AFRICA-MADAGASCARAssembly of OMI Lay Associates
The Second General Assembly of the Oblate Associates of the Province of Cameroun was held in N’djamena, Chad, from 24-29 May 2014.
The group of the Oblates’ Lay Associates began in Cameroon in 2008 with Fr. Edouard DAGAVOUNANSOU as the Oblate in charge of its formation on the spirituality and charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod. This group has continued to grow and expand rapidly, now under the watch of Fr. Charles EKO. It is one of the strongest and most deeply rooted sodalities in the Church in Cameroon, at least in the dioceses where the Oblates work and in parishes where they serve and even in those parishes that have been relinquished to the local clergy.
The opening Mass was presided by Fr. Eko in Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi Parish. In his homily, Fr. Charles emphasised strongly the role that every Christian is called to play in ensuring that the mission entrusted to us by Jesus continues; this mission will succeed only if our lives, actions and words are in perfect sync with the life of Jesus.
During the meeting, the group evaluated its activities over the previous two years. To help with the evaluation process and bring all the participants to see the need for a change and an imperative advent of a more reinvigorated, community-centred activities, Fr. Nicolas NGARTOLNAN spoke on the theme, “A New Heart: life in Apostolic Community”.
Other presenters were Fr. George King BABOU who spoke on the theme, “Together for the Mission”; and Brother Jean-Marie DIAKANOU whose focus was on the Oblate Triennium.
The Provincial of the Province of Cameroon, Fr. Raymond NANI, greeted all the participants and read to them the letter of the Superior General in which he thanked the Associates for having found our spirituality appealing by embracing it with assiduity and dedication to collaborate in the Mission of Christ. The Provincial, on a personal level, stressed the importance of the Associates in the life and mission of the Province and promised collaboration with them.
The Associates themselves offered some concrete resolutions amongst which: good behaviour, love of and in the family, active participation in the life of the Church, respect for one another and especially the other who is different. (Emmanuel Youngten TEMSWANG)
The conflict between Fulani herdsmen and Tiv farmers over use of a grazing land reserve is a major concern for the local community in Benue State. The Tiv people depend on agriculture, while the Fulani are herdsmen. Unfortunately the tension over land between Fulani herdsmen and Tiv farmers has resulted in conflict that has led to loss of lives, families internally displaced and properties destroyed. This is a story of the Nigerian people but it is affecting the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and their collaborators ministering in Nigeria. Fr. Cornelius Ali NNAEMEKA explains the situation:
“The Nigerian Oblate mission has always had contact with the poor with their many faces, but the challenges raised by the recent ethnic clashes in Nigeria have brought us into contact with yet another group of poor people. This new development caused us to make a shift from our regular activities of helping our parishioners have a decent life, access to clean water and quality education. In recent months, we have had to face some new challenges. This deplorable situation calls us to do what we can, by word and example, to rekindle the flame of faith and hope that seem to be dying in the hearts of our brothers and sisters.
“The above-mentioned problem first occurred in Benue State where we opened a new Oblate mission late last year. It was due to a clash between some Fulani herdsmen and Tiv farmers. Even though these two groups have lived well together for a long period of time, they have developed a new hostile relationship that left many Tiv farmers homeless. The problem is over planting and grazing lands. The people ran away from their villages due to the violence. On arriving at the city of Makurdi, they were stranded and having nowhere to go, they had to take refuge in schools and other public buildings.
“Those who took refuge in our territory, Northern Bank, Makurdi, were almost abandoned to themselves. But with the aid of parishioners from the Oblate parish, we provided the few basic necessities we could afford. We built the only sanitary facilities that the thousands of them could use. We provided in our own little way for their food and other medical needs. And some of our parishioners took care of educational needs.
