Appendix 2 Revised 2020
Harry E. Winter, O.M.I., Editor
WHY A WORKBOOK?
Editor’s Note: From Eskimo to Inuit: Oblate Cultural Sensitivity,
2020 addition to Appendix 2
Oblate Missiologists: A Workbook, published in 2019, has drawn much positive comment, for example from North American General Councilor Warren Brown, who “enjoyed the articles” he found there. However, Warren also noted that the term Eskimo, used especially in Appendix 2, is considered derogatory today. He asked, with Fr. General’s approval, that, wherever it is not the title of a book, it be changed to the more culturally sensitive Inuit.
Since many of the references related to the material on first bishop of Hudson Bay, Arsène Turquetil, O.M.I., I also asked the input of the current bishop, Anthony W. Krotki, O.M.I., who summarized it this way: one person, Inuk; two or more, Inuit.
Addition and corrections have been made by both Oblate leaders to Appendix 2.
There are at least three reasons why this 2019 edition of
Oblate Missiologists is a workbook.
First, neither the editor nor the authors of the various articles have the time or energy to use one standard style sheet. With articles coming from all over the world, such a requirement would take away from evangelization efforts. Oblates have traditionally been over-extended from the earliest days of our congregation.
Second, our international administration has finally attempted to form a Mission Committee, including Ecumenism and Dialogue. The General Administration Mission Committee has met at least once, with Fernando Velazquez from the USA as a member.
Each region is supposed to have a Mission Committee. Yet none are the same, and discovering the members and ministry is almost impossible. So, it is a work in progress.
Third, as Ron Rolheiser, O.M.I., our best-known expert on Spirituality has written, “Oblates are the best kept secret in the missionary world,” especially to other Oblates.
Opening this secret is a very tentative and ongoing ministry. So, these articles are an attempt, provisionally, to make our evangelization efforts better known, first to ourselves.
ECCLESIA PEREGRINANS NATURA SUA MISSIONARIA EST.
(Vatican II, Decree on Missionary Activity, #2).
THE PILGRIM CHURCH IS MISSIONARY BY HER VERY NATURE.
(translation in Walter Abbott, S.J., The Documents of Vatican II)
Used both in Catechism, #s 850 and 767, and in Pope John Paul II Redemptoris Missio, #s 5, 32, 49, 62.
Harry Winter, O.M.I. p. 1
Harry Winter, O.M.I. p. 3
Courageous and Consistent Witness for Social Justice
Paddy Kearney p.5
Louis Studer, O.M.I. p. 24
LATIN AMERICA-CARRIBEAN REGION
William Reinhard, O.M.I.:
Inspirer of Missionary Outlook
James Sullivan, O.M.I. p. 25
Paul Hughes, O.M.I. p. 28
OMI Mission among the Muslims in Southern Philippines
Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, O.M.I. p. 41
An Asian Missiologist Shaping the Many Faces of Asian Churches
Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, O.M.I. p. 49
Michael Rodrigo, O.M.I.:
Martyr in Living the Interreligious Dialogue
Philip Singarayar, O.M.I. p. 56
Léo Deschâtelets (1899-1974): Mission Animator
Joseph É. Champagne (1905-1969): Mission Architect
and the Institute of Mission Studies
St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada (1948-2015)
Harry Winter, O.M.I. p. 59
Cavalry of Christ on the Rio Grande:
Historian of Mission
Bernard Doyon, O.M.I. p. 70
Robert Wright, O.M.I. p. 81
Harry Winter, O.M.I. p. 83
Robert Streit (1875-1930)
Johannes Dindinger (1881-1958)
Johannes Rommerskirchen (1899-1978):
Bibliographers in the Service of Mission
Willie Henkel, O.M.I. p. 87
Assisi and Interreligious Dialogue
Harry Winter, O.M.I. p. 100
Diminishment and Increase
Harry Winter, O.M.I. p. 105
Our Oblate Cardinals:
Giants in Mission
Harry Winter, O.M.I. p. 107
Survey of Oblate Writing about Indigenous Peoples
and Inuit (historically known as Eskimo)
from a Missiological Perspective
Harry Winter, O.M.I. p. 109
Harry Winter, O.M.I.
Editor’s Note: Harry Winter, O.M.I., is Coordinator for the Ministry of Mission, Unity and Dialogue for the US Province. He specializes in ecumenical missiology.
“We are preachers, not writers.” This statement, developed by former Oblate superior general Fernand Jetté, O.M.I., in a round table discussion, helps to explain the reason for this book. When I first began teaching Introduction to Missiology, it was evident that nothing existed in English about our Oblate missiologists. Here, under one cover, the reader will find a sampling, representative not exhaustive, of Oblates who have seriously contributed to the science of missiology.
The audience is the English-speaking Oblate seminarian (scholastic). But I hope this book will also be useful to older Oblates, and to anyone interested in the way the Holy Spirit inspires and strengthens Oblates to spread the Good News.
Two hundred copies of the December, 1997, edition were printed for distribution, primarily to our formators and missiologists. A further one hundred copies were distributed in September, 1998, with a few further additions in the text. Then, in May, 2011, it was placed online, at www.harrywinter.org, Oblate Missiologist page. It may also be accessed from www.omiusa.org, Mission-Unity-Dialogue.
This 2019 edition is being developed in time for the special October, 2019, Extraordinary Mission Month (EMM) established by Pope Francis. I welcome feedback from our readers.
Perhaps this book will stimulate written projects in missiology within each region where they do not now exist.
This work is dedicated first to the “Hidden Apostles,” those many brothers and priests whose names have been forgotten here on earth but are inscribed in heaven. (Hidden Apostles is the title of Fr. Pierre Duchaussois, O.M.I.’s, work on “Our Lay Brother Missionaries,” published in French in 1936 and in English in 1937. Fr. Duchaussois’s Mid Snow and Ice  is the best introduction to the vast literature by Oblates about our work among Indigenous Peoples and the Inuit. See Appendix II for Oblate work with these peoples.)
This effort is also dedicated to those who have become known as missiologists and need to be better known, at least in our congregation, especially Frs. Perbal, Streit, Dindinger, and Rommerskirchen. Finally, this work is dedicated to our two most prolific writers, André Seumois and Marcello Zago.
My thanks to the Oblate community, Washington, D.C., for their encouragement and support for the 1997 edition. Fr. William O’Donnell, O.M.I., then vicar-provincial, and Mrs. Honya Weeks, then secretary, who typed and retyped the manuscript as it went through various revisions, are especially thanked.
This 2019 edition benefitted from the tireless work of our administrative assistant here at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, Alice Chin (scanner par excellence), administrator, David Arthur (formatter par excellence), and our superior, John Hanley, O.M.I., (encourager par excellence).
On December 8, 1967, the Oblate chapel of Our Lady Queen of Missions was dedicated at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. It has been the privilege of Oblates in Washington to assist with Masses and confessions at the Shrine since its completion in 1959. It is more than symbolic that the Queen of Missions chapel was dedicated in the presence of the five U.S. provincials by a great Oblate missionary, archbishop Joseph P. Fitzgerald, O.M.I., (1914-86), then archbishop of Bloemfontain, South Africa.
