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

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World Priest-Champion of Chess

An Italian Oblate, Father Gennaro CICCHESE, has won the championship prize in a special tournament for priests and religious who play chess, the “Clericus Chess World Championship.” The tournament took place in Rome at the Marianist Institute on 12 December 2014.

In the 12th century, a French bishop excommunicated some priests who were caught playing chess! Over the centuries, not only the Church, but kings and emperors and governments, in both the West and the East, banned the game.

When interviewed on Vatican Radio, Fr. Gennaro spoke about the pedagogical value of the game of chess. When asked about the relationship of the Church with chess, Fr. Gennaro stated: “It’s a very complex relationship. At the beginning, there were opposition and difficulties because many players were spending too much time at the game, including priests and cardinals, and this took them from their duties. At the same time, it was also these players who were the first theoreticians; they wrote the first books on the game of chess and in some ways, they helped it spread. Of late, the ‘excommunication’ for chess has stopped: things are more balanced now and there are many priests and religious who are dedicated to the pastime. I think there are great personal benefits and that it gives the wonderful possibility of relating with other people.”

The organizers of the championship sent a letter to Pope Francis asking his blessing on the initiative and to “make the first move.” The Pope entered the game immediately by inviting them to a general audience.



Death of the Oblate dean: Fr. Engelbert Machinia (1913-2014)

On 17 December 2014, the oldest living Oblate, Fr. Engelbert MACHINIA, died in Hünfeld, Germany. Born in Silesia, he lived through the vicissitudes of World War II, even spending part of it in a detention camp. For 35 years, Fr Engelbert set himself to form, not only one parish, but a pastoral consortium of 3 parishes -- something new from the fresh winds of the 2nd Vatican Council. And he also formed a whole generation of young Oblates, whom he introduced to pastoral ministry, with a broad, open, critical vision, and with fatherly wisdom and much humor.

The new “dean” of the Congregation is Father Leo-Paul PIGEON from the Notre-Dame-du-Cap Province in Canada. Fr. Pigeon celebrated his 100th birthday in March 2014. The only other member of the OMI “Centenarian Club” is Fr. Boniface WITTENBRINK in the United States Province.




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