EUROPEResponding to the Pope’s appeal for immigrants
At the recitation of the Angelus on September 6, 2015, Pope Francis asked every Catholic parish or religious community in Europe to take in refugee families fleeing from disastrous situations in the Middle East and Africa. The arrival of thousands of migrants has caused a humanitarian crisis in various parts of Europe. Fr. Alberto GNEMMI, Provincial of the Mediterranean Province, has addressed the Oblates and Lay Associates to find ways to respond to the Pope’s appeal.
I appeal to all of you, especially to community superiors, Oblate parish priests and their collaborators, Oblates and lay people, to consider seriously, with courage and, at the same time, with evangelical prudence, the Pope's appeal that "... every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every shrine of Europe host a family (of refugees, [ed.])”. The Pope reminds us and urges us: "Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death from war and from hunger, and who are seeking hope in their lives, the Gospel asks us to be ‘neighbors’ to the least and most abandoned, to give them real hope.”
I believe that each of our communities, as well as every parish where we are present, must listen closely to this appeal and make serious discernment. Therefore, I invite parish priests to consult their community confreres (especially the superior, if he is not the pastor), the parish council, the diocesan offices responsible for migrants, the parishes of the same vicariates or sectors, in order to reach a concrete and shared decision. So, I ask each of our communities to consider how to respond to the invitation of Pope Francis, in conjunction with our parishes (if the religious community has a parish as part of its apostolate), especially in collaboration with other religious institutes in the area […].
Superiors should bear in mind that prior to any concrete activity which involves the community and its living space, the Provincial should be consulted. Where it is not possible to make concrete choices for offering hospitality to refugees, other forms of help should be considered, even sharing financially in projects of other Church groups.
The province will also consider requests for financial assistance that might come from the communities to cover the costs of carrying out the proposal of Pope Francis.
This Year of the Triennium, centered on poverty, offers us the opportunity (not an easy one, I know quite well) to be challenged on how to give shape, through works of charity, to the many evangelical words directed to our interior conversion.
Fraternal greetings to all, in the certainty of mutual prayer and the help that Providence will give us.
Four scholastics, including a deacon, were the first Polish Oblates to die during the Second World War. The recent commemoration of the Holy Name of Mary was a reminder of their death on September 12, 1939.
In the early days of the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Oblates at Markowice tried to reach the Oblate community at Koden. The novice master at Markowice was none other than Blessed Joseph CEBULA. Some of those who fled found themselves on the front line of the battle along the Bzura River, the first major battle of the Nazi offensive in Poland.
Four scholastics were arrested by a Nazi patrol: Deacon Joseph ROGOSZ, Brothers Joseph GEMBIAK, Francis GLADOS, and Francis MUNKO. According to eyewitnesses, they were led to the Marian Forest where they were put to death. As they were led away, the eyewitnesses said they had their rosaries in their hands and asked passersby: "Pray for us, they are leading us to death.” They were shot in the back of the head not far from the village of Michalow. In the forest, there were fresh trenches prepared for defense. Their bodies were thrown into the trenches and buried. Dying with them was a priest from a nearby parish, Father Ignatius Czemplik.
Through an unpleasant odor, the unmarked graves were found. A local village leader identified the bodies and took their personal belongings which he later gave to the victims’ families; a wooden cross was erected at the site. In 1940, they moved the five bodies into a common grave at the parish cemetery in Marian Forest; the local parish priest celebrated a funeral Mass.
Both scholastics Gembiak and Glados had brothers who became Oblates: Frs. Francis GEMBIAK (†1987) and Boleslaw GLADOS (†2002). Fr. Boleslaw went to find the grave, together with his mother, in 1947. There, they erected a metal cross.
The Glados family also commissioned a tombstone from a local stonemason. The Oblate provincial had a marble plaque affixed to the tomb with the names of the victims.
The weather-worn gravestone was replaced in June 2015 with a new one. The names of these first Oblate victims of World War II are now engraved in gold on black marble, next to the Oblate Cross. (Adapted from the Polish text of Fr. Józef NIESLONY.)
Ten young people from the parish
of Maria Regina degli Apostoli in Messina (Sicily), cared for over the last six
years by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, in late August visited EXPO
Milano 2015. The group was accompanied by Fr. Pasquale CASTRILLI together with
Fr. Damian CIMPOESU from Romania, Oblate scholastic Petr DOMBEK and a young
Romanian woman. The group responded to the offer that the Archdiocese of Milan had
made in late 2015 to all church youth groups of Italy, providing diocesan
hospitality services for those who wished to visit the EXPO. The Messina group
was hosted by the youth center of Stoà di Busto Arsizio (Varese), a structure
that provides young people of the city’s 13 parishes with formative cultural
and religious events and periods of coming together for experiencing life in
During their visit to EXPO, whose theme is "Feeding the planet. Energy for Life”, the youth had the opportunity to visit various pavilions, starting with ‘Pavilion Zero’, with the story of food in the history of the world. They were also given a tour of the city of Milan and its famous cathedral. A dinner with representatives of the youth of Stoà and Don Giovanni, their assistant, fostered a mutual understanding and an exchange of ideas about the commitment of faith
Bicycles with full travel bags, tents, six weeks on the road, no support car, no fixed accommodations, heat, wind, mist, rain and chill! That is a short summary of this year’s (and the ninth in total) bicycle trip of the NINIWA Team from Poland! The pilgrimage’s destination was the British Isles and the many Polish who for various reasons were forced to emigrate there. Many of these emigrants miss their families, friends and language.
A record group of 37 cyclists, with Fr. Tomasz MANIURA in the lead, traveled 5,136 km in 42 days. They traveled through Poland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Wales. This year’s expedition was called "The Joy of Life"! Every day the cyclists brought with them and shared an evangelical call to the people they met through a smile and kind words. They were also strengthened by St. Thomas More’s "Prayer for good humor,” which they prayed every day.
NINIWA Team cyclists have already traveled over 41,000 km and have been in 47 countries of the world. Their enormous distances have taken them to Jerusalem, through Siberia, and also south to Gibraltar, west (Cabo da Rocha, Portugal) and to Nordkapp, Finland, the northernmost point in Europe. Every year’s trip starts in Poland.
Who are the participants? Most of them are amateur travelers from Poland and even abroad. They don’t need the strength of a marathon runner! The power of the group is prayer every day, the Eucharist, faith in their message and the common support of their fellow travelers. Without those features, their travel regime would not work. As the cyclists themselves say, "The expedition teaches life!”
NINIWA Team is a part of the Polish Oblate Youth Ministry NINIWA. Another expedition will start next year just after the World Youth Days in Poland. Fr. Tomasz secretly dreams about going to the real Nineveh (the biblical city, now situated north of Mosul, Iraq). Unfortunately the political situation might prevent this from happening.