Story of Forty Years of Missionary Life in Peru

paul%20feeley.web Story of Forty Years of Missionary Life in PeruNo one can hope to capture forty years of missionary life in Peru in a few short words. When encouraged to write his own story down Paul gives a big groan. He is reluctant to share the story of his missionary life.

He was the middle child in a family of three boys from Peterborough, Ontario. He made his novitiate year in 1956-57 and was ordained a priest in 1963.

In those days the newly ordained were compelled to do a ‘pastoral year’ which was not as productive as planned. By 1964, the then provincial of St. Peter’s Province, Gerry Cousineau, OMI, was planning to have five young Oblates go to Peru. When Paul arrived in Peru he was sent to the north end of the citye of Lima, an area named Comas, which was a large section of the city composed of squatters. The land was not agriculturally productive but was an area of hills, covered with stones, and dry dirt. Along the coast of Peru it seldom rains. This was an area of the very poor people. The call had gone out for priests to come to this area and St. Peter’s Province had responded.

The houses, very tiny, were built of bamboo walls. The houses did not provide safety or security to their owners. The temperature and dampness made it feel very cold. The people survived through the work they could find. There is a particular word in Spanish (no English equivalent) which means to “pick up what you can in regard to work”.

The people organized themselves. The family would move into their parcel of land on the hillside and then the family man would disappear for a week or two. The military were very reluctant to force the women and children to move off the small parcel of land. Then after a week or two, when the military would no longer bother the family, the husband would return to their new location. The military could not effectively get rid of the squatters.

When Paul arrived in Comas there were around two hundred thousand people, without water, electricity, phones or street lights. Comas is eleven km. from the center of Lima.

Fr. Adrian Godin, OMI, originally from Montreal, was very influential in developing a missionary consciousness. He had lived in a straw shack, very close to the people, and concluded that it was important to create an industrial school for the boys to be trained in the trades. At the same time Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba kicked out the Brothers of Charity. Adrian invited them to come to Peru and together they created a school and program that would give the young students four hours of classes in the morning and four hours of training in the shop. In conjunction with the Brothers of Charity, young volunteers from Germany came to be the instructors in this training program for boys.

Shortly after this an industrial school for girls was established. Within the city of Lima there were many openings for maids in the houses of the more affluent people. These young girls were trained to cook, sew and manage a house.

During this time Paul recalls that a Canadian journalist complained how poor the people actually were. He pointed out to the journalist one particular house that  had the beginnings of a brick wall. Only three rows of bricks were in place. Looking at the young journalist he pointed out: “You see the three brick rows that he saved up for months to build. Well, his child got sick and that took any money he had saved up.”

The occupant of the house had built as far as he could afford to build. It took a long time to obtain enough money to buy all the bricks needed to build an exterior wall.

A strong part of the vitality of the church community was the project to build a statute of Mary in front of the church building. They asked for submissions and the work of the local artist that was chosen was a mother holding a child while sitting on a bamboo mat. To build such a large statute Paul went out to the mountains to obtain the clay. When he brought all the raw clay back the artist lamented that it would take months to knead this clay properly work in order to create a piece of art. The people came forward, each took a small portion of the clay, worked it at home and returned within a few days. The statute was ready to be constructed.

The theme of the statue was ‘Our Lady of Peace.’ This was expressive of the feelings of the people. They were not fighting in an armed insurrection, nor did they want to take the farming land away from the small farmers. As one man described the meaning of this statue: “We are not here to cause trouble. We are here to build a better life.”

By 1967 the Oblates were ready to open a new mission. The government of Peru was trying to open up the eastern side of the Andes Mountain to farming. This was dense Amazon jungle. Blaise Macquarie, and Andreas Godin and Paul began this new mission in Aucajacu.

The plan was to work toward developing the farmers into a cooperative type of farming operation.

In 1970 there was a coup in the government and the new military dictatorship made it impossible for the farmers to make a living. In order to survive the farmers in this section of Peru moved into growing coca. This plant has many legitimate uses. A man could chew the coca leaves and not feel hunger or cold all day. It was a tool for survival through the Andes Mountain. Coca was also used in religious ceremonies before anyone would work the earth or his garden.

By 1972 the farmers were growing large fields of this coca to sell to the ‘narcos’ in the north who operated out of the country of Columbia. It was very lucrative for the farmer. At the same time there was a very strong push from the USA to try to eliminate the production of coca in this area of Peru.

1981 saw the beginning of the Lighting Path which was a Marxist inspired guerilla group that were bent on destroying the capitalist system.

