1962. In January 1968 he became spiritual director
at the National Seminary in Ampitiya-Kandy.
His time at the seminary was brief as Pope Paul VI appointed him Auxiliary Bishop
of Colombo in June of that same year. He was auxiliary to Cardinal Thomas COORAY
until 1983 when Pope John Paul II called him to take charge of the Diocese of
Badulla. He served this small diocese in eastern Sri Lanka until his mandatory
retirement in 1997.
Scholasticate houses 400 flood victims
Nearly three-quarters of the country is under water, and more than 200 people
are reported to have died. Floodwaters cover 40% of the capital city Dhaka.
With more rains expected experts fear an outbreak of cholera.
Travelling from Lokhipur to Dhaka by bus, Fr Frank SANTUCCI who recently finished
preaching the annual retreats to the Bangladesh Oblates, sends this report.
“It is a trip I will never forget. All the roads are built a foot higher than
ground level, and so we travelled on this strip of tar, surrounded by lakes
of water on either side. The tragedy of the situation is that the road was lined
with people of all ages, and their animals, just looking. Somewhere below that
water were their houses and all their possessions – totally out of sight. It
Arriving in Dhaka, Fr Santucci found some 150 families, about 400 people, had
taken refuge on the scholasticate property. The people are everywhere on the
premises, even occupying the living quarters of the community. “Our scholastics
are doing a sterling job among the people bringing hope and comfort and soothing
frazzled nerves,” he says. The last time this happened was in 1998, and the
refugees took two months before they were able to either return to their homes,
or find alternative accommodation. The Oblates in different mission centers
are working around the clock to alleviate the misery of the people in whatever
way they can.
The government of Bangladesh has not appealed for international help at this
time. The Minister for Disaster Management and Relief said the government would
ask other countries for help after the current disaster is over to build permanent
shelters on higher ground in the north and north east of the country.
What’s going on?
Roberto De Valicourt, a missionary in Brazil, helps us look at the situation
in Brazil since the advent of Lula.
The economic situation is not bright, and the overall political situation is
quite uncertain. On March 22, in Belém, dissidents of the PT – the Workers’
Party – founded a new more radical left party that is opposed to the government’s
policy. Three powerful rightist or centrist parties (PFL, PSDB, PDT) that were
hitherto divided have formed a block to counter the Government. President Lula
and his team are thus faced with a strong opposition. The workers had expected
a major and fast transformation. Even the right had behaved well. Lula had said:
give me one year to put the house in order. But he is already in his second
year and nothing has changed.
Hunger continues to afflict many, unemployment increases slowly and surely,
buying power decreases, land reform is not being carried out. The popularity
of Lula is still high, but it is falling. Some scandals do not make things easier.
Only the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the large banks are satisfied!
Admittedly good things are happening such as for example the fight against slavery,
the law on disarmament, the defence of Amazonia, assistance to the very poor
families in certain areas of the country. But the resistance of the rich is
strong and organized. Judges, lawyers, and civil servants receive death threats
or are executed. The drug traffickers form almost a state within the State.
There is more violence than ever.
In the State of Para, however, the economic development is impressive: cattle
breeding and meat exports (without foot-and-mouth disease!), the export of lumber,
immense mining resources. Large-scale farming is becoming increasingly modern.
The growing of soya is taking over and driving out, without violence, the small
farmers who then come to swell the suburbs of the large cities. There are more
than 400 settlements on urban land in the suburbs of Belém. You can imagine
all the conflicts that provokes. We work in some of these settlements with the
prenovices. One of them has nearly 15,000 inhabitants: without water, electricity,
sewers, schools or childcare centers, nor are there medical services or garbage
The rich are increasingly rich and the poor ever poorer. And where are we Oblates
in all that? We are now joined as a single “Province of Brazil” that has chosen
Amazonia as one of its priorities. We will probably begin in Manaus, the capital.
Hope for our "District of Amazonia"! The meetings will not be easy,
because it takes five days by boat to go Manaus, and four to return!
