ASIA-OCEANIASt. Eugene Tailoring Centre
Two years ago, the Oblates working in Andhra Pradesh had a day-long session on "The Empowerment of Women.” While we shared our opinions on different ways of helping the women of our parishes, Sister Manju, a Carmelite nun, and the animator, shared this idea: "Empowerment of women is not possible without empowering them economically.” That stirred the minds of the participants. St. Eugene Tailoring Centre in Buttayagudem is a product of that insight!
Aim: To show women the means of economic independence.
Objective: Economic empowerment
Target People: Women and drop-out girls of Buttayagudem Mandal
Venue: Buttayagudem (near the Government Hostel for College Boys).
Duration: Three months
Number or size of the batch: 20 per batch
We started the tailoring center
on December 7, 2016, with 16 students and two skilled teachers, Mrs. Ganga
Rathna Kumari and Mrs.Rani. The training is given for a period of three months
per batch. They are given training in stitching skirts, blouses, chudidhars and
embroidering, lining and all that a woman could do in her household. The women
and the drop-out girls of our locality come at 10 a.m., after finishing their
work at home, and learn tailoring till 1 p.m.. They are mostly from three
villages of the Mandal, namely, Kamsalakunta, Reddy Ganapavaram and
Buttayagudem. They are regular in attendance and active in learning. They show
a lot of interest in mastering this skill. This batch finished their training
on March 7, 2017 with the celebration of International Women’s Day!
The outcome of this Tailoring Programme:
They feel that they are ‘somebody’ in the society! They have an occupation! Thus, they are dignified!
That they can stitch their own and their children’s clothes by themselves. They can make a living – thus, economic independency
That they can stand on their own legs.
"If you see someone hungry, do not give him a fish. Rather, teach him to fish!” says a Chinese proverb. The Oblate community in Buttayagudem has marked a milestone in the history of the parish, walking an extra mile with the poor women and drop-outs of the locality. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the Oblate Australian Province, to Fr. Chinnappan SANDHAPPAN, our Provincial and to his administration for their guidance and support.
Happy to begin this fulfilling and satisfying ministry for the poor, we began the second batch on March 7, 2017. (Fr. John Thomas DAVID, Parish Priest, Buttayagudem, and Bro. Paul RAJ, in BORN: Bharath Oblate Regional News, March 2017)
The 19th of March 2017 was a day of great joy for the Oblate Delegation of Bangladesh. On that day, the newly built scholasticate, dedicated to St. Eugene De Mazenod, was inaugurated by Fr. Stefan OBERGFELL, the Provincial of the Central European Province, and Fr. Aloys TERLIESENER, the Mission Procurator. The new building is a great gift to the Oblates of Bangladesh from the that Province. Surely they have made a big sacrifice for our young Oblates. Our Superior General, Fr. Louis LOUGEN, had laid the foundation stone on 2nd June 2013, when he visited Bangladesh.
It was a dream of our pioneer Oblates to have a good scholasticate where there would be suitable facilities for the formation community. Today the dream became a reality through the prayers and support of many donors. We are also grateful to Fr. Thomas KLOSTERKAMP, former Provincial of the Central European Province and his administration who took the first initiative to help build the scholasticate. The Delegation Superior, Fr. Dilip SARKAR and his councilors put their hearts and souls into building this formation house.
The dedication day included the celebration of the Holy Eucharistic, thanking God for his blessings upon us. A large number of the faithful were in attendance.
From 5th March to 10th March, 13 formators from the Asia-Oceania Region gathered in Melbourne, Australia, to pray, support each other and reflect on formation. We met at the Mary Mackillop Heritage Centre in East Melbourne. The place was established by the first Australian saint, St Mary of the Cross Mackillop. In the charism of the Sisters of St Joseph, founded by St Mary, it was a home for the community and some of the poor to whom they were ministering. In this place, where for more than a hundred years, the charism of Mother Mary has been preserved, cultivated and offered to the wider community, the Oblate formators from Australia, Pakistan, India, Jaffna, Colombo, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Rome, created an Oblate community for a week.
On Sunday night, we began our conference at Mazenod College, where we were given a presentation by Mrs Susan Maclean, on the safety of the internet. Susan introduced us to the blessings and challenges of the internet, which young people face today.
On Monday morning, Fr Austin COOPER spoke of the necessity of human formation. His presentation, drawn from the theological message of the architecture of the local Cathedral, offered us a fresh light. In the evening, Fr Christian FINI continued the topic of the previous day, as he reflected on Cybertheology. Realising the challenges of the digital era, he explored the opportunities for connectedness which the internet offers, and situated them in a theological background.
