ASIA-OCEANIAIona College: missionary journeys
A highly significant characteristic of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Congregation is the inherent missionary spirit of the founder, St Eugene De Mazenod. In addition to the broad range of local and interstate mission experiences, Year 11 students are able to engage in overseas mission immersions each year as part of the missionary spirit at Iona College in Brisbane.
This year some twenty-five boys and four staff (constituting two separate groups) enjoyed rich mission experiences in China and Fiji during the recent Term 3 holidays.
While both mission immersions were characterized by intercultural experiences, rich interpersonal encounters, prayer and reflection and a healthy approach to mission outreach: they were different in terms of one being a decidedly Asian experience having a significant focus on human interactions and sharing; and the other was a Pacific context with a focus on construction and practical assistance.
Both groups of students found their mission immersion experience very meaningful and felt that it strengthened their sense of social justice and mission, enhancing their life experience. At Iona College, we are privileged to have the strong missionary spirit of St Eugene as the basis of our response to Christ and the Gospels. (http://www.iona.qld.edu.au/)
Located among the Muslim dominated populace of Datu Piang, Maguindanao, Santa Teresita of the Child Jesus Parish has sought to strengthen its pastoral activities with the guidance of Fr. Marciano "Mars” ANDRES, the parish priest.
The celebration of Lent and Easter was made more meaningful with a feeding program from February 18 to April 5 this year for socially disadvantaged kids aged 3 to 7 years old, the majority of whom were Muslims. The parish youth went to the children’s homes and brought them to the church hall for a late afternoon meal. They served arroz caldo (hot rice) which was fortified with vitamins and other nutrients like "malunggay” powder. Youth volunteers taught the youngsters good discipline by asking the children to line up, wait for their turn and share a pleasant meal with other children. The Muslim parents were grateful for the outreach activity initiated by the parish.
Similarly, in a fraternal spirit, Sta. Teresita Parish acknowledged the Muslim religious celebration of Ramadan by offering some food every Friday in four mosques or masjids last June to July during the breaking of the fast on the Muslim Ramadan.
The parish has a year-round Interreligious Dialogue program that caters to fifteen youth (13 high school students and 2 college students) through a scholarship program which offers a partial (or 50%) tuition fee scholarship. The scholarship program is currently parish-based. The Parish Pastoral Team and Parish Finance Team are entrusted with the responsibility of the proper safekeeping and disbursement of the scholarship fund.
Fr. Mars and the community of Santa Teresita Parish are grateful to the generous donors whose assistance enabled the realization of Muslim-Christian dialogue through the aforementioned activities. (http://www.omiphil.org/)
In some places in the Oblate World, extra means must be taken to give some sense of security to the residents of our houses in situations where violence is not uncommon.. (editor)
It is with sincere thanks to the General Administration, Oblate Units in the Asia-Oceania region and the Anglo-Irish Province that we feel quite relieved for we have addressed certain security concerns, raising parapet walls higher, attaching razor wires, cameras, and gates and employing watchmen. These necessary security measures in the formation houses, namely the Oblate Juniorate in Multan, the Oblate House in Lahore and the Oblate Scholasticate in Karachi were required by the law enforcement agencies and the government of Pakistan after a deadly terrorist attack on an Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 and a twin suicide bomb attack on churches during Sunday service in the Lenten season in Youhanabad, Lahore on March 15, 2015. (PAK Bulletin, May-September 2015)