LATIN AMERICAHAITI - Update on the situation of the Oblates in Haiti
More than four months after the earthquake of January 12, 2010, if I consider the circumstances from our Oblate perspective, I can say that we are in control of the situation, thanks to the sense of responsibility and the involvement of all of our confreres, together with the generous support recived from all the other provinces, missions and delegations of the Congregation, as well as the support of several organizations of Oblate benefactors and of individual benefactors.
We have benefited and we continue to benefit from Divine Providence through the solidarity of our confreres and friends. In Port-au-Prince, our situation is developing slowly. The scholastics have set out again for the parishes in the provinces, after having been brought together in the month of April in Port-au-Prince to finish the academic program of the first semester at Lilavois, on the same site as the diocesan Major Seminary, shared by the Bishops’ Conference and the Scalabrini Missionaries. They slept in tents in the courtyard of the philosophy house at Blanchard. Presently, we are beginning the work of preparing the philosophy house and the former novitiate at Blanchard to receive all the scholastics as of next September.
We do not yet know whether the scholasticate at Turgeau can be rebuilt on the same spot. In the meantime, we are in contact with a company for tearing down the building and securing the land. As for the provincial house which was seriously damaged, the engineer we have contacted for an evaluation keeps us waiting for the results. The guest house, which also served for the administration and which collapsed, is being torn down. We are at the stage of clearing away the debris, but we are looking at changing companies because we are not satisfied with the group that is currently doing the work.
As a former member of the provincial house, Fr. Jean Pierre LOUBEAU is the only established resident at Port-au-Prince, taking care of the devastated faithful of the parish of Fond’Oies, on the road to Jacmel. Those responsible for Blanchard (Frs. Joseph BONARD and Wilson EXANTUS) and of Sibert (Frs. Jean François PRINTEMPS and Mario FANFAN) live in Plaine, at the northern exit from Port-au-Prince, a zone less devastated by the earthquake, but as much affected by its consequences as the rest of the country. Frs. Albert CATOR, Maxime Eugène and I go back and forth regularly between P-au-P and Les Cayes because of the work that needs to be done. The three of us now live in the lovely little house which we rented in Les Cayes to lodge the administration. It could be enlarged, but we have to wait until the owner decides to sell it. All of our confreres whom we have consulted want us to buy it since it is well located in the city, not far from the procure of Gabions. Frs. Price DORISMOND and Joseph DAUDIER are still at Mazenod…well received, well situated but less busy.
For the rebuilding, we want to wait for the government to give some guidance. But that is slow in coming. From time to time, we see some religious communities or other public institutions going to their own specialists to help them get organized, even temporarily. Perhaps we should do the same thing.
Where the situation is truly critical, it’s for the people who are still in the streets, in tents, left to the capriciousness of the weather. We are in the rainy season. In the evening, it rains and sometimes with strong winds. During the daytime, the heat is terrible and makes the tents uninhabitable. Add to that the reticence of most of the victims to move to temporary shelter and the better organized camps, but more distant from the center of Port-au-Prince. Most of the evacuation camps are located in the courtyards of schools and sometimes in the courtyards of government buildings or in public squares. One can well imagine the social and political implications of this situation…
Up to now, the people are living this state of affairs with courage and hope, and the Church is there to accompany them. The politicians should do the same: they need to put aside for the moment their disagreements and put themselves truly at the service of this wounded populace. Let us pray that this change of heart will facilitate the rebuilding of Haiti.
So there it is, a quick look at the developing situation. I will continue to keep you updated. Joined in prayer. (Gasner JOINT, omi, Provincial)
On July 7, 2010, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate celebrated 75 years of missionary presence in Argentina.
Their first missions were the present neighborhoods of Parque Avellaneda, Lugano and Mataderos in the city of Buenos Aires. From that symbolic gateway for the Oblates, our missionary activity in service to the pilgrim Church in Argentina began.
After taking on townships in Buenos Aires Córdoba, Santa Fe and Mendoza, the missionaries set out for every corner of the country for the purpose of preaching parish missions. Joining with traveling teams from other congregations, they reached out in all directions of the country, trying to reach the most abandoned.