There were stories of unbelievable cruelty in subduing the local population. Looking back at this ten year period Paul estimates that about five hundred people from their area just disappeared. He relates of one incident where a helicopter landed in a soccer field, rounded up six of the young men playing soccer and flew off. The bodies of the young men were never recovered. The people concluded that the six young men had been dropped into the depth of the jungle where it would be impossible to locate any evidence of a crime.

During this decade there was de facto armed conflict between the Peruvian military and the guerillas who lived in the jungle and would come out into the villages and roads to assert control over the people. Later on into the conflict the military changed their tactics and began to occupy the jungle and camouflaged themselves to look like the guerillas. This brought great confusion to the farmers and townsfolk.

It was during this time that Paul began to make wooden plaques which had the name of the disappeared persons and the information of their disappearance. He remembers that he had about thirty plaques affixed to the exterior of the church wall. There was great strength in this action. The local people were very wary that the military would be listening to what was happening in their small town but Paul, who shrugs his shoulder as he retells this story, “Nothing happened!” For this work the parish was awarded the National Civil Rights Award of Peru.

These ten years were especially difficult for the missionaries. Paul shakes his head: “How did we ever survive?” The narcos and the Senderos has taken over the jungle and controlled who could enter and who should be bared from the jungle.

During these years it happened frequently that human body parts were discovered in one of the five rivers. Paul remembers that these disappeared people were the ‘blood of Abel’ crying out from the earth.

A particularly trying moment was the day two men entered the church talking with one another; they were accompanied by six bodyguards carrying machine guns. Immediately Paul sensed that these were Senderos. Reflecting back on those moments Paul added: “It is enough to make you shiver!”

He remembers that on the feast of John the Baptist he pointed out in the homily that the brutality done to the Baptist was now happening among us. “The military did not shot me” he concluded of this time.

A particular moment to indicate how controlling the guerillas were over the people was the day a documentary crew from CBC/ Canada arrived to do a program on the growing of coca in Peru. The TV crew were looking to record how the farmers had to find that they needed permission from the guerillas to speak to anyone. When it was not possible to speak with one particular farmer Paul managed to get permission to have the crew speak with another farmer. When the Canadian reporter asked about the Senderos Paul did not translate the question! There was obvious frustration on the part of the Canadian reporter.

Later when the Canadian reporter asked why he had not translated the question Paul had to inform him that “this is how it really works.” The farmers would never talk about the Senderos. If they did, they could very easily be dead by the next morning. This was a powerful educational moment for the young Canadian reporter.

Did you personally feel safe during these years?

Paul shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yes!” There is a question mark: Maybe we were stupid about the whole situation? We had learnt from other points of violence on South America: do nothing in secret. Make sure everything is public. A strong piece of advice that Paul did use on at least one occasion: If the military threatens to take you, make sure that their threat is public. Make it known to the public at larger. Have the threats broadcast on the radio!

He attributes his safety to the fact that the Senderos somehow understood that the priests and sisters were on the side of the poor people. They could interpret our mode of operation in favour of the poor people of the country.

As an indication of the closeness to the poor Paul would often encounter at the national church meetings the friendly ribbing, ‘how is the chaplain of the narcos?’ “The people of the big city could never understand how we could live in the center of so much violence.”

By the year 2007 it was becoming clear that the Canadians and Europeans needed to leave the mission in order for the Peruvians to take control of their church. “If we do not leave the Peruvians will not have the space to develop as their own church.” It made more sense for Paul to return to Canada. “When I came back I could see from this perspective that this was the right thing to do.”

The Peruvians will do it differently from the North Americans.

Looking back to forty years of missionary work Paul say that this was the correct time to leave.

“It felt good. I have nothing to offer and after forty years of serving as superior and leader I had nothing more to offer.” It was time to return home. “The bell had rung!”

Tony Krotki’s Vocation Emerged As Part Of A Puzzle That Was Fitted Together Over The Years

arctic%20scenery1.web Tony Krotkis Vocation Emerged As Part Of A Puzzle That Was Fitted Together Over The YearsNineteen years in the Eastern Canadian Arctic (the territory of Nunavut) has rooted Tony Krotki in his Oblate identify.  The Arctic not only has Tony as one of its citizens, it flows through his very veins.

His vocation emerged as part of a puzzle that was fitted together over the years. The desire to work with the Inuit peoples first surfaced at the age of fourteen. “This has been my dream since 1978.” During the years at the minor seminary the desire developed quite strongly. “I read all the articles I could find. I read the book, Inuk three times.”

