No. 459 November 2006
Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, the Oblate archbishop of Cotabato, on September 20, wrote the following personal reflections upon the controversy over the Holy Father’s academic discourse in Regensburg, Germany.
I have not made any public comment on the Pope’s lecture on Faith and Reason at the University of Regensburg, except to my own Clergy and Religious. I have read the Pope’s lecture twice -- very closely. I have analyzed its tone, its premise, its main issue, the way it is developed, its conclusions. It is closely reasoned. It was given to scholars in an academic setting.
As a former academic, frankly I am completely shocked and bewildered by the vehement reaction to the Pope’s lecture from various quarters of the Muslim world. TV has shown effigies of Benedict XVI being burned as an enemy of Islam. Churches in several countries have been attacked. The murder of a religious Sister in Somalia has been speculated on as a possible retaliation. I even surmised that the violent reactions could unfortunately confirm the wrong belief of many non-Islam people that Islam may, indeed, be a religion of violence. If this were so, it would be a great pity.
But most certainly Pope Benedict XVI is definitely not anti-Muslim. This I declare unequivocally from personal knowledge. I have talked with him several times when he was yet a Cardinal. I have referred issues of inter-religious dialogue to him. He was the closest and most trusted theological adviser of Pope John Paul II. I personally know that he shared the vision of the late Pope John Paul II with regard to inter-religious dialogue.
I know that he has the greatest respect for peoples of different religions, particularly of Islam. Together with the Pontifical Commission on Inter-Religious Dialogue, he collaborated with the late Pope on the many significant papal documents and events that had significantly promoted respectful dialogue with Islam. He thought that dialogue with the great religious traditions had a lot to do with the deeply rooted cultural traditions of various peoples.
That is why I was not surprised when he placed the Pontifical Commission on Inter-Religious Dialogue under the Vatican office on Culture - a move that was misinterpreted by some critics as a down grading of the process of dialogue. I am sure that he thought of the move as enriching the process and emphasizing the role of culture in inter-religious dialogue. One can see his emphasis on cultural religious values in his insistence that Europe recognize this in its Constitution. One can likewise see this point clearly in his lecture at the University of Regensburg.
Further, he continues to regard the continuing war in Iraq with great disapproval. In his own academic style he severely and negatively judged the anti-Islam cartoons in Denmark. In doctrine and in practice, he certainly holds great respect for Islam and its believers. With his great predecessor, Pope John Paul II, he holds in common the conviction that violence is not to be justified in the name of religion, Christian or otherwise. The tragic blunders of religious belief in this regard have littered history with thousands of corpses.
The one fault the Pope could have had at the University of Regensburg is his "political" simplicity. Some might call it "naïveté." Certainly I see him as a simple person without any worldly political sophistication, a scholar "without guile". Perhaps he believed that everyone would understand his use of a medieval text in its proper context -- as a simple starting point for a wide-ranging scholarly discussion on the need for the West to restore faith and religious values into its secular mentality. Such restoration has to be done, he says, if the West were to successfully enter into dialogue with the great cultural religious traditions of peoples. Here I suppose he would include such traditions as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.
We now know, of course, from his message of September 16, that was covered live by Al-Jazeera that he does not endorse the medieval text. In fact, we are told that the German word that he used in his lecture to describe the statement of the Byzantine Emperor really means "crude."
I pray that things will settle down quickly with the apology so humbly expressed by this simple yet learned religious leader.
The purpose of the meetings is to offer Oblate formators some opportunities to improve their service in the area of first formation.
The recent meeting focused on three themes:
1. Human formation. This theme was facilitated by Father Michael MORRISSEY. It touched upon several aspects related to human formation, especially the anthropology of a religious vocation and leadership. The subject kept us busy for nine days and, as happens in similar situations, the time was not sufficient to handle other subjects of general interest.
2. Oblate charism. Father Frank SANTUCCI, the facilitator for this theme, focused on helping the participants share and deepen their way of passing on the Oblate charism to young men in formation. They were asked to work according to different levels of formation: those working in prenovitiate, those working in the novitiate and finally, those working on the post-novitiate level. This theme also took up nine days.
3. Oblate mission today. Between the two principal themes, Father Oswald FIRTH, first Assistant General, helped us take a look at the totality of Oblate mission today. The idea of this theme, covered rather briefly, but which should be taken up again in a future meeting in a deeper and more complete way, was meant to help formators not lose from sight the fundamental objective of formation, the mission.
