EUROPEMeeting of religious Brothers in Rome
"Siamo tutti Fratelli” ("We are all Brothers”) was the motto for a gathering of religious Brothers at the General House of the Brothers of the Christian Schools on October 24. Over 130 religious Brothers from 20 men’s Congregations were celebrating their vocation during the Year of Consecrated Life. Four Oblate Brothers took part in the event: Brothers Zygmunt WOLNIAK (General House); Silvio BERTOLINI (Senegal); Donato CIANCIULLO and Salvatore VITIELLO (Italy).
The guiding theme for the encounter was based on the three objectives indicated by Pope Francis for the Year of Consecrated Life: "look at the past with gratitude;” "live the present with passion;” "embrace the future with hope.” During the day, each Congregation shared something specific about its own vocation, after the showing of a video of activities of Brothers in the many countries where they work. In the introduction to the video, the former Superior General of the Dominicans, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, stated: "Often, religious are men and women who take us beyond the Church, beyond our little, well-known world. Pope Francis says that we must get out of the sacristy. Often, it is the religious who do that, to go into places where the name of Christ is unknown and to uncover it there.”
The meeting made clear that the vocation of the Brother is genuine. It is no coincidence that recently the Princess of the Asturias Award for Concord, one of the main awards given in Spain to those who are outstanding in the field of humanitarian values, went to the Order of the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God for their work during the Ebola epidemic in Africa which killed 18 Brothers and co-workers, as well as their work with refugees.
Zygmunt WOLNIAK (General House); Silvio BERTOLINI (Senegal); Donato CIANCIULLO and Salvatore VITIELLO (Italy)
The group of Brothers that organized the meeting stated: "Although the vocation of the Brother is diminished in the total number of members, nevertheless, it is ever more widespread in the world and continues to be necessary as an icon of equality and service in a world that is divided, unequal and filled with so many poor persons.”
In the year 2000, Fr. Raffaele GRASSO received the transplant of a kidney; however, the transplant did not totally succeed and for 10 years, he had to undergo dialysis that weakens the body and greatly affects every day of the patient’s life. On October 7, one of Fr. Raffaele’s Oblate confreres, Fr. Mario CAMARDA, was able to give him a generous and life-promoting gift, one of his own kidneys. Fr. Mario describes the gift as "a gift of self to a brother, so that he might live.”
Mario CAMARDA and Raffaele GRASSO
The two Oblates have known each other since 1975 when they were together in first formation. Fr. Mario remembers that during the scholasticate, someone asked them: "Are you ready to give your lives for one another?” He continued: "I decided to do it: if I can give a different type of life and alleviate the suffering of Fr. Raffaele, why not help him?” Since the two are not blood relatives, they had to await the judgment of a Tribunal in Pisa before proceeding to the medical tests and the transplant itself. It took nine months of waiting until Fr. Mario was judged to be the most compatible donor.
The operation itself was a success and now, Fr. Raffaele is slowly recuperating. He states: "Now I must take care of a gift that is the fruit of an act of love by a confrere.”
On September 26, 2015, we came to the end of the pilgrimage of the statue of the Virgin of Fatima in the diocese of Kamyanets-Podilskyi. (The Auxiliary there is Oblate Bishop Radoslaw ZMITROWICZ). For the Oblates, it was a very important event. The preparation took six months: conversations with the bishop; agreements with the "Lights of the East” Association; preparing the plans for the pilgrimage; preparation of prayer books, posters and various materials in the Ukrainian language. The program began on May 1 at the Shrine of the Mother of God at Leychiv.
For five uninterrupted months, the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima visited 82 parishes that have a permanent priest (with 3 days of retreat in each parish) and 71 mission station parishes, that is 153 parishes in all, comprising 6,655 km. Our old minibus (that’s all we have) broke down 8 times. However, there were always kind people ready to help us and therefore, we were able to arrive everywhere on time. Thanks to the help of the "Lights of the East” Association and their benefactors, during the pilgrimage, 14,000 rosaries were distributed, as well as 12,000 books in Ukrainian and Russian on St. Eugene de Mazenod, 11,000 images of Mary and 9,000 Miraculous Medals.
But these numbers are not the most important thing. Most important are the testimonies of conversions of many persons and the prayer in common for peace in Ukraine for which we Oblates have made a considerable contribution. (Fr. Pavlo VYSHKOVSKYI, Delegation superior)
Here are excerpts from the testimonies of a couple Oblates who took part in the pilgrimage:
Fr. Sergiej PANCZENKO: This time was an occasion for reassuring us of the actuality of the Fatima revelations. Especially for our land where until now there is still a post-Soviet spirit and where in many cities and towns, there is still a Lenin Street.Every day when I shared the message of Mary with other people, then I began to be more conscious of it and to live it more. Then one can better notice how people receive it in the depth of their hearts, how they begin to live the First Saturday of the month, how theygrasp their rosaries. During this pilgrimage, I saw in the people great devotion to the Mother of God. Our people love Mary. The pilgrimage was also a time when many people went to confession; perhaps this struck me more than anything else.
Fr. Andrzej MACKÓW: In July, several times two women came to pray, one older and the other younger, always with a bouquet of roses. They were a mother and daughter of the Orthodox communion.In May, they had visited one of the parishes and prayed for the health of the daughter. Not only was the daughter healed but they received many other favors from the Mother of God, for themselves and for their family members. Thankful for the graces received, that mother and daughter came to follow the Mother of God wherever they could. In some parishes, Orthodox priests participated, whether from the Patriarchate of Kiev or of Moscow, I do not know. They came with their faithful. In one of the parishes, an Orthodox priest came, accompanied by his wife and children; they participated in the vigil for families and the whole family came for a blessing.