510 - April 2011
March 10th, 2011 - April 7th, 2011



Oblates far from earthquake

Following the devastating earthquake of March 11, 2011, the Superior of the Japan-Korea Delegation, Fr. Wenceslao LAGUIDAO, sent the following e-mail to Fr. Camille PICHE, Director of the JPIC General Service in Rome.

Japan is being shaken from its foundations! It was the strongest earthquake in Japan's recorded history. There are still different opinions as to the intensity but somewhere near 8.8 on the Richter scale. The number of dead and missing has surpassed a thousand and will continue to rise. Another opinion is that there were two different earthquakes that happened almost at the same time.

It is the break of dawn now (I am preparing to go for the morning mass) and the news is saying that another big earthquake has happened on the other side of Japan (eastern side); nothing to do with what happened yesterday! What will happen next? We leave all to the Lord.

The Oblates are far from the disaster area but the anxiety is intense. It brings memories of the Great Kansai earthquake some 16 years ago. The stench of death came to our doorsteps!

I still am trying to find where Jack DEELY is. He lives in Tokyo and the telephone lines are down due to heavy load.

Please continue to pray for the victims and their families.

Will let you know more as the aftermath of this disaster unfolds.

Wency Laguidao, omi

Earthquake and tsunami update

On the first Sunday of Lent, March 13, Fr. Wency LAGUIDAO, Superior of the Japan-Korea delegation, sent this e-mail to many Oblates around the world:

Our friends and Oblate confreres around the world continue to worry about the Oblates in Japan and the whole nation as they see the overwhelming images on television of the devastation, mostly caused by the rampaging waters of tsunami that followed the violent earthquake on Friday, March 11, two days after Ash Wednesday, when the liturgy reminded us all that “Dust thou art and unto dust thou shall return...”. The havoc and devastation that is brought to us by the media is beyond deion. I wonder how it for the survivors who have lost their loved ones and all their earthly possessions.

The areas badly hit are all up north on the Pacific side of Japan, particularly the prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate. The Oblate missions are down south, mostly on the island of Shikoku. Thanks be to God, all of us are safe and we indeed appreciate the deluge of emails and phone calls asking if the Oblates in Japan are all accounted for. The very first email asking about our safety came from no less than our new Superior General, Fr. Louis LOUGEN.

The body count continues, but it will take months before the exact number can be known. Unlike the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake 16 years ago, which was land based, most of the casualties of this earthquake perished from the rampaging waters of the tsunami and therefore are difficult to number. One evening paper today said that one small community of a population 17,000 has been completely washed away with no survivor that can be accounted for. How many of those small communities were simply washed away? The irony is that even the small government offices that hold the records of how many people there were are also completely gone.

Another major concern at the moment is the meltdown of the nuclear reactor plant in Fukushima Prefecture. There are already reports of hundreds being exposed to radiation. God forbid that this will be another Chernobyl!

March 14is the first working day after the earthquake. For us who have been spared from the catastrophe, life has to go on. It is also the graduation season. In a week or two, the cherry trees will be in full bloom but, sad to say, except perhaps in the affected areas. The cherry blossom is one of the beautiful symbols of the country but ironically also a symbol our ephemerality. Like the very short life of the cherry blossoms we are “here today and gone tomorrow.”

This year's Lenten season takes on a special meaning for us in Japan. Please help us pray that the people in the affected areas will find meaning in their sufferings and be able to make the passover to a new beginning. May the light of Christ's resurrection somehow dispel the darkness that they have gone through.

Again, thank you very much for your prayers and assurance of solidarity.

Canadian by birth, Sri Lankan by choice
Fr. Robert LUCKHART, a Canadian by birth, a Sri Lankan by choice, a veteran and a multi-faceted personality, passed from this earthly home on February 04, 2011, in Kandy at the ripe age of 87. His 38 long years of dedicated service in Sri Lanka, especially in the work of formation of seminarians and religious, have left an indelible mark in the hearts of his students.

Fr. Luckhart was born on March 12, 1924, in Ontario, Canada. A professed Oblate since 1945, he was ordained a priest in 1951 at the International Scholasticate in Rome. From 1952 until 2011, Fr. Luckhart was engaged in the ministry of formation of scholastics and seminarians, first in Holy Rosary Scholasticate in Ottawa (1952-1965), with a five year hiatus as director of a retreat house (1965-1970). In 1970, he received his obedience to serve at the National Seminary, Ampitiya, Sri Lanka, where he taught philosophy and theology for a period of five years. For the first time he came into direct contact with Sri Lankan culture, religions, and geography. In 1975, he was called to Rome for a new task: superior of the International Scholasticate (1976-1977).

It was in 1978 that the late Bishop Leo Nanayakara, OSB, invited Fr. Luckhart to serve at ‘Sevaka Sevana’ along with Fr. Michael RODRIGO, in the diocese of Badulla. In 1983, he came to the Kandy Scholasticate. This turned out to be his longest assignment, as well as his last, a period of 27 years until his death. The service he rendered is incalculable. The words of St. Eugene de Mazenod were epitomized in the life of Fr. Luckhart that one must first be human, then Christian and then a saint. He was an endearing personality imbued with the compassionate heart.

Fr. Luckhart was a man of wisdom, the fruit of integrating his knowledge with his life experiences. He was well-versed in philosophy as well as theology. Many students and priests were drawn to him, not merely because of his vast knowledge which earned for him the title ‘Walking Encyclopedia’ but also because of his kindness in welcoming everyone who came to him. Many seminarians sought him, either for spiritual direction or academic pursuits. The qualities of approachability, amiability and availability, coupled with simplicity, made him a man for all. 

He encouraged students to read books and articles which gave them a wider knowledge. He regarded history as an important subject. He would quote the axiom that “one who does not know history knows only half the truth.” He was a man of compassion; tolerance was its fruit. Not only the intelligentsia but even ordinary students could be at ease with him because he was so accommodating and understanding. 

His last visit to Canada was in 1982. Thereafter, for his last twenty-seven years, he chose to remain in Sri Lanka. As years passed, his contacts with Canada waned. He made Sri Lanka his home; the Sri Lankans, his own people, friends and confreres; the Sri Lankan diet, his own. He assimilated into himself everything that was noble and good. A spirit of detachment and dedication characterize all his religious life.

Each great personality leaves his or her foot prints on this earth. The world is different because of this Oblate’s unique presence and significant contribution. He enriched the lives of all who knew him: that is his legacy. (Fr. Jacob THIRUCHELVAM)

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