No. 447 October 2005
Fr. Wilhelm Steckling, Superior General, was present in Hünfeld (Germany) for the gathering of young people accompanied by Oblates of Mary Immaculate for World Youth Days 2005. We asked him three questions.
What are your feelings on this occasion?A great and joyful sense of participation. I am sure that the spirit of the young Eugene de Mazenod, from those early times in Aix, is present among us. Therefore, I hope that the Holy Spirit will reveal to the Oblates and to the young people who are here some new directions for our mission. It is not an easy task: to reveal the love of Christ to the youth, to the adults and to the children of the western world, so generally secularised. But Oblates and their friends are specialists in difficult missions, are we not? I believe that this gathering will give us a lot of courage to evangelise in this area.
What does this gathering mean for the young people who are taking part?It is a unique occasion for many of them to make new friends on the international and world-wide level within an Oblate context, especially for those who come from other continents. I am hoping for great spiritual depth. We can undoubtedly mention that without the love of Christ, there is no respect among peoples, whether on the level of interpersonal relationships or on the commercial and political levels. Our gathering is the occasion to live as a different type of world, built on the friendship that Christ gives us and made known with an inspiration flowing from the charism of St. Eugene.
And your personal expectations?I hope for, and the Oblates hope for it as well, a new and strong missionary effort, especially for our mission with and for young people. At Hünfeld, the young people, and we Oblates together with them, can once more discover and live who Christ is for us in today's world. I foresee that upon returning home, the energy so typical of youth will make possible the beginning everywhere of new youth movements, in partnership with the Oblates and committed to the need to spread the Gospel. (Questions presented by Fr. Pasquale CASTRILLI, OMI)
For the young people accompanied by Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, World Youth Days 2005 began on August 11 at Hünfeld, in the diocese of Fulda in Germany. There were a thousand of them, united in their everyday Christian life and inspired by the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Oblates.
The young Germans, showing a wonderful welcoming spirit, had worked hard over the past two years for the success of this event. Hospitality was offered by families from the different parishes in Hünfeld and also in neighbouring towns. The centre of all the activities was Bonifatiuskloster, the first and the oldest Oblate house in Germany, constructed more than a hundred years ago.
One had the impression that during these days, everything became a vast mission, not only an opportunity for gathering but also for spreading the Gospel.
On the first day, after the welcome by Father Thomas KOSTERKAMP, provincial of Germany, by the bishop of Fulda, by the mayor of Hünfeld, and by Fr. Wilhelm STECKLING, Superior General, all of the groups were introduced. The Italians and Germans were the most numerous. There was also a strong presence of Poles, Australians, French and Spanish, but also youth from Canada, Chile, Argentina, Sri Lanka, and Turkmenistan. It was a real feast of nations.
That first day, marked by the typical enthusiasm of any youth gathering, concluded with a prayer vigil around the cross in the church of the Oblate community at Bonifatiuskloster.
On the other hand, because of bad weather, the big sound and light show, scheduled for August 12, had to be postponed. (Gianluca Rizzaro)
Three members of the International Scholasticate community in Rome recently accompanied a large group of young Italians to World Youth Day in Germany (Roshan FERNANDO, Ross KAPUNAN, and Asanga LIGANGE). Brother Asanga gives us here some of his personal reflections about their pilgrimage.
I was once again richly blessed by our Good God because He added another unique and wonderful experience to my life when I participated in the 20th World Youth Days in Germany. I would say simply that it was a faith experience and a journey towards God with young people.
First we had our Oblate youth gathering at Hünfeld. I should give full credit to the Oblates because they have done a perfect job. My experience in Hünfeld was really remarkable. I lived in a family. They were very nice and I enjoyed the family life and German hospitality. I became one of them so much so that when I left them, we were all in tears. In Hünfeld I was able to pray, eat and enjoy with my group members. We were a faith sharing community. Although we were from different places, we had one thing in common--our faith in the living God. We were no longer foreigners.
Then from Hünfeld, we went to Köln to continue the second step of the World Youth Days programme. I was one among hundreds of thousands of young people. I had had the impression that modern day youth were turning away from God. But I had to change my opinion because I was witnessing the reality. So many youth from all over the world prayed and shared their faith experience together. What I noticed was that the Church still lives among the young people; they love the Church and Jesus.