Encouraged by the witness of Mary and of all our deceased Oblate brothers and priests, may Oblates become ever more effective missionaries and evangelizers.
Harry E. Winter, O.M.I.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence
Superior General: The national American monthly magazine, Catholic Digest, published a series on the spirituality of religious orders. When Fr. Louie Lougen, O.M.I., wrote “Praying with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,” in the July/August 2011 issue (pp. 25-30), he explained that our Oblate spirituality
“…brings us into dialogue with people of other religious traditions. Grounded in our Catholic faith, we seek to understand how others believe in God. Oblate spirituality enables us to respect other religions and to work with them so that our world will reflect the heart of God” (pp. 28-29).
I highly recommend this article for its joyful humor. It may be read on our Mission-Unity-Dialogue website (MUD), “Dialogue-Islam” page: www.harrywinter.org.
Lougen’s “The Favelas Are My Kind of Place,” an interview by Alexandro Calderon and Mike Viola, published first on Oblatemissions.org., and then on www.omiusa.org, December 24, 2018, also gives an excellent account of Lougen as a missiologist. See also his “Letter of the Superior General at the Closure of the ‘Year of Vocations’”, originally on www.omiworld.org and then on www.omiusa.org, Jan.16, 2019.
Mission Committee: One of the two assistant generals who reside in Rome has the portfolio for Mission, including Unity (Ecumenism) and Dialogue. The 36th General Chapter (October, 2016) recommended that the “Central Government establish a General Mission Committee to give tools and help the whole Congregation in this communitarian discernment about the Oblate mission and to follow the reflections initiated by this same Chapter (Additional recommendations, B. General Administration, #5).
The same chapter proposed four ways to further our dialogue with Islam (Additional recommendations, G. Islam). See MUD, Dialogue Islam page. Fr. Ramon Bernabe, the assistant general with the Mission portfolio, has established a Google page for this (www.omiworld.org, “Islam”).
The Africa-Madagascar Region’s Committee for Mission
has the following members of the executive, as of March 26, 2018:
Jean Pierre Bwalwel, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Edouard Dagavounansou, Cameroon,
Singini Nacidze, secretary, Zambia,
Mahlomola Sekoto, South Africa, and,
Marcel Thiaw, Senegal.
Denis Hurley (1915-2004):
Courageous and Consistent Witness for Social Justice
by Paddy Kearney
Editor’s Note: During the annual meeting of the U.S. Catholic Mission Association, October 25-27, 1996, in Denver, Colorado, the South African missiologist, Albert Nolan, O.P., was one of the three featured speakers. I asked him for the best expert on Archbishop Denis Hurley, presuming he would name an Oblate. Instead, he recommended without any hesitation Paddy Kearney.
Mr. Kearney quickly agreed to write the contribution on Archbishop Hurley as the persistent prophet of social justice. Mr. Kearney, a native South African, was born at Pietermaritzburg in 1942, and was a member of the Marist Brothers’ Congregation from 1960-69. He then did further studies in education at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg, earning a BA and a University Education Diploma from that university, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Witwatersrand and Masters in Education from the University of Toledo, Ohio. During 1991/92 he spent an academic year at Harvard University, studying theology and conflict resolution.
Since 1976, he has been employed by Diakonia, an organization founded by Archbishop Hurley in that year, and has served as Director for the amalgamated organization known as Diakonia Council of Churches since 1994.
My gratitude to Fr. Nolan for recommending Mr. Kearney, and to Mr. Kearney for contributing the following chapter.
When the Oblate General Chapter of 1986 had an audience with Pope John Paul II, he put before them the lives of two Oblates who could be regarded as examples to the whole congregation. The one he described as an example “from the past”. This was Bishop Vital Grandin, an early Oblate missionary Bishop among the Inuit in the far north of Canada whose cause for canonization has been introduced. The other, an example “from the present”, was Archbishop Denis Hurley, whom the Pope described as “the courageous President of South Africa’s episcopal conference”.
This chapter will detail the remarkable consistency of Archbishop Hurley’s courageous concern and action for justice over more than 50 years.
We begin in 1942 with Denis Hurley as a 26 year old curate at Durban’s Emmanuel Cathedral, stressing from the pulpit this country’s vast inequalities:
On one side we have enormous wealth and financial power, fabulous fortunes and unbelievable luxury; and on the other, the depths of poverty and insecurity, hard work without adequate remuneration, impossible conditions in the home and miserable upbringing for children.1
Fr. Denis Hurley had only recently returned from long years of priestly study at the Angelicum (now St. Thomas Aquinas University) and the Gregorian University in Rome, during which time he had been deeply impressed by the social teaching of the Church which set out the social, political and economic implications of the Gospel for the world today. In his sermon, he went on to say that Catholics in South Africa had done little to change the situation of inequality that confronted them.
We have met together and discussed it and deplored with great eloquence and feeling, but we have done very little about it. Others have seen too, but they have been wiser than us, they have been quicker to act; and when they have acted, we have sat back to criticise. (They move) from the realm of principle to the realm of application, whereas we appear not to.2
The sermon ended with a call to professionals, students, teachers, members of the business community, every Catholic with “enthusiasm…to get things done”, to meet in committees drawn from different racial groups to understand each other better and to try to solve each other’s problems. All were invited to join forces to find solutions.
And so, the dominant themes of a lifetime’s work for justice were clearly set out: eloquent and articulate description of social conditions clamouring for Christian action; enthusiastic challenge to the Church to bring the transforming power of the Gospel into the social situation. This is a call that Denis Hurley has tirelessly repeated on countless occasions. Few have taken Timothy’s words more seriously: “Preach the Gospel in season and out of season: convince, entreat, rebuke with perfect patience” (2 Tim. 4:2). And the Archbishop’s example of practical involvement and identification has been there to show the way.
Two years after this landmark sermon, Fr. Denis Hurley was appointed the first Superior of St. Joseph’s Oblate Scholasticate, at Cleland outside Pietermaritzburg. He had been in that position for just three years when, at the end of 1946, he was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Natal, the youngest bishop in the world. He went on to become the world’s youngest Archbishop at the age of 35. A year later, in 1952, he was elected the first President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Of this remarkably swift rise to high office, Denis Hurley says with characteristic humility, “I happened to find myself in a lift that was going up!”
A massive challenge faced this young and dynamic leader. The National Party, which was to govern South Africa for decades, right until 1994, had come to power in 1948, just after Denis Hurley had been ordained bishop. The party took office with a mandate from the exclusively White electorate to control the Black population through a programme of legislated segregation known as apartheid. The new Archbishop had to deal with the political and social problems caused by the Nationalist Party’s racial policies. As the party entrenched apartheid ever more deeply, the bishops, with Archbishop Hurley as their president, had to find how best to respond.
The Bantu Education Act, one of the cornerstones of legislated apartheid, was introduced in 1953. Government subsidies were withdrawn from church schools so that all Black schooling could be more effectively controlled by the central government. Archbishop Hurley, using the energy and enthusiasm hinted at in the 1942 sermon quoted above, led the bishops in a national fundraising campaign to keep their schools rather than hand them over to the State.
The “Bishops’ Campaign”, as it was popularly known, involved about 8,000 volunteers from all over South Africa. With assistance from a Canadian fundraising expert, it was a spectacular success. While the target was £400,000.00, so great was the response that £750,000.00 was raised (corresponding in purchasing power to nearly £22½ million in 1996), and thus the 600 Catholic schools for Africans were able to keep going for a number of years. Other Christian denominations feared they would compromise themselves by continuing their involvement in schools whose curriculum, they thought, would increasingly be influenced by the apartheid ideology. These denominations chose to hand over their schools to the government, as a form of protest.
In retrospect, the Bishops’ Campaign can be seen as a significant act of defiance of the Nationalist Government and its Bantu Education Act, though the motivation at the time was not political. The Catholic Church regarded the schools as its principal instrument for evangelisation. This was why it was determined to keep them, rather than out of a concern about state control of the curriculum, the issue which most troubled the Anglican church. The Bishops’ Campaign also showed Archbishop Hurley’s ability to inspire and lead the church in a direction faithful to the Gospel and fundamentally at odds with the Nationalist Government’s plans. This was all the more significant given the caution and conservatism that characterised the newly-established Bishops’ Conference in its first few years.
Five years later, the church’s conflict with the government had sharpened. Draft legislation tabled in 1957 included the so-called “Church-Clause” which could have been used to outlaw any form of racially mixed worship. The Archbishop said this new proposal demonstrated that apartheid was “essentially evil and anti-Christian”, and instructed his clergy to continue allowing people of different races to worship together “regardless of the consequences”. So strong was the opposition to the legislation from church leaders, clergy and laity all over South Africa, that the government had to abandon the clause – an indication of the effect of sustained opposition from the church.
The publication of 1957’s pastoral letter, drafted by Archbishop Hurley and published by the Bishops’ Conference, described apartheid as “intrinsically evil”, many years before the World Alliance of Reformed Churches declared apartheid a “heresy”.
Another cornerstone of apartheid legislation was the notorious Group Areas Act, which gave the government power to impose residential segregation in urban areas. By the late 1950s, hundreds of thousands of people were being uprooted in terms of this Act. Archbishop Hurley, by this time a keen member of the South African Institute of Race Relations, was much influenced by their research into the social effects of such legislation. In 1959, he issued a stirring denunciation of the Group Areas removals from the multi-racial Durban settlement of Cato Manor to make way for White suburbs, describing these removals as “an enormous act of piracy”.3
To intimidate opponents of apartheid, the government introduced the Sabotage Bill, which allowed for 60-day detention without trial. “For God’s sake have a regard for justice”, was the Archbishop’s challenge to the authorities in a speech which drew prolonged applause from a Durban City Hall packed with protestors against the proposed legislation. This was language and action never before seen from a Catholic leader in South Africa.
The Sabotage Bill became law, however, and the apartheid legislative juggernaut rolled on.
Resistance was building up, particularly in the African community, against these repressive measures introduced by the White minority Nationalist Government.
Under the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), opposition to carrying identity documents known as “passes” came to a climax in March, 1961, when more than 60 people were gunned down at a protest meeting outside the Sharpeville police station, in what was then called the Transvaal. The “Sharpeville Massacre”, as it came to be known, was a significant turning point in the history of South Africa, leading on the one hand to a massive crackdown on opposition groups and on the other to the ANC and PAC abandoning non-violence as a strategy.
One month after the Sharpeville massacre, a “Natal Convention” brought together an impressive array of personalities from the Natal province strongly opposed to apartheid and deeply concerned about the future of South Africa in the light of this new turn of events. The Archbishop, who chaired the closing session of the Convention, called for a national campaign involving Christians, Jews and others. The aim was to set before White South Africans “the exciting challenge of breaking the racial fear barrier through the inspiration of a clear grasp of their religious convictions”. The campaign was to be dramatised by large gatherings and rallies which would bring together people of various denominations and racial groups. It was also to involve a “concentrated effort over a particular period to make the best use of pulpit, religious press, religious guild and study group meetings to put the practical implications of religious principle squarely before people in relation to South Africa’s social and racial problems”.4
Sadly, nothing seems to have come of this suggestion, possibly because, by the Archbishop’s own admission, there had been no prior consultation about the idea; in part because there was no organization able to take up the call; perhaps, too, because there was at the time not much enthusiasm for ecumenical or interfaith collaboration. The Archbishop was himself, at the time, caught up with preparations for the Second Vatican Council, having been appointed to serve on its Central Preparatory Commission and, therefore, his attentions were directed to Rome rather than towards setting up a vehicle for Christian or interfaith collaboration in the struggle against apartheid.
Archbishop Hurley regards the Council as one of the highlights of his life. He was to play a key role in rescuing the Council’s agenda from stifling control by the Curia, and made a number of significant interventions in the plenary sessions. While he was helping to shape the Council, it was also making a powerful impact on him, giving new impetus to his views on social justice. In Rome, during the historic sessions of the Council between 1962 and 1965, he was to meet many bishops who were also bravely struggling against inhuman social conditions in their home countries. From this time on, he could speak and act with ever greater boldness, aware that he was part of a global church struggle for justice and had allies and friends in many countries. Moreover, the official position of the church, at the highest level, was totally in line with his own teaching and action.
In an address to the South Africa Institute of Race Relations in 1964, entitled “Apartheid: A Crisis of Christian Conscience”, the Archbishop returned to his earlier idea of a national campaign to end apartheid when he called for a “crusade of love”. Reproaching Christians for leaving the field of social reform wide open to Communists (the theme of the 1942 sermon quoted earlier), he spoke eloquently of the need for a “crusading zeal,” if Christians were to make any impact:
Let us make no mistake about it – only crusaders succeed in the field of social reforms. It takes drive and dynamism to alter a social pattern. If Christianity wants to have any say in the alteration of South Africa’s social pattern, its representatives will have to become crusaders, crusaders fully possessed of that which is characteristic of crusaders – a flame of conviction, a fire of zeal.5
The “flame of conviction” and “fire of zeal” characterised the Archbishop’s involvement in another issue involving the forced removal of people in 1968 by South Africa’s Nationalist Party Government. African people were being forcefully removed from the village of Meran to a barren area known as Limehill. The grand apartheid design was to create homelands where African people would have some political control. These homelands would also be used as a labour pool for the cities, but in the cities they would be migrant workers without any political rights at all.
