Sunday, October 22, 2023
„We are a missionary Congregation. Our principal service in the Church is to proclaim Christ and his Kingdom to the most abandoned” (C.5).
“The Church celebrates Mission Sunday each year on the second last Sunday of October. Public prayer and preaching on this day helps all Christ’s faithful to recognize the missionary dimension of their baptismal calling (…) On Mission Sunday, October 19, 1975, Pope Paul VI beatified Bishop De Mazenod – our Founder. The yearly missionary celebration, therefore, takes on added meaning for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Along with prayer for ourselves and, in particular, for those of us who have been sent to countries outside their own, we pray also in gratitude for the Church’s approval of Bishop De Mazenod’s life, holiness and missionary zeal” (Oblate Prayer, p. 139)
This missionary zeal is not lacking in our province. Some Oblates, both priests and brothers, have served as missionaries in Africa, Central America, the Middle East, and some continue to serve in the missionary part of Canada, which is the Arctic.
Fr Jacek Nosowicz OMI - Cameroon
Those who have served on missions always remember them favorably. “Cameroon captivated me first of all with its simplicity, its poverty. I was particularly captivated by the people to whom I was to go. They were the Pygmies, who have remained in my heart in a special way to this day. They are referred to as a people of blessings” – confesses Fr Jacek Nosowicz OMI, the current Provincial. Motivations for missionary work can vary. Fr Tomasz Jarosz OMI admits that "as a young man I was thinking about the priesthood already, and one thing I was sure of was that I wanted to realize it as a missionary. Poland at the time seemed to me to be ‘saturated’ with priests. Every village, every town, every parish had its own priest or even several. What could not be said about missionary countries like Central America. This shortage of priests and a request for priests from the then provincial of Central America helped me decide where I wanted to serve." Fr. Zbyszek Halemba OMI, who will soon leave for his first mission, is of a similar opinion. "During seminary I discerned where I could serve. I was most attracted to Africa or South America. But why did I choose the North of Canada? Such a very different direction? The answer is quite simple: because of the shortage of priests in the area.” On the other hand, about how he ended up in the Arctic missions, Fr. Daniel Szwarc OMI told an interesting story: “Going to Rome to study theology, I providentially came across a very wise superior, Fr. Frank Santucci OMI who asked me right at the beginning where I would like to go on a mission. I replied that I was not thinking of going on a mission. At this Fr. Santucci made it very clear to me that we are a missionary congregation and as Oblates we must have a desire to go to the missions."
Fr Daniel Szwarc OMI - Naujaat, Canada
Fr Tomasz Jarosz OMI - Guatemala
"At the mission in Guatemala I was surprised by the natural religiosity of the locals who are descendants of the Mayans, especially in places where there is rarely a priest. In the parish we had 74 villages each with its own chapel which we tried to visit regularly at least once every two months. I was always surprised to be asked by the locals when I could come to visit them again. You could see this desire for God, for the sacraments, for the presence of a priest who listens to them, but also wants to teach them something about God. Each visit of the priest was a feast for the village in the literal sense of the word (Fr. Tomasz). The situation was slightly different in Turkmenistan, where Fr. Tomasz Koscinski OMI ministered. He recalls the beginnings of the Oblate mission in that country (1997) as follows: “Having over a dozen addresses of people with Polish roots, we started knocking from door to door. After a few months, the first community of just over 20 people was formed, which had to be prepared for baptism. After more than two years of preparation, we baptized the first seven people, and 16 people renewed their baptismal promises (they were already baptized in the Orthodox Church). There are only two Catholic priests and about 100 Catholics in the whole country. The main religion is Islam, and the nearest Catholic community is in neighboring Uzbekistan about 1000 km. from our mission. So, you can imagine how difficult it is for them to remain faithful to the Gospel as an isolated community.”
Fr Tomasz Kościński OMI - Turkmenistan
"Living among the Inuit, we try to get into their lifestyle and culture, which involves getting our own food by hunting and fishing, in other words, living in harmony with nature. Relationships in the village are also more family-oriented and over the years we also become part of the family. Many people think that the climate, that is, extremely low temperatures and lack of sunshine in winter are the biggest difficulty, but to be honest this is the least of our problems. Among the biggest difficulties I have to include isolation, but in the sense of not being able to regularly access the sacrament of confession, spiritual direction or simple face-to-face conversations with fellow confreres”, confesses Fr. Daniel and adds that: "Missions change a person. Over the years, we become accustomed to the prevailing conditions and environment and begin to live like the local people. However, there is a certain tragedy here because even though we are part of a community we are still strangers all the time. According to the words of St. Eugene, <a true missionary has no permanent home> that is, he has no home anywhere. An old missionary once told us that the longer he is on missions, the less he understands these people. That's why missions teach, above all, humility."
Fr Zbigniew Halemba OMI - Canada
When asked about his expectations or fears, the future Arctic missionary, Fr. Zbyszek said: "My dream for ministry in the north is simple: to be a holy priest, to lead people to God and to persevere until the end of my life in the missions. There are quite a few fears: loneliness, foreign culture, frigid climate, etc., but I trust that with God I can overcome it."
On the occasion of Mission Sunday, we Oblate missionaries commend ourselves to your daily prayers.
TJ OMI / review and correction – fr Daniel Janulewicz OMI
A few memories from our missions:
Fr Jacek Nosowicz OMI - Cameroon:
Fr Daniel Szwarc OMI - Naujaat, Canada:
Fr Tomasz Kościński OMI - Turkmenistan:
Fr Tomasz Jarosz OMI - Guatemala:
Fr Zbigniew Halemba OMI - Canada: