556 - June 2015
May 9th, 2015 - June 7th, 2015



A journey toward reunification

For several years, there has been discussion on various levels concerning a possible reunification of the three Oblate provinces of South Africa. Over the past year, this discussion has taken on a fresh impetus with various Task Forces appointed by the provincial leadership to further the process.

One step in the process took place at a workshop on 27-29 April 2015, when a total of 28 Oblates representing the Central, Northern and Natal provinces met in Durban to fraternise and to share their hopes, fears and expectations for carrying on the Oblate charism in South Africa, planted there at the express wish of St. Eugene de Mazenod.

The group heard about the foundation of the Oblate mission in South Africa and the eventual “division” or “separation” that pastoral necessities called for in order to carry on the mission. In the 1850’s there was a need for the fast-growing Church in South Africa to be divided into Apostolic Vicariates and Prefectures for pastoral reasons. Thus, Oblate missionaries were appointed as bishops: Bishop Charles-Constant JOLIVET as Apostolic Vicar of Natal; Bishop Anthony GAUGHREN as Apostolic Vicar of Orange Free State; and Fr. O. MONGINOUX as Apostolic Prefect of the Transvaal. This division was an incentive for the Oblates to support their brothers in their apostolic task by founding Oblate Units in these vicariates. For a long period of time, the bishops were also provincials of the Oblates in their territories until well into the 20th century.

The Workshop was greatly honoured by the presence of the Superior General via Skype. He congratulated the Oblates of the three Provinces for having taken it upon themselves to give life to the ongoing process. He called on the Oblates to revisit the 2010 Chapter’s call and make it a basis for the foundation of the proposed Province. He invited the Provinces to see the ongoing process as a call of the Holy Spirit to look deep into the Oblate life and mission in terms of reinvention and redefining our Mission.

He said the fundamental questions that should not depart from the heart of every Oblate at this moment are: “What is the reality of South Africa today?” “What is the Lord calling us to do as OMI in South Africa?” “What is the Church calling us to do today”, “Where is He calling us to be?” He enjoined Oblates to keep the hope alive because he notices a very strong movement of the Holy Spirit. He further called on Oblates of the Provinces to espouse the life of simplicity; to make themselves accessible at all times; to be present in the lives of their people; to be truly Oblates! He finally enjoined us to involve, in this process, all the Oblates; this can only be possible if there is accountability and transparency in the process through communication.

He invited the Provinces (animators and leadership) to involve the Region in the discernment process, to involve the General Councillor for Africa-Madagascar (who, before the General began his chat, greeted the gathering via Skype and expressed happiness for the progress recorded thus far), and finally to involve the General Administration. He ended his chat with a strong and passionate call to the animators, leadership and every single Oblate: “COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE!! COMMUNICATE!!!” (Fr. Emmanuel YOUNGTEN TEMSWANG)

The poor become poorer

“Twenty-five years after its independence, Namibia is a politically stable country and is growing economically. One of the biggest problems we have to face, however, is the distribution of the wealth produced. We see the gap between haves and have-nots increase every year. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But we have an efficient judicial system, which emphasizes the responsibility of government and also, corrupt ministers are likely to be brought to trial and end up in prison”, this is how His Exc. Msgr. Liborius Ndumbukuti NASHENDA, Archbishop of Windhoek and President of the Episcopal Conference of Namibia, in Rome for their “Ad limina” visit, describes the situation in the African country to Agenzia Fides.

“Since independence there has not been a civil war. In this period of time there have been three Presidents. None of them wanted to stay longer than two terms of five years each, as required by the Constitution”, said the Archbishop. He explains that “the pastoral priorities have changed compared to the past. We are no longer in the emergency of the times of the war of independence, and now we can carry out an ordinary pastoral program focused on the teaching of the Gospel. Next to this, we place the emphasis on social programs to alleviate poverty. We have invested in particular in schools, and this is our biggest contribution to the development of the Country. In economic terms, we can do little but we are contributing to the formation of a new class of managers and entrepreneurs for the future development of Namibia”.

“We have also invested heavily in health centers, especially in rural areas, where medical care is not easily accessible. Since 1998 we have also been carrying out a prevention program against the spread of HIV and AIDS and distributing anti-retroviral drugs for those who have contracted the virus and the disease. Particular attention is given to orphans whose parents have died of AIDS”, added Mgr. Nashenda.