The Archbishop had opposed and denounced the Limehill removal before it took place, was present on the day of the removal to show solidarity, and afterwards spent much time there listening to the problems of the resettled community and expressing the church’s care and concern for them. The tough statements he directed at the cabinet minister responsible for the resettlement revealed how he had been moved by this first-hand encounter with the intense pain and suffering caused by the ideology of apartheid. “I say to Minister Botha: ‘Would you ask Whites to pull down their homes and go where there were no houses, no schools and no medical facilities? Before God, how can you bear the responsibility?’”6
One of the clearest proofs of the cruelty of forced removals was the number of children who died at Limehill within a short period after their arrival in this new and barren environment. When the evidence was dismissed by the government, Archbishop Hurley went personally to count every child’s grave in Limehill and carefully noted the names and ages. He released the full list to the media, much to the embarrassment and anger of the government.
With the strong backing of the Second Vatican Council, especially its decree on the Church in the Modern World, the Archbishop, who had long been known as the moving spirit behind the South African bishops’ pastoral letters condemning apartheid, was now moving in an increasingly activist direction. He felt called to associate himself ever more closely with those suffering the effects of apartheid legislation and to identify himself with those protesting against a policy which he saw as completely at odds with Christian teaching.
In 1972, a small band of clergy hiked from Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape to Cape Town, a distance of 1,057 kilometres. They were protesting against the evils of migrant labour which made it illegal for rural workers to bring their families to town with them, and which was described even by the conservative pro-Government Dutch Reformed Church as “a cancer eating away at family life”. The Archbishop joined the hikers as they approached Cape Town. He walked with them for the last few kilometres to a final demonstration where he was a key speaker calling for the abolition of the migrant labour system.
In subsequent years, he has also frequently taken part in poster demonstrations, standing as a silent witness against injustice, sometimes with a group, sometimes alone. As a fellow protestor, the noted sociologist Prof. Fatima Meer, has said:
Where others looked over their shoulders and to their right and to their left, to ensure that the company they kept was right in the protests they undertook, Denis Hurley’s only concern at all times, was that the cause was right. Status never deterred him from his activism. Status was to be used in the cause of justice, no matter how insignificant by social reckoning the victim or the fellow protestor.7
The first public opposition to conscription into apartheid’s defence force occurred in 1974. At the national conference of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), a resolution was passed encouraging young white men to consider the option of conscientious objection. Outraged, the government changed the law so that they could impose severe penalties on anyone calling for, or even encouraging, conscientious objection. Despite this effort to silence all discussion of conscientious objection, Archbishop Hurley indicated his full support for the SACC’s resolution, saying it was simply a matter of conscience: in this, as in all other questions, conscripts would have to be bound by their conscience.
During this time, the Archbishop was keenly aware of the need for an effective ecumenical instrument to promote justice and social change in the city of Durban, the cathedral city of his Archdiocese. In 1976, after a two-year period of consultation, he founded the ecumenical agency Diakonia, to promote joint action for social justice through Durban churches. Perhaps he had learnt from the failure of earlier calls for campaigns against apartheid that little could be achieved without structures and full-time staff?
His support and enthusiasm were also helpful in the establishment in 1979 of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness (PACSA) – a similar ecumenical organisation based in Pietermaritzburg, the second largest city of Natal province, 80 kilometres inland from Durban. Both organisations, the former now amalgamated with the local council of churches to form the Diakonia Council of Churches, continue to play a significant role in the two main urban centres of the Archdiocese.
As Chairperson of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s Commission for Christian Education and Worship, the Archbishop was influential in opening Catholic schools to children of all races, after making calls for school integration from as early as the 50s. These calls had been taken up by sisters working in a number of the schools who, in 1976, simply began to admit Black students, saying they could in conscience no longer work in segregated schools. They left the bishops to work out the legal complications with a government once again both embarrassed and enraged by church defiance. Archbishop Hurley was also mainly responsible for ending the racial segregation of Catholic seminaries in South Africa. As well as calling on the government to end the racial segregation, he was determined to tackle apartheid in the church’s own institutions.
The Soweto uprising of June 16, 1976, was another major turning point in South African history. On that day large numbers of young people were shot as they marched in protest against the government’s imposition of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in Black schools. Just a few weeks later, the Archbishop was the keynote speaker at the South African Council of Churches’ National Conference. He used the opportunity to call on the churches to undertake a “great mobilisation for peace”. What he had in mind was “the total mobilisation of white opinion in the cause of peace…to prepare Whites psychologically for majority rule and for Blacks to prepare themselves both technically and psychologically for it”.8
Out of this call came the “Human Awareness Programme”, established in 1977. It continued for nearly 20 years to do important work in helping organisations committed to change become more effective through workshops, consultations and resources directed chiefly at organisational development. Some dimensions of what the Archbishop was calling for in relation to the White community were to become the initial focus of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA), established by former opposition members of parliament Frederick van Zyl Slabbert and Alex Boraine, with Archbishop Hurley as one of the directors.
IDASA played a significant role in helping the negotiations process to get under way in South Africa by bravely bringing together Afrikaner politicians and academics with the African National Congress leadership in exile. Such contacts with banned organisations were unheard of at the time and were in fact illegal. They built up the pressure for the unbanning of the ANC and PAC by President F. W. de Klerk (1990), the release of Nelson Mandela (1992), and the multi-party negotiations which paved the way for multi-party elections in 1994 and the passing of a new constitution in 1996.
But we must retrace our steps a little, to 1982, when, during his second term as President of the SACBC, Archbishop Hurley visited Namibia with a delegation of South African bishops. The party met many groups in all parts of the country to discuss how they saw the situation and what their hopes were for the future. In a hard-hitting report on their visit, the bishops detailed allegations of intimidation and gross human rights violations by the South African Defence Force (SADF) and the special police unit known as Koevoet. It was the publication of these allegations in a media conference which led to Archbishop Hurley being charged and brought to court under South African law (cf. p. 16 below). The bishops noted that the SADF was regarded as an army of occupation and claimed that the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) enjoyed massive support and would easily win any free and fair election.
One of the most successful church campaigns in which the Archbishop was involved was the 1984 joint SACBC-SACC campaign against the government’s policy of forcefully resettling people to areas designated for their particular race group. A report which contained a powerful condemnation of the policy was jointly produced by the two bodies and received wide media coverage locally and overseas. An ecumenical delegation travelled extensively in Europe to present this report to governments and to the Pope. In the face of enormous national and international pressure – to which this campaign contributed strongly – the government was ultimately compelled to abandon the policy of forced removals. The Archbishop was keenly aware that the media and other public platforms could be effective “pulpits” from which to make known the church’s viewpoint on issues of justice. A highly articulate speaker, he was often sought out by the media for his forthright comments.
In 1983, much influenced by the impact of the Medellin (1968) and Puebla (1979) assemblies of Latin American Bishops, Archbishop Hurley called for a great national assembly of Christian groups working for justice in South Africa. By 1985, this idea developed into a programme known as “Christians for Justice and Peace”, aimed at building up a network of groups to prepare for a conference which in turn would give further impetus to the network.
