GENERAL ADMINISTRATIONThank you, Fr. Nino! – Welcome Fr. Shanil!
The vocation of the Oblate Communications Service is to help the Congregation, in faithfulness to the spirit of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, to share past and present experiences and to promote unity while respecting and valuing differences. In other words, the Service wants to make an important contribution to the communion between the General Administration and the whole Congregation and, at the same time, among the different Units, helping to create that family spirit so dear to the heart of the Founder. (OMI Information, No. 523, June 2012)
At the end of September 2014, Fr. Antonino “Nino” BUCCA concludes 11 years at the helm of the Oblate Communications Service as he moves on to a new obedience in the Mediterranean Province and Crocifisso Parish in Rome. Replacing him is Fr. Shanil JAYAWARDENA, originally from the Colombo Province in Sri Lanka.
During Nino’s tenure at the General House, we have seen many changes and innovations, especially in the offerings of the Congregation’s official website (www.omiworld.org) of which he has been the webmaster. One can find there a very useful electronic library of many Oblate resources: books written by or about Oblates; publications such as “Missions” (1862-1878); “Vie Oblate Life” (1974-2011); Études Oblates (1942-1973); Oblate Anecdotes; Interviews; Writings of Superiors General; OMI Information, OMI Documentation, the Communique of the Central Government’s plenary sessions (all dating from the early days of the use of the computer at the General House); and many other resources for the study of the history and the charism of the Congregation.
During the 2010 General Chapter, Nino did a masterful job producing videos of the day by day proceedings of that important gathering. His video of the election of the Superior General received praise in other international media outlets for the openness and candor of the Oblate election process. (http://goo.gl/Noj4Fw)
Nino is also known for his creative way of working with young adults. Besides his work at the General House, he has offered his services ministering with students at the Sapienza University in Rome. For the past five years, he has been chaplain at two schools of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, with a total of 1,500 students. He has also been the inspiration and also the producer of a musical version of the story of the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. The production of “Aquero” has taken place for 18 years in Lourdes and various Italian cities. He was also the Executive Producer of an oratorio written for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Eugene de Mazenod. “Mistral” was first produced in Rome at Divino Amore Shrine on 21 May2011 and then at the Oblate World Youth Days held in Madrid, Spain, in that same year. He has also produced three CD’s of liturgical songs, always with the collaboration of professional artists and musicians.
Nino’s replacement at the Oblate Communications Service, Fr. Shanil Jayawardena, arrived in Rome in June 2013. He has spent the past year studying Italian and following courses in the area of communications at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.
Born in Sri Lanka in 1981, he was ordained to the priesthood in 2008. Before coming to service in the General Administration, he ministered in his native country as a member of the Oblate preaching band “Nazareth” in Wennappuwa. He also led the Sri Lankan delegation for the Oblate Youth Encounter and the World Youth Day held in Spain in 2011.
From 14 July until 2 August 2014, 23 formators met in Aix en Provence,
for a formation session, especially for the prenovitiate phase. The first week
focused on sharing prenovitiate experiences and programs in the different Units
of the Congregation. Participants were able to listen to and discuss the good
news and the challenges related to this phase of formation in our Units and
During the second week, Father Michael MORRISSEY helped us to better understand the importance and merits of human formation at the prenovitiate level and how best to support the prenovices, taking into account their human growth and helping them to know themselves better.
The third and final week was dedicated to the place of the Oblate charism in the prenovitiate formation program. With the help of Father Joe LABELLE, we understood better how to integrate elements of the Oblate charism and the life of the Founder into the formation and preparation of the prenovices. A retreat day hosted by the superior of the Aix community, Father Krzysztof ZIELENDA, allowed us to enjoy a moment of silence, to assimilate all that we had lived and received throughout the session.
The session was primarily a fraternal experience which gave the formators physical contact with the places of our foundation in the first year of the Oblate Triennium. The various activities fostered living together, sharing and mutual understanding, visiting the St. Eugene de Mazenod sites and making us more responsive to the importance of this phase of formation.
The various exchanges and sessions created among the formators a greater awareness of the importance of this first step of Oblate formation and their responsibility as formators. It is a time of preparation for the novitiate that consists in getting to know the candidates better and accompanying them, so they can know themselves more deeply so as to better respond to God’s call. Human growth and Christian education are two areas to which the prenovitiate phase must pay special attention. It is necessary to take the time to accompany these young people; this implies full-time formators who are well prepared and supported by a stable team.
In his fraternal message to the participants, Father General reminded us that the prenovitiate is the “door” to all Oblate formation and, therefore, formators must ensure the good health of this human “raw material” and the strength of their spiritual formation.
To achieve this, it is essential to develop a good formation program for the prenovitiate, in light of the General Norms of Oblate formation, preferably in consultation with the Units of the same region. Coordinating the prenovitiate program with the other phases of formation can ensure continuity between one phase and the other and a better monitoring of the progress of each young person. The prenovitiate must have the place it deserves in the formational progress of the candidates. We must therefore avoid improvisation or the tendency to regard university studies, especially of philosophy, as the primary focus of a prenovitiate formation.
The formators came away more aware of their responsibility, and they rely on the fraternal support of their major superiors in the ministry of presence that the Congregation has given them. They are aware that, as formators, they are called to be both witnesses and guardians of the Oblate charism and must regularly form and convert themselves. Indeed, formation is a process that lasts a lifetime. (Cornelius NGOKA)
The International St. Eugene de Mazenod Center in Aix is committed to
promoting the Oblate charism and Oblate spirituality. The Aix community makes every effort to live in the spirit and charism of St. Eugene de
Mazenod, including his predilection for the most abandoned.
In other words, they live their mission
with love and passion offering their dynamism
and selflessly sharing their expertise.
Beginning on 5 August, twenty-two young Oblates took part in a session in preparation for perpetual vows. They represented 14 countries. One could say, the whole world was represented in Aix! There were 9 Oblates from the International Scholasticate in Rome; two from the scholasticate in Vermicino, Italy; eight from Poland; and one each from China, Germany and Canada. Two of them are their second year of studies for the licentiate (moral theology and canon law). The rest are approaching the end of the first cycle of theological studies. Each large group of scholastics was accompanied by a formator, also reflecting the international dimension of our congregation: Frs. Edward DAGAVOUNANSOU (Cameroon), Gennaro ROSATO (Italy), Sébastien BÜNING (Germany) and Piotr PIASECKI (Poland).
Despite the fatigue of the road, these young Oblate scholastics arrived filled with enthusiasm, energy and joy. They arrived to prepare for perpetual oblation by drinking from the fountain of the charism of the Founder. In the words of St. Eugene, they came “to set their lukewarm hearts on fire.” They came to the place it all began to be animated by the same spirit, which calls us to bring Jesus to the ends of the earth.
Filled with the joyful awareness of being at Aix, the source of our Oblate charism, their excitement was contagious. Another exciting dimension of this extraordinary meeting was the intercultural and international scope of the group, experienced by some for the very first time. This meeting was a remarkable opportunity for them to experience and be enriched by the intercultural richness of our Oblate family. This was perhaps the last meeting for some as scholastics; therefore each young Oblate, in his own way, contributed to creating fraternity and conviviality with one another. (Jean-Dieulhomme DUVERSEAU)