By Fr. Felix N. Bwalya, OMI
“Build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. Haggai 1:7
Sancta Maria Catholic Church in Lukulu, Zambia (9,347 sq. km area) is under the care of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate has about seventy (70) prayer rooms or small chapels. Commonly called mass centers or outstations. Most of the Mass centers buildings are built with poles, mud and grass thatching for roofing. The Missionary Oblates with the help of Michigan Missionaries have in recent years been providing building materials to some of the Churches. This is in an effort to make the buildings much more habitable for Church services. With donations from well-wishers, the missionaries provide, cement, iron sheets and nails. The communities volunteer to make bricks and provide labor to build their Churches.
An Oblate is a man who loves the Church. He loves the Church just as he loves Jesus Christ. The mission of an Oblate is serve the Church in all dimensions.
For Eugene De Mazenod, Christ and the Church is all one and the same. The Church is the saviour’s “glorious inheritance”; she is “the beloved spouse of God’s only – begotten son” whom he has purchased at the cost of his own blood, and who “earnestly appeals to the ministers” to whom she wants to entrust her children. (cf. preface to the constitutions). Therefore, Oblates work tirelessly to build and safeguard the faith of the Church and the faithful. The Church is a place of worship and salvation. For many poor people of Western province, the Church is a place of refuge and center of their lives.