The idea enjoyed considerable support in various parts of South Africa. Regrettably it was opposed by some who claimed it was too much of a White initiative. However, Rev. Frank Chikane, former General Secretary of the SACC, says that he regarded the “Standing for the Truth” campaign established by a convocation of church leaders in May, 1988, as strongly influenced by the Archbishop’s earlier call. “Standing for the Truth” brought the churches into direct public defiance against the government, in a long overdue move beyond statements to active non-violence.
The Archbishop has readily given evidence on behalf of those on trial for their opposition to apartheid, and used these opportunities to proclaim the Gospel message.
Thus, in 1982, he took to the witness box to plead on behalf of conscientious objector Charles Yeats, one of the first to be jailed for refusing to do military service. Yeats had decided, on the basis of his Christian belief, that he could not serve in the army, and the Archbishop was asked by the court whether it would be correct to say that “the apartheid policy is indefensible”. The Archbishop replied, “In the light of how apartheid has worked in the last thirty years, yes”.9
In 1983, he appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Supreme Court to make a plea in mitigation of sentence for three men convicted of treason – a capital offence at that time. In trying to help the court understand why the defendants had taken to violence, he spoke of the feelings of deep resentment in the hearts of many Black people – anger at being deprived of human rights in their own country. He also stressed that the death sentence would turn the condemned into political martyrs. The court took note of the plea, and the three escaped the death penalty, being given lengthy prison sentences instead.
In what has come to be known in legal text books as the “Hurley case” (1985), he successfully applied to the Natal Supreme Court for the release of a detainee – the author of this chapter – held under Section 29 of the Internal Security Act, a clause which enabled the security police to detain government opponents in solitary confinement indefinitely. This was the first such release in South African legal history, and a judgement subsequently upheld by the Appellate Division. It set a precedent for the release of other detainees held under this section.
When Phillip Wilkinson, another conscientious objector, was tried in 1987, the Archbishop said that he “entirely condoned” Wilkinson’s defiance of the government’s conscription laws, as there was a clash between the government and the church on the issue.
In his statement Phillip has managed to link his attitude of acceptance of all human beings as being equal to his religious beliefs, which I find amazing in a person of his youth and also very edifying.10
Because of his great admiration for conscientious objectors, it was appropriate that in 1988, when 24 young Durban men publicly defied the law by declaring their objection to military service, they chose Archbishop Hurley’s office as the venue for a media conference to announce their stand. The Archbishop congratulated them warmly:
I would like to express from the fullness of my heart my congratulations, my full moral support for them, and the intention to do all I can to further their cause.11
Workers have also enjoyed the powerful support of Archbishop Hurley. Two examples stand out: his participation in 1980 in an ecumenical delegation which sought to end the deadlock between the Frame Textile Group and 6,000 of their striking workers, and a similar plea made in 1985 on behalf of 900 workers from the Sarmcol rubber plant outside Pietermaritzburg. The Archbishop has consistently backed the latter workers since their dismissal, supporting the donation of church land to mount a farming project out of which to provide an income for the workers and their families. Following a plenary session of the SACBC in 1982, when the bishops were addressed by trade unionists and labour experts, the Archbishop indicated clearly that the church felt obliged to give vigorous support to the unions, because their cause was just.
We want to throw the moral weight of the church behind their struggle.12
These and many other actions of witness and identification with the struggle against apartheid and other forms of injustice, have not been without cost. There has been much criticism, especially from those who accuse the Archbishop of being a political priest, and from conservative clergy hesitant to involve themselves or their parishioners in action for justice. Archbishop Hurley has frequently featured in right-wing propaganda leaflets. In 1984, Mr. Brian Edwards, a member of the Natal Provincial Council, described him in the Council as an “ecclesiastical Che Guevara”. Mr. Jimmy Kruger, while Minister of Justice, seriously considered banning him but was dissuaded by his cabinet colleagues. Former President P. W. Botha once gave the Archbishop a public dressing-down in the presence of other church leaders. In the mid-60s, the Archbishop’s house was petrol-bombed, and, in 1984, he was charged for remarks made at a media conference, after the SACBC delegation’s visit to Namibia, concerning allegations about atrocities carried out by the “Koevoet” police unit – though the charges were withdrawn three days before his court appearance, the first time in thirty years that an archbishop had been in the dock anywhere in the world.
The new South African government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with the gross human rights violations of the last 30 years of apartheid rule. Through the investigations of this Commission during 1996 and 1997 it has come to light that Archbishop Hurley, along with Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was among the five church leaders whom the security police regarded as the state’s most wanted political opponents. Because these two Archbishops couldn’t be arrested or banned, they recommended to the State Security Council that they should be harassed in various ways, such as through smear campaigns.
The Archbishop has typically shrugged off such attacks, criticism, and state harassment with a calm and philosophical air. Underlying this is a generosity of spirit towards opponents, nicely exemplified by a story he tells of a visit by security police: they came to inform him he was being charged and were treated to a discussion on the current state of South African rugby!
Sometimes he has also been criticised by progressive groups. Thus, for example, some were surprised and disappointed that he declined to be a signatory of two significant statements of liberation theology published in South Africa, the Kairos Document (1985) and The Road to Damascus (1989). The Archbishop, never one to simply follow the current fashion, did not feel he could identify himself with all aspects of these documents, particularly as he had been left with the impression that in the final rush towards publication, the penultimate text of the Kairos Document clearly promoted violence. Though the final version was altered in response to this criticism, it was too late for him to add his endorsement.
More controversial was his criticism of the presence of South African Communist Party flags in the Freedom March held in Durban on 22 September 1989. The Archbishop was among a number of church leaders who led that march but strongly objected to the presence of the Communist flag, which was frequently seen immediately behind him. For Archbishop Hurley, the “red” flag represented a great deal of oppression in many countries around the world, and he did not want to be associated with it. Some local political activists found this difficult to accept and challenged the Archbishop afterwards.
Archbishop Hurley has, nevertheless, consistently displayed a patient attitude towards those with a different view of the South African situation. This patience is based on his awareness of how powerful social attitudes are:
…social attitudes are the steel structure of human society. They give society shape, cohesion and endurance. They are the bones and sinews of a society’s culture. They reproduce themselves in the children born into it and brought up in it, socialised and inculturated into it. They provide the community context within which people see, perceive, understand, relate and reject, work and relax, love and hate. The community instinct is probably the strongest one in human nature. People can be induced to do practically anything for their community, especially their ethnic community. An ethnic community, and particularly one with a religious dimension, is a very tough proposition indeed, as witnessed in the dominant group in Northern Ireland and Iran and, to a certain extent, the Afrikaner nation. Here you have a complex of social attitudes held together by two of mankind’s deepest and most powerful bonds. It is not easy for the individual to step out of that tangle of steel wires and look at his society through other eyes.13
It is impossible to do justice to Archbishop Hurley’s lifetime of action for justice in a brief article such as this, and in these pages reference has been made to only a few aspects and examples. Which of these many and varied contributions to the struggle for justice had made the most lasting impact?