On the evening of the 29th, Father General joined us in Aix to be with us for the last day of the meeting. On the morning of the 30th, he gave us an overview of the whole Congregation, especially since the last General Chapter and the challenges facing the Congregation today. The meeting closed with a solemn celebration in the Church of the Mission, presided by Father General, and by a festive meal, followed by a celebration with the team at the International de Mazenod Center and the local Oblate community. (Paolo ARCHIATI, Assistant général)
Father Lelièvre, born in France, spent his Oblate life (1903-1956) in Quebec, but he preached in all the French-speaking parishes in Canada and the United States. He was appreciated and loved by the people, especially the working classes, and he was known everywhere as the apostle of the Sacred Heart and the mercy of God.
Besides having reaped honor for the Congregation by a long career as a missionary, seminary superior and bishop in three dioceses, Cardinal Guibert played an important role in the early Congregation in two areas. Without him, the life of Bishop de Mazenod would have been entirely different. Disillusioned as Vicar General by the opposition of the clergy of Marseille to his reforms, and by that of the civil authorities of Marseille and Paris to his title of bishop of Icosia, Bishop de Mazenod wanted to withdraw to an Oblate house outside of Marseille and undoubtedly resume, very discretely, the life of a missionary. Better than others, Father Guibert understood this tragic situation which he called “appalling” and “a situation whose consequences are so important that it’s a matter of life and death” for the Founder, “of his freedom and that of his fatherland.” Within a few weeks in Paris, in 1835-36, he obtained from the king and from the government recognition of the title of the bishop of Icosia. It was also Father Guibert who was one of the principal designers of the Congregation’s orientation toward foreign missions. Already in 1831, he told the Founder that it was important to establish as soon as possible an overseas foundation. He himself was ready to leave for America in 1832, and for either Corsica or America in 1834. Furthermore, it was he who, upon his departure for Corsica in 1834, was the first Oblate to work beyond the continent.
The cardinal’s merits were recognized by the Oblates and also by popes and some bishops. He was given several titles: “the glory of the Congregation,” “the light of our society,” “the most illustrious son of the city of Aix,” “one of the glories of the Church and of our dear religious family,” one of the most illustrious and meritorious sons of Bishop de Mazenod, “a great bishop,” and the “burning torch of our Congregation.”
The book contains 200 pages of biography and about 250 pages of letters, especially to Oblates from 1823 until 1841. A hundred or so other letters, dating from 1841 until 1886, will be published later on the Oblate website, www.omiworld.org.
To order this volume, write to:
Rev. Theophile LE PAGE, O.M.I.
One of the director’s tasks is to determine ObComPhil’s goal, specific objectives and programs. This he did by asking the different districts, through their district superiors, to elect\name a representative to the Obcom committee organized for the purpose.
The committee met on July 19. It determined that the ObcomPhil’s goal is “To gather and disseminate significant mission initiatives and developments using various forms of media”. It identified two specific objectives, namely, “To serve as liaison with the Oblate Communications Service of the General Administration” and “To help facilitate communication among Oblates and their various publics.” It intends to carry out the following programs: Improve the current website and the Province’s newsletter, provide multi-media documentation, serve as the news bureau of the OMI Philippine Province, and be a link with local, national and international media organizations. (Jaime del Rosario)
As part of the promotion of vocations, he spent the past year visiting Oblate ministries in three states. While such visits are sometimes fraught with disappointments and a lack of response on the part of young people, nevertheless, he was pleased with the interest shown by his brother Oblates.
The Oblates in India have found that Vocation Camps are one way to arouse interest in potential candidates. This year, there were four successful camps held in various parts of the delegation.
After the camps, he visited the families of selected students to get to know the background of the young men.
On June 15, the new academic year began with the Eucharistic Celebration presided by Fr. Missian Pathinathan, delegation superior. There are now 26 new students in the Oblate Juniorate in Gnanalayam, Perembakkam.
The city of Quetta in Beluchistan Province has a population of about three million. The Catholic community of about 30,000 is in the care of the apostolic prefect Sri Lankan born Father Victor Gnanapragasam, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. “It is not easy to profess the Christian faith in a country where Christians are often treated as second class citizens and where religious minorities are often targeted by radical Muslim groups,” local Catholics said in a letter to Fides.
