No. 500 June 2010
Why a meditation on vocations right after finishing the week of prayer for Oblate vocations and various Church days in the same vein? It’s because this theme came up as I was preparing my report for the General Chapter. Also, I just returned from a meeting of religious about Europe, and several participants tenaciously stressed this point. But what is it really all about? The question could simply be posed in these words: what must we do as religious and as Oblates to attract vocations in the western world?
This question could arouse certain reactions. Perhaps some will ask for a more exact clarification of the word “vocations,” and of course, it is true that every baptized person has a vocation. And certainly, we cannot focus only on vocations to the consecrated life (priests, religious, etc.). Today more than ever, it is important to speak about the basic call to faith in Christ because it is this very faith that is in crisis. Other reactions will avow that religious congregations should not worry too much about survival; it’s the mission and the great needs of the world which should take first place and not our internal problems. Comments such as these express essential aspects of the vocation theme and should be taken seriously. We no longer life in an era in which we could imagine a Church in which the clergy and religious have to do almost everything, nor is it the moment to promote withdrawal into our institutional interests.
On the other hand, I believe it would be false escapism if, as religious and, concretely, as Oblates, we wanted to avoid the question of vocations to our congregation in the western world. How does the situation present itself? First we must say that, thanks be to God, there are vocations, even though they are few: two in one country, five or six in another, etc. Secondly, we must note that in some countries that formerly had many Oblates, there have been no vocations for years and years. Thirdly, we must realize that the situation is dramatic; if it does not change, the greater part of what today is a visible Oblate presence tomorrow will have disappeared.
In practical terms, how should we react? We have discovered valid means that can help us in these times of vocational shortage, and I see them as none other than great opportunities that the Holy Spirit is offering us. The first of these are the lay associates; there are always more Christians who enthusiastically take on the charism and the mission of the Oblates. Some of them, let’s say twenty or thirty of them, have already been incorporated into missionary communities in the west and are bring new energy. We need to continue in these directions! Nevertheless, this is no reason to evade our question. The Oblate mission cannot disregard the native vocations of western Europe, of the United States of American, of Canada, and of Australia.
So let us finally speak about these vocations. Dialoguing, meditating and praying, we will often find some ideas. For my part, I would like to propose three points.
The first comes from a recent conversation with cardinal, one of the pope’s councilors. He said that we must not hide from youth the fact that God asks everything of them. I wonder, isn’t this precisely what we avoid saying, and we are afraid because it would involve us as well? Yes, let’s face it: God asks everything of us.
They say that today’s youth find that particularly difficult. On the other hand, “God alone suffices” (Saint Teresa of Avila), and He alone can fulfill our lives. The missionary religious vocation, whether as a Brother or as a priest, demands everything: chastity in celibacy, poverty in the apostolate, obedience to go anywhere in the world and perseverance for a lifetime. All of this is a lot, but for that very fact, it makes happy the one who is called and responds.
The second point is that the call which comes to the young person suggests a commitment, not only in relation to God, but also with a community belonging to the Church. A young man is going to consider giving his life to God, becoming an Oblate, only if we offer him a missionary project for which it is worth giving his life. The project must respond to actual needs – like the lack of God and the absence of meaning, the instability of the family, unemployment, the condition of immigrants, etc. And it should not be a theoretical project but something already lived by an apostolic community that becomes a spiritual home for the one who feels himself called.
Third, we must repeatedly invite people to this project and do so with great faith, patience and prayer. We need to invite them publicly, during youth days and in parishes; we also need to invite them privately, walking with the young person who feels attracted, by means of frequent contact and conversations and nurturing in him an intense spiritual life. Along with vocations to Oblate life, normally various types of other vocations are going to appear from this effort, and they can all be expressed in the missionary activities of youth.
Oblate life and religious life are something bigger than we are. In the meeting of religious mentioned above, a journalist said that the consecrated life is the legacy of Europe. I think it can even be called the legacy of humanity. Vocations of this kind are most necessary because they indicate that humanity, which came from the loving hands of God, even though it has forgotten Him, is called to leap once again into His hands, responding to this love in freedom and pure gratitude. God alone can fill the human heart, and each religious vocation reminds us of that.
