LATIN AMERICAA multicultural mission
Fr. Vincent GRUBER, provincial of France, recently visited the Mission of Guyana. Here are some of his observations.
I had the joy of discovering some important aspects of the realities of Guyanese society and of the Diocese of Cayenne, last March 27 till April 9. The 14 Oblates, coming from France, Haiti, Brazil, Laos, Vietnam and Cameroon, shared with us their joys and their sorrows, their convictions and their questions concerning the Oblate mission within the mission of the local Church.
It is an changing missionary story, marked by the arrival from France of some Oblates to serve the Hmong in 1977; then other arrivals of Oblates coming from Haiti in 2001; and finally the arrival of a Brazilian Oblate in 2006.
Guyanese society is facing today, as in the past, the challenges of welcoming and “living together” with people of different cultures. In the past, the melding of populations from Africa and Europe gave the Guyanese a Creole culture. In recent decades, and even more now, the establishment of two Hmong villages; the widespread presence of Brazilians, the arrival of Haitian families; the Surinamese refugees following the civil war; the arrival of migrants from Santa Lucia; the settling of Amerindian groups; the development of businesses by Chinese families: all this creates a new people in French Guyana who need help in living together and in witnessing to their faith in the midst of the challenges of integration. One sees a total transformation of Guyana which has seen the Guyanese Creole go from 70% of the population in 1990 to 30% in 2014.
I note some points shared at the meeting of all the Oblates of the mission, on Easter Tuesday: they appear to be happy in their work and happy to be among Oblates. Their main concern is the clarification of the Oblate nature of this mission. How to live our Oblate identity? Should they have more than monthly meetings? The mission to the Hmong for 30 years has to be developed in view of greater integration with the other cultures present.
Cultural groups could be organized according to their languages and traditions, provided that with them, there is a gradual ecclesial integration. Some ask how to have a parish with faithful of different languages and cultures and at the same time, to focus their attention on newcomers who settle on unoccupied land, as well as on the Haitian neighborhood church communities and the Brazilian Ecclesial Communities in the neighborhoods.
Here as elsewhere, the Oblates are known for being close the people and specialists in difficult missions. There are many peripheries where the Oblates could go (hospitals, prisons….).
In the light of these realities and in the context of the situation of the Catholic Diocese of Cayenne, our Oblate missionary group needs to clarify its missionary charism and its place in the Church. Considering what the Oblates have built in terms of pastoral and missionary presence among different populations, some missionary goals in service of the local Church may be emerging:
· Develop the mission to the ethnic minorities in an integrated and comprehensive pastoral care of migrants as small ecclesial communities, according to the languages of the neighborhood and brought together in a common parish setup.
· Found missionary parishes with their various pastoral services, made up of faithful of an intercultural mosaic, as new neighborhoods develop.
· Reach out to the farthest away and poorest, not touched by the Church, especially newcomers and young people (more than half of the Guyanese population), the Amerindians, not to mention specialized chaplaincies: prison, health, community building, etc. ... (France Omi Infos n° 10 – April 2015)
The Communiqué of the most recent plenary session of the Central Government announced the following: “Following a long process of dialogue about the future of this Delegation together with the Province of Brazil, the Provincial of the Anglo-Irish Province in Council suppressed the Delegation of Brazil Central. Fr. Ray WARREN and his Council expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the ministry rendered by the Oblates of this Delegation during the years of its existence.
“The Superior General confirmed this decision with the unanimous consent of his Council in plenary session on May 18, 2015, which will become effective on July 23, 2015. By then, the members of the former Delegation will have received their new obediences.”
“The Second Vatican Council changed the Church profoundly. The theology of mission was treated in a different manner. Mission was no longer “mission ad gentes” in the colonialist, triumphalist sense, but rather it was “receptio apud populum” - that is, a reception, an insertion, a welcome into the life of the people.
We Oblates arrived in Brazil with the old mission theology. However things did not work out as we expected: