557 - July 2015
June 8th, 2015 - July 8th, 2015

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AFRICA-MADAGASCAR

Oblate educators gather for 8th meeting

The 8th meeting of the executive group of the Association of Oblate Institutes of Higher Learning (AOIHL) was held in Kinshasa, Congo, May 25-29, 2015. The theme of this year’s meeting was the Year of Consecrated Life and our Oblate Institutes of Higher Learning. Present for this year’s gathering were: Dr. Chantal Beauvais, Saint Paul University; Dr. Scott Woodward, Oblate School of Theology; Frs. Sylvester DAVID and Neil FRANK, St. Joseph’s Theological Institute; Fr. Charlie INZON, Notre Dame University; Fr. Fabio CIARDI, Director of Oblate Studies; Fr. Anaclet DUPAR, St. Eugene Institute; and, Fr. Warren BROWN, coordinator.

The meeting began with words of welcome by Fr. Habell NSOLO, provincial of Congo. He opened his talk with the African proverb: ‘on ne bat pas le tambour dans l'eau’ – (one does not beat the drum in water), and proceeded to express the joy and good wishes of the local Oblates for this meeting which was held for the first time in Congo.

In the following days, the participants gave presentations on their respective educational institute in relation to its capacity to witness to religious consecrated life in general, the Oblate Charism, and Oblate vocations, their relationship to the Diocesan Church and how they are engaged in planning for future transitions in leadership. The discussions were rich, lively and honest, based upon the growing mutual relationships that have developed over the years among the leadership of the various institutes. The members of the executive group also took time to have one-on-one meetings where each Institute’s leadership could coordinate joint projects with each of the other Oblate Institutes depending upon their interests or needs.

One of the major points of convergence centered around a paper entitled: “Elements of a Vision for an Oblate Catholic Institution of Higher Learning” which was presented by Dr. Chantal Beauvais, of Saint Paul University, and developed in collaboration with the Oblate SPU community in Ottawa. The paper proposes to set a certain standard for our Oblate Institutes and hopefully will soon be presented to the Oblate Congregation’s leadership and members as a contribution to the development of our Oblate charism during the Oblate Triennium. The paper led to an interesting discussion on how the executive group could next develop a set of standards of values to be expected of all graduates of our Oblate Institutes. This concept of “formation design” would fit well with the theme for this 2nd year of the Oblate Triennium on Formation.

Fabio Ciardi shared with the participants some of his service’s activities on behalf of academic study of the Oblate charism through promotion of individual study, academic courses and the project of the Oblate Charism Congress. The Congress will be held in four of the Congregation’s higher learning institutes: Cedara, Kinshasa, Obra and San Antonio. Fabio also pointed out how employees of all the Oblate’s internal and external ministries could really benefit from an orientation program on the life of St. Eugene and the Oblate charism today. This would help the employees to understand the Oblates and our charism in a better way as a missionary religious congregation.

The final morning of the meeting brought the participants together with the school community of Institut Saint-Eugene to experience a dynamic and inspirational presentation given by Dr. Chantal Beauvais on Transformational Leadership in the Church in light of the teachings of Pope Francis.

At the business meeting, the participants discussed how they could be more inclusive of all those Oblates in the Congregation who are involved in the ministry of higher education. Some proposals were made, including drawing up an inventory of all Oblates in the Congregation who are or have been involved in the ministry of higher learning as a primary database. They also discussed how to better attend to Oblates who are sent for higher studies to Oblate Institutes. They studied the Oblate Congregation’s policy as amended in 2011, entitled: “Guidelines on Higher Studies - the Academic and Professional Training of Oblates in our Units” and made a commitment on the behalf of the Oblate Institutes to study this policy so as to better serve the needs of the Oblate Congregation in the ongoing formation of Oblates in different fields of study undertaken in the name of the Oblate mission. Warren Brown was re-confirmed as the coordinator of the group and Dr. Chantal Beauvais was elected as the treasurer for the next three years. Next year’s gathering will be held at the International De Mazenod Center in Aix-en-Provence. Special thanks to Fr. Anaclet Dupar and the local Oblates of Institut Saint-Eugene; it will be difficult to surpass this meeting for its animated discussions and engaging local programming.



Many new Christians

Fr. Celso CORBIOLI reports on the many baptisms in the mission and on the situation in the country.

As many of you know, for a few years now, I am located in a parish in Bissau, the capital of this little country in Western Africa. The parish is called Antula and includes part of the city and a large area on the outskirts. The number of inhabitants continually increases because of the unending movement from the interior of the country toward the city. Consequently, the number of Christians increases each year. Last year, we had 360 baptisms, most of them adults. Again this year, the number will be more or less the same. For all this, we thank God, and at the same time, we pray for the gift of perseverance for all those who enter to become part of his family, so that they might be authentic witnesses of the Gospel.

A couple of years ago, we had written that we were planning on building the church; it’s still not completed. Construction has begun and we hope that within a year or a little more, it will be finished.

After a long period of instability, Guinea Bissau is finally experiencing a bit of peace and progress. A few weeks ago, the President of the Republic welcomed to the presidential palace all the religious men and women of Guinea Bissau, gathered in those days for the visit of Cardinal João Bras de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The president, in his speech, repeatedly thanked the religious men and women for their presence and the help they give the country; he said that the palace is not his, but the people’s, and that we too can come and meet with him whenever we want. That was another sign of the desire to establish a climate of peace and collaboration.



Radio Liseli marks 10 years

On Oct. 13, 2004 the Oblate Zambian delegation’s dream of establishing a radio link to bring the Word of God to the people of Zambia was realized when it was granted a license for full broadcasting.

On June 11, 2005, Superior General Fr. Wilhelm STECKLING, presided at the official opening of Oblate Radio Liseli in Mongu, Zambia. Among the dignitaries present was the Hon. Dr. Sipula Kabanje, MP, Provincial Minister.

In a letter of congratulations, United States Provincial, Fr. Bill ANTONE, wrote the station’s first director, now delegation superior of Zambia, Fr. Freeborn KIBOMBWE, saying, “Given the lack of infrastructure and the distances in the Western Province, Radio Liseli has been able to be a wonderful bridge of communication for thousands of listeners beginning in Mongu and striving to reach the most distant villages.

“May God bless you, Fr. Barnabas SIMATENDE and Fr. Joseph KANG’OMBE and all who are leading the development at this time of this invaluable and powerful tool for evangelization, communication and the integral building up of a peaceful society in the beautiful land of the Zambezi.”



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36th General Chapter 2016
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