 Biannual meeting of the Union of Superiors General: www.vidimusdominum.info
Moderators for the Chapter
As the time for the 35th General Chapter approaches, the Chapter Commissioner, Fr. David KALERT, continues to complete and fine-tune the many lists and tasks that will make the Chapter run more smoothly when it begins on September 8 at the Casa LaSalle in Rome.
The list of those Oblates who will often be working “behind the scenes” to make the Chapter a success is just about complete. Among them are the three Oblates who will serve as moderators or chairpersons during the plenary sessions and who will work closely with the Steering Committee to plan each day.
Those who have accepted the role of moderator are Fathers Filadelfo ESTRELLA, Adriano TITONE, and Hipólito OLEA. Fr. Estrella has served at previous chapters, both as provincial of the Philippines and as a moderator in 2004. Fr. Adriano is currently superior of the Italian scholasticate at Vermicino; he has also served in the Delegation of Senegal. Fr. Hipólito (originally from Mexico City) is a missionary in the mountains of Guatemala.
The young and the less young
For those who like statistics, we can report that the capitulars will range from 35 years old to 74 years old. There will be six “senior” capitulars, 70 years old and above. Three of the capitulars are in their 30’s. The average age of the 89 capitulars will be 53.8 years.
During plenary sessions, there will be simultaneous translation into the three official languages of the Congregation: French, English, and Spanish. The capitulars were asked to indicate their preferred “working” language for the Chapter (especially for receiving documents or making interventions). The numbers are as follow: French – 31; Spanish – 12; English – 46.
Thanks for the Easter greetings. Concerning the return to classes, in the public sector, that will happen next week in the whole western department where Port-au-Prince is located. The schools in the rest of the country have been functioning since the month of February.
The Major Seminary will open its doors at the same time as the public schools. The Oblate scholastics in philosophy will join the diocesan students and other religious in shelters put at the disposition of the philosophy faculty of the Major Seminary by religious whose buildings had not been destroyed. Our philosophers will mostly live in tents, but the superiors are also planning to use rooms for those who are not afraid of sleeping inside the houses, just as I am doing at the moment.
Our theologian scholastics will also be brought together by CIFOR (Faculty of Theology run by the Conference of Religious of Haiti) for classes that will last for three weeks. Then they will return to their respective parishes where they had been assigned. They will do their homework there and will be brought together again for three weeks in June and again, in July, when the school year will officially end.
In that way, the religious and the diocesans will be able to take up their courses again and finish the year according to a special program organized by those in charge of the Major Seminary and the bishops on the one hand and by the administration of CIFOR and the religious superiors on the other hand.
The leaders of the Oblate province, in conjunction with the formators and the local superiors, have decided to occupy the site of the old novitiate at Blanchard, near the philosophy house, in view of having it function for the time being as the theology scholasticate. This site will not be sufficient. That is why the site of the philosophy house will also be used to lodge the theology house community. It’s an emergency situation. Everyone is trying to contribute something and to show good will. Happy Easter!
“The project is the initiative of the sodality of Ladies of St. Ann at Tshabong. Their objective is to help feed the poor people in the area, especially those who are infected/affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Just like everywhere else in southern Africa, HIV/AIDS is also a big problem here in Botswana. Besides antiretroviral treatment, HIV/AIDS patients also need good nutrition. The project is very helpful in this regard. Part of the produce is sold to the public for the self-maintenance of the project and for the subsistence of the mission.
“To develop the project and to give encouragement to the women involved, Father Vincent Mosenye and I started intensive fundraising activities. And a generous donor from England gave us an equivalent of P52,000.00 (US$ 7,700). The money enabled us to install the irrigation system and the net that protects the plants from direct sunlight, and also to put up the security fence to keep away the wandering animals.
“The regional Agric Officers are taking special interest in the project. They visit us regularly to monitor the progress and to offer advisory service free of charge. According to them, the project not only contributes to poverty reduction but it is also a shining example of how to reconcile rural populations with available resources in their areas.
“If vegetables can be grown successfully in the desert, how much more in the fertile gardens and fields of our Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho? This is an open challenge to everyone!” (Fr. Norbert Seabata Pepenene – Botswana in Maoblata May 2010).
The parish is celebrating this year its 50th jubilee. And the Oblates who continue to serve the parish have indeed continued to make “bricks” for the greater honor and glory of God.
