CANADA-UNITED STATESAlaskan youth on a mission trip
On July 13, 14
teens and 7 chaperones from two Oblate parishes on the Kenai Peninsula joined those
from a parish in Anchorage and boarded the ferry in route to Kodiak, Alaska. In
Kodiak, they joined forces with 14 teens and Fr. Frank Reitter at St. Mary’s
Bro. Victor Manuel PATRICIO, an Oblate scholastic studying in San Antonio, Texas, and who had just arrived in Alaska for a month, participated in the week-long mission trip. He was a great asset and role model for the teens. The Mission Trip consisted of leadership workshops in the morning and service projects in the afternoon, and an evening Mass to wrap up the day.
During the workshops the youth participated in team activities that required leadership and team work. They learned about a well-known personality test and how to work with people of different personalities. They also had guest speakers from the Rotary Club and the US Navy SEALs. During Mass, the youth served as altar servers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and musicians.
In the afternoon, Fr. Frank Reitter kept them busy with projects around St. Mary’s school and church. The youth designed and painted a mural on one of the church buildings, designed and built a Rosary Walk, and did other cleaning and maintenance tasks.
After a week of hard work, on July 18, the young missionaries from the Kenai Peninsula boarded the ferry for the return journey and to begin making a difference at home! (By Eli Woodvine in OMIUSA, September 2014)
Founded in 1818, the University of Saint Boniface is the Francophone University for Western Canada. It offers excellence in a college and university education and is adapted to respond to the needs of its students while developing leaders for society.
On September 16, 2014, a Students’ Residence at St. Boniface University (USB) in Winnipeg received a place name designation in the course of a short ceremony which took place on the grounds before the building. In honor of the contribution made by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Manitoba towards USB, from now on, the building will be designated as Father Théophile LAVOIE, O.M.I. Residence.
The rector of
USB, Gabor Csepregi explains: “The residence was bought from the Oblates in
2005 at a very reasonable price. The generosity on the part of this religious
order enabled USB to promote its profile and its ability to offer lodging to
students, young Canadian men and women, and international students, and that is
a gesture we want to acknowledge. This initiative has enabled us to extend our
campus and to develop the services we offer the community. The designation
permits us to bring to a happy conclusion this fine project and to go forward
seeking new solutions for student lodgings at Saint Boniface for our student
men and women. As well, the role, that as rector, Father Lavoie played on behalf
of our institution at the time of its incorporation was of great importance
and, that too, must be underlined.”
“In the name of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for choosing Father Théophile Lavoie to lend his name to adorn the students residence of the University of Saint Boniface,” said Father Edmond PARADIS, superior of the Taché District of the OMI Lacombe Province. “By making this choice, the university is giving recognition to the role that the Oblates played in university education. Thank you.”
Father Théophile Lavoie, educator and priest, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was born November 6, 1836, at Kamouraska in Lower Canada. He was the 8th rector of the establishment.
A monument placed on the residence grounds was also unveiled. Upon it, one can read the following inscription: From 1860 to 1866 and again from 1870 to 1878, the Oblates administered Saint Boniface College. During this second period, Théophile Lavoie, O.M.I. (1836-1908), administrator of the College at the time, took in hand its incorporation (1871) and, as a representative of the College’s founders, negotiated the creation of the University of Manitoba in 1877. (Info Taché, 19 September 2014)
Upon her death in 1961, Sarita Kenedy East left a part of her vast, 400,000 acre La Parra Ranch in South Texas to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, to be used for “religious purposes.” The Oblates had had an important role in preaching the Gospel to the workers on the ranch. The “Cavalry of Christ,” missionaries on horseback, were well-known in the entire Rio Grande Valley. Near the little chapel on the ranch, there lies the Cowboy Cemetery where the Kenedy and East families are buried near the cowboys or rancheros who took care of the vast estate. It was in that cemetery that Fr. Francis Kelly NEMECK chose to be buried 17 September 2014.
Father Kelly (as
he was known) was a great influence in the spiritual lives of countless men and
women - married, single, vowed religious, priests, and bishops. He professed
his first vows as an Oblate in 1955. In preparation for the priesthood, he
studied philosophy at De Mazenod Scholasticate (today’s Oblate School of
Theology) in San Antonio and theology at St. Joseph Scholasticate in Ottawa,
Canada. During the course of these studies he was drawn to the thought of the
Jesuit cosmologist and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who envisioned
all of creation evolving to ultimate reunion with Jesus Christ. Teilhard’s
thought was a lifelong influence in his spirituality. His other model was St.
John of the Cross, whom he studied very deeply and followed in his spirituality
very closely. Those who knew Fr. Kelly saw in him a modern mystic.
He achieved a doctorate in spiritual theology at the Catholic Institute in Lyons, France, during which time he also taught and directed retreats in Ontario, Canada. His dissertation in 1973, under the direction of Henri de Lubac, S.J., developed the thought of Teilhard de Chardin and St. John of the Cross on the constructive value of human suffering
In late 1973, he joined the house of prayer founded earlier that year by Fr. Hervé MARCOUX, in the former main house of the vast La Parra Ranch. The fact that Fr. Marcoux had named the house of prayer Lebh Shomea, Hebrew for “listening heart,” certainly corresponded with Fr. Kelly’s own contemplative spirit. Together with Sisters Marie Theresa Coombs and Maria Meister, hermits, Father Kelly developed Lebh Shomea during the next forty years into an internationally recognized place of silent contemplation and discernment for thousands of people from all walks of life. Drawing people to Lebh Shomea were the silence and the small hermitages where they could truly experience aloneness with God.
Together with Marie Theresa Coombs, he coauthored many books on spiritual discernment and direction, which have also been translated into Spanish. These books are considered by many as classics to be read by anyone who is serious about becoming a spiritual director.
He also traveled to San Antonio to teach courses in spirituality and discernment at Oblate School of Theology for several years. Deteriorating health forced him to leave Lebh Shomeah in 2013. He died on 11 September in San Antonio at the Oblate Madonna Residence.