“In 1979 a Polish Oblate who worked in the MacKenzie Delta for forty-five years, Fr. Leon Mokwa, came and spoke to us. He told us how hard it was to live and work among the First Nations peoples. He told us of the difficulties of travelling. I also remember that he told us of people who lived further north of his missions but he did not know them. In my young mind I remember that he told us that life for these people is very hard and there is nothing but snow!”

“Already I had a desire to go to Greenland or Alaska but it was here that the fire exploded in my heart. This was the first time I had heard of the Inuit in Canada.”

krotki people.web Tony Krotkis Vocation Emerged As Part Of A Puzzle That Was Fitted Together Over The Years

“Nine years went by and I was very quiet about my passion to go north. When I told my desires to the Provincial, he informed me that I did not have an Oblate vocation! Nothing more was said until 1987 when Jacque Johnson, OMI visited our Scholasticate. He talked about the First Nations and the need of missionaries for the First Nation Peoples in the Mackenzie. As he was folding up the map of Canada he remembered to say one more thing. ‘I went to Rome where the Superior General asked me to look for two men in the Scholasticate who would be willing to go to live and work with the Inuit in Hudson Bay.’”

“All the scholastics knew about me. I hesitated to stand up when Jacque asked but my confreres pushed me up. I stood up, alone, and Jacque Johnson said, ‘Sorry. The Superior General will never send one man. There has to be two.’ The case was closed. I sat down!”

“I prayed! Then I became a missionary for the Arctic. I found Adolf Filas who would accompany me. Later we received a letter from the Provincial of the Manitoba Province. He wanted us to join the Manitoba Province.”

“My Provincial insisted that I finish my studies in Poland, be ordained in Poland and spend the first two years in parish ministry. I was also informed that it would take two years to obtain a passport … but God had different plans.”

“We applied for a passport. It arrived one week later. We went to the Canadian consulate and within one hour had a visa for Canada. We then went to the Provincial and told him we were ready to move to Canada. We purchased the airline ticket, said good-bye to our families and on October 28, 1990, left for Canada. This all happened three months after ordination.”

“On May 10, 1991, we were sent on an exploratory mission to Arviat, Nunavut and spent one week with Fr. Rivoire; one week at Baker Lake and four days at Chesterfield Inlet.”

Would this be a suitable mission and living conditions for these two young Oblates? They flew back to Winnipeg and purchased the proper clothing and supplies for the North.

“On July 12, 1991, we flew to Igloolik. This was a learning time of two and one half years with Fr. Jusipi Meeùs, OMI and Fr. Robert LeChat, OMI as my mentors. After two years I moved to Gjoa Haven, with the missions of Pelly Bay and Taloyoak. This was a ministry that lasted eight years.” During this time he learned to hunt, to travel over land and to become part of the community. “I could travel alone and would go to Repulse Bay, which is seven hundred kilometers, one way, to visit Fr. Fournier, OMI. This trip would happen two to three times a year.”

Every week of the eight months of winter there was travel with the snowmobile. “I probably travelled the most miles of anyone. I learned all the skills to survive, hunt and at times I would become a guide. The people would ask me to lead when the weather was bad.” With a smile he added, “I became a brother to them.”

How is the North part of your blood?

Without hesitation the answer came forth. “It’s the Founder. We are meant for the most difficult missions. In my understanding these are the most difficult missions. Sacred Scripture sends us to the ends of the earth. These peoples are at the end of the earth. This feeling has stuck in my heart since that age of fourteen.”

“I accepted this mission. I never regretted it. This is God’s place for me. Things in my life have gone His way.”

What have your received from the Inuit people?

Thoughtfully, he replied, “They taught me humility and they taught me to be respectful, to be patient and caring. They taught me to be sensitive to the pain of their past, their sufferings and their life. They also taught me to be courageous and never give up!”
His eyes moved around the northern community. “When you lose your own family, you look for family. They became my family. I am very close to these people. Their pain is my pain. Their joy is my joy.”

Sitting at the renewal program in Texas seems a very far distance from the Canadian north but Tony affirmed that when the semester ends, “I know I must go back. My time is not done. This is the place where I fit best. This is where I feel most comfortable.

“I am open to the new if I am called to do new things. With the experiences of life behind me I am ready to meet new challenges and I am ready to do it with passion.”

Summarizing his missionary life Tony framed it with:

“When you become a person of passion, the passion becomes your life. I pray that I will always recognize the will of God.”

