554 - April 2015
March 7th, 2015 - April 9th, 2015

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AFRICA-MADAGASCAR

Laity won over by the Oblate charism

For the Second Vatican Council, the mission to work in the vineyard of the Lord (Mt 9: 35-38) is not only given to those who receive the sacrament of Orders; it concerns all the baptized, all of God's people.



It is precisely with this idea of the Second Vatican Council that twenty-two lay persons, won over by the Oblate charism, committed themselves on the first Sunday of Lent in the parish church of Notre-Dame du Rosaire in Kikwit before Father Abel NSOLO, provincial of the Congo. They have committed themselves before God and the Christian community to live deeply the Oblate charism: that is to say, the calling to live as apostolic men and women, lovers of Christ, the Church and the poor.

Father Provincial exhorted and encouraged the associates to live, to work and to give witness in such a way as to extend the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in their own life situations. He urged them to see how to live in a new way their belonging to the Church, to the Congregation and to the Oblate province of the Congo.

Their commitment came after a year-long formation centered on three major themes, namely: the Founder, the Congregation and its structures, and the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate. Their immediate preparation for this great moment was a retreat preached by Fr. Adolphe VUNGA, pastor of the parish of Notre-Dame du Rosaire. Their chaplain, Fr. Augustin MULELE, their Vice President, Mrs. Florence Baere, and Mr. Onesime, Kukatula, honorary member, gave witness at this event. The statutes were handed over to the coordinator of the district of Kikwit after the Vice President had read the names of the committee members.

After the Mass, everyone, together with their guests, came together to share drinks prepared for the occasion at the former Oblate procure in Kikwit. It was a joyful moment to see the increase, not only in number but also in quality of the members of this Oblate family. Undoubtedly, its holy Founder, Eugene de Mazenod, rejoices over it in heaven. May he intercede for us! (Reported by Fr. Augustin Mulele)



Youth ministry at Douala

The mission with youth is one of our traditional ministries. Youth have an important place in our Oblate mission. We remember that after his ordination, returning to his diocese of Aix, St. Eugene sought and received freedom from any parish assignment, in order to answer the call he discerned at his conversion and to give priority to unemployed young people. We are trying to carry out this mission by putting into practice the threefold educational plan proposed by our Founder: to lead them to be fully human, to be Christians and to be saints.

“Father, what is the Church doing for us young people? Can the Church help us find employment? Is it possible to succeed if you are not hired by the State?” These are the questions the youth are asking of us regarding their future and their involvement in the life of society. These questions that come up again and again in our chats with young graduates led us to organize, on 17 January 2015, a formation workshop for youth entitled: “Life Orientation.” This thought-provoking gathering among young entrepreneurs had as its objectives to find solutions to youth unemployment; then to allow young Christians to rub shoulders with young professionals to awaken in them the spirit of enterprise; finally, to enable young entrepreneurs who do not have the means to advertise their projects to become known to the public.

Today, we see a high rate of unemployment. The employment market is saturated and the generation between 25 and 35 years of age is experiencing many difficulties. Everyone struggles as best he can to create jobs and help other young people who cannot find jobs to be hired by the State. Most young people we work with are in this age group.

Our Founder was an entrepreneur. Indeed, the secret of entrepreneurship is to dare. He invites us to dare as big as the world. Starting a business means a willingness to face the difficulties and the various trials of life. Nothing good comes to you easily. After our day of formation on entrepreneurship, we managed to get our message across to young people. We want to ask young people to live their lives according to their passion and the talents they have. One’s passion points to one’s profession and this profession must be driven by a mission that involves challenge, suffering and perseverance. At this point, it will no longer be enough for young people to go out to look for work or just go to the university to seek a degree there. Our dream is to help young people find their passion, develop their talents, standing tall, as energetic creators of jobs that will help others to get out of poverty.
(Fr. Donatus Uchenna CHIAKA)



Oblate kidnapped and released

Fr. James FIORI, Superior of the Oblate Mission in Kenya, tells of a frightening experience his community had in late 2014: the kidnapping of a young Oblate priest. Then the Oblate himself, Fr. Samuel HONG, tells his own story, all in the OMI Lacombe magazine, Oblate Spirit.

Fr. Fiori: Just before Christmas our community went through a stressful, frightening experience. Fr. Samuel Hong was kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint. I had taken him to Nairobi and we had lunch together before I left him to visit a Quebec missionary with whom he attended language school. He took a matatu (public transportation) to Karen, which is where we reside. He was walking home when he was abducted.

I received calls for money, which I did not give. First I don’t have the kind of money they were looking for, and in any case we would need a second person to authorize such a transaction. It is not recommended that we pay ransoms. I asked Samuel “Are you in trouble?” and he said yes. He called a few minutes later with the same request. I went to the police at this point. One becomes aware of how powerless we are. Where do you begin to look?