After a lean year, now we have an overabundance of postulants: 10 in Recife,
7 in Goiânia/São Paulo, and 9 in Belém!!! What does this mean? It is obvious
that all will not continue, but even then....
We never expected such numbers! We must improvise. We were obliged to put mattresses
on the floor. But for the moment the atmosphere is excellent. I hope that it
will continue... We make very little propaganda to attract vocations, but they
see us living and the Oblate charisma attracts the young people. (Adapted from
Audacieux pour l’Evangile, July 2004)
elected Chair of ICCR
At their June meeting in San Francisco, the member organizations of the
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) elected Seamus FINN, O.M.I.,
as chairperson of their Board of Directors. The Oblates in the U.S. have been
actively involved with the ICCR for many years. As director of the Oblate national
Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office, Fr. Finn has been the principal
agent of the Oblates’ efforts in promoting corporate responsibility for over
For over thirty years the ICCR coalition has been the leading faith-based agent
in encouraging corporations to acknowledge their social responsibilities nationally
and internationally. The 275 member organizations of ICCR include national denominations,
religious communities, pension funds, endowments, hospital corporations, economic
development funds and publishing companies. As institutional investors, these
faith-based organizations such as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
sponsor over 100 shareholder resolutions each year on major social and environmental
issues. Their combined portfolio value is estimated to be $110 billion. At present,
these efforts are focused in areas such as: promoting human rights; water
and food; access to health care; enabling access to capital; violence and the
militarization of society; environmental justice; and global warming.
ATITUNG Cyrille Kalom (General Administration): Les images et la sainteté
de l’Église. Étude sur l’ecclésiologie de Tertullien et de Cyprien. (The
Images and Holiness of the Church. A study of Tertullian’s and Cyprian’s ecclesiology).
Thesis presented to the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum of the Pontifical
Lateran University for the degree of Doctor in Theology and Patristic Sciences.
Rome, 2004, 414 pp.
CARIGNAN Armand (Philippines): Come Along... Glimpses into the life journey
of a missionary in the Philippines. Autobiographical memoirs of fifty years
of missionary life. Cotabato City, Notre Dame Press, 2004, 147 pp.
DUDA Pawel (Poland): Przyjdź, Panie Jezu! (Come, Lord Jesus!) Homilies
for Advent and Christmas season. Wroclaw-Ursberg, Wydawnictwo Króloweo Pokoju,
2003, 61 pp.
O’DONOVAN Richard (Anglo-Irish): Early Days in the Colwyn Area. A history
of the Missionary Oblates at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Colwyn Bay. Private
printing. 206 pp.
Perniola V., S.J. The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka. The British Period.
Volume VIII 1887 – 1899. The Archdiocese of Colombo. The Ceylon Historical Journal
Monograph Series – Volume Twenty-Six. Tisara Press, Dehiwala, Sri Lanka, 2004,
SADOWSKI Jan (Assumption): Bajki z Madagaskaru. (Tales from Madagascar)
Canada, 2003, 96 pp.
WOJTKOWIAK Wojciech (Assumption): Wśród Kanadyjskich Indian na Preriach.
(With the Canadian Indians on the Prairies) Poznan – Lestock, 2003, 112 pp.
Anniversaries – October 2004
Anniversary of Vows
Anniversary of Vows
Anniversary of Ordination
Fr. Ernest Ruch
Anniversary of Vows
Anniversary of Ordination
Fr. Maynard Boomars
Suffrages for our Deceased
|Fr. Paul Seghers
|Fr. Luc Thibeaut
|Fr. José Azpiazu
|Fr. Croos Michael
“We will keep alive the memory of our deceased and not fail to pray for
faithfully offering the suffrages prescribed on their behalf!" (Const.
INFORMATION is an unofficial publication
of the General Administration of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
C.P. 9061, 00100 ROMA-AURELIO, Italy
Fax: (39) 06 39 37 53 22 E-mail : email@example.com
Editing Team: Ronald LaFramboise (director),
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