Nnaemeka ALI, OMI

From October 17 to November 1, 2023, Fr. Luis Ignacio ROIS ALONSO, OMI, Superior General, undertook a pilgrimage of hope in communion with his brothers and sisters in Canada. 

Retracing the Oblates in North America

Retracing the footsteps of those first Oblates, Fr. Chicho landed in Montreal on October 17, 2023, just as the first Oblates in 1841.  He then traced their journey through Richelieu and Quebec, along the Saint Lawrence River, meeting with the Innu people and other residents of the North Shore. After completing his journey along the North Shore, passing through the missions in Trois-Rivières and Montreal, he reached Ottawa, where he was eagerly anticipated for the 175th anniversary of Saint Paul University.

The Three Oblate Provinces of Canada

When the Oblates arrived in Ottawa in 1844, they began to serve the Irish, French, and likely the Algonquin people (Vaulx 1961, 28–30).  They quickly became engaged in the spiritual and academic formation of the Catholic communities in the Canadian capital, establishing the Parish of Bytown, Bytown College, and St. Joseph Parish in present-day Ottawa.

This Oblate mission would become the gateway to other parts of North America.  Today, the Oblates of North America have several missions that reflect the Oblate charism in the North American context.  Upon his arrival in Ottawa, Father Chicho made it his priority to meet with all the members of the Mazenodian family.  After meeting with members of the Oblate Parishes, he met with all the Oblates ministering in Ottawa.  This inspiring and encouraging moment allowed him to converse with those who continue the work of the first Oblates on this continent. 

The 175th Anniversary of Saint Paul University in Ottawa

After 175 years since the founding of Bytown College, the community of Saint Paul University in Ottawa reflects on its rich history of research and leadership formation for Canadian society and the world.  Over the years, this Oblate ministry has educated men and women for the Universal Church and society, creating initiatives that continue to shine the Oblate charism today.

During his stay in Ottawa, Father Chicho had the opportunity to explore Saint Paul University, its faculties, schools, and numerous services.  On October 30, he devoted the whole day to visiting different parts of the University community.  The following day, a symposium celebrating the rich history of Saint Paul University took place, featuring several presentations on its history, commitment to the Church and Canadian society, and ongoing efforts for reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of Canada.

Father Chicho during his visit at Saint Paul University

In his message of gratitude, Father Chicho encouraged the entire University community, urging them to continue to walk together, to be passionate, and to envision a hopeful future.  He also encouraged them to learn from the wisdom of the poor and bring hope to the world.