513 - July-August 2011
June 8th, 2011 - July 23rd, 2011



I pledge myself…

On May 29, 2011, Bishop Evans Chinyama CHINYEMBA became the second Bishop of Mongu diocese, the 149th Oblate of Mary Immaculate to become a bishop and the 20th African-born bishop. Below is an excerpt of his remarks following his episcopal ordination.

I come in humility to a land full of potential--the province of my birth!

My birth in Lukulu and my upbringing have taught me a lot about life and relationships. I am a witness to the growth of the Church of Western Province and also the many dynamics that shape our lives as a people. With this, I take up the role of leading the Church of Mongu Diocese. We shall share the stories of Sikongo, stories that shape the lives of the people of Kakwacha; we shall speak of Kashina Ng’ombe; we shall talk of the life in Siyombo; we shall share of the life of the people of Longe and of Likapai, of Nalonde and Muyondoti. That is our life. In humility we shall do that which the Lord Jesus Christ is telling us to do for the Church, and for the diocese. Above all, we shall be aware of what Jesus is telling each one of us to be and do for the poor and the voiceless of our society. Listening to the Words of Jesus, as recorded in the Scriptures given to me today, will help me to do that what Jesus tells me to do.

I pledge myself to work with everyone in the Diocese, both the Catholics and those from other denominations. I will work with the deacons, the local clergy of the diocese, the laity, the religious men and women in the diocese. My role will be that of a shepherd, a teacher in communion with other bishops. I pledge myself to preserve unity in the Church. Our life as Church is missionary in nature. I will promote missionary works that leads to evangelization of peoples. Promotion of vocations will be fundamental in the diocese.

I extend my working relationship also to all the politicians that carry the political dispensation of our nation. My role is to animate and shepherd. Be free to interact with me. Welcome to my diocese, the Catholic Diocese of Mongu. Never be a stranger in this diocese. Let us work together so that our diocese and province can graduate from being the poorest and become like the rest of the provinces in the country. In fact, the province in its richness has already contributed a lot to the nation by providing leaders and other prominent persons who run the affairs of the nation.

Our voices on the issues of development will never be silenced. The Church’s voice will always be sound and clear when it comes to issues of justice, peace, reconciliation, morality, development, economics, education, health, and other issues that affect our people. The people of Western province know the colour, shape, size and the taste of development. When we come face to face with development, we shall not hesitate to tell the nation that development has now visited us and has come to stay…. We are still being called the poorest province in the nation; then how can we be told that Western Province is experiencing development! My voice will be heard on these issues. My voice will not be silent and silenced. To be silent on issues affecting our people will be to betray what I have committed myself to today. I might be young, yet I know what development looks like when it comes knocking on our doors.

To the political leaders of the province, I will be your frequent visitor to look at various issues that will bring about good political dispensation in the province. I know that working together as Church, the political leadership, government representatives and the Barotse Royal Establishment, we can achieve a lot for our province and also we can offer a lot to the nation. We can no longer live together separately. … I shall speak, not because there is a certain political party in power, but because in the province there is the presence of the voiceless and poor. So, my voice will always be there [whatever] ... parties we have in Zambia are in power. This is a promise I make at this time. We shall never rest until our hearts rest in real issues of our nation.

Meeting of Oblate Institutes of Higher Learning

The 4th meeting of the executive group of the Association of Oblate Institutes of Higher Learning convened at Red Acres Retreat Centre, Merrivale, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, from May 29-June 2, 2011. In attendance at this year’s meeting were representatives of all six members of the Association: Jarek ROZANSKI, Obra-University of Warsaw (Warsaw); Dr. Chantal Beauvais, Saint Paul University (Ottawa); Dr. Scott Woodward, Oblate School of Theology (San Antonio); Didier MUPAYA, Institut Saint-Eugene (Kinshasa); Sylvester DAVID, St. Joseph Theological Institute (Cedara); and, Eduardo TANUDTANUD, Notre Dame University (Cotabato). Also present were Fabio CIARDI, Director of Oblate Studies and Research and Warren BROWN, liaison to the General Council.

Left to Right: Eduardo Tanudtanud, OMI; Didier Mupaya, OMI; Dr. Scott Woodward;
Susan Rakoczy, IHM; Dr. Chantal Beauvais; Fabio Ciardi, OMI;
Warren Brown, OMI; Sylvester David, OMI; Jaroslav Rozanski, OMI.

Fr. Ciardi was invited to give his reflections to the group on the role of the Oblate institutes of higher studies regarding study and research on the charism of St. Eugene and the Oblate charism as it is lived today. In his presentations he offered several proposals to the Association members on how they might become better resources to the Oblate congregation in areas of study and research on the Oblate charism.

The Association invited the members of the faculty of St. Joseph Theological Institute to participate in the sessions with Fr. Ciardi. Fr. Paul DECOCK gave a special presentation on the history of the Oblate formation program at Cedara and the development of St. Joseph’s.

For the members of the Association, an important part of the meeting included one-on-one meetings where the representatives of the OMI institutes could meet individually with each of their counterparts in order to plan better coordination and collaboration of efforts in specific areas. The members also took the opportunity to reflect on the 35th General Chapter’s calls to conversion and to discuss how these calls speak to the conversion of the institutes themselves and the Oblate ministry of education’s involvement in the Congregation’s mission. Following these reflections, some decisions were made by the group regarding how the institutes could be more active participants in the research and study of the Oblate Congregation’s charism and mission, as well as of the Congregation’s history and spirituality. Coordinated joint actions in areas of Oblate research and studies will be implemented in future months.