Dedicating Life of Missionary Work to Healthcare Industry

vincelette.web Dedicating Life of Missionary Work to Healthcare IndustryAndre became acquainted with the Oblates and asked to join the pre-novitiate program in 1988. He was ordained a priest on January 27, 1996, in his hometown of Earlton, Ontario. He discovered that working in large city parishes proved to be very difficult for Andre.  It was there that he was encouraged to upgrade his pastoral clinical education and move into hospital ministry. He began as the Catholic chaplain at the University Hospital and then was employed through the Alberta Health Services.

What It’s Like to be a Champlain in a Hospital

Andre uses many different descriptions of his thirteen years of ministry in the hospital and clinical setting. It is so important to know that these people need the priest but “you must meet them in the ICU as they present themselves. Many times this is to support the family and sit with them.” The presence of the chaplain whom they have just met often proves to be a calming presence. “Something bad has just happened to them and I was able to calm the situation down.”

A very important part of the chaplain’s work is to be the intermediary between the family in the waiting room and the medical team in the operating room. It is so important that you are “listening to the family. Sometimes it means that you are just sitting with them” There are many occasions when the patient and family have received bad news but the family/ patient were not able to hear the information and process it properly. The chaplain, who is very much a part of the medical team, must ask questions to help the family understand the medical terms or the medical treatment that is being outlined to the family.

As the chaplain gets to know the patient you must find out “if they are spiritual and have a connection with a faith community. You may put them into contact with their pastor or, being a multifaith world, put them into contact with their rabbi or their imam. Sometimes the patient or the family will say ‘you’re just fine!’”

Andre’s Words on His Experience Being There For Healthcare Patients and Families

“There is a feeling of satisfaction. You journey with people at the worst time of their lives and accept some of the most difficult decisions they may have to make for their loved ones and for themselves. My model is the journey to Emmaus [Luke 24] where Jesus is the calming presence. He was showing them the message they would need at that time. Sometimes silence is the best presence.”

Experiences of a Oblate Novitiate

bradley.web Experiences of a Oblate NovitiateGod has done it again. He turned water into wine by turning my disappointment that there would be no novitiate this past year into a beautiful experience in Vancouver.

I lived and worked in the downtown Eastside parishes of Sacred Heart, St. Paul’s, and Kateri Centre. Everyday was a new adventure that are too numerous to say here. Some examples are helping out at a men’s shelter, giving reflections at the jr. Legion of Mary, celebrating a Native burning ceremony to bring closure after the residential schools, being held hostage at a soup kitchen, and giving a workshop on how to live out Catholic social teaching.

All of them challenged me to go deeper in my relationship with God; to experience God not as a far-off abstract concept, but as a person who loves me and all those I meet. I also learned the importance of community and how the community of the church can be a living witness of the desire that God has to be in relationship with us.

One of the most spiritually challenging ministries I was involved in was the Agape ministry. Every night there is a group of usually 2-4 volunteers, who walk 10 blocks down East Hastings, to give prayer cards in a little bag of candy to the prostitutes and women on the street. On average, they meet about one hundred women. One evening, while I was walking with them, a woman found out that I was a seminarian. She wanted me to pray that she would find a place to live since the shelter was closing. I immediately thought to myself, “Who am I that I can pray for her to find a place? Homelessness is such a huge problem in Vancouver that what difference could my prayer make?”

As I wrestled with this idea, it forced me to re-examine my relationship with God. If we cannot ask God for the basic things we need in life, like a place to live, then what is the point of praying at all? And if we are left without prayer, then where will we find hope in our life? Her courage to put her trust in God has helped me to place my worries, fears, and even anger on Jesus because if Jesus is truly our friend and truly loves us, then especially during the times of greatest need, he will be at our side.

I will begin the novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois on August 17th. We will be eight novices from United States, Mexico, Zambia, and Australia. I look forward to growing deeper in my relationship with God and my identity as an Oblate. Thank you to all those who pray for me; your prayers seem to be working!

Join the Oblate Community

The Novitiate is the third stage in the formation program for one who is called by God to total discipleship as a Missionary Oblate Priest or Brother.

The purpose of the novitiate experience is to initiate the novice into the essential requirements of religious life. It is a time to grow in and respond more deeply to the vocation that one has received from God, to come to realize its demands, and to understand the meaning and value of the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and perseverance.

If you are thinking of becoming a Missionary Oblate Brother or Priest you are in for a journey wherein you share the responsibility for the time and the method of your formation.  Click here for more information on becoming an Oblate Missionary Brother or Priest.

