“The Oblates are specialists in difficult missions.” When Pope Pius XI spoke these words he was thinking mostly of the missions in the Canadian North. But at the antipodes of this region, more precisely in Laos, the Oblates encountered just as many great difficulties. From the time of the arrival of the first three missionaries, in 1934, their problems, even at times from the communist leaders, came in the form of sickness, wars, skirmishes, accidents, and even assassinations.
In 1975, they left the country to save their lives. At that time, their number had reached one hundred, of which there were two Canadians: Fathers Jean-Paul Brouillette and Léo Plante. Today, because of the political situation which is hostile to foreigners, only one Oblate remains there: Bishop Jean Khamse, a Laotian.
But in the midst of all these difficulties, Father Brouillette did experience some joys and consolations. There were many adult Baptisms. Let us listen to him as he narrates the somewhat special story of Khamla, one of his catechumens.
“Khamla is a police adjutant, quite intelligent, and of an affable character. One fine day he falls in love with a pretty young lady who is Christian. He asks for her hand… and even more. She makes him understand that he must become a Christian if he wants to marry her.
“For more than three months I instructed my catechumen, and prepared him for Baptism. Everything is going along well, and I am pleased with his interest in the study of religion. By the end of April, Khamla is ready for Baptism and the other Sacraments. But then, he receives an order to leave with a patrol for a destination about one hundred miles away. Therefore, everything must be postponed.
“Khamla returns to Vientiane only in July. But he comes back feverish. Finally, by September he returns fully recovered and willing to review his catechism prior to Baptism. The Marriage date is set. Things will have to move quickly if we want everything done before the birth of an heir. But when Miss Dao, his intended, presented herself for the first pre-marital instruction, she had to leave after half an hour, since she was beginning to feel the pains that precede a great event. During the night, she gave birth to a girl.
“One month later, Khamla came back to make a new preparation for Baptism. On November 18, I baptized first of all the child, and then, my catechumen. Right after, I presented him to the Bishop for Confirmation. At last, it was the wedding and the first communion.”
André DORVAL, OMI