The meeting concluded with a tour of some of the Oblate historical sites in Pietermaritzburg followed by a festive supper. Next year’s meeting has been scheduled for May 22-25, 2012, at Notre Dame University, in Cotabato, Philippines. (Article by Warren A. Brown, OMI)

Mrs. Obama speaks at famous Oblate parish

Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Denis HURLEY and many other men and women whose names are famous or not as famous played major roles in the downfall of the apartheid system in the Republic of South Africa. One of the shrines of that struggle is Regina Mundi Parish in the heart of Soweto near Johannesburg. On June 22, 2011, the wife of the current president of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama, visited the church and spoke to a large crowd.

In her speech, she made the comparison between the struggle for freedom of oppressed people in South Africa and in the United States. “The story of young people 20 years ago, 50 years ago, who marched until their feet were raw. Who endured beatings and bullets and decades behind bars. Who risked and sacrificed everything they had for the freedom they deserved," she said. “And it is because of them we are able to gather here today. It is because of them that so many of these young women leaders can now pursue their dreams. It is because of them that I stand before you as first lady of the United States of America.”

Mrs. Obama encouraged young people to work against a disease that is plaguing much of the African continent: “You can be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS in our time, the generation that fights not just the disease, but the stigma of the disease,” she said.

Regina Mundi became an important symbol of the anti-apartheid movement especially after June 16, 1976, when protesting students were fired upon by the police. Many were killed. Others ran into Regina Mundi to find sanctuary. The police, however, stormed the church and continued to fire their guns. Many were injured and sacred objects in the church were damaged. One can still see the marks of the bullets in the altar, in the ceiling and a damaged figure of Christ.

The Oblates who often play host to many important visitors are the pastor of the parish, Fr. Vusimuzi Henry MAZIBUKO along with Fathers Benedict MAHLANGU and Lizwelinjani MLOTSHWA.

20 years later…

From his days of Oblate formation, his confreres already called him Yves Cardinal PLUMEY because of his great solemnity of bearing. Everyone respected him.

Actually, he never was a cardinal. But he was a leader and a shepherd, put in charge in 1946 of the first team of Oblates who arrived in Northern Cameroun. In 1955, he became the first bishop of Garoua.

Under his guidance, the Church was truly implanted in Northern Cameroun. Most of its bishops today are Africans. The same can be said about most of the priests, diocesan and Oblate.

He was able to bring into Cameroun many communities of religious women. Thanks to them, schools and dispensaries were created and developed. Thanks to them, the promotion of women became and continues to become a reality today.

One cannot forget the Brother builders. The Oblate mission in Cameroun today has not only priests but also many Oblate Brothers.

Some, without awaiting a decree from the Vatican, would give him the title of “martyr.” Indeed, no one has been able to find out who murdered him on the night of 2-3 September 1991. Nor why. At least, he lived as a witness. And this year, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this final witness.

The prevailing feeling among those who knew him is one of thanksgiving for all that has been accomplished in Cameroun, thanks to his talents as an organizer and thanks to his gentle tenacity. “A trust given and never taken back, which energized us, maintained our momentum and our enthusiasm, and gave us wings,” wrote one of his missionaries. (Audacieux pour l’Évangile, July 2011)

She gives me a lot trouble…

Brother Hervé GIVELET is in Chad. In his latest circular letter, he tells us about his work with victims of AIDS.

I have greatly cut back my activities with AIDS patients. For the moment, it is Marie who is giving me a lot of trouble. She is sick and doesn’t do anything all day long. With the nurse, we take care of her first of all, but at the same time, with the help of people in our group, I try to give her advice and find out how to help her; she does not speak French. But everyone says the same thing: “We are tired of Marie; we advise her, but she does not listen. We helped her start a little business and she uses the money for drinking. She refuses to take her medicine. We will not give her any more medicine. Let her go find it at the hospital if she wants it; and if she wants to die, let her die.” That latest opinion, I heard today.

Everyone admits that I saved Marie from death; even the doctor shook his head when she was sick and said that there was almost no hope of saving her and now they tell me: “Leave her alone; if she wants to die, leave her to the fate that she has chosen.” So why would we have saved her at any cost two years ago and now let her die of her own choice?

As if Christ, after having sweat blood in the Garden of Olives, after having taken upon himself all the sins and crimes of this earth, should still see people refusing to enter into his Kingdom; that’s almost unthinkable.

During the month of May, seven of our patients died. They found under the mattress of one woman all the boxes of antiretroviral medicine we had given her; so we could still use it!

The Lord in his kindness will surely welcome them. They are truly poor, like Marc who has AIDS and whom I met in prison. Fortunately, he got out rather quickly but he moved to Pala, abandoning his village and his field, to be closer to our Center. He has nothing; his children are in rags. The Center gave him a bit of food; I gave him medicine, milk, sugar. I bought him a mat, clothed his children, repaired the door, and gave him some money for his immediate needs, but for how long? He will have to find some work and support himself. He is too weak for farming. Stay tuned. (Audacieux pour l’Evangile, July 2011)

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