ASIA-OCEANIAEpiscopal ordination of Bishop Mark Edwards, OMI
The Episcopal Ordination of Bishops Terence Curtin and Mark EDWARDS, as Auxiliary Bishops of Melbourne, took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on 17 December 2014. President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Archbishop of Melbourne, the Archbishop Denis Hart was the Principal Consecrator. The Co-Consecrators were the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher and Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane. Many Australian Catholic Bishops, diocesan and religious priests concelebrated.
On behalf of the bishops, Bishop Curtin expressed thanks and appreciation for all the prayerful support and encouragement received. “It has been very humbling because in moments like this, as I think all the bishops would know, you become acutely aware of your own failings and limitations. But that’s not a bad thing. It means that we come to know all the more how much we depend on the grace of God and the gift of faith. The extent of that grace has been shown to us in what you, our friends, parishioners, students, have told us of our presence and ministry among you. It surprises, exceeds our expectations, and reminds us that it’s God’s work in us and not our own.
“You have before you a bishop out of the diocesan clergy of Melbourne and a bishop out of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate,” Bishop Curtin explained. “With such firm foundations I can assure you we are both from good stock, but good stock is not much use unless it’s well planted. There lies your task, dear bishops, priests and people of God, to plant us well in the joys, the hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the men and women of our age.”
Archbishop Hart said, “All of us gathered here, pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives. May they give love and compassion to the life of the Church for many years.” (Archdiocese of Melbourne)
An important recent moment for us in Korea was the visit of the Pope. It was a grace for the whole nation and not only for the Catholic Church. We Oblates participated in the Mass of Beatification, the meeting with youth, and the meeting with religious.
The words of the Pope were a strong call to conversion. It was a special grace for me to be invited to participate to the meeting the Pope had with the Episcopal Conference of Korea on August 14. I was called to be the translator into Italian for the cardinals and the people who accompanied the Pope during the meeting. I was surprised to be called because I do not have that much skill in the language. Maybe God wanted to give me that gift.
Nevertheless, I was more surprised when, at the end of the meeting, the Pope left the bishops and called me into one corner of the room. In that room, I really was physically the last (I was in the last place sitting inside the booth for the translator) and the last in order of importance. The Pope had eyes for the last one in that room and that touched me. He looked at me and called me. His words are still in my heart, but most of all I had the feeling of being with my Father who knows me well. I was holding his hands, listening to what he said to me and saying “thanks”. He encouraged me to continue the good work for the Church in Korea. Most of all through his attitude, his love for me, I learnt about the love for the least ones and that it is more important to be humble than to be perfect.
This coming 2015, the mission will celebrate its 25th anniversary and it is a time for thanksgiving, but also a time to be humble, recognizing that what we have achieved in the mission are GIFTS, fruits of the grace and the mercy of God for us. Let us pray with the words of Mary: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...for he has looked with favour to his lowly servant...He has done great things" for us. (Fr. Maurizio GIORGIANNI in The Far East Star, Autumn 2014)
“Sharing the joy of faith in Christ, we are happy to share with all the grace and joy that comes from faith. This joy arrived in Turkmenistan 18 years ago as a great gift. We still do not have a church made of brick or wood. But we built our Church of living stones”. This was stated in a note sent to Agenzia Fides by Oblate Fr. Andrzej MADEJ, Superior of the Missio sui iuris in Turkmenistan, established in 1997 by Pope St. John Paul II. Fr. Madej lives and works there, with a community of confreres, as a representative of the Holy See to Ashgabat.
“We live in a country that only twenty years ago was still part of the Soviet empire. In this country,” explains the missionary, “they tried to build a society without God, or even a society opposed to God. Today the local Church is run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and takes care of a Catholic community of about 150 people. They attend Mass in Russian and in English. It takes about three years to prepare our catechumens for Baptism.” Our community prays in a rented building, but enthusiasm is not lacking, while the number of people who come to Church continues to grow. Our Church is always trying to be a source of joy and light overlooking the Kara-Kum desert, spreading the message of love, solidarity and hope of Jesus, always trying to respect the culture and traditions of this beautiful country,” continues the Superior.