Some would regard the cumulative impact of his many years of opposition to apartheid as of most importance. During the long and dark years of apartheid repression, there could be no doubt in the minds of South Africans that Archbishop Hurley was totally opposed to the system and determined to see it brought to an end. The famous South African author, Alan Paton, described him as a “guardian of the light” for his role of “warnings and guiding” about the evils of apartheid.
Others would refer to the Pastoral Plan, developed by the bishops under his leadership and launched throughout South Africa on Pentecost Sunday 1989. It is the most comprehensive and promising of the campaigns the Archbishop has inspired and led over nearly 60 years as a priest and more than 50 years as bishop. Its full implementation would undoubtedly make a significant impact on injustice and inequality in this country.
The Pastoral Plan grew out of the Archbishop’s painful awareness that the church, for half a century or so:
“…had its declarations and denunciations, its prophets and confessors, clergy, religious and laity; imprisoned, detained and deported. But we have had little success in translating proclamations of principles and sporadic acts of Christian witness into a sustained process of evangelisation profoundly affecting the social body of the church, either in its Black or White membership. From time to time, from place to place, religious attention has been given to South Africa’s agonising problem, but never in a measure calculated to involve significant numbers of people. There has been no organised church effort only a ‘take it or leave it’ approach”.14
The Pastoral Plan is intended to be such a “sustained process of evangelisation profoundly affecting the social body of the church”. With its theme “Community Serving Humanity” it is intended to have what the Archbishop calls:
…four dimensions of totality. It must involve the whole message of Jesus. It must involve the whole church, laity as well as clergy and religious. It must reach out to the whole of the human family. It must be concerned with the whole of humanity: the person, the family, society, and in regard to society, with culture, politics and economics.15
Central to the Pastoral Plan is the promotion of small groups which meet regularly for bible sharing, prayer, reflection and concern with local issues, thus bringing together faith and life.
The Pastoral Plan includes dimensions that the young Fr. Denis Hurley, curate at Emmanuel Cathedral, was calling for in his 1942 sermon quoted at the beginning of this chapter – but the Pastoral Plan is much more all-embracing. The Archbishop, 47 years later, was once again urging that every Catholic “with enthusiasm to get things done” respond to the challenges of the South African situation. His own enthusiasm was clear from a pastoral letter jointly written with Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Khumalo, O.M.I., in May, 1989, on the eve of the Pastoral Plan launch:
We write this letter to invite you to share the joy, hope and excitement that fill our hearts. One of us, the Archbishop, has been a priest for nearly 50 years and a bishop for 42. Caution and calm should be associated with his years and experience, but he can honestly say that he is as excited now as he was on the eve of his priestly ordination in July 1939.16
On October 4, 1992, Archbishop Hurley, by this time the world’s longest-serving Catholic Bishop, was succeeded by Wilfrid Napier, OFM, as Archbishop of Durban. Since his retirement, Denis Hurley, who now has the title “Archbishop-Emeritus”, has been stationed at Emmanuel Cathedral, the first time in nearly 60 years of priesthood that he has held the office of parish priest! The energy that used to go into running the Archdiocese of Durban is now focused on running a large inner-city parish in one of the poorest areas of Durban, where many people live on pavements – displacees of the political violence that has plagued KwaZulu-Natal for the last 15 years and refugees from rural poverty.
The Archbishop vigorously promotes the Pastoral Plan in this parish, through small Christian communities which meet regularly to discuss issues of faith and life. He is renewing the liturgy with communion under both kinds at all masses, a monthly mass in both Zulu and English to bind the parish into a close community, and the introduction of girl servers – to mention just a few examples. A “Family and Society” group has been established to focus on social issues – one of its first projects being to organise events, where, in the context of a healing liturgy, people of all race groups tell stories of trauma caused by apartheid and political violence.
In his retirement, the Archbishop spends a day a week writing his memoirs, but is much more engaged with the present and the future. As Chancellor of the University of Natal, he presides over numerous graduation ceremonies and takes a keen interest in various aspects of campus life. He heads the Archdiocesan AIDS Programme, one of the strongest church programmes on AIDS in South Africa. He continues to serve on the Justice and Peace Department of the Bishops’ Conference.
On March 19, 1997, Archbishop Hurley celebrated the golden jubilee of his episcopal ordination, a rare distinction. Speaking at a special breakfast held to mark the occasion, Professor Fatima Meer paid this tribute:
Born in South Africa, rooted in an Irish Catholic tradition, he has been a continuous presence in our midst throughout 50 years. Guiding us through all our travels, standing with us in our afflictions and pointing the way to better things to come as they have today. He has ministered to all South Africans and particularly to those who have been overlooked by society or excluded from it, those without rights and resources, invariably the victims of apartheid. We gather today to celebrate the meaning of Denis Hurley’s ministry, a meaning established and centralised in God and through God, realising a universalism, an activism that embraces all humanity and all life and removes all barriers between the temporal and spiritual, the Catholic and non-Catholic, the Christian and non-Christian. His strength is the church, and he is the strength of the church. Without his courage and his leadership, the church may have remained hostage to apartheid. The church may never have stood up against apartheid. We thank him for his courage.17
Denis Hurley’s “retirement” began as South Africa entered a time of transition from the long oppressive years of apartheid, to the miraculous birth of a new and democratic society.
He welcomed this new South Africa with joy: indeed, he has described the presidential inauguration of Nelson Mandela as one of the great highlights of his own life, along with the Second Vatican Council. The Archbishop-Emeritus was present as a special guest in the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings to witness the most famous prisoner in the world taking the oath of office.
He has expressed particular enthusiasm for the new government’s “Reconstruction and Development Programme” popularly known as “the RDP”.
It was a stroke of genius for the South African government, inspired by COSATU,18 to follow up the liberation and the election and the installation of the president with the publication of a vision for the country, the vision of Reconstruction and Development. When I read the Policy Framework published by the ANC in 1994, my interest and enthusiasm grew with every page. I thought it a superb document with which to launch the new state coming into existence after the long dark years. It was a vision of greatness to be achieved for the people, by the people.19
The Archbishop was struck by how much the RDP was in harmony with Catholic social teaching.20
And yet there has been a sober realism in his assessment of the massive challenge still facing this country.
The RDP, though not officially abandoned by the government, has been effectively replaced by a new macro-economic policy known as GEAR (“Growth, Employment and Redistribution”), a programme much influenced by economic forces such as globalization, and international institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. “We now seem to be jumping on the same capitalist bandwagon as everyone else”, was his less than enthusiastic response.21
Apartheid now conquered, a second great challenge confronts the churches – the establishment of economic justice. Surrounded as he is in this Cathedral parish by a sea of poverty, the 82-year-old Archbishop is enthusiastic to face up to this challenge:
It could so easily happen that millions of our people could find themselves excluded, through poverty, from the fruits of victory over apartheid and the establishment of democracy. To avoid this unhappy future, may God give us the guidance and grace to strive together ecumenically and beyond the ecumenical boundaries, to strive together on an interfaith basis, for the achievement of greater prosperity, greater human rights and a better human life for all those now so sadly deprived.22
Denis Hurley – A Brief Curriculum Vitae: see the earlier 1998-2011 hard copy and Internet editions of Oblate Missiologists, the latter available on the Mission-Unity-Dialogue website, Oblate Missiologists page (www.harrywinter.org).
