A blog about the Church in Latin America
by Fr. Andrew Small, OMI, Director for the Church in Latin America
Reconnecting Haitians with the Church: Radio Soleil
One of the immediate concerns is the terrible sense of loss that people experience. Securing the basics for survival includes the sense of security for yourself and your family as you painfully piece life back together. Haitians have been in a similar place before, only not on such a massive scal
Along with this loss comes a sense of isolation. On the first Sunday after the earthquake, we saw images of people attending mass amid the ruins of their former churches. They pray like the psalmist amid desolation and despair, turning to God as their only hope. Many Church personnel perished in the quake, dozens of priests and seminarians as well as many tens of religious sisters. Those left to tend to the spiritual needs of the people are themselves deeply traumatized not least by the loss of their chief pastor, Archbishop Serge Miot.
Contact and communication is vital at this stage. Coming together in prayer is a natural instinct for believers. One of the most reliable ways for Catholics in Haiti to stay in contact with each other and to received on-going faith formation was the network of Catholic radio stations operating in each diocese. The most developed was the Catholic station in Port-au-Prince, Radio Soleil. The transmitter, antenna and other equipment lie buried beneath the rubble. The station manages escaped miraculously. The local Church knows this vital means of communication needs to be reestablished so that people can stay connected to their church. The Director Fr. Jean, was pulled from the rubble and remains injured. He gets about on crutches. However, they have begun to operate out of a van in the Petionville district – still too afraid to begin broadcasting from inside a building.
Other religious groups are already broadcasting, sothe need to reach out to Catholics is an urgent one.
CLA has supported this effective form of communication in Haiti, helping to fund a specialist who could train local operators and technicians. We will immediately find ways to seek equipment in the Dominican Republic and have it sent to Port-au-Prince as soon as possible.
This is one of the many immediate pastoral needs that CLA will continue to monitor and respond to in a timely and effective way using our long-established connections with the local church.
A day with Bishop Wenski and Fr. Andrew Small in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
On Saturday, Jan. 23rd, just 10 days after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Bishop Wenski of the Diocese of Orlando and member of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America and Fr. Andrew Small, OMI, Director for the Church in Latin America visited Haiti to survey the damage and attend a funeral.
Father General’s Blog
OMI stands for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I am one of them. We are present in 67 countries. Here I share with you some gleanings about the context of our mission. – More about us …
To the great powers of this world, we plead: treat Africa with respect and dignity.
A change is called for with regard to the debts burden against poor nations, which literally kills children.
Multinationals have to stop their criminal devastation of the environment in their greedy exploitation of natural resources.
It is short-sighted policy to foment wars in order to make fast gains from chaos, at the cost of human lives and blood.
Is there no one out there able and willing to stop all these crimes against humanity? (32 – 33)
From the Message of the 2nd African Synod.
What do you see today for the church in Europe? – Kolvenbach: I think about something Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts and a man who wasn’t himself particularly religious, once said: ‘I like my religion the same way I like my tea – boiling.’
From an interview with Fr. Kolvenbach, former superior general of the Jesuites.
“I consider the Gospel to be the Body of Christ” (Origenes)
“The Lord’s flesh is real food and his blood real drink; this is our true good in this present life: to nourish ourselves with his flesh and to drink his blood in not only the Eucharist but also the reading of Sacred Scripture. In fact, the Word of God, drawn from the knowledge of the Scriptures, is real food and real drink” (St. Jerome)
Tragedy In Haiti
The devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12 has caused much suffering for the Oblates who serve in the impoverished nation. More than 120 Oblates work in Haiti, and it is unclear at this time the number of deaths or injuries that have taken place among the Oblate community.
Below is the latest information known about how the earthquake has impacted the Oblates in Haiti:
We have learned the sad news that one of the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti is a 28 year old scholastic, Brother Weedy ALEXIS. He was found dead under the rubble of the Center of Studies for Religious after the January 12 earthquake.
General Councillor, Fr. Loudeger MAZILE, says that other Oblates and scholastics in the ruined city have survived.
Fr. Fred CHARPENTIER, who works in Les Cayes, about 100 miles from the epicenter, reports that damage in the Les Cayes region was much less than in Port au Prince.
