On January 25, 2016 the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate celebrated 200th anniversary of the establishment of their congregation.
St. Eugene de Mazenod, with a small group of zealous priests, formed a community in the old Carmelite Cloister in Aix-en-Provence, France. This small congregation soon began sending missionaries to different parts of the world. Today it works in almost 70 countries around the world. Today it numbers almost 4,000 members. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate came to Canada in 175 years ago (in 1841) and played a very important role in establishing the Canadian Church.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Assumption Province began this jubilee year with a Provincial Congress entitled “The Emerging Future of Life and Missioheren – Responding to the Signs of the Times in a Transformative Way.” From January 18th to 22nd all members of Assumption Province and invited guests prayed, shared their experiences, and also tried to discern the future directions for their ministry and mission. Among many guest speakers were the following individuals:
- Father Superior General Louis Lougen OMI from Rome (by Skype);
- Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche Community (by pre-recorded video): Who are the poor in today’s society;
- Gabriela Kasprzak, a young history professor from University of Toronto (in-person): What’s Emerging from our History? – A Lay Person’s Perspective;
- Pawel Ratajczak OMI from Rome (by Skype): How I see the future of Assumption Province.
This intense week of deliberations started with a Jubilee Mass at St. Maximilian Kolbe church and was presided by Thomas Cardinal Collins. Among many distinguished guest who joined us for this special celebration were:
- Douglas Crosby, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop of Hamilton;
- William McGrattan from the Peterborough Diocese;
- Wayne Kirkpatrick, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto;
- Bill Antone OMI, Provincial of the US Province;
- Kenneth Forster OMI, Provincial of Lacombe Province;
- Antoni Bochm OMI, Provincial of Polish Province;
- Mariusz Kasperski OMI and Fr. Pawel Wyszkowski OMI, Superiors of Polish delegations in Madagascar and Ukraine respectively.
The Provincial of Assumption Province, Fr. Marian Gil OMI, while welcoming all who attended this milestone celebration said: “Today we thank God for the life our founded St. Eugene de Mazenod who, 200 years ago, courageously responded to God’s call by serving the poor and most abandoned. We also thank God for the life of many Missionary Oblates who for the past 200 years served people across the globe.”
In his homily, Thomas Cardinal Collins, referring to this dynamic religious community said, “We have to have an apostolic zeal. We have to proclaim the Lord to the nations. We must do so in the spirit of joy, which is summed up in that very word “Gospel” – Good News, the News of Salvation. And that is what we celebrate today in a very special way when we reflect upon the 200 years of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.”
This solemn liturgy was well attended by faithful parishioners from across the Toronto area as well as representatives of church and lay organizations.
80th Anniversary of Arrival of Polish Oblates
On January 20, 2016 the entire Province visited St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in Toronto in order to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the arrival of Polish Oblates to Toronto. In 1935 Fr. Stan Puchniak OMI was invited by Cardinal James McGuigan to take over St. Stanislaus Kostka church which at that time faced many challenges.
The visit to St. Stanislaus Kostka parish consisted of the following events:
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, thanksgiving Mass for the ministry of Missionary Oblates at St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, and a special banquet during which the history of the parish and an artistic program were presented. The parish council presented the Provincial of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Assumption Province with a certificate of appreciation for the immense work that the Missionary Oblates have done at the parish.
On January 21, 2016 at Pearson Convention Centre, a Jubilee Banquet took place to pay tribute to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Assumption Province for the work and dedication they provide across Canada.
Among many distinguished guests were Thomas Cardinal Collins; Bishop Douglas Crosby, President of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; Bishop John Boissonneau; Mayor of Mississauga Bonnie Crombie, Provincial Superiors of OMI-Lacombe and Notre Dame du Cap Provinces, as well as numerous Church and State organizations, media representatives, and faithful parishioners coming from as far as Ottawa, St. Catharines, and the Greater Toronto Area.
The President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bp. Douglas Crosby OMI, during the banquet said the following: “Many religious institutions established by Oblate missionaries over the years endure, among them the University of Ottawa and Saint Paul University; the Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec; Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga, Ontario; and many parish churches in Canada, including several cathedrals! Even the skidoo was conceived by an Oblate!”
This celebration gave platform to laity not only to express the gratitude for work of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, but most importantly to identify how the ministry influenced their lives.
For this jubilee celebration many distinguished guests sent in their greetings which can be read here.
This intense week initiated many events which will take place throughout the entire year in order to present the mission and ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Assumption Province.
On May 21, 2016 we will present the testimonies which we have received on the topic of “How the ministry of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate influenced my life.” On that day we will have a draw and present prizes to three selected persons. On the same day we will officially open a 17-panel exhibit which will present the history of Missionary Oblates in Canada. This display will journey from parish to parish across Canada and will give every Oblate community a chance to discover anew the roots of our Congregation and the courageous life of many Oblates who worked in this country.
“Who are the poor? Those who have been humiliated, those who have been pushed aside. Those who have been seen as no good, as no value. We see it in St. Luke, the mission of Jesus is to announce the Good News to the Poor. What is that Good News? It’s not just that they are loved by God! But you are precious, you are important, you have value! And how can we reveal that? By entering into a relation ship with them. The way we listen to them. The way we give them a place in our hearts, but also in our society.”
Superior General, Fr. Louis Lougen OMI:
“Your job is not only to take care of those who go to church, but those who do not. That voice of the founder needs to be heard in Canada today…”
Thomas Cardinal Collins:
“… I encourage you to look forward with renewed hope as you continue your mission to evangelize those marginalized and abandoned in the world.”
Apostolic Nuncio, Abp. Luigi Bonazzi:
“… through your witness show the merciful and compassionate face of Christ …”
Abp. Terry Prendergast:
Providentially this special year occurs within Pope Francis’s Jubilee of Mercy in which the whole Church is exhorted to go into the peripheries, searching out the marginalized, sharing the mercy of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ. This mission continues to be at the heart of your mission and identity.
Gabriela Kasprzak PhD:
“In your particular case, I say ‘let your [collective] history define you’. Do not be afraid to be radical.”