CANADA-UNITED STATESA young African Oblate among the Innus
After his ordination in 2012 in Cameroun, Father Gerard TSATSELAM arrived in Canada to continue the Oblate mission among the Innus of the Northern Coast. Here, he speaks of his first year in a culture so totally different from his own.
This first year of my mission on the Northern Coast has been primarily an apprenticeship in the Innu language and culture. My Oblate confreres, Laurent DESAULNIERS, Gérard BOUDREAU and Robert CHÂTEAUNEUF, have greatly facilitated my integration into the Mani-Utenam and Uashat communities. That made it possible for me to be invited by some families to experience hunting, meals and communal prayer in the woods. The forest is a place of great value. Many go there to spend the weekend. It’s there that one can find good game, but also one finds the serenity and interior peace so necessary for congenial life in community.
Some folks have equipped me with handiworks such as mittens, socks and moccasins in the local style, just in order to make me familiar with their world. There are many other welcoming gestures that they continue to show in my regard. All this encourages me and reassures me that I am entirely a member of this Christian family.
From time to time, I accompany Fr. Laurent in visits to the sick in the hospital at Sept-Iles or in their homes. When there is a death, we remain close to the grieving families by our presence at prayer vigils which they organize in the funeral homes. We also celebrate the funeral in the church, usually followed by a time of sharing with all members of the family and the community.
On the last Sunday of each month, there are baptisms in the two communities. That’s also an important time in our parish. The baptism of a newborn in a family is an occasion for getting together. Some members of the family undertake long journeys to honor the event by their presence.
As to my apprenticeship in the language, I can more or less celebrate Mass in Innu. At the beginning, I didn’t think I could do this, because of the difference between this language and those that I have been able to learn up till now. But, thank God, I have just broken the ice and little by little, I manage to pick up some words as I listen to the people speaking. While the majority is francophone, the Innu language is most commonly used by all age groups; therefore, it’s necessary to learn it and especially, to use it. Presently, a woman who teaches languages gives me lessons three times per week. With this course, I am acquiring a good foundation.
The challenge I face in this mission is to be close to people, sharing their life experiences where they are. And this is best done when you are able to speak the same language. This is what I am trying to do during this year: learn the culture and language, and finally, to find ways that will allow me to have real encounters and establish true communion. (En Mission, Vol. 2, No. 1)
Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Toronto was privileged to host an open house on August 10, m to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its service to the Archdiocese of Toronto, different Christian denominations and to the secular society.
The retreat house had a display of the different programs run by the Queen of Apostles Team. Some of the programs include Advent and Lenten retreats, Catholic Women’s League, Engaged Encounter, Marriage Encounter, Seniors’ Retreats, ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology and Service) for Women and Men,, Deacons’ Retreats, RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), Students’ Retreats and Sisters’ Retreats. The open house was an opportunity for all to refresh their fond memories and to learn about the new developments in the centre over the last fifty years.
Refreshments and souvenirs were given to the 500 visitors throughout the day and the ACTS program provided musical entertainment.
During the festivities, both Fr. Marian GIL, Provincial of Assumption Province, and Fr. Chris PULCHNY, Director of Queen of Apostles, thanked the past and present staff for their dedicated service over the past 50 years and the great hospitality of the retreat house. (by Fr. Tomy THOMAS in Assumption Province News and Views, July-August 2013)
The parish of St. Eugene de Mazenod was canonically erected in the diocese of Brownsville, Texas, by decree of Bishop Raymundo J. Peña on September 21, 1996; it was the first parish in the USA to bear the name of the newly canonized founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The site was formerly known as Our Lady of Peace Mission, a dependent station of Christ the King Parish of Brownsville. The growth of the community prompted the creation of this independent parish and the Missionary Oblates responded to Bishop Peña’s invitation to staff the new parish. In 1998, His Eminence Francis Cardinal GEORGE, Archbishop of Chicago, also an Oblate, celebrated an outdoor Mass at this location to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Oblates to what is now the Diocese of Brownsville.
Saint Eugene de Mazenod parish is finally going to have a new church rather than the temporary metal-sided building that has been the center of worship, catechism and fellowship activities since the parish began. With the help of a Catholic Extension Society gift and with the hard work of the parishioners and its pastor, Fr. Timothy PAULSEN, construction is underway.
Decorating the new church will be a large replica of the Oblate cross. Monsignor Bernard Gully and the parishioners of Holy Spirit Church in Big Spring, Texas, donated the cross which formerly hung in the now-closed Sacred Heart church, once an Oblate parish. Rancher Kyle Clement brought the cross to Our Lady of Refuge parish in Roma, Texas, where Fr. James ERVING is pastor. He was joined there by Roma parishioners, Luis Angel Guillen and his two sons, Luis Angel III and Alejandro for the final delivery to its new location and a blessing by the pastor, Fr. Paulsen.
Thanks to publications by Oblate authors, we can “relive” the epic of the pioneers who came to evangelize our region.