The church of Nguéniène grew quickly. By 1965, there were 3,000 Christians and 800 catechumens, spread out in 53 chapels, with 5 primary schools for 350 boys and 121 girls. Seventeen years later, when Fr. Simonnet turned it over to the Oblates on April 10, 1977, St. Bernadette parish had 62 chapels in a radius of 20 Km. from Nguéniène, with about 5,954 Christians, an army of 80 brave and zealous catechists who had been formed in the school of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, Frs. Simonnet and Bouteiller.
The pioneer Oblates came from Italy in 1976. Since that time, 34 years ago, the numbers have continued to increase: 11,634, including the 223 baptized last year. The presence of God was so strong that 19 members of the parish community have answered a special call of the Lord: 11 priests; 5 religious Brothers; 3 religious women; and 1 consecrated layman. There are 21 youth preparing to respond to the Lord’s call in formation programs at home and abroad.
The presbyteral ordination of four young Oblates on the very day of the jubilee celebration was another tangible sign of God’s love. Frs. Vincent Diouf of Fayil, Jean Maurice Sène of Ndiémane, Jean Marie Sène of Ngas Kop et Paul David Niah of Loul Sèssene, were ordained by the imposition of the hands of the Archbishop of Dakar, His Eminence, Cardinal Théodore Adrien Sarr.
St. Bernadette parish is now led by the sixth Oblate pastor, Fr. Joseph DAMBA, assisted by his confreres, Frs. Stanislas DIOUF, Léon Iwélé and Vincent Diouf. (Fr. Enzo Abbatinali at www.omisen.net)
The displaced children of Mazyopa compound have been living in makeshift tents with their families for close to four years. The families moved into tents as a result of the City Council’s destroying their houses which were illegally built too close to the railway line on private land.
A week before the Holy Childhood group visited Mazyopa compound, a team of animators went to survey the place. On their way to Mazyopa compound, the animators were shocked to discover that the roads leading to the compound and those within were impassable; even a Land Cruiser in good condition got stuck in the mud.
The Holy Childhood group was accompanied by Fr Barnabas Simatende, Sch. Bro Michael Tembo, animators and some parishioners. Most of the children from Lusaka had never been exposed to such levels of suffering. Some could not believe that fellow children live in tents which they call their home. The experience of seeing such poverty in the Capital City was an eye opener to most of the children who come from privileged homes. As a gesture of support for their fellow children, the Holy Childhood group donated the following items: books, clothes, cleaning materials, blankets, and financial support. After the donations were made, all the children present sang and prayed for each other’s well-being. Indeed the children of Mazyopa need other children to help them hope for a better tomorrow. (Sch. Bro. Michael Tembo in OMI Zambia, March/April 2010)
Bishop-elect Victor was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in 1940. He professed his first vows as an Oblate in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1966. After his ordination, he served as a parish priest and as a member of Jaffna’s preaching team. In 1974, he became a parish priest in Faisalabad, Pakistan. From 1979 until 1985 and from 1997 until 2001, he was superior of the Delegation of Pakistan. In the intervening years, he also served in various parish and formation ministries. In 1987-1989, he studied psychology and spirituality in England and in Rome.
In 2001, he was named Prefect Apostolic of the newly erect Apostolic Prefecture of Quetta. The prefecture encompasses the entire province of Balochistan, which is 44% of the entire territory of Pakistan. Of the more than eight million inhabitants of the province, there are 29,355 (0.36%) Catholics in seven parishes, served by 13 priests (10 of whom are Oblates).
During the plenary session of the Central Government of 23 April 2010, Father General and his Council agreed to the request of the Indian Delegation and the recommendation of the Mother Province of Colombo to raise India to the status of a province. Father Francis NALLAPPAN, the present Delegation Superior, was named the First Provincial of the Province of India.
In 1968, Fr. M. Anthony Fernando, Provincial of Sri Lanka, sent two Oblates, namely Frs. Emmanuel MARIAMPILLAI and Stanislaus PHILIPS to begin an Oblate mission in the vast country of India, cradle of most world eastern religions and mother of ancient cultures and civilization. Frs. Emmanuel Mariampillai and Stanislaus Philips, set foot in this sub-continent on a hot summer day, June 29, 1968, and were officially accompanied by the then Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, Most Rev. Dr. R. Arulappa, to Kancheepuram, the Rome of Hindus, a mission in the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, the land preached by Apostle St. Thomas around 52 AD and martyred eventually and they were installed in a simple ceremony by him on July 1st 1968. Forty-two years later, the Oblate presence in India has grown, not only in numbers, but also in the depth of rooting the Gospel and the Charism in the vast expanse of the country.