“Our other contact with these victims of ethnic clashes was in Jos. The Oblate parish in Jos is made up of different ethnic groups. These people, in spite of some conflict in living together, in recent decades had a healthy relationship until some months ago. Because of a dispute over land ownership, two ethnic groups, the Bace, known as the Rukubas, fought their neighbors, the Miangos. This conflict displaced thousands of our parishioners. Many lost their relatives, their property and their houses. In this conflict, we Oblates were the major actors, since both groups were our parishioners. We also provided them with food, bedding and some basic necessities according to our own capacity as a growing mission.
“This is our recent challenge in a country where conflict seems to arise every now and then in various places. Encouraged by the support of our brother Oblates and men and women of goodwill, ‘We will labour and spare no effort with all the resources at our command to covert these affected people to see the dignity of human life and share land as their common good.’ This is our Mission. This is our Oblate calling.” (Missionary Oblates’ JPIC Blog)
men and women committed themselves, on Sunday, 13 July, as members of the
Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate, to live more deeply their Christian
life according to the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod, founder of the
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Accompanied by their chaplain, Father
Augustin MULELE, they came from the dioceses of Idiofa and Kikwit in Bandundu
Province, and from parishes served by the Missionary Oblates in the Archdiocese
of Kinshasa. The Provincial Superior of the Missionary Oblates, Father Abel
NSOLO, presided at the Mass and received their commitment in the church of St.
Having arrived from
Rome, Father Gilberto PIÑON, Assistant General of the Congregation responsible
for the mission and lay associates, presented the new associates with a medal
of St. Eugene de Mazenod. He also officially presented the Articles of
Association to journalist Désiré Baere, elected president for the DRC at the
General Assembly held on Friday at St. Eugene de Mazenod seminary,
Kinshasa-Kintambo. We are in the era of the laity, said Father Piñon, as he
told the story of the heroes of evangelization in the Church. Désiré Baere swore
fidelity to the doctrine of the Church.
In his homily at the Mass, Father Constant KIENGE-KIENGE, Vicar Provincial of the Missionary Oblates, recalled the teaching of the Church on the laity who are called to find their holiness by participating in the spirituality of certain religious families. Father Kienge-Kienge said the Lay Associates collaborate in missionary work in various ways, through prayer, but also by providing financial support. (Jean-Baptiste MALENGE)
Fr. Mariusz KASPERSKI is parish priest and also chaplain to a hospital on Morondava. He writes of his ministry with the sick:
At the request
of the bishop of the diocese, Bishop Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina, I accepted
this work. Until now, there was no priest responsible for visits to the
hospital, so I accepted this request.
I am pastor of the new parish, Saint John Paul II. We began our ministry in this diocese on 25 November 2012. We have a lot of work in the parish. At the outset, over and above the usual pastoral work, we first built a chapel, so we could celebrate Mass, no longer under the stars. Now we are building a house for the priests and a parish office.
I visit all the sick in the hospital every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. At the end of my Thursday visitation, I usually celebrate Holy Mass in the refectory. I also visit the hospital if someone should call me.
There are two groups of Christians who visit the sick along with me. They are Christians of the Legion of Mary and charismatic groups from various city parishes. These groups are well experienced in this ministry.
The hospital has about 105 beds. In our visitation, we visit those in post-surgery wards, maternity, pediatric and tuberculosis wards.
I pray in every corner where patients may be found and who ask me for prayers for themselves. I administer the sacrament of the sick and distribute Holy Communion to those who ask for it. Occasionally, I administer Baptism to patients who are seriously sick.
The crisis within the country is seen also in the hospital. If you are sick, at the moment it is not easy to be healed. If someone wants to have a place in the hospital, he himself must pay for all the medicine, but the family must his food and nourishment.
We are often asked for help for the sick. Most often these are bush people. If someone is sick with tuberculosis, he must remain in hospital for a long time. These people most often ask us for food. Others seek help to buy medicines which are very expensive in Madagascar.
By our prayers, we support those being helped in the hospital. We support them also with our material help. Jesus, our Lord, our Good Samaritan, encourages and helps us in this ministry. (www.oblatsmalagasy.org)