553 - March 2015
February 2nd, 2015 - March 6th, 2015



A successful mission

For the second consecutive year, from16 to 25 January 2015, there was a mission in various rural chapels of the Parish of Santa Lucia, province of Corrientes, in northeastern Argentina.

Organized by the formation house of Virrey del Pino (Province of Buenos Aires), the mission was conducted this year by 4 Oblate priests, 3 from Argentina and 1 from Uruguay; an Italian scholastic who is having a pastoral experience in Uruguay; a COMI and 2 youth from Uruguay; 2 prenovices and 60 Argentine laity from the different parishes and places where the Oblates have worked or still work in Argentina.

Prior to the mission, we had two and a half days to get to know each other and to get ready. The majority of the participants were youth, so the atmosphere was joyful and full of enthusiasm. We then divided into four groups, each with a priest, to go to the different rural chapels. One group stayed at the parish itself to support some families who had been dislocated because of floods and who were staying in schools and colleges.

In the mornings, we went two by two to visit families, to learn about their problems and to invite them to the evening sessions whose most important moment was the celebration of Holy Mass. Before Mass, there were games and sports for the children. And after Mass, there were meetings with youth and adults. On the last Saturday, after the Mass, we had a bonfire and we shared supper.

On Sunday morning, all the groups came back together at the parish; we had a Mass together and we left the mission.

It was a lovely experience, because of the variety of the groups who came from various parts of Argentina and Uruguay. The fact of being in mixed groups was enriching for the participants who lived with people they had only recently met and with whom they were forging new friendships. From the point of view of vocations, the mission opened for the youth a new way of looking at life and opened them to the charism of our vocation.

Next year, we will return for the third time to the same places since it’s a three-year commitment. Then we will look for another place, but the missionary experience will continue, thus offering to the youth and the adults the possibility of discovering and deepening our charism. (Santiago REBORDINOS)

Bishop Bernardo Enrique Witte, OMI: 1926-2015
On 21 February 2015, Bishop Bernardo WITTE, the bishop emeritus of Concepción de Tucumán, died at the age of 88. His remains lay in state in the Church of La Carrodilla – Mendoza, where he lived for the last 10 years of his life, primarily celebrating the sacrament of confession with the adults and youth who came there.

He was born on 27 July 1926 in Vardingholt, Germany; after the Second World War, he was able to make his first vows as a Missionary Oblate (in 1948) and in 1954, he was ordained a priest. He came as a missionary to Argentina to work among the aboriginals of Formosa, Misiones and the Chaco. He was named Bishop of La Rioja in 1977 by Paul VI. He was transferred as Bishop of Concepción in 1992; he resigned because of age in 2001.

A fraternal farewell: with that title, Bishop Witte wrote a farewell message to his diocese but also to Argentina.

Among other things, he wrote: “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7) Approaching the end of my episcopal service, I would like to consider with humble admiration, the words of St. Paul in this passage. I avow with all sincerity that I have only tried carry on this good fight, leaving its success to divine judgment.... For forty-five years, I have had the honor and duty of serving as a Missionary Oblate, proclaiming the message of salvation and hope that springs from the death and resurrection of Christ.

The entire beautiful text can be found in Spanish at: http://goo.gl/BGo7zs

Some very energetic women

Fr. Roberto CARRASCO is a young Oblate serving in the mission of Santa Clotilde in Peru, along the River Napo, a tributary of the Amazon River. In his blog, he speaks of some of the dedicated women religious who tirelessly serve the people.

After my diaconate ordination, I immediately moved to the Loreto region, specifically to the new mission taken on by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Santa Clotilde – the Napo River. It was in September of 2008.

It was surprising - and this happens to many when they have their first contact with the tremendous Amazon – floating on and on towards the town of Angoteros in the district of Torres Causana. I went with Fr. Edgar NOLAZCO - my brother and companion in the mission - and when we got to that place, the first thing that surprised me was to find an indigenous community that preserves their language, their customs and their entire worldview. A couple of years before, Fr. Juan Marcos Mercier, OFM, had died. I met Manuela, Virginia and Janet for the first time.

The mission house is in the midst of the community, a house like all others, palm bark on the floor and the roof of palm leaves.

Manuela and Virginia, the older members of the community, welcomed us, and with them the youngest member, Janet, who also arrived that year. I remember every expression, every aspect of the three Peruvian Sisters, Mercedarian Missionaries, who had come to the High Napo at the request of Juan Marcos, so as to continue the mission in this part of the Vicariate.

Manuela, the incomparable Manuela. The first thing Fr. Jack told me when I got to Santa Clotilde was: “Now you will meet Manuela; she is a woman with a lot of energy.” I cannot help but remember that, when I met Manuela, I was greatly impressed by her dedication to the people. Her closeness; her wanting to dialogue and understand the culture. The first thing she said to me was: “Quickly, quickly. We have to leave soon. I still have a lot to do. What a disgrace that you are just sitting there.”

A lovely little expression that sticks with us all these years. Manuela is, true to her style, the one who carried on, in her way, Christ’s mission among the Napurunas after Juan Marcos. There are many examples and anecdotes that come to mind. Her intensity and strength for doing things correctly and being in the communities. Her desire to arrive on time at every village to begin her visit. All the old papers and materials, ready for talks and workshops. Her little notebook in which she wrote down everything about her daily life. How many baptisms were done; the most pressing problems in each community; the names of the new community authorities. At every moment, she was like a little ant, busy doing something. She was a veterinarian because she would inject a chicken that Virginia or Janet considered sick; she was a plumber, a builder; she could grab her ax to chop firewood. She knew exactly how to use each tool and where everything belonged. What was surprising was not so much that, but that as a woman and a big woman, she had such enviable energy. “Man, you must be useless…” she told me and I burst out laughing.

Beyond all these things, I want to highlight about the Mercedarian Missionaries that, true to their charism, sitting in the floor, they prayed every day in the morning and took communion. There was no priest in the mission. They presided over the faith community. Thanks to Florentino, Ronald, Roger, Lino and the youngest, the beloved and unforgettable Amable. The kuyllur runa - Christian leaders - laity formed by Juan Marcos and maintaining the Napurana Mission when the “missionaries” are not there, as it is at this moment as I write these lines. Thanks to each of them for their testimony, they faithfulness, their love of Pachayaya (Father of the Earth) and the community of faith. (http://goo.gl/q4Vbrp)

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