In keeping with the Vision-Mission Statement (“Pilgrims with the poor towards fullness of Life”) that evolved from the Immense Hope Project and more specifically in the Leadership Congress in February 2009, the Indian Oblates developed clear strategic planning and implementation mechanisms in the areas of Mission, Ministries, Formation, Community and Administration.
The Indian Oblates find themselves in many types of ministry after 42 years. Of course, first and on-going formation are their priority ministries. The Indian Oblate Formation Directory instills in the minds of the younger generation the importance of a missionary spirit, to be ready always to work in any part of the world.
Besides the many missions and parishes where the Oblates preach the Good News among the tribals (Indigenous Peoples) and dalits (lowest caste people), they also focus on the education of poor and unfortunate children through formal and informal schools and boarding homes for the poor. Youth ministry is a vibrant ministry which concentrates on equipping the youth for meeting today’s challenges. The Indian Oblates are also involved in media ministry through their website (www.omiindia.org) and various publications.
Knowing that interreligious dialogue is the basic form of mission today in the context of the religious pluralism in India, the Oblates foster this dialogue at their Aanmodaya Ashram (Center for Indian Spirituality, Interreligious Dialogue and Inculturation). The Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate is steadily taking root in the Oblate missions and parishes, with the aim of forming supporters and contributors.
The Oblates are spread across this vast country. They are present in 11 dioceses in five States of India. Five of the Oblate missions in India are among the tribals. This segment of the Indian population lives in dire physical and cultural poverty. The Oblates try especially to teach the children new values in line with their culture and to build up their self-esteem. They are protected from exploitation by the landlords and powerful authorities like politicians and naxalites (Maoist insurgency). The Indian Oblates also educate them to understand their basic human rights and duties, so that they might overcome such practices as child labour and child marriages.
Remaining true to the core of our missionary call, Oblates from India serve in missions across borders, in spite of the many demands and needs within the country itself. Today one can find Oblates from India in other Oblate Units of the world, namely, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Spain and others. Many Indian Oblates are doing higher studies in various countries.
India has been blessed with many vocations. Altogether there are 63 Oblates in perpetual vows and 23 scholastics in temporary vows as of March 2010. And there are nearly 120 candidates in other formation houses.
The delegation of India will be officially declared a province on 29 May, 2010, by Fr. Clement Waidyasekara, OMI, Provincial of Colombo. The public celebration with local bishops and Oblate dignitaries will be on 15 August 2010 in Chennai, India.
Fr. Nallappan expresses the joy of the members of the new province: “The Indian Oblates are exuberant with everlasting sentiments of gratitude to God for the manifold blessings given through the Oblate missionaries who brought the seeds of the Word and the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod; and they are grateful to the Oblate world for the tremendous trust placed in us and the constant support and encouragement in every way.”
The new provincial had been elected as a delegate to the General Chapter, representing India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Now he will be an ex officio capitular and his alternate, Fr. Emilianus MORAES, superior of the Bangladesh delegation, will be a capitular.
Upon his return to the Philippines in 1951, he served as a parish priest for several years before being put in charge of the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate, a post which he held from 1962 until 1979. Under his enthusiastic leadership, the association grew rapidly, especially in Luzon where he organized groups of members in many parishes. It spread also in parishes and in the Notre Dame Schools of Cotabato. With the main office at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Caloocan, Fr. Leandicho reached thousands of people, who, as members of the MAMI, shared in the missionary work of the Oblates.
In his later years, he had various ministries. Among them, he served as part-time Chaplain of Maryknoll College in Quezon City, Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna, and some police precincts. Ministering to the police/military personnel, inmates, students, and teachers was his special interest and he was most happy in this kind of missionary work.