The Les Cayes region includes the Proje Espwa (Project Hope) orphanage run by Fr. Marc BOISVERT. On Fr. Marc’s blog, we read the story of one of the women who works at the orphanage: “Joey Lamarre’s mother is one of our housemothers. She spoke to Joey who was in class when the earthquake struck yesterday. His professor and two of Joey’s classmates were killed as the walls of the university crashed down. Joey was hurt and was buried for six hours but he was finally freed and brought to a temporary clinic. He may have serious injuries and his mom is going to Port-au-Prince to be with him.” (http://pwojeespwa.blogspot.com/)
Bro. Clausel GERMEIL, who lives at the provincial house in Port au Prince, e-mailed that he was teaching in a school at the time of the earthquake. The school totally collapsed on him and the students. He was not severely injured. Damage at the provincial house was in a section mostly of offices and not where the Oblates live. The theology house next door was completely destroyed.
While it is impossible to receive complete news of the Oblates living near the center of the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the General Councilor for Latin America, Fr. Loudeger Mazile, O.M.I., now meeting with the Central Government in Rome, was able to get some early reports.
Part of the Provincial House has been destroyed (see library photo of the Provincial House, right)
The scholasticate (theologate) has been destroyed. We have no information about the safety of the community there.
The study center for religious where the provincial, Fr. Gasner Joint, O.M.I. teaches, was destroyed with the students inside the building. There is no report of the number of casualties there.
As further news becomes available, we will try to continue to inform the Congregation. Please pray for the people of Haiti and our Oblate community there.
From Fr. Marc Boisvert, O.M.I., founder of Hope House:
Father Marc runs an orphanage for more than 600 children in the city of Les Cayes. He has a website, www.freethekids.org, in which he is keeping a blog about the effects of the earthquake. Here are his latest comments.
January 13, 2:24 p.m. Joey Mlamarre’s mother is one of our housemothers. She spoke to Joey who was in class when the earthquake struck yesterday. His professor and two of Joey’s classmates were killed as the walls of the university crashed down. Joey was hurt and was buried for six hours but he was finally freed and brought to a temporary clinic. He may have serious injuries and his mom is going to Port-au-Prince to be with him.
January 13, 8:22 a.m. The children and housemothers slept outside last night as the tremors continued. Not much sleeping took place and the kids are dragging this morning. I went by there around 5:00 this morning to check on them.
January 12, 8:42 p.m. Wow. Just finished with two more tremors that felt much like the first one right after the earthquake. Don’t think the folks down here will sleep well tonight.
January 12, 8:11 p.m. The news from Port-au-Prince is very bad. Few could get through as the cell phones are either not working or the lines are jammed with everyone attempting to call. Heard from Andy Topp who is down here with a group helping out another orphanage in the area and they are all well. The focus right now is to help our sisters and brothers in the capital. Getting in and out of Port-au-Prince may not be possible as I’ve heard that the road has become impassable. As all of us down south depend on food shipments (and all other commodities) from Port-au-Prince, this could become a major crisis for us. Please do what you can for the Haitians and keep us all in your prayers.
January 12, 6:04 p.m. Yes, we had an earthquake and it was amazing. Lots of shaking and questioning, enthralled kids but, thankfully, no one hurt and no structures damaged. I was surprised at the magnitude… much greater than the few I had experienced in CA. Now there’s a tsunami watch so say a prayer! Thanks.
