EUROPEAward of the ‘Good Samaritan Medal’
The Missionary Oblates of Mary
Immaculate have been organizing pilgrimages from Britain and Ireland to Lourdes
since 1888. For the last 28 years, Fr. Vincent MULLIGAN has led the group. Each
year in September, the Oblates journey with 120 sick pilgrims to the famous
The care of the sick has been at
the core of Fr. Vincent’s ministry. He is highly regarded for his dedication to
caring for those who are often forgotten and rejected by modern day society.
This year, to mark his distinguished service and on the occasion of his golden
jubilee as a priest, he was awarded the “Good Samaritan Medal” by the
Pontifical Council for Health Care workers. Bishop Ray Field, Auxiliary of
Dublin, presented the medal. Fr. Vincent is the first person in Ireland to
receive this award.
In awarding the medal, Archbishop
Zygmunt Zimowski wrote: “As President of the Pontifical
Council for Health Care Workers, I feel honoured to grant the award of the Good
Samaritan medal to a distinguished priest of the Anglo-Irish Province of the
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Fr. Vincent Mulligan, OMI, for being a
neighbour, for being the Christ for the many brothers and sisters he has helped
flee to mother Mary, during their times of pain and trial, knowing that she
would listen to her suffering children and bring them close to the heart of her
Son and their brother Christ. Thank you for being an instrument of God’s love
and compassion. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging them to trust in God
always. Thank you for being a good Samaritan. Thank you for being somebody they
can lean on in their pilgrimage.”
On 22 – 25 September, the Oblates in the Ukraine Delegation held their annual study days at Obukhiv and completed celebrations of the 25th anniversary of their ministry in that country. Present for the celebration were two Oblate bishops and former delegation superiors, Bishop Jacek PYL, the Auxiliary Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol, and Bishop Radoslaw ZMITROWICZ, Auxiliary Bishop of Kamyanets-Podilskyi. Also present were the Vicar Provincial of the Polish Province, Fr. Marcin SZAFORS and the Vice-Director of the Polish Province’s Mission office, Fr. Mariusz BOSEK. The Ukraine Delegation is attached to the Polish Province.
At one point, the Superior General, Fr. Louis LOUGEN, was able to join the celebration via Skype. Also joining via Skype were Frs. Peter BIELEWICZ and Andzej MADEJ who were in Belorussia at the time, as well as Fr. Krzysztof BUZIKOWSKI in Eupatoria, occupied Crimea.
The time together in Obukhiv was filled with reflection on the history of the Delegation, but also with thoughtful reflection on the future. Many of the Oblates shared their experience of working in Ukraine: there were interesting and sometimes unusual stories, often colorful and amusing, illustrated with photos and videos. Much time was given to communal prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. Prayer was offered for the intentions of the Delegation, for vocations and for the continued precarious situation in Ukraine.
At the close of the gathering, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Thomas Edward Gullickson, presided at Eucharist, concelebrated with Bishop Pyl and the Oblates. Before the Mass, there was the dedication of a statue of St. Eugene located on the façade of the church. The Nuncio received a warm welcome from the Delegation Superior, Fr. Pavlo WYSZKOWSKI.
A few days later, on 27 September, the parish in Tyvriv celebrated the Oblate anniversary. Mons. Bronislaw Biernacki, Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol, presided at the Eucharist. This bishop had been very helpful to the Oblates in the early days of the mission in Ukraine. His Auxiliary, Bishop Pyl concelebrated, as did Fr. Marian GIL, the Provincial of Assumption Province in Canada.
The Oblate mission in Crimea continues. As a community, we would like to thank the entire Oblate family for their prayers and support. We have often felt the strength of this community that St. Eugene so frequently emphasized.
With its seaside setting, our house was always a place of summer retreat and repose for children and families. This summer, unfortunately, we were unable to offer this service. The house was empty because no group was interested in coming.
During this period, we have been living with uncertainty about whether we would be able to carry out our normal pastoral work in Crimea. In September, we began our pastoral year, with all the activities that we did in the past. Our mission territory is the city of Eupatoria and several nearby towns. On a regular basis, we get to all of the places where the faithful gather. The faithful also experience this feeling of uncertainty. But for them, they insist that the presence of the Oblates is a “source of hope.” The lay people are deeply involved in our Oblate mission.
Like all parishes in Crimea, we are facing the issue of re-registering. Another serious business is the residency permit of the Oblates with the Office of Immigration. No one among the Oblate Delegation has a passport of the Russian Federation. Therefore, in order for us to continue our ministry, we must obtain the appropriate permits to stay in Crimea.
As Oblates of the Immaculate, we have begun a month of pilgrimage with the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. This is our response to the spiritual needs of the region as we pray to God for the Oblate ministry in this place. Those who are interested may visit our website: http://www.evpatoria.omi.org.ua/
The history of the Oblate reviews and magazines
goes back to the year 1862 when Fr. Joseph FABRE, the second Superior General,
initiated the review called ‘Missions’. It provided a common platform for the
Oblates to share their joys and sorrows in missions with one another. Since
then many Oblates around the world have become enthusiastic users of printed
and electronic media for evangelization. Such an enthusiastic group of editors
of Oblates magazines, reviews and newsletters in Europe gathered together at
the Polish Provincial House in Poznan from October 15 to 17.
The main organizers of the event were Frs. Pasquale CASTRILLI, the editor of Missioni OMI in Italy and Marcin WRZOS, the editor of MisyjneDrogi in Poland. At his introductory talk Fr. Pasquale revealed that it was 18 years ago that such a meeting was last organized, when the European editors met in Mainz, Germany in 1996. The idea of another such encounter was first born when a group of young Oblates from across Europe gathered together in Spain two years ago. Therefore this was a much anticipated occasion for the participants.
Fr. Fabio CIARDI set the perfect tone to the whole discussion when he did an excellent presentation on ‘Media and Evangelization’. After that Fr. Pasquale read out the message from the Superior General where he pointed out the importance of collaboration among Oblates to live our charism in today’s context. Much of the first and second days were dedicated to hearing from the participants about their own work in the fields of printed and electronic media in their respective countries. Then there were several rounds of discussion on the preparation for the Oblate Triennium, the better collaboration among Oblate magazines and the future of our publications. Several key practical decisions were made including the agreement to create common internet platforms to share photos and news articles.
were 18 participants altogether including Pasquale and Marcin: Frs. Alfons
KUPKA, Wojciech KLUJ, Blazei MIELCAREK (Poland); Christoph HEINEMANN (Germany);
Elio FILARDO (Rumania); Fabio CIARDI, Shanil JAYAWARDENA (General
Administration); Zbigniew OPYD (France-Benelux); Cyprian CZOP (Ukrain); Bro.
Bertrand EVELIN (France); Scholastics Maciej DRZEWICZAK, Pawel
PILARCZYK(Poland) and Gianluca RIZZARO (Italy); and lay collaborators Kinga
Baszczuk, Katarzyna Zielony (Poland) and Sebastian Veits (Germany).
The gathering ended on a very positive note when the participants unanimously proposed and seconded to gather again after two years to evaluate progress. Big thanks to the Polish Provincial House community who warmly welcomed the visitors and provided all the necessary facilities to make the event a success. (Shanil Jayawardena)