Because of declining health, in 2003, he retired at the Bolduc Home next to the Oblate Missionary Center in Quezon City. He loved to receive visitors and tell them stories of missionary life in the Philippines. (www.omiphil.org)
The superior of the Oblates’ Thailand Delegation, Fr. Claudio BERTUCCIO, wrote the following update to Fr. Camille PICHE, director of the Congregation’s JPIC office in Rome: “Our situation here is very tense but without any major damage to the life of most people in the country. Unfortunately, Bangkok is burning (about 30 buildings) and we do not know how things will develop. The divisions are very deep. Certainly the poor have little chances in Thai society and their problems should be addressed; however it is also true that what is happening is not towards greater democracy or more justice. It seems to me that the poor are manipulated for the advantage of a few. It is just a change of masters. Let’s pray that God brings peace and reciprocal understanding to all people in Thailand.”
To Father Genral, Fr. Claudio wrote: “Thank you for your message, your concern and your prayer. May St. Eugene intercede for this people so that we can find peace once again. I feel that it is the greatest desire of the majority here. We finish our seminar tomorrow celebrating St. Eugene together. Everyone is very happy for what we have received from Fr. Frank Santucci. We have anticipated the celebration at noon so as to be able to reach home before the curfew at night. Happy feast day to you and all in Rome.”
The title for the retreat was Zealous Fire Retreat (“La retraite du feu sacré” in French) and is was scheduled over four days from March 24 to 27, 2010. It closed on the Saturday with the Eucharistic celebration of the Feast of Saint Eugene. Although the number of participants was modest (25 in total), those who were there were appreciative and offered positive comments and suggestions to improve the format.
Here are a few comments: “Based on lived experience… good listening period… nice method for praying based on biblical texts…This was very enriching for me and it still goes on…the theme has reenergized my faith and my missionary zeal… It was dynamic and inviting… I liked the content: to keep the sacred flame that animates us!’’
As Oblates, it was also a great experience in the way that it allowed the two of us to live a common apostolate while preparing the talks on a theme that had us returning to the zeal and spirituality which are at the foundation of the charism of Saint Eugene. (By David MacPhee and Daniel Renaud in www.omilacombe.ca)
People came from all directions; some walked several kilometers, as police had closed off street access to cars. Many waved Polish flags while others came with flowers, pictures and candles. It was a sober but important occasion and everyone wanted to play a small part. Prior to the Mass a makeshift shrine was set up under a large wooden cross in the parking lot. It grew larger minute by minute as the crowds continued to flood in. Those who arrived early enough (two to three hours before the Mass) were lucky to get inside: the remainder were joined by priests outside and listened to the proceedings on loudspeakers.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper; leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Michael Ignatieff; leader of the New democratic Party, Jack Layton; the Ambassador of Poland to Canada, Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz; the Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Marek Ciesielczuk; the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley; and the President and Acting President of the Canadian Polish Congress, Wladyslaw Lizon and Jerzy Barycki. Many other dignitaries lined the pews of the packed church. Thirty-five priests, led by Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins, participated in the Mass. Polish scouts were mobilized to provide logistical support and did so with enthusiastic efficiency and professionalism.
The Mass was touching. Especially moving was the opening hymn which was sung during the arrival of the Archbishop, the throngs of priests and the altar servers that preceded him. For a few minutes, the entire church shook under the voices of those in attendance. It seemed as though the hymn provided the perfect outlet for grief stricken Polish-Canadians to release their emotions. And they did. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a standing ovation and delivered a few fitting words about his fondest memories of President Kaczynski as well as the resilience of the Polish people. There were more speeches of course, all heartfelt and moving. (Assumption News and Views, April 2010)
About ten years ago, a project to revitalize the Brother AntHony grotto got underway at the university campus. As a first step, it was agreed to erect a life-size bronze statue of the humble man who influenced the history of this academic institution. This sculpture, by internationally renowned artist Danek Mozdzensky, will be placed near the Lacerte building, not far from the grotto built by Brother Anthony’s own hands.
Convened on personal invitation only, the purpose of this April 23 gathering was to assemble a number of potential donors who would help finance this historical project evaluated at $250,000.00.
Along with what was collected at this fund-raising supper, the total at this point amounts to approximately $90,000.00.
“Erecting this monument has a significant importance for the Campus St-Jean and the Francophone Community of Alberta”, affirmed Senator Claudette Tardif, who accompanied her husband, Denis Tardif, master of ceremonies for the supper.