With the passing of the years, new challenges arose: suburban neighborhoods, rural parishes, shrines, hospitals and prisons…
Every year when we get to the Gospel passage that invites us to pray to the master of the harvest to send workers into his harvest, we look at the road we have traveled, giving thanks to Jesus the Savior for having given so many Oblates who already are at rest in the Father’s House. We also give thanks for the generous new youth who join us, consecrating their lives to the mission, and…why not?...we also thank the many lay faithful! Excited about the charism of St. Eugene, our Founder, they identify with the Oblate lifestyle and share in various tasks as signs of God’s Kingdom.
Desirous of continuing to collaborate with the diocesan Churches which have called us to give them a hand, we invite all to join us in giving thanks on this anniversary so that we might return to our missionary projects and continue to work with the most abandoned. (Antonio MARIANGELIA, Vicar Provincial)
On May 31, the anniversary of the founding of the Association of Lay Oblates (“LAOMI”) en Paraguay (1996), there was a celebration of thanksgiving by the Associates and the whole Oblate Family. Three lay women made their first promises; nine young Associates renewed their promises; Doña Braulia made her perpetual promise.
With her, there are nine Lay Associates who have already committed themselves for life. With a total of 21 members (plus 3 “collaborating members”), LAOMI has established itself in this humble barrio “Puerto Pabla” in Lambaré, where the group had its origins, thanks to the Oblate presence, when in 1989 they started the second Latin American novitiate in Paraguay (presently, there is a novitiate there with six novices of five different nationalities).
There to receive the promises was Fr. Miguel FRITZ, provincial of Paraguay. Presiding at the Mass in the courtyard of the “Mauricio Lefebvre” novitiate was Fr. Pedro BRITEZ, mentor of the LAOMI (and the novice master). He centered his homily on the person of Jesus Christ whom we preach as the Crucified One. He highlighted His missionary commitment, saying that it is also now the time for an Oblate priest or Brother to come forth from this community. From the community there were many participants, together with some Oblates and representatives from MAMI which maintains a very warm relationship with the LAOMI. (Miguel Fritz)
Last June 5, the Oblates officially said farewell to the community of Casigua el Cubo, where they have worked for almost 20 years. The parish will be turned over to diocesan clergy in the month of August.
It was a simple and friendly celebration, presided by Bishop Ramiro DÍAZ, bishop of the Vicariate and the first Oblate pastor of Casigua. The superior of the mission, Fr. José Manuel Cincuéndez, said a few words suitable for the occasion:
“They say that farewells are always sad, and all the more after almost 20 years of Oblate presence among you. The Missionary Oblates in Venezuela began to work in Casigua in December of 1990, shortly after their arrival in this beautiful country.
“We recall the three first Oblate missionaries to arrive: Fr. Ramiro Díaz, Fr. Octaviano VEGA and Fr. Francisco Javier PUERTA, who began to move around the whole parish, first hitching a ride, then in old cars, on motorcycles, and finally in more modern cars. Of those first three Oblates, Monsignor Ramiro was named bishop of the Vicariate in 1997, to the great joy of the whole community of Casigua…
“There have been 11 Oblates from three different countries (Italy, Congo and Spain) who have worked in this parish. They built the churches of Cruce and Campo Rosario; they remodeled those of Sardinata and Carmelo, and they built parish halls in Sardinata and here in Casigua. But, above all, they tried to be close to this people: sharing the Word of God, teaching the children and youth the catechism, celebrating the Eucharist, confessing, listening to those who were in difficulty, helping those in need, visiting the sick, burying the dead. As our rule of life tells us, the Oblates must always be close to the people.
“Twenty years make for a long time, even for mistakes, misunderstandings and errors which we may have committed and for which we must also ask forgiveness today in this celebration.
“But we are, as you all know, missionaries. Our vocation is to travel the highways in order to proclaim the gospel, to go to other countries, to build up the Church. After 20 years, it is time to leave this community in which we have lived and learned. We do it too with the sorrow that we do not have enough Oblates in Venezuela to take care of all the commitments that we have.
“What has been sown stays here, the seeds of the gospel, so that they might bear fruit. The love we have shared stays too and it will never disappear, nor the memory of the friendship of all of us who have worked here.
“We are also leaving behind a relic of our founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, in the altar of this parish church, a memorial of a saint who had a heart as big as the world and who sent his Missionary Oblates to all the continents. It’s a little piece of him, together with our heart, that stays forever here in Casigua el Cubo.”