Serving Catholic Ministry at the Hospital

This article was written by Nester Gregoire in the Feb 2011 issue of INFO Lacombe. It communicates the fact that oblates can serve their ministry in any form or place.

Fulfilling Missionary Work

desjardain.web Serving Catholic Ministry at the Hospital

Omer Desjardin, Omi

The Oblate Community boasts of many unique characters. Our Omer must hold the recent record for the longest apostolate in one location in our recent times. He has been the Catholic chaplain at the St. Boniface Hospital for the past twenty four years. Thoughtfully he responds to the question about his ministry. “This is the ministry I felt most comfortable with. There is a sense of being needed and of responding to real needs.” There is a moment of silent reflection. “This is ministering to the poor. I find that people in the hospital are poor people.” He continues to fill out his response. “This is life giving ministry.”

When asked how long he will continue as hospital chaplain he chuckles. “I am not thinking of retiring. I plan on continuing as long as my health allows me.” At this point in time he is working only half time but sees a future in continuing. “It is important for me to continue in this ministry.”

Another part of his ministry is his volunteer work with refugees and new immigrants. He became involved through Brother Duchene. “Through him I got to know a few families and from there it snowballed. I help the refugees in very simple ways. I drive them to and help them to get registered at the food bank. Mostly the refugees are from Burma. They are Karen which is a distinct culture and language group. They are opposed to the military regime in Burma. These refugees have spent many years in refugee camps. They are faith filled Christians, most of a Evangelical persuarsion.

This is very much Oblate work. “I am responding to their need. They are just learning the language. They are very grateful people and they are very positive in their thinking. Their children laugh a lot. There is a wholeness about these people.”

When I asked Omer to give a summary of his Oblate life he rubbed his chin and slowly responded. “Everything comes down to love. It may be an overstatement but God is love. Where there is love, there is care and the results of love are in service.”

Join the Oblate Community

Being a missionary today is an exciting, challenging and difficult “career”. Exciting because it demands ALL you’ve got … above all, faith, courage and creativity. Click here for more information on becoming an Oblate Missionary Brother or Priest.

Keyna Family Unity Found Practicing the Word of God

03 10 06 04 Keyna Family Unity Found Practicing the Word of GodKionyo Parish is in Meru Diocese located near the slopes of Mt. Kenya.  The landscape is very beautiful; the hills are always clad in green.  People around here are small-scale farmers and they are kind and welcoming people.   Tea and coffee are cash crops around this place.  People here are Christians and there are many denominations.

I am here for pastoral experience and it is very interesting.  We have home visits, young Christian students visits, small Christian communities visits and youth group meeting.  On Fridays, we have pastoral work with primary schools.  During this task we usually walk by foot up and down the steep hills.  We go out two by two like “the disciples of Jesus”.  I enjoy these journeys and learn a lot of new things everyday and meet different faces in need of different help.

Without labour, one cannot rest.  People around here are very hardworking; during home visits, we often find them picking tea, digging or irrigating their crops.  They are always ready to listen and promise to rectify where they have gone astray.  The way they listen makes me conclude that they know that faith comes by hearing and implementing the Word of God.

Young Christian students are always cheerful and open to share what they have and fill their eyes with what they do not have.  The same case applies to the youth.

Pastoral classes with the future leaders and good Christians are also a very joyful time.  These children are always attentive and thirsty to know more about Jesus Christ and his apostles.  Everybody in this class knows that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  They are innocent faces.

Experience is the best teacher and what am experiencing now is what I was expecting before I joined the Oblates – serving the poor and the most abandoned.

03 10 06 05 Keyna Family Unity Found Practicing the Word of God The work of the Oblates in this parish is very interesting, life giving and encouraging.  Many families are experiencing unity after hearing and practicing the Word of God.  I am very happy with serving these people and grateful to God for bringing me to the Oblates.  I pray that His will be done and may He continue blessing my expectations. 

When walking up and down, going for the apostolate, I learn new things daily, pray for strength and smile while walking. By offering labour to God, one becomes associated with redemptive work.  People are ready to change as long as somebody is walking along with them and encouraging them.  Through the grace of God, I believe that the seed which was planted by the founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, will continue to produce more and more.  It is through the apostolate that some disappointments have been changed, by God’s grace, to great opportunities.  I am very happy working here and God bless the Oblates and their ministry. (Submitted by Joseph W. Mubia)

Keynan Oblate : Dionisius Mwandiki Ananua

Dionisius Mwandiki Ananua

03 04 06 01 Keynan Oblate : Dionisius Mwandiki AnanuaI was born in a Catholic family of six, including my father and mother, on December 20th, 1978. I hail from the Eastern part of Kenya under the foot of Mt. Kenya. In school I liked to do the things children like doing most, playing games and singing in groups, but above all, I liked my books. Then I joined high school for grades 9 to 12; as a boarder this meant a stay away from home. It was not long before I finished my grade 12 and it was in this setting that I first came into contact with the Oblates working in Kenya – in particular, Fr. Bill Stang OMI. Little then did I know that I would be one of them sharing in their works, spirituality and charism of Saint Eugene de Mazenod.