The Apostolic prefect also encounters difficulties: “I cannot visit the communities very often but I know that despite hostility and difficulties, they continue to gather regularly to pray and listen to the Word of God”.
Father Gnanapragasam is assisted by 9 priests and 20 women religious, Franciscans, Dominicans, Good Shepherd Sisters and Sisters of St Joseph. The prefecture runs a school open to Christians and non, it has a Home for people in urgent need of help, orphans, abandoned mothers, very poor families.
Besides the OMI missionaries of the Pakistan delegation, founded in 1973 and today a community of 29, in Quetta there is also a community of six Salesians. For years the city of Quetta, only 100 km away from the border with Afghanistan, has been a haven for refugees and the Catholic religious provide them with assistance. The Salesians in Quetta run a parish with about 1200 Catholic families, a youth centre for catechesis, recreation and professional training for poor children. (Agenzia Fides 28/9/2006)
On Sundays and on public holidays, thousands of the amahs can be seen throughout the city, gathering to socialize wherever they can find an available location. They find that and more at Notre Dame and St. Alfred’s parishes. Both have active Filipina communities. Oblates in both are actively involved in reaching out to them and making them feel at home.
Immigrant workers, as has often been pointed out, are also missionaries to their host countries. A case in point could be seen recently at Notre Dame parish. Filipina parishioners had invited their employers to a special program as part of Evangelization Sunday, September 24. The hour-long event included a welcome by Father Slawek KALISZ and members of the parish council, and songs by the choir. But the high point of the program was when the domestic helpers introduced their employers. Employees thanked their employers for their kindness and for giving them the chance to work. The employers in turn responded and said they were grateful to have reliable and faithful people as part of their families. Some also said they had been curious where their maids went every Sunday. One Chinese employer said the reason she came to the event was because it was only her domestic helper’s kindness that got her through her mother’s protracted illness and death. There were several tearful interchanges. Over thirty people in all, employers and their families, were in attendance--none of whom are Christian. Conversations continued over refreshments. It was a creative form of evangelization. Hospitality and affirmation!
Currently, Luis has three weekly radio programs. On Sundays, he has a Mass on a three hour program entitled: The People, Religion and Life. On Radio Univision, he has a program entitled: Your Catholic Companion. Luis answers questions from radio listeners. The program is heard on 62 stations. He gives a daily meditation on radio station K-Love, a music station in Southern California. Furthermore, four days a week, he broadcasts via satellite on television and radio on a program entitled: El Sembrador (The Sower). El Sembrador is broadcast throughout Latin America, Spain and the United States. He has recorded various audio cassettes and compact discs. His latest recording is entitled: The Ten Commandments: Ten Paths to Freedom. All this is in Spanish.
Originally from Spain, Luis came to California in 1954 where he worked in various parishes before being elected General Councillor. He is well known in the Los Angeles and San Fernando areas for his work in promoting bi-lingual education and other services for poor immigrants from Mexico and other countries in Latin America.
Working out of several different hotels and restaurants, Tom finds a table and chair and sets up his sign with the cryptic tag line: “Hungry for conversation? Try the Listener’s Corner with Fr. Tom.” It proves intriguing enough to pique peoples’ curiosity. He spends anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour with each person who stops in. These aren’t counselling sessions, just an opportunity for sometimes harried, lonely people to share without being judged. After they have spoken, Tom asks, “Do you want me to respond to this or are you satisfied with just sharing?” Usually a response is asked for and so one is given, along with the offer of prayers and sometimes the suggestion that they may need further help. “A couple of times people said that the conversation wasn’t helping them. That was all right too!” he added with a chuckle.
For a while, he worked alone; however, a Lutheran minister was so inspired by the work he was doing that she asked to accompany him. Tom says, “It worked out better with the two of us being involved even though she found it somewhat difficult at first. You never know who’s going to come and she had some fears; she felt better working with another person. Since some people felt more comfortable going to her because she was a woman or because of religious differences, it was good having her there. She was very perceptive and saw things I couldn’t. Sometimes a person would want to talk to both of us at the same time.”
Self-effacing to a fault, Tom maintains, “It’s nothing spectacular. No great miracles. I suppose it helps a few people. There were some who came back to Church because of their experience. A few who came were between sessions at the psychiatric hospital; some did well but others had to go back in. There were those who were suicidal and said it helped to have a person to come and talk to.” As with much of our ministry, however, the longer-term effects are not seen.