Select Bibliography on Social Justice Issues: see the earlier 1998-2011 hard copy and Internet editions of Oblate Missiologists, pp. 23-25.
Archbishop Hurley died suddenly at age 88 on February 13, 2004, in Durban.
The Archdiocese of Durban established the Denis Hurley Centre on December 11, 2014. See www.denishurleycentre.org.
In 2009, Mr. Kearney authored a comprehensive and very readable biography Guardian of the Light: Denis Hurley Renewing the Church, Opposing Apartheid (NY: Continuum Press).
Paddy Kearney died suddenly at age 76 on November 23, 2018, in Durban.
Radio Liseli, Zambia
From “Come and See,”
by Louis Studer, O.M.I.
Because of unreliable transportation, or none at all, poor roads, seasonal flooding and very few vehicles, the Oblates know many of the parishioners cannot get to the main parish. So the Oblates meet them where they are, as often as they can, often experiencing these same transportation difficulties themselves. Poor transportation was also one of the primary reasons for the establishment of Radio Liseli (Light). The Oblates provide catechetical and evangelical teaching, as well as educational, social, spiritual and even sometimes political education, particularly to the people of western Zambia where transportation is particularly challenging.
One complicated, complex issue which Radio Liseli has brought to the attention of its listeners is deforestation. Deforestation is the cutting down of trees for sale, usually to other countries who pay handsomely for this wood. It is unclear who benefits from these sales, but the government does little to stop it, even though the forests are on public properties. Trees attract the rain necessary for crops to grow. Bishop Evans Chinyemba of the Mongu diocese has often spoken publicly about this grave concern.
For two more items on Radio Liseli, go to www.omiworld.org and google Radio Liseli.
LATIN AMERICA-CARRIBEAN REGION
Mission Committee: The Latin American Regional Mission Committee grew out of a proposal of the 2006 Interprovincial Conference of Latin America (ICLA), meeting in Cartagena, Columbia. The goal is to reflect, raise issues, ask questions and make suggestions about the Oblate missionary task in Latin America and the Caribbean. The committee uses the SEE-JUDGE-ACT method, and polished its description at the ICLA meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2007.
In April, 2019, the ICLA integrated the Committee on Mission with the other regional committees: JPIC, Mission with Youth, Associated Lay People, and Oblate Brothers.
Herbert Morose, O.M.I., President of ICLA, accompanies the committee;
Antonio Messeri, O.M.I., is the Mission Committee Coordinator;
Miguel Fritz, O.M.I., the JPIC coordinator;
Patrick Oliveira, O.M.I., the Mission with Youth coordinator;
Sergio Serrano, O.M.I., the Mission with Lay Associates coordinator; and,
Diemeson De Moraes, O.M.I., the Oblate Brothers coordinator.
The meetings will be virtually every month, and every so often they will meet face-to-face. As of June 20, 2019, there has already been a first meeting.
William Reinhard, O.M.I. (1935- )
Inspirer of Missionary Outlook
by James Sullivan, O.M.I.
I am grateful to Bill Reinhard, O.M.I., for working with Jim Sullivan, O.M.I., to develop this presentation of Fr. Reinhard’s missionary endeavors in Brazil.
Jim Sullivan died December 29, 2001.
William Reinhard was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 24, 1935, to Herbert W. Reinhard and Miriam L. (Fitzgerald) Reinhard. He has one brother, Richard Reinhard, who is married with two children and living in Washington, D.C. He attended schools in Chicago, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Worcester and Newton, Massachusetts. In 1951, he entered the Oblate Junior Seminary in Newburgh, New York. After completing his novitiate in Ipswich, Massachusetts, he made his first vows on September 8, 1955.
Philosophical and theological studies were at Oblate College, Washington, D.C., with ordination in Washington on May 31, 1961, and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Catholic University of America. He continued theological and pastoral studies, earning a Masters in Theology from Oblate College in 1963, with a thesis “The Concept of Mission among Missiologists in the First Half of the 20th Century”, with Ronan Hoffman, OFM Conv., directing. Fr. Reinhard then did missiology studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University from 1963-69, interrupting them during 1966 for five months research on his thesis in Brazil, and spending the 1967 academic year at Oblate College, teaching ecclesiology and missiology (he also taught there in 1971). He successfully defended his doctoral thesis in June, 1969: “The Evangelization of Brazil under the Jesuits (1549-68): An Evaluation.” For the outline of his doctoral thesis, see the 1998 and 2011 hard copy and Internet editions of Oblate Missiologists, pp. 52-53.
From 1969-91, Fr. Reinhard served in 5 different parishes in the Archdiocese of São Paulo, Brazil. He also exercised the following responsibilities on the archdiocesan level: Pastoral coordinator, Interlagos Sector, 1972-74; Pastoral Coordinator, M’boi Mirim Sector, 1982-84; Member, Archdiocesan Commission for Human Rights, 1977-85; Director and Professor of Pastoral Theology, Archdiocesan Seminary, 1977-85; and General Coordinator, Archdiocesan Pastoral Housing Commission, 1992-96.
For the Oblates, he served on the provincial council, 1973-79, 1982-85, and 1994-97. He was provincial, 1985-91; and superior of the House of Theology, 1977-85. He attended the General Chapter of 1972 as a delegate, and when the chapter voted down the initial text of its document “Missionary Outlook,” he served as the principal drafter of what became the final, approved text.1 As provincial, he attended the 1986 General Chapter, and the Intercapitular Meeting of 1990. Since 1997 he has been Master of Novices.
Starting with his post-graduate studies in Rome, and especially during his 28 years in Brazil, Fr. Reinhard has always been concerned with relating theory and practice, putting both at the service of mission. His doctoral thesis examined the missionary methods of the first Jesuits in Brazil, and how these were constantly modified as a result of the interaction between the missionaries and the indigenous populations.
His personal experience with the poor in parishes on the outskirts of São Paulo and especially the voiceless and the homeless of the metropolis, brought him into daily contact with the victims of an unjust and violent economic system, which continues to grow on a world-wide level. Reflecting on this accumulated experience, he continues to challenge theory and practice, Gospel and life. His constant premise: solid theory must be the inspiration for missionary practice, which in turn must question and provoke missiological development.
by Paul Hughes, O.M.I. (1946- )
Editor’s Note: Paul Hughes served 24 years in Puerto Rico, 6 years in Colombia,
3 years in Mexico, and 7 years in Guatemala (with a year in China).