The Oblate input into discussions at the conference was continued the following day by Bishop Mark EDWARDS, Auxiliary of Melbourne, who shared his experience of being an Oblate and a bishop. He explained that bishops may not always fully understand the charism of a particular religious order, but they will expect that the religious will care for their people and that they will offer the best formation possible to the formandi in their own institute.
The afternoon sessions were run by Bro. Mark O’Connor, FMS. Bro. Mark is a highly recognised evangeliser in the Archdiocese of Melbourne and beyond. He explored the concept of evangelisation in the light of Pope Francis’ teachings. His observations regarding the role of fraternity and compassion resonated in the participants of the conference as they reminded us of the tradition of our own Oblate institute. His summary of Pope Francis, as an evangeliser who is close to the people, couldn’t better describe the ideal of an Oblate evangeliser. Enlightened by these conferences, the participants moved to the formation reports from various units. The picture of formation in Asia-Oceania, which emerged from those reports, was summarised by Fr Cornelius NGOKA, Assistant General, who noticed the commitment of the Region to formation of formators, and a growing sense of interculturality of the formation houses in the region.
We were also introduced to the Catholic Theological College, which is an affiliated college of the University of Divinity. The University of Divinity is a unique, ecumenical, educational institution in Melbourne made of 12 affiliated colleges from various Christian denominations. Catholic Theological College (CTC), whose founding Master (Rector) was Fr Austin Cooper OMI, has been offering philosophical and theological formation to seminarians and laity in Victoria for many years. It has always been the academic institution for our Oblate scholastics in Australia.
The Leadership Team of the College joined us for evening prayer and a meal on Wednesday. The passionate discussions, which were triggered by those exposures to CTC, gave us an insight into the dynamic, professional, and pastoral academic training provided by CTC.
The final day was celebrated with the local Oblate community at the Provincial House in Camberwell, Melbourne. As we were concluding the conference, we took great solace from the wise words of Bro. Mark O’Connor, that there is both Good New and Better News. The Good News is that there is a Messiah; the better news is that it isn’t us! (Fr Daniel SZEWC & Bro. Joshua NASH)
According to the China Labour Bulletin, there are an estimated 277,000,000 rural migrant workers in China. These are people who have had to leave their homes in the countryside and go to the more prosperous large cities, in search of work. Guangzhou in mainland China, located about two hours by train from Hong Kong, is one such city. It has attracted millions of poor workers from surrounding areas who come in search of work. Currently there are estimated to be approximately 5,000,000 such migrant workers in this city of 14,000,000. Some of these are single; others come with their families and live in poor areas of the city. Those who come with their children often have a problem. Because they are from the countryside, they are not registered as legal residents in the city. Though education in China is tuition-free for local residents, others must pay for tuition.
The Oblates serving in Guangzhou have over the years become familiar with a small weekday program sponsored by a group of religious sisters to care for pre-school migrant children while their parents are at work. The Oblates have provided spiritual and moral support for this initiative over the years. We have now been requested to begin a program for elementary and middle-school students, on weekends, to provide them a place to study and complete their homework.
Young people from our Oblate Youth China group have already been coming for several months to volunteer their services. To this end, the mission in Guangzhou has recently rented a small storefront to serve as a study and activity centre for the children of the migrant families. The centre, called "Angel’s Love” was officially opened last Christmas Day with a party for the migrants and local children. Twenty-seven participated and enjoyed the Christmas drama, games and refreshments that the 25 young adults provided for the occasion. (Cosmic, March 2017)
Oblate Bishop Mark EDWARDS, auxiliary of Melbourne tells of a unique way to spread devotion to the Founder of the Oblates, St. Eugene de Mazenod.
One of my desires is for the Universal Church to be able to celebrate the optional memorial of St. Eugene de Mazenod. One of the prerequisites to adding his name the universal calendar is that the devotion to St. Eugene, that is his cult, has to be strong and widespread.
Only half-jokingly, I suggest the names Eugene or Eugenie to friends expecting a child, and where possible mention St. Eugene to confirmation candidates. I have confirmed five Eugene de Mazenods. Four of these were Year 6 students at St. Leonard’s Parish in Glen Waverley or Good Shepherd Parish in Mulgrave. They had older brothers at Mazenod College who proposed the name of St. Eugene to them.
To my surprise and delight, one was in North Balwyn and chose the name because of his (Hong Kong Chinese origin) family’s trust in him. The mother had entrusted the family to the protection of St Eugene’s intercession many years before.