“We have witnessed how these years of life without God have left many wounds: broken families, domestic violence, wounded humanity, loss of sense of life. Many mass graves have been found. The nation lives on the ruins of ideologies without God. Now is the time of reconciliation, the beginning of renewal, of a new life, of new links and new hopes. About 18 years ago a Catholic community was reborn in the land of Turkmenistan. The Good News fascinates and attracts people to Jesus. The Word of God has the power to bring together those who have been scattered ‘like sheep without a shepherd’. Today the Church is a community of reconciliation, which heals the wounds of separation, heal hearts, gives new peace and revives confidence”, concludes Fr. Madej. (Fides Agency, 26 November 2014)
Ten years have gone by since my coming to the Japan Mission from Sri Lanka. Life is what we make of it and what we are. Kochi is one of the real mission territories where we are learning to live the mission.
In daily life I meet various people from 3 years old to 103 years old, from the kindergarten to the Home for the Aged, from those in prison to those on the outside. In each person there is always something to learn. I learn because there are many opportunities to learn. Where there is a will there is a way.
Besides working in the parish in Kochi, I also am involved in committees of the diocese. The Human Rights Committee is one of the important committees in the Diocese of Takamatsu. This committee encompasses several areas: Justice and Peace, Migrants, Refugees and People on the move, Discrimination, and Caritas Japan. We are altogether 10 members, three priests and seven lay people.
First, I joined this group as a member. Within 6 months, the Bishop asked me to be in charge of the committee. I told the bishop that I did not know the job. He told me only one thing, “To be with the people”. This is my 5th year on the committee, not doing but being. The committee members are really wonderful; we work as a team.
Caritas, which means God’s love, is one of the charitable committees in Japan. While working in the diocese, I am involved in the Osaka jurisdiction as well as on the national level. I did not know how Caritas Japan had been functioning, but after becoming a member of the National Committee, I have learned a lot. I myself do not know how much I contribute to the committees, but of one thing I am sure: “I learn a lot”.
Today I am involved in many committees not because of my talents or abilities, but because others trust me. I do my best because that is my mission. If we give opportunities to people, they will grow: trust and entrust to the person because that is mission. We become what we are because of the mission, wherever and whatever we do.
With grateful heart I would like to thank all the people who gave me opportunities to grow and for being part of my life. God Bless you all. (Fr. Anthonysamy IRUDAYARAJ in The Far East Star, autumn 2014)
On 22 November 2014, history was made in the province of Balochistan when Fr. Waqas RAZA was ordained a priest. This was the first ever priestly ordination of a native son since the arrival of the Catholic Church towards the end of the 19th century. The ordination ceremony took place at St. Pius X Parish Church, Quetta. His Excellency Victor GNANAPRAGASAM ordained the new priest. A large number of priests, religious and faithful gathered for the occasion.
Balochistan is the biggest province constituting approximately over 40% of the total land mass with a minimum population of around 5% out of around 200 million inhabitants of the whole country. The Catholic population is of about 40,000 souls. This volatile province has witnessed in recent past suicide bombings, sectarian violence and at times religious-based discrimination as well. The first ever priestly ordination a native son has helped melt the ice. There is hope that many more young boys will come forward to dedicate their lives for God and His people, especially in Balochistan. (Fr. Gulshan BARKAT)
Mazenod Youth is the newly initiated youth ministry in the Oblate Province of Colombo. It had its inaugural ceremony at the De Mazenod House Chapel on 7 December, 2014, with the participation of 50 youth from all over the country. It began with a concelebrated Holy Eucharist presided by Fr. Rohan SILVA, the Provincial Superior.
After the homily delivered by Fr. Provincial, the youth were called forward for their annual promise which they pronounced before the Provincial. They pledged that they would voluntarily serve in the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate as co-workers in the spirit of St. Eugene de Mazenod. After the promise the youth were blessed and given a specially made cross to wear.
After the Mass, there was a short gathering in which they shared a special cake to mark this memorable day. Then the Mazenod Youth theme song was played and the website for Mazenod Youth was officially launched by the Provincial. (www.mazenodyouth.com)
Fr. Provincial addressed the youth and expressed his happiness, expectations and aspirations. He was well pleased with the youth and their true commitment and willingness to work with the Oblates. He further invited the youth to be messengers and witnesses for Christ wherever they are.
After his keynote address, everyone received a Christmas Gift and some announcements were made regarding the forthcoming events and missions.
Mazenod Youth have already begun visiting the Base Hospital (Marawila in Chilaw Diocese ) and praying over the patients; they are also visiting an Elders’ Home (Wennappuwa). They are collecting reading books, exercise books and dry rations for youth and children who live in remote villages in the country. They participated in a singing Christmas carols at the Mental Hospital (Angoda, Colombo).
The theme for 2014 is: “Mazenod youth for a Better World”. (Fr. S. Randil FERNANDO)