Tom’s ministry is also a good place to discover unexpected goodness in others. “I never asked for money, although some would give me something once in a while. I didn’t give money to people either because I was there for conversation – to help by listening. There was one fellow though who kept coming back and sometime he would ask for money, saying he was hungry. One day I told him I would go with him to buy something, although I wondered what he would do with the food. He sold it. He sold what we had bought and used the money to drink, so I realized it wasn’t much good to give him that kind of help. There was a woman at the hotel though, who had the mind of a ten year old, and whenever she was in trouble, this man was the one who would help her. So there he was with all his drinking and troubles and he was able to reach out and help someone else!” (Harley MAPES in INFO Lacombe)
Nueva Fortuna is a settlement formed from some land occupied about three years ago by a group of local people who had no land. These properties, probably illegally acquired, were abandoned by their Brazilian landowner who had been brought to justice in his own country for involvement with drug trafficking and other crimes.
Soon afterwards, a new usurper appeared on the scene, this time a member of the military. Taking advantage of his influential contacts, he claimed ownership of the land. For the past three years of conflict, he has been harassing the farmers and trying by every means possible to evict them.
Last December, the missionaries at the Saint Joseph Chapel near Nueva Fortuna visited the village. On a Sunday, the provincial, Father Aníbal CAZURIAGA, celebrated Mass there for the first time, in the shade of a big tree. Coincidentally, at that time, the National Institute for Rural Land Development, had decided to carry out land distribution, thus officially creating the location as a village. After three years of difficult conflict, there was a new reason to be hopeful, so much so that Father Aníbal spoke to the people of Nueva Fortuna about Saint Eugene, telling them that he was a missionary priest and later on, a bishop, who was always concerned with defending the rights of the poorest and the most abandoned, especially those who in his time worked in rural areas. He invited them to commend themselves to the saint’s intercession.
Everyone was impressed by the life and teachings of the Founder. Very soon afterwards, some of them began to talk about the need to have a chapel for the new community. Therefore, Father Aníbal asked them if they might want to have Saint Eugene as their patron saint. They became very enthusiastic at the suggestion.
At the closing of a Mission, some representatives of the community brought a note to the parish priest, asking for the setting up of a new chapel. He laid down some conditions. They would have to build the chapel; they would have to begin with Sunday celebrations; elect a coordinator; have a committee, etc. By the month of April, everything was ready.
And so it was that Father Aníbal, along with some youth from Lambaré, went there a few days before May 21 to organize and prepare for the first patronal feast with the people who were already praying the novena prayers each day. They also brought along a statue of Saint Eugene to give to the community.
In spite of the rain and cold of those days, everyone eagerly participated in the activities of the mini-Mission. On Saint Eugene’s feast day, a large number of people took part. Many came from neighboring communities. There were 44 baptisms and a wedding.
The people of the village, under the protection of Saint Eugene, were happily ready to continue working to develop the community in all aspects: human, social, and religious.
In this way, the sacred image of Saint Eugene stayed there, smiling and satisfied in the midst of those humble and struggling farmers from the distant and abandoned settlement of Nueva Fortuna. It’s as if he were encouraging them with these words: “And you farm hands and peasants! What are you in the eyes of the world? No mater how valuable your work may be, your worth is determined simply by the strength of your arms; and if those who hire you pay any attention to the sweat of your brow, distasteful as it is to them, it is only because they wish to see it enrich the earth.” (Comunicaciones, agosto 2006)
The program was developed to carry out the objective of the workshop:
1. First day: Welcome and personal introductions. The first presentation was on the theme: “Why we have come together: the objective of the meeting and the expectations of the participants.” (Loudeger)
2. Second day: There was a sharing of experiences in carrying out the task of a local superior: lights and shadows in this service. (Loudeger)
3. Third and fourth days: the task of the local superior according to the Oblate charism. (Rubén Elizondo and Roger Hallée)
4. Fifth and sixth days: techniques for animation and group dynamics. (Profesor Héctor Jiménez and Gilberto Piñón).
This first workshop on leadership for local superiors was, in fact, a good experience of international community life for the participants, superiors, and community animators in their respective Units and in the different aspects of Oblate life in Latin America. Everyone went home satisfied with the experience.
I was telling you about 13th Street.