Present also at the meeting were the sculptor Mozdzensky, the dean of CSJ Marc Arnal, Edmonton’s Archbishop Richard Smith, along with members of the Brother Anthony Committee.
Aside from the ideal of humility, piety and courage of Brother Anthony, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate were also honored at this supper for their role in the development of the francophone communities in western Canada. (By René Bélanger, OMI, translated by Maurice Blackburn, OMI in www.omilacombe.ca)
Our “association” was not always that sharply defined, and we each came – questioning – seeking – ready to say “yes”. It was our individual experiences of the living call to mission in our hearts that brought us together and into community. We struggled with the word “associate”. By the 2006 Convocation, we started to refer to ourselves as Oblate Partners in Mission (OPM). This designation seems to better describe who we are. We see ourselves as an intentional community, made up of vowed Oblates, an Honorary Oblate and lay persons. We feel called to receive some formation and make an obvious and external commitment with the Oblates. We feel keenly the pull of being part of an Oblate community and living in the spirit of St. Eugene. “Associates” are members of the Basic Oblate Community in both Toronto and in Ottawa. All of us are invited to participate in District Oblate retreats and working processes. We work, we pray, we share and we socialize. We love and nourish each other, and always – put ourselves under the guidance of Mary Immaculate and St. Eugene. We come from several parishes, some from Galilee Centre, from Springhurst and there are a few of us down in the Toronto area – some of us know each other only through email. And although some have been around for a while we continue to look at where we are and where we want to go.
Besides our respective ministries, we have participated in some common projects. In the winter of 2009 we held an interfaith prayer service when our city was struggling through a bus strike and then last spring we spearheaded a “Work Bee and Cleanup weekend up at Galilee Centre up in Arnprior (we must have done a good job because Galilee Centre has invited us back again at the end of the month). Together we have worked through the sessions of the Animation Process on Poverty and now are trying to focus on Conversion and the upcoming 35th Chapter. We’re preparing to celebrate with one of our own, Garry Byrne who has just been named an Honorary Oblate an on May 21st we will begin the process of “Appreciating and Celebrating Lay Associates”. In June we will have a retreat given by Ken Hart titled “Growing Our Adult Faith” – a one-day workshop on life-long development of our faith – based on the experiences of St. Eugene.
We continue to look at mission and what God is calling us to do, who we are called to be. We are looking and questioning our identity as Oblate Partners in Mission/Associates and what that means. In our hearts we are “Oblates” – dare we say it out loud? (Submitted by Eleanor Rabnett in www.omilacombe.ca)
OMI Information has met with Mite Balduzzi, the composer and artistic director of the project, who has already collaborated with the Oblates in some important endeavors: Aquero, a musical inspired by the Lourdes apparitions; and two CD’s, Verbum Panis and Chaire. So we asked him some questions.
An album of songs about Eugene de Mazenod. Why?
There’s a very simple reason and it’s that in 2011, it will be 150 years since his death; it needs to be celebrated properly. And there is another reason, let us say, less historical. The person of Eugene is an icon of grandeur, a great saint with a human story that has not only great spiritual value, but also has a great storyline, with plot twists, intrigues and scenarios totally worthy of a great novel.
How does a work like this come about?
The allure of his life. It is the facts that count; it is what happened that puts thing into motion. However, since a collection of songs does not portray facts or events, but emotions, the work consists in transforming an intriguing story into a sequence of feelings which portray those facts without describing them too literally. In practice, the songs carry two levels of interpretation. They speak of him, of his life; for example, they speak of his flight from Aix when he was still little, but they speak too of all exiles, of the refugees of all times.
And where are we with the composition?
We are about half finished, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It does not end simply with the writing of the songs. There are also the arrangements, the choice of singers, the recording, the choice of images, the packaging…but fortunately, I don’t have to take care of all of that. A work like this is always a cooperative project.
Is it easy or difficult to write about a man, indeed, a saint, from another era?
A saint is a person who speaks to the human spirit, and the Spirit, the one with a capital “S”, is timeless. In this sense, Eugene speaks to our era, neither more nor less than when he spoke to his own. We should also say that we are not making a period film, but a collection of songs. Therefore, there is an obvious translation into a contemporary artistic form: the content about Eugene remains unchanged, but the expression is entirely the music of an author of the third millennium.