At around 2 a.m. he returned home shaken but unhurt. They took everything he had and emptied his bank account. This was an incredible experience of community. I sent out an urgent message to the congregation and since then we have received messages from all over the Oblate world. I do believe that it was the power of prayer that brought this to a good conclusion. Most of the time the victims are killed

Fr. Hong: I was on the way home and decided to walk to our place from the Karen bus station, as I usually do. When I passed Subiaco, I saw a car stopping in the distance.

I didn’t pay much attention, when suddenly four men got out of the car and one of them was pointing a gun at me. He asked me to get into the car. I did whatever they asked. I gave them my debit card with PIN number. They threatened me with harsh words. I could feel that they just wanted money.

They withdrew money from my account by ATM, but one is only allowed to withdraw a fixed number of Kenyan shillings a day. I had more than that in my account at the time. So they took me to a house and tied my hands and feet. After midnight, they withdrew the rest, and then they released me. I was able to catch a motorbike taxi to our home.

I could really feel God’s protection and Mary’s helping hands. I think it can happen to anyone. This time it was me. I do not blame anybody. (Oblate Spirit, February 2015)



Oblates in pilgrimage

On 17 February, the Lesotho Oblates and their associates (MAMI), along with members of other religious communities, assembled at Roma to celebrate the 189th anniversary of the approbation of our Congregation and Constitutions. This was also a special pilgrimage for the Oblates of the Province in honour of the centenary of Father Gerard’s death in 2014, which is to come to a close in May this year. The day began with a procession from Ha Mafefooane, a village near Roma Parish, under a rock where history tells us that Ntate Gerata and his companions first pitched tent when they arrived in the Roma valley, before being given a place to build the mission.

In his opening and welcome remarks, at the beginning of the procession, Fr. Antony Lisema MATSOSO, Provincial, highlighted the significance of the celebration and brought to the attention of the participants that the day was a double header in that it coincided with the launching of the second year of the Triennium of preparations for the bicentenary of the foundation of the Congregation, the hundred years of Blessed Joseph Gerard’s death as well as the Year of Consecrated Life proclaimed by Pope Francis.

Father Provincial reminded all present that the celebration was also a call for us to remember Blessed Joseph Gerard’s missionary zeal, his humility and his commitment; a call, above all, to walk in his footsteps. Referring to Father General’s letter for 17 February, he underlined the need to read and reflect on our Constitutions and Rules. He emphasized the importance of prayer in our lives.

All the six bishops in the country were present. All except one are Oblates. Archbishop Gerard Tlali LEROTHOLI, Archbishop of Maseru, presided at the Eucharist. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, there was a short procession to the tomb of Blessed Joseph Gerard where there was the renewal of vows and the singing of the Salve Regina.

To mark the launch of the second year of the Triennium to the bicentenary in 2016, a member of the Triennium committee introduced the theme of the second year, “a new spirit: formation as a lifelong process and the vow of poverty”. He underlined the importance of community meetings and other gatherings where we can meet to share and discuss our faith and Oblate values as a family. He challenged us to do first things first by reminding us that we should not sacrifice “Oblate values and gatherings in the name of the mission”, which has become common among us.
(Fr. Benedict Tseko MAKARA in MAOBLATA A LESOTHO, March 2015)



An Oblate leads media workshops

During this Year of Consecrated Life, the Major Superiors’ Union in Congo is sponsoring workshops for women religious on the theme of the media.

“Listen to the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the model of a good listener, which is why she received the good news of Salvation for humankind. First, start listening to the silence around you and within you.” These were some of the words addressed to religious sisters of less than three years of profession in Congo DR, at a media training workshop organised over two weekends by the Major Superiors Union in Congo’s Kinshasa-Limete. The workshop attended by several religious sisters from over 50 congregations had as its theme: “Community life and the media today.”

During the workshop, the importance of media in the life of the religious and that of the Church was explored.

The trainer at the workshop was the Congolese Oblate priest, Father Jean-Baptiste MALENGE who is a member of the international team of trainers from the Centre for Research and Education in Communication. Speaking to the religious sisters, Fr. Malenge stressed the importance of listening as a pre-requisite for good communication.

The workshop reminded the young religious sisters to stay up to date with current affairs by listening to the news, acquiring information on television, radio, newspapers or through the internet. This, Fr. Malenge said, is in line with the Vatican II Council Decree on Social Communications, Inter Mirifica, No. 5. Fr. Malenge said it is unfortunate that many religious people do not follow the news and are unaware of what is happening in the country and in the world.

Several other training sessions are planned for the special year being celebrated by the universal Church namely, Year of Consecrated Life. (Vatican Radio, 25/02/2015)



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