My young friends who were involved in armed robberies have not committed any more crimes. In France, we say: “touche du bois” (Knock on wood!) Saint Paul became a Jew among the Jews and a Greek among the Greeks. You have to become a bandit with the bandits in order to save at least one of them!
We meet on Fridays with some of the women and two young men to meditate on a bible passage, to pray and to get organized. One of the two, Edicarlos, 16 years old, has learned to paint on tiles which he sells for 10 reais. He is going to begin teaching this to some of the teenagers on the streets so that they can take care of their own needs without having to steal. His brother, Edimaicon, 15 years old, is a big soccer fan. He is pulling together a team of boys who are younger than 15. Dona Juracy is teaching some young girls to make necklaces and bracelets of pearl or wild seeds. Dona Deisy is working with the young children’s ministry. She takes care of some pregnant women and is following up on the development of children under 5 in about 20 families.
The “boca de fumo” (sale of drugs) continues, but quietly. We have managed to get rid of the “devil” of violence, but we are locking horns with another devil, alcoholism. There are no men taking part in our meetings. When they come home from work, if they are lucky enough to have a job, they go to the corner tavern. It’s a nightmare for the families. Some of the women in our prayer group have already considered leaving their husbands.
I’m starting another war. My weapons are prayer and friendship. But I need the support of the community, the wives, the families. They have to want to get out of this predicament. For the moment, they are not interested: “Drinking is our only pleasure!” I’ve already spent two hours with one of them. Since we have had some success against armed violence, I am held in some esteem. That makes things a bit easier. It’s a new challenge for me and I am not prepared. You have to learn on the job.
In the “Carlos Marighella” neighborhood, there is a small community of four sisters who live among the people in the same conditions. That’s not easy! Last week, at three in the morning, three men tried to break down their doors and windows. The poor women wept and prayed and mixed their Hail Marys with their Our Fathers. Finally some Christians whom they telephoned came and the men fled. Now they take turns sleeping.
So many things to do. I don’t even have time to grow old! When the Lord tells me, “That’s enough for now,” then I’ll stop. But since my health is good….
Father General had come to Congo for the closing of the jubilee year which had begun in the capital, Kinshasa, in February and which continued in the diocese of Isangi in the eastern province. During the Mass, he received the first vows of six novices. On the prior evening, 15 postulants were admitted to the novitiate.
Seventy-five years ago, on July 12, 1931, the Belgian missionary, Eudore HUBERT, arrived in Ipamu in what is now the diocese of Idiofa. On Sunday, August 13, 2006, on the plaza in front of Kankwan College in Idiofa, the Oblates remembered the founding work of the Belgian and Dutch Oblates. Bishop Louis MBWOL, who retired as bishop of Idiofa in May, presided at the Mass as the oldest Congolese Oblate. He was joined by Bishop Louis Nzala, bishop of Popkabaka, and apostolic administrator of Idiofa, as well as by about 60 Oblates and diocesan priests.
During this Mass, the Superior General received the perpetual vows of nine Oblates: Gabriel KINZE and Thomas MUKIRAMFI from DRC, Wenceslas IMBIRA from Madagascar, and Frédéric BIZAMA and Jean-Georges ZYILHOUBE from Cameroon. The four others are Nigerians belonging to the Oblate province of Cameroon: John-Francis EKPO, Gabriel OBI, Martin OBIKARA and Peter OSEKWUTE.
The Superior General spoke of the internationality of the Congregation as a most important value during a meeting of about sixty Oblates and novices at the retreat house in Ifwanzondo on August 14. During a forum on Saturday, August 12, in the conference hall at the Lankwan College in Idiofa, Father Steckling had already underlined the international contribution of the Congolese Oblates. He noted that the Oblate province of Congo is young, full of life, and rich in vocations. It has sent missionaries to ten countries while, at the same time, the members dedicate themselves to the poor in both the city and the countryside, in the archdiocese of Kinshasa and the dioceses of Idiofa, Kikwit, Isanti, and soon, Lolo, as well as in the mission of Angola, in Namacunde and in the capital, Luanda.
He also mentioned the involvement of Congolese Oblates in intellectual research, especially at the Saint Eugene de Mazenod Institute in Kinshasa, which promotes the study of missiology, philosophy and theology, in the light of the inculturation of the faith.