Jesus is no longer a stranger. Instead He is a friend who understands and journeys with young people in their own day to day struggles. There were long lines to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and chapels reserved for Eucharistic adoration were always filled with youngsters.
As young people, we were ready to accept bad weather, but God gave good weather. We all together worshiped our Lord just as the three Wise Men came from the Far East to adore the Lord.
As I return to the eternal city and to the International Scholasticate, I can say that our Church is a young Church and that God is present even more radically than the past among youngsters because they have found him in their search.
The Bullring, a large shopping complex located in the city centre of Birmingham encompasses an entire district in the city. More than just a shopping mall, the Bullring is a place of encounter and energy. It is a symbol of regeneration, of a new Birmingham that is moving beyond its past of red-brick factories. I would like to use the Bullringas a point of reference in my reflection on secular culture.
Almost every day I walk from the Oblate residence at St. Anne's parish to St. Michael's in the city centre. My stride takes me into the Bullring, past the multicoloured displays, food stalls, and throngs of shoppers milling about. There is the conspicuous presence of teenagers, a group that is often under-represented in our two parishes. I wish that these young men and women would make a commitment to Christian community a regular part of their lives. Yet the Bullring attracts the youth every day of the year. The kaleidoscope of images, store displays, and interesting architecture all play a part in making this shopping complex an alluring place.
There is always something happening in the Bullring; the energy never stops. Monitors display the latest news from around the world, and people continuously mill around, whether they're shopping, eating, waiting for their bus, or simply sitting down and watching others. The Bullring is where people come to lose themselves, even if just for a while. It is a place where ordinary life stops, and supercharged consumer reality begins.
I think the Bullring reflects secular culture in many ways. It is full of energy, life, and vitality. Advertising budgets make it an interesting location, with the decorations changing seasonally--almost like the Church's liturgical year. Also, the Bullring is a place of encounter: it is where people gather. There are high school students enjoying a pizza; trendy business people looking for new clothes at the ritzy Selfridge's department store; and retirees doing food shopping--these all find common ground at the Bullring.Much like secular culture, the Bullringdoes not require commitment: shoppers arrive and depart at their liking, without any obligation. Allegiance to a particular store can easily change when prices drop at a competitor's location.
Yet the Bullring's supercharged consumer reality does not last long. Young people have to go home, back to families, parents, and the stresses of adolescent life. Business people have to leave the Bullring to face the rivalries of the workplace. Retirees need to return to their apartments, where they often live alone. The Bullring is only a part of life, and not its sum total. Even supercharged consumer reality is not immune from the joys and sorrows of human existence.
Secular culture and the Bullring are not built on principles that last through millennia; by themselves, consumer reality and other aspects of secularity would not last through persecution or extended hardship. People would not offer up their lives for a chance to go shopping, even in the alluring Bullring. In addition, without God, secular culture can turn on itself, and show appalling disregard for human life--we need only to look at the plight of unborn children, and the fate of people like Terri Schiavo to confirm such an attitude.
This is why the Church's message of encounter with Jesus Christ is still indispensable to the people milling about the Bullrings of today. Christ offers grounding for life that will never be out of style like some passing fad: a grounding that will last. As the prophet Isaiah says, "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?" To engage in today's consumer society people need money. Christ's message, on the other hand, is free, so that everyone, even the poor, can fully participate. Finally, Christ, and the message he brings, respects the dignity of all human life, whether weak or strong.
As I walk to St. Michael's, our city-centre parish, I pass through the crowds of the Bullring. I often wrack my brains trying to find out how we, the Oblates ministering to secular culture, will reach these people. I am certain, however, that the message of Christ, the Risen One, is urgently needed in secular society and the many Bullringsof today.
The author and now translator says that the Polish version differs a bit from the French. It has been corrected and completed by the discovery of new documents. Some passages, which were judged to be superfluous, have been removed. This Polish version, says Fr. Pielorz, is the one that is closest to the facts of history as we know them today.
03 December 1980—03 December 2005
Twenty-five years of presence among the poor. It has been a presence that is characterized by missionary involvement in all of the various aspects of life's realities in a place where the first thing that strikes one is poverty. It is material poverty, although not destitution, yet a poverty that lets shine through a human wealth that bursts forth in a spirit of welcome, of sharing, and of availability.
