551 - January 2015
December 6th, 2014 - January 7th, 2015

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LATIN AMERICA

Episcopal ordination of Bishop Guillermo Steckling, OMI

On 21 December, the San Blas Cathedral of Ciudad del Este was too small for the large crowd of faithful who had come to witness the episcopal ordination of their new Shepherd, Bishop Guillermo STECKLING, former Superior General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Presiding at the ordination was the President of the Episcopal Conference of Paraguay, Mons. Claudio Giménez, Bishop of Caacupé.

Most members of the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference were present, including another Oblate, Bishop Lucio ALFERT, of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pilcomayo.

To replace a bishop removed from office for various reasons, the Holy Father turned to a veteran missionary who had spent 18 years in Paraguay before being called to the General Administration of the Oblates, first as Assistant General (1992-1998) and then as Superior General (1998-2010). It will be Bishop Guillermo’s task to seek to unite the faithful and the clergy again, after the contentious exit his predecessor.

Prior to his ordination, Bishop Guillermo called a press conference to speak about the ordination ceremony. He indicated that he had only recently arrived in that part of Paraguay and that he needed to take a tour of all of the parishes. He said that he was consulting other bishops about some of the sensitive issues facing the diocese, such as improving the seminary that has 80 candidates.

The new bishop said he is used to traveling. “My custom is to travel as a missionary. I want to go to all the parishes and chapels. From my youth, I have been used to going on foot, on motorcycle and on horseback, sleeping wherever I go as part of a missionary congregation.”



Living the OMI charism with youth

Last 9 November, we young people from different youth groups in the Parish of Nuestra Señora de la Paz in Lima, Peru, combined our talents to share with other youth how we live the Oblate charism that makes us happy and brothers and sisters in Christ. That charism, which St. Eugene immortalized with his personality and his dedication to the poor, today is reflected in every Oblate who accompanies us in the various communities in our country.

We called this first event “JOR JOMI 2014” which stands for “Jornada de los Jóvenes Oblatos de María Inmaculada 2014” (Day of the Young Oblates of Mary Immaculate 2014). We prepared it in spirit of camaraderie, knowing that every effort we made would be rewarded with the satisfaction of having done something very, very good for society. We know that our mission has just begun; we know that we have each other for mutual support and for giving support to others.

We felt ourselves united in ONE HEART, ONE SOUL, at the service of the poor in spirit, of the most abandoned, as St. Eugene called them, because we all worked hard to give the best of ourselves to those young people who are beginning to know the JOMI charism. This experience motivates us to continue, to fight harder to reach our great goal… to make our JOMI family grow.

We have high hopes as JOMI; we want to overflow with Oblate spirituality. We want to break down the barriers of the indifference of some; we want to reestablish in young people the motivation to follow Christ, under the Oblate missionary charism.

I am very grateful to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate for the opportunity and the support, because each passing day I feel more committed to our missionary charism. (Denisse Salinas)



Oblate bishop speaks up for the Indigenous Peoples

On 30 November 2014, Msgr. Lucio ALFERT, Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pilcomayo, celebrated Mass in the Basilica of Caacupé, for the third day of a novena in preparation for the feast of the Virgin, patron saint of Paraguay. During his homily, the Bishop spoke forcefully of the situation of indigenous peoples, who are discriminated against and excluded from their land, while in the past even the capital and the metropolitan area belonged to them. He then expressed his deep regret because the natives who arrive in the capital often fall into addiction and are sexually exploited.

Referring to the role of the governors, Bishop Alfert said: "Sometimes I have the impression that few politicians and officials love their motherland and the people". He recalled that the authorities were chosen to serve the people: "The charism of a true politician is to be a servant of the people". God distributed gifts and capabilities to all, even to politicians, but "they do not use them to serve the people, but to take advantage and use them". In the end, referring to the rampant corruption, he asked: "When will we see a politician saint?" 

The devotion to Our Lady of Caacupé dates back to 1600, when an indigenous Guarani engraved an image of the Madonna in wood. Popular devotion over the years has increased the fame of the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Caacupé, which has become the busiest in the nation. The main feast, on 8 December, is preceded by a novena during which groups of pilgrims from all over the country flock to the Shrine with their Bishops. (Fides Agency)



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