Moving on to Kikwith on August 17, Father Steckling greeted Bishop Edouard Mununu, the local bishop, who thanked the Oblates for their work in his diocese and who asked for prayers for Congo at the critical moment of waiting for election results. Then Father General went to visit the central prison where Father Leo DEVISSCHER is chaplain. He completed his visit by stopping by the Oblate communities in Kinshasa.
Radio Tomisa, the diocesan radio station in Kikwit, broadcast Father Steckling’s comments on the human and Christian qualities of the Congolese people with whom the Oblates carry out their ministry.
The Congress organising committee prepared the programme after a joint meeting with the Provincial council in June when the issues to be discussed were debated. They organised the way issues would be presented and discussed during the congress, as well as the presenters. The Congress organising committee also did a wonderful job of ensuring powerful Congress liturgies, personalised congress packs for each participant, great banners and posters, colourful decorations and the availability of information technology facilities including video projection, computers and power point facilities.
The Congress was facilitated by Brother Michael Burke, CFC, who played a major role in ensuring that the proceedings ran smoothly and was instrumental in developing creative approaches to reflection sessions on the various issues.
Most of the programme was given over to presentations and discussion about the six current priorities of the province: youth ministry, province unity, financial sustainability, the Zimbabwe mission, formation and restructuring of the South African Provinces
The Provincial, Fr. Stuart BATE’S keynote address occupied the main part of Monday’s proceedings. It was a comprehensive document which attempted to situate the present context of the Oblates’ missionary activity within the history of the Natal province which played such a major, and often overlooked, role in the history of the Church in Southern Africa. Using the leitmotif “Failure and Vindication” applied by Oblate historian Father Howard St George to the work of Bishop Allard, Stuart showed how the struggles of the early missionaries, often much criticised by the Founder who placed them here, led to a wonderful harvest of souls as the Church was implanted throughout Southern Africa. “Failure and Vindication” shows how God the Father sends the Holy Spirit in power to transform our weak efforts in collaborating in the Mission of Christ. It is a manifestation of the Sequela Christi in our lives.
The rest of the address traced the way in which the Province had come to its present missionary strategy as a result of the Immense Hope project and the work of the current administration in distilling this into a set of six priorities which are the province’s current focus. The purpose of the Congress was to present this work to the whole province and to ask that members own it or make suggestions for adaptation. Once adopted, the intention is to call on members to offer their gifts, resources and services, insuring that this plan becomes reality. (Natal Province Newsletter, August-September 2006)
Coming from eight different countries, the participants had a real international and intercultural gathering. Sharing their personal situation and that of their provinces was on the program, as well as sports, mountain hiking and board games. The ten students were accompanied by the Italian and the German provincials, Fathers Marcello Sgarbossa and Thomas Klosterkamp. Their newly appointed Superiors, Fathers Stefan Obergfell (Lahnstein) and Adriano Titone (Vermicino), were also with them. Plans are being made to have more of such meetings in the future.
Heavenly Art was an exposition of paintings, sculptures, photos and exhibits, together with workshops in clay, on “skin language” and on how to gain a new consciousness of one’s body (endobiophilia). There was also musical entertainment on the organ in the Church of the Mission.
The magic of this experience comes from the union between the wonderful space that is the Carmelite cloister, the Mazenod Hall, and the Church of the Mission, dating from the seventeenth century together with the exhibition of works of art and the presence of the artists themselves. That facilitates a vital conversation with the 900 visitors, citizens of Aix and tourists, and especially this year, with people who came this year from the world over for the Cézanne exhibition at the Granet museum, just 200 meters down the street.
The inauguration on August 17 was honored by the presence of about 40 friends, gallery owners, artists, commissioners from other exhibitions as well as by Oblates from the local community and by others from all over the world, come to Aix for an international meeting.
There were six sessions from 5 p.m. until midnight, permitting an adventure illuminated by the evening daylight and, at night, by special lighting. There were moments for meditation with musical interludes provided by Yves Saintillon on the organ of the Church of the Mission, along with the illumination of the choir and the oval cupola (one of three such cupolas in France).
Once again, the guest book signed by visitors gave witness to the feelings of peace and serenity one finds in the cloister’s passageways and garden.
For the future, Heavenly Art leads into the great Mission of Aix that will see Oblates involved with the city for three years, in partnership with the parishes and the services of the local Catholic Church. July 2007 was dedicated to meeting with those taking part in different summer festivals (organizers, technicians, artists). The cloister and the Church of the Mission will once more offer to the citizens of Aix and those attending the festivals this new experience. The challenge for Heavenly Art will be to make known its own gifts and its experience.