On Sunday 26 March, I was privileged to baptise Eugene Dong Ho Kim. His mother and father had been looking for a name and she awoke one morning with the name Eugene in her head. Both she and her husband liked the sound of the name. She shared this possibility with her sister who affirmed this name by telling her of St. Eugene’s life and of his role in their family. Little Eugene’s cousin is our Oblate pre-novice Stephen Cheon! (Cosmic 2017)
The Oblate Historical Dictionary, Volume 2, under the rubric "Jaffna,” tells of the origin of an evangelization event that continues to this day:
"With the beginning of the year 1859 the mission of Jaffna was born again by a great renewal. The mission band, which was comprised of great and energetic missionaries Bishop Étienne SEMERIA, Fr. Christophe BONJEAN and Fr. Constant CHOUNAVEL, o.m.i., inaugurated the great Parish Mission on 26 December 1858. … Fr. Christophe Bonjean explained his own experience in the mission of Jaffna as ‘what was not then our surprise – what was not our joy to see the people participating with a most remarkable enthusiasm in all the exercises of the Mission! This enthusiasm was all the more edifying for us and the more meritorious for our Catholics because very heavy showers of rain, such as could be seen only in the tropics, fell almost without any interruption during the last days but they did not by any means succeed in cooling down the zeal of the people. From all sides the faithful were seen hastening under a beating rain and then remaining in the church in spite of their wet clothes. One day it rained so heavily after the morning exercises that it was absolutely impossible for the people to leave the church; they wished to have another sermon but, as the Fathers had already retired to their cells, they spent the time in an excellent manner in making the Way of the Cross. We had ordinarily more than 1,000 and at times 1,500 people very remarkable figure if only we were to bear in mind that many persons were able to come for the Mission only alternatively as someone was needed to stay at home to guard the house. Moreover the majority of our Catholics are poor fishermen, depending on their daily work for their bread; a day without a catch of fish meant for them a day of complete fast.’… The Mission was successfully completed on 27 February 1859.”
The website of the Jaffna province, http://www.omijaffna.com/, reports that the tradition continues.
The Oblate Grand Mission has a very long history (159 years) in the Province of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. The very first Grand Mission was inaugurated by great and energetic missionaries, viz. Bishop Semeria, OMI, Fr. Bonjean, OMI, and Fr. Constant Chounavel, OMI, on 26 December 1858.
Six Oblates from the Oblate preaching community conducted a Grand Mission at St. Sebastian’s Cathedral, Mannar, for 36 days, i.e., from the 22nd of January to the 26th of February, 2017 with the support of few Oblates from other communities.
The Grand Mission included mainly family visiting (2100 families); zonal masses; seminars on different themes on weekends; Eucharistic celebrations for the students at the schools as well as in the zones; AGAPE at the zonal level; rectification of marriages and administering the sacrament of initiation for the converts from other religions and the children from the Catholic families who have not received these sacraments at the proper time.
The faithful were very enthusiastic and participated in the mission activities in a very active manner. The priests of the diocese, particularly the parish priest, and other religious working in the parish were very appreciative of the Grand Mission. The Grand Mission came to an end with a Eucharistic celebration which was presided over by the Vicar General of the Diocese, followed by a cultural programme in the evening.
Last January 15, 2017, on the occasion of the Feast of Santo Nino, the Indigenous Peoples Ministry (IPM) Office was blessed after the Eucharistic celebration at Our Lady of Salvation Parish, Timanan, Romongaob, South Upi, Maguindanao. The IPM office is a visible sign of the continuing commitment of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Archdiocese of Cotabato and the whole Church for the Indigenous People here in South Upi, Maguindanao.
During the blessing, Fr. Jurambelle SACIL said that "the feast of the Santo Nino is a timely reminder for all regarding the divine simplicity of children. The simplicity of the Holy Child is seen in the simplicity and littleness of the Indigenous Peoples. The blessing of the office during this feast day reminds me and our IP staff, Parish and those involved in this apostolate, that in God’s love, no one is so little so as not to be included and loved. The office has a native accent ("amakan” walls [ed. woven bamboo]) and color telling us that we are embracing the wonderful and earth-friendly products of the Indigenous Peoples.”
The blessing started with an opening prayer ritual by a Teduray "k?mamal kaadatan” (community prayer leader) with the "Dulang” (Teduray- Lambangian term, similar to a Christian altar). It signifies that the IPM office respects and recognizes the beauty of their faith traditions. An image of the Santo Nino from Cebu is enthroned in the office as a consecration to God of all our little efforts for and with the Tedurays.
The establishment of an IPM office is also in line with the 2-year road map plans of last November 7-11, 2016, at the National Convention in Roxas City, Capiz by the different Archdiocesan/Dioceses IP Apostolates.