Another ever-present and dominating reality is ancestor worship. It is a practice that is very ceremonial, communitarian, and deeply anchored in the Malagasy soul. The life of the individual is always tied to different ancestral customs. Thus the question arises: how to preach the Good News of the Salvation wrought by Jesus Christ to a people who are so sure of having a permanent contact with the “beyond” simply by carrying out a certain number of very special rituals? What is the future for these “primitive people” who are being confronted with globalisation, where technology, productivity, and instant success rule the day? Is it already too late to prepare them for world-wide civilization that is already crushing them? How can they avoid being railroaded by a progress that is perceived rather as “having more” than as “being better?”
The answers we bring are only drops of water that do not comprise an ocean, because in Madagascar, as in Africa, they evaporate before reaching any depth. There are realities that shout of social injustice, both in the rural areas and in the cities : very needy families; the elderly without any resources; young people who have no guidance; sick people who have no money for treatment, etc. In a word, the people of God are bleeding!
The passion of Christ shows itself on many faces here. It is not the world turned upside -down, but it is the world of today calling us to be witnesses of the presence of the Church among the poor. When the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate arrived in Madagascar, twenty-five years ago, this reality required of them many adjustments, sacrifices, and conversions.
The Mission : to evangelise the poor
It is this choice that persuaded some Polish priests of the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to settle in Madagascar twenty-five years ago.
With its nearly fifteen million inhabitants, Madagascar is one of the largest islands in the world. Separated from Africa by the Mozambique channel, it is among the poorest nations in the world. The level of life hovers over the brink of poverty. The national economy, while claiming to be based on agriculture and raising livestock, has actually deteriorated after forty years of indecision and confusion. Nevertheless, today the country is involved in a new search for its cultural identity after the political crises of 2002. All the same, the striking situation mentioned above gave shape to the choices the Oblates made upon arriving in Madagascar.
1°) --To go and establish roots in places that were hardest to reach, isolated places where there are no roads and where poverty undermines the value of the human person. Thus, their missionary choice centred on the southern part of the diocese of Taomasina:
MAROLAMBO, located about 400 km. from the seat of the diocese, is one of the most remote sub-prefectures. For the Territorial Administration, this is where they send unmanageable officials to be disciplined because it is a place cut off from all contact with the rest of the country. Today, there are still adults in this region who have never seen a car. It is there that the pioneer Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate landed on 03 December 1980.
AMBINANINDRANO, located 60 km. before arriving at Marolambo, was chosen at the same time to serve as a place where the missionaries could get together.
MAHANORO is the prefecture whence things spread out to the surrounding regions. The possibility and the means of communication are more convenient there. It is there that in 1986 the first Oblate settled in to better serve the other centres of the mission. That permitted the establishment of the mission of MASOMELOKA.
2°) –To go and establish roots in the abandoned neighbourhoods and in the poorest places in the city.
In 1988, the Oblates took charge of the Parish of Notre Dame de Lourdes in Toamasina. Then, in the context of the celebration of the Jubilee Year 2000, the Oblates built a new parish church, Saint Eugene de Mazenod, at Fianarantsoa. The presence in an urban setting helped increase their missionary involvement: the Oblates assumed various chaplaincies such as a prison, a hospital, a university, as well as the creation and the management of an audiovisual centre, OMIFILM, at Fianarantsoa. Most recently, they took on maritime ministry as part of the Apostleship of the Sea.
A better tomorrow
Aware of the increased difficulties in the lives of the people and being daily confronted with families in distress, the Oblates in Madagascar opted for a new form of pastoral and missionary work. They became aware of a three-faceted poverty: spiritual, moral, and material.
It is difficult to preach the Gospel to people who are hungry! And we are there, not to give them something to eat, but rather to help them stand on their own feet and take charge of their own future. In other words, we wish to give them confidence in themselves to develop their own interior resources and possibilities, while drawing their strength from the infinite love of God through his Son Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. That is our missionary work.
