ASIA-OCEANIAOMI Bicentenary: Message of the Nuncio
It is noteworthy that 200 years ago when St. Eugene Mazenod founded the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), he had thought of including love for the poor and marginalized in his charism of apostolic work of evangelization. Now, around 4000 Oblates are working in 66 countries all over the world; in Bangladesh Oblates are working in 4 dioceses -Dhaka, Chittagong. Sylhet and Rajshahi. I am very happy to take note that the Holy Father has entrusted the diocese of Sylhet to the pastoral care to the Oblates. This is a sign of the trust and confidence placed on the spiritual and social and charitable apostolic activities of the Oblate Fathers in Bangladesh.
I am a personal witness to St. Eugene de Mazenod's charism that is running through this Noyanagar Church. I have visited this church many times since it is the nearest one to the Nunciature and from the beginning of my mission in Bangladesh; I have experienced the spirit, zeal and enthusiasm of the Oblates here. This church is catering to the needs of all kinds of races, creeds, and particularly migrants, and is engaged in school, dispensary, and social services, like giving care to the handicapped and marginalised. A number of people are touched, directly or indirectly, by the generous service of the priests, sisters, and other lay leaders of this Noyanagar church.
As we celebrate the Bicentenary of the Oblates, I take this opportunity to convey to you, dear Fr. Dilip Sarkar OMI and all Oblates working in Bangladesh, the appreciation and gratitude of the Holy Father Pope Francis for your self-sacrificing and commendable service to the people of Bangladesh.
+ The Most Reverend George Kocherry
Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh
Fifty-four Oblates gathered at Thodarpaham, Jaffna, on the 17th February 2017, to celebrate the anniversary of the approval of their Constitution and Rules in 1826. Fr Joseph Das Jebarathinam, Vicar General of Jaffna Diocese, was the chief celebrant.
In his homily Fr. Jebaratnam quoted extensively the letter of the Superior General written for the closing of the Oblate Triennium. Fr. Jebaratnam went commented on and commended the seven points highlighted in the letter. He has a witty way of communicating profound matters.
The pre-novitiate choir from Gnanodhayam, Mannar, enriched the celebration; although only five in number they filled the chapel with their devotional way of rendering the hymns. One more pre-novice from the Colombo Province and five from the Pakistan Delegation are expected to join the pre-novitiate program in the coming days. (Yazhathoni, February 2017)
The district members of Andhra Pradesh had a well-planned bicentenary celebration on January 27. It was grand success and meaningful to the Oblates and the people in our parishes.
The evening began with a Mass presided by Most. Rev. Thelagathoti Joseph Raja Rao, SMM, Bishop of Vijayawada. Concelebrating were the Oblate provincial, Fr. Chinnappan SANDHAPPAN, other Oblates, diocesan and religious priests. Religious women and faithful from the Oblate parishes participated as well.
In his homily, the bishop explained to the faithful the nuances of religious life in Catholic Church. He explained the three evangelical councils in detail with biblical references and Church documents. In his advice to the Oblates, he stated: "A real vowed Oblate is the one who is always available in the mission to his given people leaving his family as secondary.”
After the mass, there was a short cultural programme. During this programme, there was the presentation of a bicentenary souvenir; the release of a book by Fr. G. BALA (Last Journey of Jesus); the release of an audio-video CD by Fr. Joseph THAMMBI (With your Grace).
There was also a skit on St. Eugene by the Oblate novices from Arpanalayam; a dance by the Holy Family Sisters from Ramankapet; a prayer-dance by people from Chintalavalasa Parish; poems by people from Musunuru Parish; and documentaries by Frs. Basil, Nirmal and Benjamin. Almost two thousand persons participated in the Mass and the agape meal. (Fr. Yesuraj in BORN, February 2017)