The event was also witnessed by Fr. Boyet PALOMO, parish priest of Our Lady of Salvation Parish of South Upi, parish Pastoral Council officers, local government representatives and regular church goers. (By Fr. Jurambelle John C. Sacil, OMI/Archdiocesan IP Apostolate Director in OMI Philippines, April 2017)
The 36th General Chapter challenged all the Oblates to renew their lives for the sake of an even more effective evangelization of the world. In response to this challenge, and as the fruit of the Oblate Triennium, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the Province of Indonesia have taken much times to reflect and discern about their personnel and their mission. They concluded by starting a new mission for the Province; they call it "Oblate Vocation and Formation.” This new mission was born of the main concern that "the harvest is rich but the laborers are few.” (Matt 9:37) Every Oblate in the Province realizes that the number of laborers is not equal to the harvest in the mission fields (based on the slow increase of the number of the personnel each year).
The new mission of the Province is also a response to the cry of the Church. The Church needs laborers. The Church needs priests for sacramental services. The Church needs people who consecrate their lives for the service of their brothers and sisters. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to collaborate with everybody, especially with Catholic families, to promote vocations and to take part in the formation process in various ways. It is felt that it is necessary to work hand in hand with the laity to prepare the laborers for the harvest.
The Vision Statement of the Province:
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate of the Province of Indonesia is a religious missionary society which faithfully follows Jesus Christ to proclaim the message of salvation to the poor with their many faces by renewing themselves constantly according to the Charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod, under the patronage Mary Immaculate, living the values of Pancasila*, together with all people of goodwill.
(* Pancasila is the official philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state.)
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Province of Indonesia commit to:
1.Improving oneself for the sake of the mission.
2. Making every Oblate community a means of self-renewal.
3. Increasing vocations and maintaining the call.
4. Increasing the involvement of laity in spirituality and mission.
5. Strengthening the role and service to youth.
6. Building an awareness of diversity and unity as one nation, Indonesia.
(Written by Caraka Team)
The Treasurers, Provincial and Delegation Superiors of Asia-Oceania converged at the Oblate Missionary Center, Quezon City, for a 6-day meeting to deliberate on the Oblate mission in their respective units and plan their collective response to the call of the 36th Oblate General Chapter that was held last 14 September to 6 October, 2016 in Rome.
The first day, 13 March, 2017, was opened with a Liturgy led by the O.M.I. Scholastics. Seven candles were lit by AORC representatives to symbolize the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fr. Marc DESSUREAULT, Treasurer General, presented "Mission and Finance: The Reflection of the 36th Chapter” emanating from the Word of God, OMI Constitution and Rules, and Oblate Values.
He illustrated the challenges in this regard: living the Oblate vow of poverty and holding all things in common, transparency in the realm of finance, managing finances especially for first formation which often accounts for 80 to 90% of the budget, and contracts in the dioceses. The Oblates are therefore called to change their mindsets to be able to say among themselves, "Your community is my community; your mission is my mission.” It would mean "changing the individual mindset regarding responsibility for finances and property to a community mindset; changing our community mindset to the unit mindset; changing the unit mindset to the regional mindset; and changing the regional mindset to the mindset of the Congregation.” In so doing, it would help the Oblates to embrace a spirit of sharing and recognize the call for each unit to generate funds locally in order to improve a relative financial sustainability.
Among the strategies mentioned by Fr. Marc were: having an effective financial committee, not just as a thought, but as something which has to be done; employment of professionals; the need for an Oblate personnel to take responsibility; the serious living out of the vow of poverty that must start in first formation and also, having the sense of belonging on the part of the formandi towards finances.
The Report of the General Councilor for AORC, Fr. Peter STOLL, covered The Chapter Acts, appointments and calendar otems. After the General Chapter, the January- February Plenary Session Meeting was spent carefully studying how the next six years will be dedicated to follow up on the various Chapter directions and recommendations.
Provincial and Delegation Superiors and Treasurers of Colombo and Jaffna (Sri Lanka), India, Bangladesh, Hong Kong-China, Korea, Japan, Turkmenistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia and the Philippines actively engaged in the AORC discussions and resolutions. Due to visa delays, Fr. Simon VADAKOOT, Bursar of the Indian Province, Fr. Derrick WARNAKULASURIYA and Fr. Exupear BASHARAT, Superior and Bursar of the Pakistan Delegation, respectively, were not able to attend the meeting. Bro. Noel GARCIA, the epresentative of Asia-Oceania Brothers, together with Fr. Francis ZABALA, served as moderators while Fr. Rodel LOPEZ provided computer technology support. Scholastic Peter Anthony SOTOMIL competently worked in the secretariat. Our two Vietnamese scholastics provided the translation for their Superior and Bursar. The AORC representatives thank Fr. Richard WEIXELMAN, OMI, the OMC Director and the staff for the hospitable stay at the Oblate Missionary Center. (Fr. Lauro DE GUIA in OMI Philippines, April 2017)