CANADA-UNITED STATESOMI LACOMBE: Close to the people
you sit down with 84 year old Fr. Robert BERNARDIN, you are in the presence of
a very thoughtful man. Each word is measured.
Since his ordination in 1953, his many years of ministry have always been with
First Nations and Metis peoples. His first assignment was to Camperville,
Manitoba, where he learnt the Sauteaux language. Throughout his ministry, he
was fluent in the Sauteaux/Ojibway tongue. Bishop Paul DUMOUCHEL, who had
composed a grammar, was his instructor at the beginning. Fr. BROCHET, helped
Robert through the years with the language. Together they made many
translations into the Sauteaux language. They also worked together producing
radio programs in the Sauteaux language for the local radio stations.
What were the strong values of his ministry? The answer did not flow quickly.
All the while his hands were trying to express his deep feelings to answer the
question. “It would be closeness to the people, closeness especially in the
expression of their language.” There was a pause in the words. “I love the
people and they loved me.” He never made big splashes in his own estimation but
it was clear that his ministry was a ministry of accompaniment. In the
beginning much of the travel had to be done by airplane since there were no
roads into these communities.
In 1997 he moved into the city of Winnipeg to become pastor of the Kateri
Tekewitha Parish for two years. He continued to help with the ministry of this
parish. Since his coming to the city, there have been many funerals, close to
five hundred of them. Many of the funerals were difficult situations where
there had been death by violence or suicide. The look on Robert’s face indicated
the difficulties with these situations. “I find it difficult. I accept because
someone has to be close to them in those days.”
Visiting the sick in the hospitals is a very important part of his ministry.
Since he knows the First Nations and Métis people from the Southern half of
Manitoba, there are many requests for a spiritual visit to a sick relative.
From his residence at Despins, Robert walks over every day to the Taché Center
to read to Fr. Ephrem PELLETIER who can no longer see and together they have a
cup of hot chocolate every afternoon. Along with other topics, he reads the
news from the Oblate world. His polite nod indicates the benefit of this visit:
“It’s good for me, too!”
Looking over his entire Oblate life, he says: “I am happy and I never did look
back. I really appreciate that I belong to a community.” There was a pause in
the conversation as he rubbed his chin. “I deeply appreciate that I belong to
the Oblates. The ones that are here…we are still here and we are together.” He
shook his hand to underline what he was about to say: “I like that!” (By Nestor
GREGOIRE in www.omilacombe.ca) UNITED STATES: Preparing for World Youth Day
About 175 youth and adults will travel from Oblate
parishes in the United States to participate in WYD 2011 in Madrid, Spain.
Before the Madrid celebrations, they will join over 1,000 Oblate Youth in the
Diocese of Málaga for the International Oblate Youth Encounter. To prepare the
future pilgrims for these celebrations, there have been three gatherings in
different parts of the United States Province.
The first two encounters aimed at preparing Oblate Youth from around the
province took place in Miramar, Florida, in December and in San Antonio, Texas,
in February. The third encounter was in the San Fernando Valley, California, on
The goal of these gatherings is to prepare the young people from Oblate parishes
for their pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Spain this summer of 2011. Rather
than send them to Spain representing only their respective parishes, we found
it important to instill in them an Oblate identity surpassing the parish level,
helping them to know that their presence at WYD represents the Missionary
Oblates of the U. S. Province and the world.
To accomplish this, the encounters focus on basic themes, including: St. Eugene
De Mazenod and the Oblate charism; What is World Youth Day and what does it
mean to be sent on Pilgrimage?;Who are the Oblate Spanish Martyrs and what do
they mean for a young person today?
The days are filled with creative activities and opportunities to unify the various
Oblate entities. More importantly, a spiritual focus has been created incorporating
Oblate values into the theme of World Youth Day (Planted and built in Jesus
Christ, Firm in the Faith). Each gathering concludes with the area Provincial
Councilor celebrating the commissioning Mass and giving the youth their pilgrim
cross. (Jonathan CLOSNER in OMI USA,
March 2011)OMI LACOMBE: A new icon of St. Eugene
Fr. Jack LAU writes about a
beautiful new Icon of the Oblate Founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod.
The genesis of this project came from discussions I had with local iconographer,
Suzanne Massie Manchevsky, who
lives near the Oblate retreat house, Galilee Centre in Arnprior, Ontario. After
we worked together to launch the Spiritual Retreat and Icon Workshop program
here at Galilee, our discussions turned to the life and charism of St. Eugene
de Mazenod as the 150th anniversary of his “dies natalis” (birth
into heaven) approached.
Suzanne asked if she could write an Icon of St. Eugene, so we conducted
research at the archives of St. Paul’s University in Ottawa and came away with
many books, photos and DVD’s about his passionate faith and love of God, our
Blessed Mother, his beloved Oblates and compassion for all, especially the
Following our initial research and a number of study and prayer sessions, we
focused on listening to the Spirit and what St. Eugene was saying to each of us
and we each heard the voice of the older, wiser, matured and burnished St.
Eugene calling. And so the sketching and drawing process began and Suzanne
would send me photos of the Icon throughout the painting that now can be seen
as a YouTube video through this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Kc0WfmCOM.
There will be a week-long Spiritual Retreat and Icon Workshop at Arnprior in
2011, beginning of the birthday of St. Eugene, August 1.