But if one begins, one needs also to persevere. The wish expressed in 1988 by the superior general, Fr. Marcello ZAGO, OMI, became reality one year later with the opening of the novitiate in Ambinanindrano. This led to the opening, in 1992, of the scholasticate in Antananarivo (now transferred to Fianarantsoa) and in 1996, the pre-novitiate in Toamasina.
Today, more than 10 Malagasies have finished formation and are now Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Twenty-five years of Oblate presence in Madagascar ! This event must not pass unnoticed, especially for Madagascar, because many have collaborated to maintain it and help it so that this presence could become a reality.
· The Malagasies themselves who saw the importance of our involvement.
· The Oblates of Mary Immaculate from different countries.
· The organizations and benefactors who helped in different ways.
Through the celebration of this 25 th Anniversary, the Delegation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Madagascar wants to strengthen their missionary work. But, even more, they count on the prayers of all so that the church might move forward, continuing the words of Christ: Whatever you did for the least of my brothers or sisters, you did it for me.
On June 5, 2005, I celebrated the first anniversary of my arrival in Botswana as a missionary. To make it even more interesting, April 17 was the first anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. You can imagine what a celebration it was! Since June 5 was on a Sunday, the Christians were there to add spice and flavour.
I am slowly getting used to our mission here. For example, when I first arrived here, I was discouraged by the apparently insignificant number of people coming for church services, especially in the outstations. I would travel for 120 km only to find 5 people. This did not go down well with me. But closely looking at our situation here, I realized that the country is big and the people are scattered all over. The villages are small. Therefore, I should not always expect full-house. First problem solved, happiness obtained!
I am still struggling with the language, although there is notable progress. Now I understand much better than before. The problem is speaking correctly! The closeness of Setswana to Sesotho is not helping my course at all.
But I hope, with time I will get better and better.
Another thing I have become aware of is that I grew up in a certain way which shaped me and made me see and judge things in a certain way. I don't know whether to call these cultural values or beliefs. These elements are challenged when one moves from one community to another. The challenge is to grow beyond these cultural practices and beliefs and not to judge other people basing myself on such elements. And this can be very difficult sometimes!
Finally, I have also realized that I have to open up, be ready to learn, and allow these people to enrich me with their innumerable values and gifts. All in all, I feel happy and I am looking forward to enjoying even further my stay and missionary activity here in Botswana.
The team of presenters was made up of five formators from the scholasticates: Francisco RUEAUX (Brazil), Alberto HUAMÁN (Peru), Ariel MARTINEZ (Mexico), Pedro BRITEZ and Leo GUILMETTE (both from Paraguay.)
The retreat is sponsored by the CIAL. It has taken place every two years since 1999. In the four retreats since that year, a total of 73 young Oblates have participated.
In spite of the effort that a month-long silent retreat demands, the results have been very positive. Plans are to continue the program every two years.
“It is a unique experience, an opportunity to deepen your Oblate vocation. Don't miss it for anything!” That was the answer given by one of the participants when asked how he would respond to a friend who was thinking of taking part in a future retreat.
Just to give an idea of the population explosion in the capital, in 1970 there were 250,000 inhabitants in the city, and now there are almost 1,800,000. Of this number, more or less 80% of them live in the precarious periphery, without an infrastructure, without basic sanitation, without almost anything. It is a series of land occupations creating urban chaos. It is as if the public officials threw up their hands and said “Let's see if the people can turn it around.”
And the people, in their wisdom, are turning it around, building their shacks near the streams and stringing improvised electric power lines from one shack to another.
Many have come from the interior of the state, from the northeast, from all over, drawn by the dream of easily finding work here and by the fantasy of better living conditions. But the jobs are filled already, while immigration continues day after day, with no controls. They go out looking for new jobs on the land, cutting into the jungles, and no one does anything about it. Or almost no one, for the Church is there, quietly, yet there, nevertheless.
We have two teams of missionaries, living and working in different barrios, but dining together every day. Thus we create an Oblate missionary community.
Pedro Paulo and Peter Curran take care of a “missionary area” called Grande Victória with 50,000 inhabitants in five small communities established in recent years. This includes an enormous occupied area of 20,000 people who arrived a year ago. The team is organizing these people into five smaller groups.
