ASIA-OCEANIACelebrating the Founder
An aura of reverence pervaded the Fatima Church, Maradana, on Saturday, 21 May 2011. The occasion was the 150th anniversary of the birth into heaven of the St. Eugene de Mazenod, the Founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The celebration was filled with pomp and pageantry befitting the occasion.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, was welcomed at the entrance to Fatima Church and he hoisted the national, papal and Oblate flags. He then presided at a Eucharistic celebration. Concelebrating were Bishop Norbert ANDRADI of Anuradhapura and Fr. Rohan SILVA, provincial of the Colombo Province. Also present were the Archbishops Emeriti of Colombo, the Most Reverends Nicholas Marcus Fernando and Oswald Gomis.
The Ampitiya Scholasticate choir, under the direction of Brother Sameera FONSEKA, added luster to the occasion with their singing. In keeping with the universality of the Church and the missionary character of the Oblates, the Mass was conducted and hymns sung in three languages. Bishop Andradi delivered an impressive and appropriate homily on the life and times of St. Eugene de Mazenod. A pictorial exhibition of St. Eugene’s life was held on the church premises.
After the Eucharist, the guests proceeded to Hedges Court for a reception made available by Mr. Mohanned Nafiz. The celebration concluded with the presentation of souvenirs to some of the guests by the provincial, Fr. Silva. (Russel Fernando)
In June, Cotabato City and the neighboring municipalities were in a state of calamity. Flooded rivers brought tons of water hyacinth or water lilies downstream, clogging the Rio Grande de Mindanao, overflowing both banks, and submerging almost 36 districts of Cotabato City and some areas in the municipality of Sultan Kudarat.
For almost two weeks, people practically lived in a “water world,” wading through sometimes waist-deep water. Classes in schools were suspended and people evacuated to higher grounds and drier areas.
At the height of the flood and the ensuing evacuation in Cotabato City and environs, Father Ramon BERNABE, Provincial of the Philippines, made the appeal for a modest effort to alleviate the plight of the evacuees. The immediate response was to organize a “Water Brigade” under the auspices of the Oblate Missionary Foundation (OMF).
Considering the need for clean and safe drinking water in the midst of floodwaters and the difficult conditions in the evacuation areas, the OMF concentrated its efforts in distributing purified drinking water. With the help of volunteers who included Oblate novices, pre-novices, and junior seminarians, and with the support of donors, the “OMF Water Brigade” started providing purified drinking water to 3 evacuation centers (Krislamville, Tamontaka and Notre Dame Village). As of July 1, 2011, the “Water Brigade” had served more than 2000 families with 18,927 liters (5,000 gallons) of clean drinking water.
Under its Calamity Assistance Program, the Foundation formed a “disaster response team” headed by Bro. Noel GARCIA and Bing Estela of the Provincial Office. In some evacuation areas, Frs. Mon Bernabe, Dennis GUI and Jonathan DOMINGO, Deacons Rockmoore SANIEL and Boyet PALOMO and other lay volunteers helped in the water distribution. (OMI Philippines, July 2011)