At home, after graduation from high school, I had engaged myself in coffee production; however, the wind blows where it will and it was while working in my coffee fields that the desire to respond to my vocation came back to me. I couldn’t resist!
To give you a bit of my vocation story… as I grew up, the seeds of participating in the mission of Christ grew in me and when I was old enough I looked for guidance in order to respond fully to this call. Christ says, “The harvest is rich but the workers are few”. In Isaiah we find the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send?” and the reply comes, “I said, ‘Send me Lord. I will go’”. In my heart I felt the strong desire to respond to the Lord’s invitation to participate in his ministry.

And why did I choose to join Oblates?

03 04 06 02 Keynan Oblate : Dionisius Mwandiki AnanuaIn my searching I found in the Oblates something I could identify with: their generosity, hospitality and love for the poor, “…the poor with their many faces;” as it is expressed in our Constitutions and Rules. Above all, I was drawn by our founder’s courage, and daring – his courage and daring to love and to be generous; “Leave nothing undared!” he emphasized to those whom he had gathered. This courage is remarkable and I find it an imperative, especially to us Oblates so popularly referred to as “The specialists in difficult missions”. To be one of those who participate in this Oblate mission is my desire.

03 04 06 03 Keynan Oblate : Dionisius Mwandiki AnanuaCurrently, I am doing my philosophical studies just outside of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon and living in a Scholasticate with an international community of fifty-nine Oblates. Members are from eleven different countries, across and outside the continent. The Oblates have evangelised in Cameroon for sixty years and the province covers Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad. They are found in a number of parishes and in institutions of education.

Despite the difficulties, Oblates are committed and faithful to their mission of bringing Christians to a full awareness of their dignity in society and calling them to participate fully. They draw joy and happiness from those with whom they work and let themselves be enriched and touched by the warmth of the poor. In the words of Rule 8A, “…for they can make us hear in new ways the Gospel we proclaim.” I see Oblates reaching out to those who need them most.

What would I like to do in the future as an Oblate? I would like to work where there is the greatest need in the mission of the congregation … be it in the slums of Kenya or anywhere in the Oblate world.  

To end, I quote the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread”. May we, as Oblates, always be attentive to the world’s hunger for love and appreciation!
(Submitted by Bro. Dionisius  Ananua, OMI)

Desire to Serve Among the Poor Desire to Serve Among the PoorLouis has come to the Oblates out of a desire to serve among the poor.  He was born in Quebec City, the youngest of six children and received almost all of his early education in Quebec City with the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. He had studied for the diocesan priesthood but experienced a call to religious life and entered the Oblate Novitiate, in 1980, in Quebec City.  

He had already completed his theological studies and was routed in a path that prepared him for ministry within the Oblate community by working two years at the Retreat House in the Gaspe, PQ, followed by one year of ministry at Pelly Bay with Fr Meeuse, OMI. He finished his studies by obtaining a MA in Mission Studies from St. Paul’s University. He was ordained a priest in 1984.

Throughout his missionary career he has worked for sixteen years in the different missions of the Hudson Bay Diocese. This was followed by seven years of work and ministry in the countries of Bolivia, Guatemala and China. The two years in China were first spent teaching English in China as he could not function as a Christian missionary in China. During the second year he studied Mandarin Chinese.

When asked how well he has mastered Mandarin Chinese, Louis smiles: “I’m still a beginner.”  He acknowledges that he is limited in his vocabulary. He concedes that he can understand the TV news in Chinese from Toronto. There are some things that he misses  while watching the evening news.  He chuckled when reminded that ‘he was the only Oblate in Canada that understands Mandarin Chinese.’

His interest to become involved with peoples from different cultures first lead him to the Inuit in Northern Canada. Languages were always an interest and challenge for Louis. “I like working with the poor. I like being with the people.”  There was a pause as he outlined what drew him to the Northern peoples. “I would not like a job in administration.”

