CANADA-UNITED STATESOblates and associates welcome Pope Francis
The provincial house and offices of the United States Province are located directly across the street from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, one of the places visited by Pope Francis during his September 22-27 visit to the United States. It was during a Mass at the Shrine that the Holy Father presided at the first canonization on U.S. soil: St. Junípero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan missionary to California.
The Oblate novices from Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois, traveled 824 miles (1327 km) in response to an invitation to young religious and seminarians to greet the Pope. Together with members of the novitiate team, the very international novitiate community spent many hours on the road to join the crowds that were waiting to see Pope Francis. The Novice Master, Fr. Thomas HORAN, and his associate, Fr. Jack LAU, accompanied Jean Emmanuel MELONCOURT and Steven MONTEZ (U.S. Province); Amila PERERA and Nishan ANGODAGE (Colombo Province of Sri Lanka); Joshua NASH (Australian Province); and Paul ARUANANTHAM (Indian Province). They were in the basilica when Pope Francis came in to greet the religious and seminarians; they were able to watch the Mass of Canonization on large computer screens inside the church since the rite took place outside.
Other travelers to Washington were Victoria Barrientes-Luna, Office Manager for the Southwest Area Office and Vocation Office in San Antonio, Texas; Claudia Garcia, Gift Advisor at Oblate Missions in San Antonio, and her sister, Yvette Ibarra; and Oblate Associate, Geri Moore, from Belleville, IL. They originally thought they would only get a brief glimpse of Pope Francis in his "pope-mobile,” but Oblate Bishop Michael PFEIFER saw to it that had some tickets for the canonization Mass.
Security was tight, according to Victoria, "somewhat heavier” than airport security checks, purses were thoroughly searched and everyone passed through metal detectors and other screening procedures. "We anticipated a long time going through security so we arrived about noon for the 4:15 outdoor Mass.” Getting through security took about an hour but Victoria described the security personnel and the crowd of some 25,000 ticket holders as, "...kind and respectful…When you have him (Pope Francis) as an example you tend to act that way.”
For twenty-five years, every first Friday of the month, this apostle of the Sacred Heart managed the remarkable feat of bringing together for an hour of adoration almost two thousand workers in overalls or dungarees. In 1923, he founded the Jésus-Ouvrier (Jesus the Worker) house for closed retreats where until his death, he would meet thousands of adults and youth. He had the gift of captivating them to the point of winning them over for Jesus Christ and very often, turning them into true apostles. An incomplete list gives the names of 80 priests for whom he inspired their vocation, among them thirty religious men and more than a hundred religious women. This man, this priest, this extraordinary Oblate, you may have guessed, is Father Victor LELIÈVRE.
On October 8, 2015, the body of Servant of God, Father Victor Lelièvre, for the third time since its exhumation in 2004, was transferred to the new and superb Mausoleum-Columbarium at the Saint Charles cemetery in Quebec. The coffin of Father Lelièvre was moved in the presence of Oblate authorities and those of the diocese of Quebec, according to the prescribed regulations, into its new abode.
More than 40 persons, Oblates, CVL workers and Oblate associates, assisted at the transferal. After authentication and repair of the seals by the Chancellor Jean Tailleur and his team, a very hope-filled Liturgy of the Word was held in front of the tomb of Father Lelièvre. Then we were treated to the showing of an audio-visual presentation, with the help of an Ipad, so as to better inform us about the life of Father Lelièvre (1876-1956): photos, interviews, slide shows, etc. This important religious figure in the history of Quebec, he who was and is Father Victor Lelièvre, has not finished making people talk about him. (André CYR)
At the age of 86, Fr. Paul WIGHTMAN is still the pastor of five parishes in the mountainous region of Southern Missouri. A professed Oblate for 65 years and a priest for 60 years, he has also been an avid spelunker for many years. Recently, he was recognized for his work as the surveyor and explorer of the Fogelpole Cave System of Monroe Country, Illinois. The land above and around the cave has been purchased for preservation and, in honor of his work, it has been named the Paul Wightman Subterranean Nature Preserve.
Fogelpole Cave is the largest and most ecologically diverse cave in Illinois. The group that purchased the site (Clifftop NFP) hopes to protect the cave’s rare ecosystem which provides a habitat for several endangered species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.
For many years, Fr. Paul was the bursar at St. Henry’s Preparatory Seminary in Belleville, Illinois. Many of the juniorate students assisted him in his explorations of Fogelpole Cave. As one former student stated: "I spent many hours in that cave and still enjoy spelunking today with my own kids.” .