CANADA-UNITED STATESAnecdotes and Fioretti
Fr. Yvon BEAUDOIN has recently published a book about the Founder: Anecdotes and Fioretti about Saint Eugene de Mazenod. These anecdotes show us a saint who, in the course of his long life, joked about his enthusiasm and his faux pas; who organized a serenade for an elderly lady; who lamented his own boredom; who could laugh at the distractions of others and could admit his own; who was not afraid to show his emotions.
For those who have already been fascinated by this man, as well as for those who are just getting to know him, reading this book is an invitation to be unafraid of getting one’s hands dirty in one’s journey to God, while living a totally human life.
This publication and its distribution have been made possible thanks to the financial contribution of the Region of Canada-United States and of the Province of Italy. Published and distributed in French, English and Italian, it is being made available to the whole Congregation. Besides offering us this new resource for knowing and listening to the Founder, Fr. Beaudoin makes it possible for us to continue our deep reflection on the Oblate charism. The missionary challenges of today invite us to constantly study our roots in order to better respond to these calls with daring and creativity.
The 85 year old Fr. Beaudoin spent 60 years at the Oblate General House in Rome, meticulously and diligently studying St. Eugene and the history of the Congregation. This book is his final “Roman opus,” but he continues to work at the Deschâtelets Archives in Ottawa.
The International Association of Audio Information Services, at its annual conference, has officially recognized the work of Oblate Fr. Boniface “Boni” WITTENBRINK. He was given the C. Stanley Potter Emeritus Award for lifetime achievement in audio information. This award is usually given to audio information professionals who have a record of excellence and influence, nationally and worldwide.
In October of 1971, a member of the Lions Club in Belleville, Illinois, approached the manager of the Oblates’ radio station located at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows concerning the possibility of establishing a radio reading service for site-impaired persons on a sub-channel of WMRY. The Shrine’s founder, Fr. Edwin GUILD, and the Shrine Director, Fr. William WOESTMAN, approached Fr. Wittenbrink and asked if he would organize this project. His response was this: “I don’t know anything about radio except how to turn one on and change the batteries and I sure don’t know anything about blind people except they can’t see. But if you think I can help, I’ll do it.”
On March 1, 1973, WMRY’s “Talking Book” was on the air. Volunteers read the daily newspapers and other printed material to blind or sight-impaired persons in the Belleville and St. Louis areas. Besides the support of the Oblates for this service, Fr. “Boni” traveled far and wide to raise funds for the day to day operation of the service and to purchase special radios which are given free of charge to those who need them.
He also began to travel throughout the United States to give advice to others who wished to start similar services: Washington, New York, Chicago and many small towns. The ten reading services in the State of Illinois credit Fr. “Boni” for having a significant impact on their foundation. He also advised founders of this service in Canada and in the Philippines.
He worked with C. Stanley Potter and other founders to start what is now the International Association of Audio Information Services. He was the group’s first secretary and Belleville was the site of the first national conference.
Eventually, “WMRY Talking Book” became “Radio Information Service.” RIS received the National Radio Award in 1974. Mention of this prestigious award was placed in the United States Congressional Record on May 13 of that year.
The service founded by Fr. “Boni” is now called “Mind’s Eye.” When he retired, he continued working on behalf of people with loss of vision. He was a strong supporter of the American Foundation for the Blind, Retinitis Pigmentosa International and many others. Today, Fr. “Boni” is 96 and has developed vision problems himself. He lives at Dammert Geriatric Center on the grounds of our Lady of the Snows Shrine.
On the 8th of May the “Totus Tuus” gala
concert in honour of Blessed John Paul II and Saint Eugene de Mazenod took
place at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall. The concert was organized by Catholic
Youth Studio. It was the only concert in Canada commemorating the beatification
of the Servant of God John Paul II, which took place in Rome on Divine Mercy
In the first part, the audience was entertained by light classical and popular music performed by Jan Lisiecki, Kinga Mitrowska, Christopher Dallo, Kornel Wolak and Quartetto Gelato. In the second half of the concert, the audience reflected on the deep themes presented by the “Divine Mercy Oratorio” performed by Zbigniew Malkowicz, Marek Balata, and other soloists from Poland.
At the beginning of the second part of the concert, three new songs about St. Eugene de Mazenod were performed; the music commemorated the 150th anniversary of his death. During the performance of the “Divine Mercy Oratorio” an English translation of the texts was provided as well as photographs from the life of Blessed John Paul II.
The concert was very well received. Honored guests in attendance were the auxiliary bishop of Toronto, William McGrattan, Bishop Douglas CROSBY of Hamilton, Fr. Janusz BLAZEJAK, the Provincial Superior of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and Mr. Marek Ciesielczuk, the Consul-General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto. The performers and musicians received a standing ovation which expressed the joy of having Pope John Paul II proclaimed Blessed. (Janusz BLAZEJAK)