His experiences in the various cultures developed an appreciation of how enriching these experiences have been for his life. “The Chinese people were very open to foreigners and were very friendly. These people want to learn English. In fact, if they see a white face they want English. They are very polite and the children well behaved, especially when I worked in the schools.”

The Mayan  peoples in Guatamala are a very religious people. They are very poor but they live with a strong sense of the sacred and their faith is strong. After the Sunday Mass it was not uncommon “for people to fall on their knees and thank God for the Mass they have just had.”

Now two years in Beauval, Saskatchewan, with four surrounding missions, Louis is among a Cree and Metis culture. “I find many similarities with the Inuit. These peoples are dealing with the same problems: their youth, there are a lot of addictions and there is the pain of suicide.

“These people have strong community values. I am always amazed how they help each other when someone in a family dies. They all collect money to help pay for the expenses.

“I like the peoples’ thirst for spirituality. There are quite a few people who attend daily mass and take part in the devotions. “

Ministry in North Western Saskatchewan entails a lot of driving, at times, on some very difficult roads. There is some degree of danger driving on some of these roads to the outlying communities. Louis reports that he has had two accidents. The serious accident entailed “a roll over when I hit a patch of ice and gravel.” The second accident was a minor one. Both accidents happened while he was driving to the funerals of people who had died of violence.

“I find death in violence  always very difficult to deal with.” It is all the more difficult to handle when young peole have been tragically killed. Suicide, whether a young person or an older adult,  is always painful for Louis. His face stiffened when he related about the tragic death of a man he knew well. The man had been killed in a robbery that netted only a pittance of money.

Although not directly involved in the Twelve Step programs he encourages people to join the AA groups, to seek help through the mutual support of the self-help groups.

Throughout his life there has been the attraction towards the contemplative life. Today, part of that same need is fulfilled through taking part in retreats. But that is part of the Oblate charism. “We are rooted in spirituality and prayer and we are out on the road with the people.”

There is a note of sadness brought on by the isolation from Oblate Community. “I miss community life.” He honestly admits that within himself there is a tension between the “attraction to the mission and the pull towards community.”

Lead by the Spirituality of the Oblates

joseph%20kyuli1.web Lead by the Spirituality of the OblatesJoseph Nzioka  Kyuli was born on the 5th June, 1986, in the eastern part of Kenya at Machakos Diocese,Misyani parish,Ituusya village.

I come from a Roman catholic family of six sisters and two brothers. My parents introduced me into the Catholic faith and I was baptised at Misyani Catholic church when i was an infant.

Later, I joined the catechism class and received the sacrament of the first holy communion.LaterI was confirmed in the same Church.

The sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation opened a new way for me to participate in different church groups which I admired. Legion of Mary and mass serving were the groups which i joined.

I also realized that being born of such a big family , though we resemble each other , i had a different call that God had planned for me different from my sisters and my brother.

Many people who were dying without knowing God in their lives motivated me to offer my entire life as an offering in order to preach to them the Good News. This was  a time in my life that the idea of becoming a priest came about.

In order to update myself on the issue of priesthood I read the Catholic  magazine known as The Seed published by Consolata missionaries. Every month various religious groups all over the country would advertise their congregations for the young people who where freely  willing to join them.

From the magazine I came across the Congregation of Missionary Oblates of Mary immaculate.
 After reading the spirituality of the founder, St Eugene de Mazenod, I felt that this was the congregation the Lord was calling me to serve him.

St Eugene had the idea of preaching the Good News to the poor with the many faces. I have known that to be poor is not a matter of not having material things but the people without knowing God are spiritually poor.

I was admitted at Blessed Joseph Gerard postulant house, Meru in 2009. Here I  had the opportunity of learning much about Oblate community. I am now in my second year of philosophy at the Consolata institute of philosophy and living at Blessed Joseph Cebula house,Nairobi.

I am happy to be in another Oblate community for this is a precious moment for me to know more deeply from the experienced Oblates who have lived for many years what Oblate life entails.
During this time I have stayed in various Oblate communities and  have realized that Mother Mary is acknowledged as the the foundress of the Oblates special devotions are attributed to her in the Congregation especially praying the rosary and celebrating her feasts.

I pray to God that he may enable me  to respond positively to my call and also imitate the footsteps of St Eugene de Mazenod.

join community1 Lead by the Spirituality of the Oblates


Oblation and Martyrdom

Six days with the Oblate Martyrs accompanied by the writings of Saint Eugene

A selection of brief texts for reading and praying with St. Eugene and the Oblate Martyrs

Joaquín Martínez Vega and Frank Santucci


“The Church, that glorious inheritance purchased by Christ the Saviour at the cost of his own blood, has in our days been cruelly ravaged. The beloved spouse of God’s only begotten Son is torn with anguish as she mourns the shameful defection of the children she herself bore.