Ednaldo and Bill live and work in an area called Tancredo Neves, some kilometres away. This area began 18 years ago and today has 70,000 residents. There are 7 communities, each with its chapel and small group of faithful, its Ministers of the Word, Ministers of the Eucharist, etc. These people have a traditional faith with many devotions, but without much formation and without a more inclusive vision of the Church as the People of God living in the world and engaged in it.
Our work thus far has been to accompany this welcoming and suffering people, trying to listen to their cries and to their worries. We began by visiting the sick and elderly, those who cannot come to the church. We are visiting the leaders, the coordinators and the animators of the various existing ministries. Through this initial contact, we are slowly learning the local culture and winning their confidence. We are also starting bible study groups in the homes of the various communities. And finally we are celebrating the Eucharist monthly in each community and periodically baptizing the children. During these years, they have never had a resident priest, only some religious of various orders who would come every so often.
Continuity and consistency were lacking because each visiting priest was orienting the people according to his own culture, spirituality and pastoral focus. In fact, the person who left the greatest impression on the people was an Augustinian sister who was greatly dedicated and greatly loved by all, and who worked with the people for the past 10 years.
The result of all this is that the people are theologically confused, pastorally wanting, and also dependent, in great part, on clergy from outside. This is the greatest challenge that we are facing here.
On May 23, we celebrated our first Oblate Day in Manaus in the yard of a neighbour. We began with a prayer and then we reflected on our pastoral and Oblate experiences in these first three months. We closed with a simple and beautiful Eucharist presided by Pedro Paulo who was celebrating one year of perpetual vows. And of course there was a festive meal.
There was consensus about the fact that our experience had begun well and has been very rewarding for each of us. We decided to continue our visits, our bible groups and the accompaniment of the small groups. Beyond that, we are gradually taking on more things. Pedro Paulo is already visiting a big hospital in the city's downtown twice a week. Peter Curran is beginning a bible study for the leaders of the area. Ednaldo is accompanying the reflections of the CRB and guiding the formation of Ministers of the Word in his area. Bill is taking part in the meetings of the Social Ministry of the archdiocese. Pedro Curran and Bill are soon going to help out a bit in the School of Faith and Politics in the second semester.
All four, in response to the call of the bishops, are helping with Masses in the city of Manaquiri, 50 km. from Manaus. That parish has a main church and 33 communities. There is a permanent team of six religious women taking care of the area.
We ask for your prayers that we might be able to respond with consistency to our missionary charism. (Nossas Notícias, June 2005)
The newly appointed Oblate provincial of the Colombo province in Sri Lanka, Fr. Clement WAIDYASEKARA, has been involved in a joint effort in the city of Batticaloa, along with Jesuit Fr. Gabriel Alfred, Redemptorist Fr. Shanthi Abeysingha, and the Rotary Club of Kandy in aiding those who live in St. Sebastian Parish, Puliyadikudah.
Upon visiting the ravaged area, it quickly became obvious that any action plan to help the residents had to come from the people themselves. Tsunami Rehabilitation Committees were established BY the people and FOR the people, with a cross-section of society represented in the committees themselves. The suggestions of the people were practical and down-to-earth.
Some of the principal aspects of the Action Plan involved the following:
Provision of Relief Items : cooked food, clothes, medicine, candles, matches, mosquito coils, mats, toys and soothers for the little children, etc., as well as dry rations, cooking utensils, buckets, and clothes. There was also the important service of offering comfort to the bereaved and praying with them.
School Books were distributed along with pencils, erasers, mathematical instrument boxes, school bags, uniform materials, etc.
House Reconstruction : About 170 houses were identified for reconstruction. Each committee has identified ten houses in each area and the owners are being provided with building materials. Labour is contributed by local carpenters, etc. This method enables the affected victims to come back home, to an area of about 250 square feet, and start life anew.
Self-Help/Income-generating Project.Many of the victims are carpenters, masons, auto mechanics, or business people and many are self-employed. They have lost all their tools and equipment. 450 fishermen have suffered due to the onslaught of the tsunami. 350 of them are hired fishermen working for about 100 boat owners. These boat owners have lost their boats and nets. Therefore, the committees offer a one-time grant to purchase boats and nets so that the other fishermen can get back to their normal work.
From the extent of the disaster, it is obvious that it will be many months and even years before life returns to some semblance of normality for the surviving victims of the tsunami.