On August 24, on the site of the St. Claude Mission (on the Ontario side, opposite Fort Témiscamingue near Ville-Marie), we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the first Oblate residence by Father Jean-Marie PIAN. The Sisters of Charity of Ottawa came to join the Oblates three years later (1866). The commemoration included a look at the facts and the people who founded the mission. Sister Madeleine Dumas, Chancellor of the Diocese, represented the Sisters of Charity, and I represented the Oblates, both in the garb of that era and arriving in canoe...
Nations representatives were present. Presiding at the Eucharist were our two
bishops: Bishop Serge Poitras of Timmins and Bishop Dorylas Moreau of Rouyne-Noranda.
About 150 persons were gathered on the shore of Lake Témiscamingue to recall
the even and to pay tribute.
The Canoe-Camping Association of Lake Témiscamingue, which bought the plot from the Oblates, wants to make it a memorial site. (Rene GAUTHIER in INFO OMI, September 15, 2013)
For more than 50 years, Fr. George McLEAN has been traveling the world, helping people of different faiths and cultures better understand each other, and in the process building a more tolerant and respectful society based upon their religious values.
He is the founder and president of the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP) in Washington, D.C. The council is made up of prominent philosophers and social scientists from many countries who work to build cooperation among peoples by healing tensions and promoting peace and cooperation on a global scale.
“There is an urgent need of deep exploration of the relation of faith and reason, of religion and modern life,” said Fr. McLean. “For this, there is a great need to share our common experiences and insights and to think through how a religious perspective can engage the secular mind and how faith can be lived in the modern context.”
At the opening of the World
Congress of Philosophy in Athens, Greece, on August 4, 2013 the Council for
Research in Values and Philosophy received the Global Dialogue Prize 2013 for
its work promoting the philosophical study of culture and values. This has
included among others: 30 annual seminars, 150 international conferences, and
300 volumes in the RVP publication series “Cultural Heritage and Contemporary
Change”. The award honors all throughout the world who have participated in
The Award citation concludes: “In awarding the GDP to the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, the committee acknowledges the work of all who, as a community of scholars, have realized the academic and cultural achievements of this organization. The committee wishes to recognize and honor in particular the outstanding personal initiative and professional accomplishments of Professor George McLean who founded the Council, has been directing it since it was established, and has served as the general editor of the book series Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change. Prof. McLean has endowed the Council with irenic wisdom and a superior vision of global dialogue as a praxis and a spirit that has many human faces.” (From “Oblate World,” February 2013 and an RVP brochure)
Some beloved members of the diocese of Whitehorse, Yukon, are about to depart. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate are saying farewell after 120 plus years in the Yukon.
On June 22, there was an official farewell Mass and evening in honor of Fr. Jim BLEAKLEY, the last active Oblate in the Territory. Along with Fr. Jim, all of the Oblates who have served in the diocese were fondly and tearfully remembered.
Bishop Gary Gordon officiated at the liturgy, flanked by Fr. Jim and visiting Oblates Robert LAROCHE, Richard BEAUDETTE, Jack HERKLOTZ, as well as Fr. Claude Gosselin. Brother Tom CAVANAUGH was in the congregation. Fr. Jean Marie MOUCHET (96) had already travelled home to France for the summer, while Fr. Pierre RIGAUD (93) joined us in spirit from his room at the Oblate Center across the road from Maryhouse.
Symbols of the Oblates’ presence and work within the diocese were displayed before the altar: an original dog sled (minus dogs), a parka, snowshoes, skis, and an Oblate missionary cross and missal. Before the final blessing, Bishop Gary thanked Fr. Jim and the Oblates in a beautiful tribute to their heroic service to the people of the North.
Following an informal barbecue supper, we gathered for a couple hours of tributes to the Oblates, highlighted by a visual presentation of their life and work here. Long-time Yukoners and parishioners gave moving tributes to these wonderful men and servants of the Church.
The Oblates had come from France over 100 years ago to serve in this far North diocese. Given an axe and a saw (and not much more!) and bringing with them the sacred vessels for celebrating Mass, they were sent out to their assigned mission villages, one of the farthest being the village of Old Crow, some 475 miles from Whitehorse. They learned to travel by dog team and sled, obtain much of their food by hunting, trapping and fishing, and to build their own rectory and a church. Most had little or no preparation for these arduous tasks.
The pioneer Oblates lived hard lonely lives and didn’t see gratifying results from their work. One Oblate had been of the minor nobility in France before joining the Oblates, and loved music; another who had also previously known wealth was seen carrying his stove on his back out at his village.
To mention a couple of these heroic Oblates by name: Fr. Joe PLAINE always chose to live in strict poverty, even when later in life he could have had more comforts. Known for his intense prayer life, in his retirement he went out visiting people in Whitehorse, and was always available to them. Fr. Rigaud always followed ‘the people’ (the Indians of the village) wherever they travelled on their wintertime hunting sojourns. One midnight as he was following them, using his team of Huskies and sled, he became aware of a pack of vicious timber wolves running alongside of him. After two hours of goading his lead dog on without wavering, the wolves finally turned back, an exhausting and terrorizing experience for both man and dogs. If the lead dog had hesitated, it would have meant death for all. (Excerpted from Restoration, September 2013 – by Maureen Denis)