“The sight of these evils has so touched the hearts of certain priests, zealous for the glory of God, men with an ardent love for the Church, that they are willing to give their lives, if need be, for the salvation of souls.

“And how should men who want to follow in the footsteps of Christ?

  • They must strive to be saints.
  • They must wholly renounce themselves.
  • They must be ready to sacrifice goods, talents, ease, self, even their life, for the love of Jesus Christ, the service of the Church, and the sanctification of their brethren.”

This is the ideal which St. Eugene de Mazenod proposes for his Oblates.

“Belonging to the bright and glorious army of martyrs are not a few Spanish Christians killed out of hatred for the faith in the years 1936-1939 by a wicked persecution of the Church, its members and its institutions. With special hatred and cruelty, bishops, priests and religious were persecuted; their only “crime” was believing in Christ, preaching the Gospel and bringing people along the way of salvation.” (John Paul II)

crossworld.web Oblation and Martyrdom


On May 21, 1861, the Bishop of Marseille, St. Eugene de Mazenod, died a holy death. So this year, 2011, marks the 150th anniversary of his dies natalis, his birth into heaven.
We wanted to use this anniversary to highlight, through the glorification of some Oblates, that the spiritual path taken by this Holy Founder is a sure way to holiness.

For this reason, the Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate filed a “petition” with the Holy See, joined by Cardinals, Bishops and many faithful, requesting and acceleration of the process of the Cause of the Oblate Martyrs of Spain, in order to celebrate their Beatification in this jubilee year.

This petition was kindly received and therefore, we have the immense joy of assisting at this event on December 17, 2011, in the Cathedral of Madrid.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in a friendly chat with Fr. General and the Postulator, told us that we had to get moving so that this celebration would be a kairos, that is, a moment of grace and source of spiritual animation for the entire Oblate family, and not only for it…

This booklet has no other purpose than to quite simply provide some ideas for such animation, combining the charism of St. Eugene during his 150th anniversary year, with the heroic witness of some of his sons upon the 75th anniversary of their martyrdom.

We thank Fr. Frank Santucci, animator of the Oblate charism, for his considerable contribution to this booklet with his article, Oblation, a dynamo which generates energy, published in Missioni OMI (6 / 2011). In it, I found most of what inspired me in reference to St. Eugene.
Joaquín Martínez Vega, o.m.i.

Oblation and Martyrdom

From the earliest days of the Missionary Oblates, they used the term “oblation” in speaking about religious consecration: temporal oblation, perpetual oblation.

It seems that, in the beginning, St. Eugene de Mazenod did not plan to found a new community of missionaries nor a new religious congregation. He wanted neither more nor less than this: to continue “the apostolic life” in its most authentic and original meaning, that is to say, to relive here and now the life of the Apostles with Jesus. To do that, more than giving missions or doing ministry, he wanted above all to collaborate with Jesus Christ the Savior in the work of redemption. To do this “mission” well, it was necessary to follow in the “footsteps of the Apostles,” to whom Jesus had said: “You will be my witnesses to the very ends of the world.”
WITNESS, in Greek, the language of the New Testament, means MARTYR.

St. Eugene required of “anyone who wishes to be one of us, a burning zeal,” “a self-giving love,” a preferential love for the most abandoned: to love without measure, to love with the same measure as the love of Christ: to the very giving of one’s life. For this, he required that each Oblate be ready to give his life. And if this happens with the shedding of one’s blood, we have martyrdom or a bloody oblation, the supreme oblation.

Therefore, St. Eugene wished for himself the grace of martyrdom. It was one of the intentions of his First Mass. He asked for: “final perseverance and also martyrdom, or at least death while assisting victims of the plague.” For “martyrdom out of charity will not have a lesser reward than martyrdom for the faith.” (26.01.1854: letter to a gravely ill missionary)

Testimony of the Martyrs

“I’ve always been deeply moved by stories of martyrdom. When I read them, I am overpowered by a secret desire to suffer the same fate. That would be the greatest priesthood to which all of us Christians could aspire: to give each one’s own body and blood as a holocaust for the faith. What an honor, to die as a martyr!”

These are the very words of one of the Martyrs, Gregorio Escobar, in a letter written to his family as he was preparing for his ordination.