As for relations with the State, he says: “We have good relations with state authorities, pursuant to an agreement of understanding, to the point that we have designated a person to liaise between the Episcopal Conference and the government. We cooperate but we remain a voice independent from the authorities. The government still appreciates our efforts and provides subsidies to our schools and hospitals”, concluded the President of the Episcopal Conference.

The Republic of Namibia owes its name to the Namib Desert together with that of the Kalahari. The capital city is Windhoek. It is bordered to the north with Angola and Zambia, to the east with Botswana and to the south with South Africa; the west overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 824 292 square kilometers and has a population of 2,220,000 inhabitants, of whom 444,000 are Catholics. There are 3 ecclesiastical districts. (Agenzia Fides)

Meeting of formandi

A meeting of young OMI in first formation in the OMI-Madagascar Delegation was held at St. Eugene de Mazenod Scholasticate, Fianarantsoa, from 8 to 13 April 2015. It went well. The participants, that is to say the formandi and all formators of three stages of formation (pre-novitiate, novitiate, scholasticate), came in full force and were all satisfied with this large gathering. Our young men participated well in group work and in each plenary session. We mention, among others, the contribution of Archbishop Fulgence Rabemahafaly who gave a presentation on the consecrated life. A meeting with Christians and with those in formation for religious Congregations in Fianarantsoa also distinguished this gathering.

The meeting was organized during this second year of the Triennium devoted to formation where the keywords were “The new spirit” and “Poverty”. One of the main objectives of the meeting is contained in the general theme: “Young people in First Formation, responsible for the future of the Congregation.” Indeed, the Congregation needs motivated young men of great maturity, manifest in all its dimensions (human, spiritual, intellectual) during and after their First Formation.

The young men are quite convinced that this meeting has united, encouraged and motivated them to more actively respond to the call of Christ in the Congregation. It is up to them and the formators to do the follow-up so that it all becomes a reality, lived daily! That’s the great challenge after the meeting!

We humbly state that the meeting could take place because there was the collaboration of others: fellow Oblates and Oblate communities, missions and parishes with Christians in their care in Madagascar. Yes, thanks to this collaboration, especially from the financial perspective, the Delegation and the Formation Commission were able to organize it properly. Thanks a lot! (Commission FormationOMI - MADAGASCAR)

A funeral in a boxing arena!

When Fr. Leo D’AES died on May 8, 2015, one of the issues to be decided was where to hold his funeral rites. For 44 years, he had been pastor of St. Rose Church in Bloemfontein. It was obvious to those who knew him that the church would never hold the many people who would want to celebrate his life and pray him into eternal life. Therefore, the funeral, presided by Archbishop Jabulani NXUMALO, was held in the Bochabela Arena; usually the Arena hosts boxing matches!

Fr. D’Aes was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1929. He professed his first vows as an Oblate in 1948 and was ordained a priest in 1954. The following year, he received his obedience to South Africa where he quickly learned English and Sesotho. After serving in various parishes, he was transferred to St. Rose Mission, Bloemfontein, in 1971 and remained there for 44 very active years.

Dividing the parish into a number of Small Christian Communities, encouraging neighbourhood Gospel sharing and mutual care for each other as well as training of lay ministers became the pastoral strategy for which he worked untiringly. This vision of empowerment of laity within the church became central to his whole life’s work and he maintained this till the end. In this regard he was seen as prophet of his time.

Celebrating his 80th birthday 6 years ago.

Fr D’Aes’ other passion was for education. Throughout his long tenure at St Rose parish, he managed St. Mary’s Primary and St. Bernards High Schools. It was a time of change and political uncertainty; strong dedicated leadership was required and he had this in abundance. He turned both schools into top academic institutions in a society that was clamouring for good education.

Since his time in a parish in Edenburg, he was called “Pheello”, meaning perseverance or insistence. This was characteristic of his entire ministry. He was an energetic, untiring, uncompromising and courageously outspoken advocate and priest for those in his care. He served a term as Vicar General in the Archdiocese of Bloemfontein and as District Superior for his Oblate Community but most of all he was present to his parish throughout a stormy political period, a true compass giving support and encouragement though his development initiatives as well as his solid preaching and training. (http://omi-bfn.blogspot.it/2015/05/celebration-of-life-fr-leo-daes-omi.html; see also some music from the funeral http://y2u.be/ejwIk-pAgq8)

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36th General Chapter 2016
36th General Chapter 2016
Oblate Triennium
Oblate Triennium
OMI Vocations
OMI Vocations
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