What can music contribute to the life of a saint?
In a certain sense, nothing, because his life is already great music, or better, it’s a musical score written by someone else which he was able to interpret divinely. And, exactly because it is music, in a metaphorical sense, I really think that there can be an extraordinary symbiosis with music made up of notes: two worlds which are intertwined and which mutually support one another. The songs do not invent a thing; they only make explicit what is already there. Perhaps they give it freshness and they surely make it efficacious. And, we hope, they also give it a dash of poetry.
When will be hear this work on Eugene?
The first performance is scheduled for May, 2011, at the Divine Love Shrine in Rome. For that occasion, we will put together a show that will include acting and dancing. And maybe also a display of contemporary painting. In other words, as they say today, it will be a multimedia event. The album will be ready earlier.
Do you already have a title?
Not yet. But considering the life of Eugene, especially his youth that was an almost continuous flight caused by the strong winds of the French Revolution; his place in Church history as a wind of renewal; his origins in Provence which is swept by the mistral (strong northern winds in France), I believe that the work will be called “Mistral.”
One such event took place at the Oblate Scholasticate in Obra, Poland, on May 10 and 11, 2010, the second day being the exact anniversary of Ricci’s death in Beijing, where his tomb is located and respected to this very day. The Oblate community welcomed several distinguished guests and speakers: César Guillén Nuñez and Artur Wardęga, SJ, from the Macau Ricci Institute; Thierry Maynard, SJ, from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou; Noël Golvers from Leuven University and several others from Polish and Ukrainian universities. The conference was opened by the provincial of the Polish Province, Fr Ryszard Szmydki, and by the Vice-Rector of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Professor Jacek Witkoś.
The scholastics took a very active role in preparing this event and helped to create a real Oblate and welcoming atmosphere which was sincerely appreciated by all the guests. It is worth mentioning that besides the official speakers, Obra welcomed also about 50 students from several faculties of the University of Poznań, together with international exchange students from China, France and Ukraine. For many of the guests, it was their first occasion to interact in such friendly way with a religious community and stay overnight in a religious house. For some Chinese students who are not Christians, it was the first occasion to inquire so directly about Catholicism and the Oblate way of life. Thus, the event had not only a scholarly but also a human and religious dimension.
The participants were enriched by lectures in 3 languages, English, Polish and Russian. The topics included: Ricci and Chinese Intellectuals today; From Macao to Beijing (1582- 1610) - Matteo Ricci and the Euro-Jesuit enterprise in China: Portrait of a Jesuit; Developments of the concept of “Catholic mission” from Benedict XIV to Benedict XVI (a historical perspective and its implications); On the Predicament Matteo Ricci suffered in China and his Solution; The Polish contribution to the development of the East-West dialogue (life and achievements of Michał Boym S.J.); Ukrainian Orthodox missionaries in China; Protestant Missions in China from the 19th century until the Modern Era and others. A book with all the papers presented in Obra will be published shortly by the Adam Mickiewicz University Press.
In front of the conference hall, participants enjoyed an exhibition of photography depicting the beauty of China and its people. There was also an area designated specifically for coffee breaks and informal, interpersonal exchange of views and experiences. As usual, these are an extremely important part of every intellectual enterprise. The title of the conference was: “Missionaries between East and West: the 400th Anniversary of Matteo Ricci, 1610-2010”. (Paweł Zając)
75 Years of religious life
65 Years of religious life
65 Years of priesthood
60 Years of religious life
60 Years of priesthood
50 Years of religious life
50 Years of priesthood
75 Years of religious life
70 Years of religious life
65 Years of religious life
60 Years of religious life
50 Years of religious life
25 Years of religious life
25 Years of priesthood
“They are before God, bearing the sign, the kind of character proper to our Institute, the vows common to all its members, the firm habit of the same virtues. We are linked to them by the bonds of a special charity. They are still our brothers and we are theirs. They now live in our mother-house, our main residence. The prayers and the love they retain for us will one day draw us to them and we shall live in our place of rest together with them.”
(Letter of Founder to Fr. Courtès, 22 July 1828)
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 22E-mail:email@example.com
Editing Team: James Allen (director), Raúl Castro, Antonino Bucca
Printing: Balapuwaduge Mendis Kamal
Circulation: Théophile Le Page
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