Every day he comes face to face with human misery in its purest form. “We work under pressure. The kids come with all their suffering.” Drugs, AIDS, condoms, prostitution, police, dark and dangerous environments: these are the daily situations dealt with by a worker on the streets. His ability to listen and to welcome is undisputed. He undoubtedly gives healing comfort to the hearts of these youngsters who are searching for themselves. He does not judge them, nor does he condemn them. He is simply there for them. His attitude with the kids permits him to reach the best within them, that which no one else can see. “There is, unfortunately, much mental illness and fragile health.”
A few months ago, Father Clouâtre came to share his experience, simply and humbly, with members of the Oblate Missionary Centre in Montreal. His description of the type of work he has been doing for almost ten years in the “day to day downtown” made it possible to get a true picture of this man and this religious in the midst of the street kids. Some will say that the youngsters need to get a hold of themselves. Of course, but life does not offer the same opportunities to everyone. Handling life's problems is a gift for some but not for others; it's a necessity but it is not an absolute for all. Thanks to people such as Jules Clouâtre, who are involved in real life, they make a difference within a very difficult social situation. Very calmly he welcomes them with kindness and strength, a combination that the youngsters seem to appreciate. (Apostolat, Vol. 76, N° 4)
This “Perpetual Vow Preparation Program” takes place periodically to help young Oblates prepare to make their final vows during the coming 2 years. This year, it was organized by Fr. Jim BROBST, the outgoing superior of the Oblate House of Theology in Chicago.
Sharing their own knowledge and love of Oblate life were the program presenters: Oblate Fathers Frank DEMERS, Ron YOUNG and Harry WINTER.
The participating young Oblates illustrated the international character of the future Oblate presence in North America. The two scholastics from St. Charles Scholasticate in Ottawa were born in Vietnam (Quang VAN) and Poland (Peter NOWAK). The four scholastics from Oblate House of Theology in Chicago were born in the USA (Jim CHAMBERS, Joe DOWLING, and Juan AYALA) and in Mexico (Fernando VELÁZQUEZ). The three from Sexton House of Studies in San Antonio, TX, were born in Haiti (Quilin BOUZI) and Mexico (Porfirio GARCIA and Francisco GÓMEZ).
Following the vow preparation program, the young Oblates traveled to Willimantic, CT, to begin a seven-day “directed retreat” at the Immaculata Oblate Retreat Center. The retreat was directed by members of the retreat house staff.
At the end of the retreat, all the remaining U.S. scholastics joined the retreatants for discussions on the changing cultural identity of the U.S. Province. This periodic meeting of scholastics was facilitated by Fr. Seámus FINN. Also present were the U.S. Provincial, Fr. Louie LOUGEN and Councilors Frs. Dick SUDLIK and Bill MORREL. Oblate formators Frs. Mark DEAN and Tom HORAN were likewise in attendance.
“It is in the heart of this fertile Richelieu Valley that the Oblates chose land suitable for the sowing of young plants, called to multiply and to scatter to the four corners of the world to announce the gospel to the poor and to the oppressed. Pioneers came to lay the foundations of a structure that would be a fortress of the faith in our midst. Among these courageous Oblates, there is a team of brothers, some of whose names are well known: Alfred DESROCHERS, Paul ROUSSEAU, Claude CARDINAL, Noël BRETON and Philibert BOUTIN, to mention only a few. There came next a team of educators; we mention here Fathers Uldéric ROBERT, Oscar SYLVAIN, André GUAY, Fernand AUBIN and Paul-M. GERMAIN… These, in a way, were among the first workers of the Good News. They had come here to pass on this message to future missionaries who were called in their own turn to sow the message of the Risen Christ. And among these first young scholastics, we must mention Father Léopold LANCTÔT.
The brothers' workshops
“With the passing of the years, Richelieu changed. In fact, this house, which was first of all meant to be a scholasticate for philosophy and theology, saw the winds change in 1942. At that point, the novices from Ville de LaSalle moved to Richelieu. The venture continued to develop with the opening of several workshops where many brothers shared their energies in service of the Congregation and of the Church, all the while bringing in some revenues for the house. The press, the tailor shop and the magazine Apostolatquickly became exciting focal points for the Province of Eastern Canada. Besides producing printed material and cassocks, these workshops focused on preparing brothers for far-off missions. Brother Ernest BEAUDOIN was the chief builder of the main entrance of the house as well as of the entry stairway, built of wrought iron. Among the brothers, Claude LANGLOIS, still a missionary in Lesotho, was a leader.