The provincial of France, Father Bernard DULLIER, suggested that the pastor approach the community in Aix where he was offered a plaster bust, a copy of a bust made by De Maurel, a die caster from Marseille.
During the celebration of St. Vincent de Paul, on the 24th of September 2006, St. Eugene de Mazenod found a place once again in the heart of the church that is called the “The Reformed” on the Cannebière in Marseille, where he had blessed the first stone of the building in 1850, and where he wanted to build the Cathedral. About ten Oblates were present for the occasion together with a large and diverse crowd
In his homily, Archbishop Georges Pontier, the metropolitan Archbishop of Marseille, focused on the example of our founder during his sermon at the Madeleine in 1813, to emphasize the place that we must to give to the poorest in our pastoral ministry.
At the end of the celebration, Sophie de Boisgelin, a descendent of St. Eugene’s family, unveiled the bust. A presentation about our founder, prepared by Father Michel-Marie Zanotti Sorkine, pastor of the parish, was read by Brother Benoît DOSQUET. This presentation recalled, notably, how Bishop de Mazenod worked hard so that the city would have a railway station; that he blessed the arrival of water at the Palace of Longchamp, which greatly changed the life of the people of Marseille; that he spared no efforts during the cholera epidemics; that he devoted himself body and soul so that the Church might respond to the new needs of a city in full development.
After Archbishop Pontier had blessed the bust of St. Eugene de Mazenod, the celebration continued honoring artists by the blessing of a pieta of the 17th century which had belonged to Charles Trenet; the ceremony closed with the blessing of a chapel dedicated to the apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin to St. Catherine Labouré.
Buon Giorno! Benvenuti ad una sessione a Roma. (Good morning! Welcome to a meeting in Rome.)
Words such as these in Italian welcomed us to the Bishops’ School, a study seminar for newly appointed bishops of mission territories held to give us some valuable formation for our apostolate.
Organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the seminar gathered 99 bishops in Rome for a two-week course from Sept 11th through Sept. 23rd. The course was held at the Pontifical College of St. Paul the Apostle. The rector of the college is an Oblate, Fr. Josef Kuc.
The participating bishops came from 44 countries: 39 from 18 African countries, 46 from 15 Asian countries, 11 from eight countries in the Americas (including Bishop Gary Gordon from Whitehorse and I), and three from as many countries in Oceania. Two of the other bishops were Oblates: Norbert Andradi of Amuradhapura, Sri Lanka, and Bejoy D’Cruze of Khulna, Bangladesh.
Conferences were given for the most part by cardinals and bishops with years of experience in the Church. In past sessions Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, gave conferences. The opening conference was given by Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who was present for most of the session.
The schedule was full, with two presentations, time for questions, group discussions and a plenary each day. The presentations covered the three-fold role of bishops to teach, govern and sanctify; the workings of the many different dicasteries, relations with various segments of society in the world as well as organizations within the church, and many other relevant topics.
Given that the Vatican has produced some documents on the role of women in the Church, I noted that there was no input from women, and suggested that for the future. A very valuable and appreciated aspect of the session was the opportunity to meet and share with bishops from all over the developing world. We were impressed by the faith and dedication of those bishops who face much more serious physical, economic, social, political and religious obstacles than we in North America.
On Sept. 17, most of the bishops made a pilgrimage to Assisi, while Gary and I went to Maria Taferl in Austria, overlooking the picturesque Danube river, to serve as resource persons for a MAMI pilgrimage there at the invitation of Fr. Josef Mathuni, OMI, the energetic 85 year old director of MAMI in Austria.
The course ended with a celebration of the Eucharist in St. Peter’s Basilica, a visit to the tombs of the popes, and an audience with Benedict XVI at his summer villa in Castel Gandolfo.
A closing reflection that wrapped up the seminar for us was that we as a Catholic Church have the best product in the world, but need to become more effective in sharing it with others. We left this seminar with much information to integrate, a broader and deeper sense of the universal Church, gratitude to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples under his Eminence Cardinal Ivan Dias for gathering us together, and many new friends and brothers among the episcopacy with whom we can share our journey as shepherds of Christ’s flock.
75 years of religious life
70 years of religious life
65 years of priesthood
60 years of religious life
50 years of religious life
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