Posted by JCEOMI at If Not For Mary
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.(Jn16:12-15) When we pray we should keep these words in mind. The Holy Spirit will guide us to all truth, and there are times when we will have to wait for an answer because we cannot bear it at the time. In order to find peace even in the midst of our struggle we must place all our trust and confidence in the Loving Mercy of our Father and of our Savior Jesus. That Loving Mercy is the Holy Spirit our Advocate and Guide. He is our Comfort in this vale of tears. By trusting in Him we are allowing ourselves to be guided in the truth and led to the Truth of our lives found in Jesus. Our constant desire to know things or to know the ending or to get over some thing or other is a hindrance to growth in our spiritual life. We do not need all the answers and there are some that we cannot bear. We should stop acting as if we are alone on this journey. We have an Advocate and Guide. The third Person of the Most Holy Trinity has been given to us; He is with us; He Loves us. As we prepare for the celebration of Pentecost in would be good to enter deeply into this mystery of the Loving Mercy of God who is our constant companion on this journey. To open our hearts to the Comforter, the Holy Spirit that He may truly guide us on our way. All too often we follow our own inner promptings and then convince ourselves that the Holy Spirit is in fact leading us. How our lives would change if we could be obedient to the True promptings of our Advocate and Guide. What great fruits we would see. What great peace we would have in our souls. But we would pay a great price. We would have to die to ourselves and submit ourselves to His Holy Will which is Love and Mercy Itself. Perhaps come this Pentecost we will be up for THE CHALLENGE. Perhaps during this month of Mary we could beg our Mother to intercede for us and prepare us to receive her Divine Spouse that we may be obedient to Him and follow Him with undivided hearts.
Monday, December 21, 2009
When God Speaks, What Comes to Be?
By Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago since 1997, also serves as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is a native Chicagoan.
Today we take it for granted that words should be produced and reproduced electronically, as in this blog. Young people, I’m told, go to electronic sources for news, for research, for conversation. For four hundred years, words were mostly reproduced mechanically, by printing press. Before that, for many centuries, they were reproduced manually. Before that, they had to be repeated only orally, from one storyteller to another.
From all eternity, God spoke to himself. His eternal Word became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary nine months before being born in Bethlehem. We use many words to express our scattered thoughts; God speaks only One. God speaks to himself first of all, then to the world he creates out of nothing, then to his human creatures, when the Word became flesh. The Christmas Gospel, the beginning of the Gospel according to St. John, echoes and completes the book of Genesis, the first book of the bible: “In the beginning was the Word.”
The pagan gods of ages past, the statues of Zeus and Minerva, were mute; they were speechless and inert idols. The gods that some people seem to worship today—automobiles, houses, mechanical and electronic equipment—are lifeless and mute, even when some of them reproduce human speech. The true God speaks. At Christmas we rejoice in his Word made our flesh, because our nature is taken up into the mystery of who God is. The letter to the Hebrews, also from the Christmas Day Mass, sums it up: “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son, through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.”
When God speaks, what comes to be? The message at Christmas is peace, because unity and reconciliation are at the heart of who God is. God is love, and the peace of Christ is a peace born of love. It contrasts with the Pax Romana that prevailed when Jesus was born. The Romans conquered the world and built universal peace through oppression of other peoples. Jesus’ peace is different.
The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council this year is conducting hearings and discussions about peace among Catholics in deanery meetings and parish councils. The first round considered peace in families and the prevention of domestic violence. The second round, going on now, is considering peace in our neighborhoods, including the problem of gang violence on the streets and in the public schools. The third round will discuss peace in our society and the way conflict is built into media reports, as well as the use of electronic networks to stir up animosities and foster hatred. From these discussions, some initiatives and programs for the parishes might be developed; but the conversations are important in themselves. They provide a safe forum to talk about many personal experiences as well as to discuss the stories told in the media. The Church has to speak to herself to come to a better understanding of what Christ calls us to do in places marked by violence.
Jesus’ birth brought God’s peace to earth in visible form; but his birth also intensified conflict. Listen to St. John again: “He was in the world, and the world came to be though him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” Jesus is God’s light, but the darkness struggles still not to be overcome. Our lives are frequently embattled; life and death continue to be joined. There is war in Asia and Africa and violence at home. Life and death struggle in the bodies of those who fight chronic illness or who are troubled in spirit. Hope wears thin when people are without work or when families dissolve and friends disappear.
Yet God speaks, and so do we. Do we also listen, to God and to one another? Listening is an art, a habit acquired with practice. A good listener hears the unexpected, seeks out those whom he or she might not ordinarily have the chance to hear, especially the poor. Theirs is often the voice of God. If we listen and join them in conversation and prayer, we can ourselves, like the Christmas angels, be bearers of Christ’s peace.