A place of solitude
“Philosophy and theology gave way to the novitiate, a place of prayer and preparation for religious life. The scholastic novices, of course, had an important place in the house. But we must not forget the role of the brothers who lived in a unified novitiate after the closure of Ville LaSalle and Sainte-Agathe. The group of brothers at Notre-Dame novitiate made up a vital force in service of the community. It was a young, dynamic and willing team.
“Oblate life at Richelieu was affected by various events, especially, in 1950, the Holy Year. The frequent visits of missionaries passing through attracted the attention of youth. These were very productive years for the spiritual life. Teachers and formators worked zealously with the young members. There were Paul BAZINET and André SAVARD, as well as the lamented Donat LEVASSEUR. It was in 1954 that those in charge decided that there should be a separate novitiate for brothers.
“There was a new movement of the Spirit in the Church. There was more openness, especially on the part of the brothers. They renewed themselves by updating their skills and renewing their spiritual roots. They took on an apostolic and missionary role.
The beginning of the 1970's
“A change of roles. The once flourishing novitiate began to come apart with the peaceful Revolution. The wind of change blew once again, creating a few misgivings, but it was, in the end, advantageous. Four autonomous groups came into being at Richelieu.
“With the more frequent return of foreign missionaries, it was necessary to organize at Richelieu a provincial infirmary. The community has never neglected anything to assure the well-being of its retired members. It is, moreover, a much needed service at the present moment.
Open to groups
“After the closure of the press and the departure of the offices of Apostolat, the building that had housed the workshops took on a new purpose. After some renovations, the Notre-Dame Pavilion became a centre open to groups and communities looking for an appropriate place for reflection and retreat. Persons from different places come to Richelieu for a retreat and for spiritual or professional formation. The hotel opens its doors to religious, to priests and to others who are looking for formation and renewal. It is a new apostolate for Richelieu.”
A third page is being written
These pages of history jogged the memories of those invited to the 75 th anniversary of the Oblate house at Richelieu. A third page, still blank, remains to be written. So said Raymond CARRIÈRE, the organizer of the commemorative celebration. The mayor of Richelieu, Raymond Guertin, the provincial of the Province of Notre-Dame-du-Cap, Jean-Claude GILBERT, Dominique LEVASSEUR and Julien DE LAFONTAINE were full of praise and optimistic about the future of this Oblate symbol in the region of Richelieu. (Apostolat Vol. 76 N° 4)
Jim comes to the General Administration from the United States Province. An “old Roman”, he is no stranger to the Eternal City. As a member of the General Formation Committee for several years and of the team that prepared the Immense Hope Summary, he has returned often to Rome. Thus, he has been able to keep up his knowledge of Italian.
Immediately prior to coming to Rome, Jim was director of the U.S. Province prenovitiate in Miramar, Florida. In fact, much of his Oblate service has been in the field of formation (25 years). He has chaired the Oblate Media Board in the former U.S. Central Province and for several years was editor of the regional newsletter. More recently, he was webmaster of the U.S. province web site: www.omiusa.org.
Ron LaFramboise has completed 12 years of service at the General House in Rome. Before coming to Rome to serve as Administrative Assistant to Fr. Daniel CORIJN, he served for many years in Japan, in parishes, in formation, and as provincial. While in Rome, he was superior of the General House community during the harried years of remodelling the house and preparing for the canonization of the Founder. For the past seven years, he has been part of the Information Service.
He returns to minister in the United States province for the first time in 42 years.
70TH Anniversaries of Vows
65TH Anniversaries of Vows
60TH Anniversaries of Vows
60TH Anniversaries of Ordination
50TH Anniversaries of Vows
25TH Anniversaries of Ordination
“We 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
Fax: (39) 06 39 37 53 22 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editing Team: James Allen (director), Raúl Castro, Antonino Bucca
Printing: Rajapakse Francis Rabindra
Circulation: Théophile Le Page
Print this document