Founded by the French Province in 1977, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate have decided to close the French Guyana Mission after having served the people of God in Guyana as true missionaries for 46 years.
THE OBLATES DECIDED TO CLOSE THE FRENCH GUYANA MISSION.
THE REASONS FOR THIS DECISION
Currently, there are 12 Oblates in the mission of Guyana, in the diocese of Cayenne, including 11 Haitians from the Province of Haiti and a father of Hmong origin from the Province of France. It was the province of France that founded this mission in 1977, to accompany the Hmong in Guyana. In 1997, the province of France called on the province of Haiti to better support the large number of migrants coming from that country. In 2002, it also called on two Brazilian missionaries for the same reason.
Faced with the pastoral emergencies of the Diocese of Cayenne – namely Brazilian and Haitian migrants, the formation of the faithful, the accompaniment of priests, nuns, and laity – the bishop at the time, Archbishop Lafont requested the support of the Oblates. And both parties signed a contract with specific clauses to be respected. Since then, and it has been 46 years, the Oblates have served the people of God in Guyana as true missionaries. They put the Oblate charism at the service of the local Church through being close to the poorest in poor neighborhoods of Guyana; support for the formation and evangelization of populations and ecclesial animators; community life and internationality.
In short, the Oblate presence in Guyana is part of a particular pastoral context. It follows the arrival of a first group of about forty Hmong families in Guyana between September and October 1971. Indeed, during the repeated civil wars that ravaged the country between 1955 and 1975, these Hmong from Laos took refuge in Thailand to escape the repression of the Laotian authorities. Thanks to the interventions of the French Missionary Oblates in Laos, they managed to bring the 40 Hmong families from a refugee camp in Thailand to French Guyana, where they arrived with two French Oblate priests in the middle of the night, after a brief stopover in Roissy Charles de Gaulle.
On the other hand, the unstable political situation in Haiti after 1990 led to a migration of Haitians to French Guyana. Given the importance of this community, the Missionary Oblates of France, already present in Guyana, quickly understood the need for a joint mission between the two provinces (France-Haiti) to better accompany the growing number of Haitian refugees settling in Guyana. In September 1999, the Province of Haiti sent a team of three Missionary Oblates to Guyana, including a priest, accompanied by two seminarians to strengthen the mission. This experiment lasted more than twenty years.
In Guyana, the Missionary Oblates founded several parishes with the help of the faithful and their benefactors. Several Oblates have served the Diocese of Cayenne either as vicars general (2 Oblates), or as chancellors or chaplains of migrants, etc. Now, the missionary Oblates in Guyana feel great sadness and delusion at the fact that they must very soon leave this mission for uncertain and unjustified reasons.
In fact, it began because of a misunderstanding between the Bishop of Cayenne, Msgr. Alain Ransay and the Oblates on mission in this diocese. Subsequently, this malaise grew and caused a strong tension between the missionaries and the bishop. The two Oblate Provincials, of Haiti and France, with the support of the central government, opted for the path of dialogue and reconciliation, which did not bear fruit. Consequently, at the end of a meeting that took place at the bishopric of Cayenne on April 19, 2023, Bishop Alain Ransay and his new Episcopal Council, in the presence of the Oblate Major Superiors, unilaterally decided to terminate the contract linking the Diocese of Cayenne to the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. This decision was accepted by the Oblates who subsequently confirmed the departure of the Missionaries from Guyana by the end of June 2023.
However, it should be noted that Bishop Alain Ransay after breaking the first contract with the Oblats was kind enough to re-establish another, which according to him must be based on the internationality of the members of the mission, with the presence of one or two Brazilian Fathers. However, the delay proposed by Bishop Ransay was not favorable to the Oblates taking such a decision, which deserves a good discernment in Congregation.
Therefore, the Oblates in Guyana agreed to turn the page of history of their missionary presence within the Church of Cayenne as of June 2023. The mission continues. Let us set sail under the protection of our Immaculate Mother Mary and Saint Eugene our Founder!