Early this year (2007), I received from the Provincial administrative the notice for attendance at the annual Jubilee Banquet and that I was surprisingly among the listed under those celebrating 40 years of Vows. Although not being able to assist, I feel this special moment provides an opportunity to reflect on what it meant then to proclaim vows, especially as a MISSIONARY Oblate of Mary Immaculate. It was the word or image of ‘Missionary’ that first captured my desire to join this particular congregation and what still today motivates me to continue the journey. How have I deepened that ‘Missionary’ call? How have I lived out and internalized that ‘Missionary’ spirit? To put it simply, what is my ‘Missiology’, those underlining core values, practices, inspirations that keep pushing me on as those vows proclaimed a Missionary Oblate?
Reflecting back these two score years, my first understanding of Missionary was definitely a little romantic and superficial. Our formators talked of the foreign missions of Japan, Brazil, the Philippines – the principal areas of the Province. There was maybe unconsciously cultivated the dual option after ordination of the home vs. foreign missions, the former being the runner up or booby prize while the overseas was the supreme superb sacrifice. The home ‘mission’ band was certainly presented as something special, but to tell the truth, it sounded more like a wandering herd of one sermon joke tellers looking for a little breathing room, to remove the collar and have a good drink; maybe not too bad a start at arriving at a good missiology! During the long years of academic study and formation, there was never a real course or block of study dedicated to missiology. Attempts were made to have Bill Reinhart, O.M.I., with a doctorate in Missiology, come up for a semester from Brazil, but it never seemed to materialize. With a heavy dose in so many other fields, we could have-been more accurately described as, “Canon Law or Philosophical Oblates of M.I.” rather than “Missionary”. It is for all these ‘inquietudes’ that after some 40 years I feel the need to understand and reflect upon the varied components and elements of ‘missiology’ and to articulate them for my own good. My presence at this year’s gala banquet was missed, but these meanderings may be my formal R.S.V.P. for those still searching for a Missiology!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- Have you ever felt the futility of further missionary work, that a moratorium on missionary activity may be necessary, that the World’s Great Religions are doing pretty well, better not to bother or disturb their spiritual progress and process?
- In your seminary formation, what was your experience of Missiology? Who were your chief influences or inspirers in the missionary life?
- What advice would you give to those now in formation about mission and/or missiology?
BRIEF HISTORY OF MISSIOLOGY
The primary source of following reflections is taken from a very perspective article by a Catholic Nigerian priest, Francis Anekwe Oborji, titled, CONTEMPORARY MISSIOLOGY IN THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION”. Missiology; An International Review. Vol. XXXIV, no 3, July 2006, He claims that although missiology has finally established itself as a discipline on its own, it still labors with an identity problem and struggles to find its proper place in theological and seminary formation.
Missiology can be defined in various ways:
- The Science of mission (mission studies).
- It examines scientifically and critically the activities through which the Church does her mission or work of Evangelization.
- More technically, it is a branch of theology that studies the salvation activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit throughout the world, bringing the kingdom of God into existence.
We must further distinguish between:
- God’s Mission (mission Dei) that is, the divine intervention in favor of all humanity of all times and of the whole world; and,
- Missions (missiones ecclesiae) that is, the missionary ventures of the Church, its undertakings in heralding the Gospel by those sent forth.
This statement clearly underlines for me that we must constantly keep in mind the ‘cosmic’ dimension of mission – that it is God’s work, not God conforming Himself to the pettiness and error of the Church equating itself with the Kingdom.
Missiology is not only concerned with ‘Missio ad Extra’ but also ‘Missio ad Intra’. There are three concrete situations in which the Church carries out its various evangelizing activities:
- Mission ad gentes
- Pastoral Care
- New Evangelization.
This distinction clearly places all true evangelization efforts on equal footing – that parochial home mission is not a runner up or a consolation prize to the glories of foreign mission. It is also a dramatic call for all missionaries to explore and venture into that often ‘no man’s land’ of the secular, unchurched, etc., world of this brave new world waiting for evangelization and for the missionary to be open to a constant renewal in his/her own evangelization and development.
It is impossible to read the New Testament without being consumed by its overwhelming mission thrust. The early Church took seriously Matthew’s reference to ‘Go teach to all nations’ – Paul to Asia Minor, Peter to Rome, and, as tradition goes, Thomas to India and Santiago to Iberia. In a real sense MISSION was MOTHER OF THEOLOGY! Yet by the time of Constantine there was an apparent coup d’etat, i.e., the mission thrust was lost and Theology become the dominant force. With this usurping of this Mother role, Theology went on to evolve into the classical fourfold pattern discipline:
- Bible (TEXT);
- Church history (HISTORY);
- Systematic theology (TRUTH); and,
- Practical theology (APPLICATION),
creating the clergy paradigm and leaving ‘mission’ on the periphery, if not an outcast in the Evangelization model.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- Do you read the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, with a ‘missionary’ eye?
- How does your preaching, teaching. ministry in general, mention and communicate a missionary spirit, attitude?
- How does the possible ‘poison’ of Constantine still negatively affect your personal, communal missionary endeavors and spirit?
- What characteristics are manifested in your own Missiology?
Attempts, however, were made to rescue this abandoned Mother-Child and re-establish the proper role of the missiological discipline. Franciscan scholar/poet/missionary, Raimon Lull (+1315) urged the Church to establish schools for the studying of languages spoken by the people to whom the Gospel was to be proclaimed, especially Arabic. After many battles, his impact was finally felt in 1627, when the Collegium Urbanum de Propaganda Fide was founded in Rome, positively influencing many students and missionaries.
Protestant missionaries were not to be outdone, for in the age of 17th century Enlightenment, one initiative came from a curious source: The East India Trading Company. With the rise of commercial adventures, these entrepreneurs proposed in 1622 the training of pastors at the University of Leiden who could serve their interests for the conversion of ‘heathens’ of their new foreign markets. No doubt they quickly saw the relation of ‘marketing’ with missiology and the rise of a new creature, the hyphenated ‘merchant-missionary’!
The noted Karl Graul (1814-1864), Director of the Leipzig Mission, pleaded with his academic colleagues for the scientific study of mission. This discipline must “hold her head up high; she has the right to ask for a place in the house of the most royal of science, namely, Theology.” In bonnie Edinburgh Scotland, Alexander Duff (1806-1878) managed to have established the Chair of Mission studies, making him, as is claimed, the First Professor of Mission in Christendom. There lingered, however, among the ecclesial establishment the attitude that his field was too ‘abnormal’ a subject, and it was latter demoted in stature and then altogether abolished.
Catholic Missionary pioneers likewise struggled in this period to break Theology’s monopolistic stranglehold and establish Missiology as a legitimate discipline in its own right. This overwhelming task was mainly due to the efforts of two men: Gustav Warneck, who taught at the University of Holle (1896-1910); and Josef Schmidlin, founder of the first chair of Missiology at a Catholic institution in 1910, the University of Münster. He insisted that Missiology “was not just a guest but as
having the right of domicile in the house of Theology”. Progress was further made when the faculty of missiology was established at Rome’s Gregorian University in 1923, and in the thirties at Urban University, the Catholic University of Louvain and at St. Paul’s in Ottawa (under the leadership of our own Missionary Oblates). Many missionary congregations and institutes had long since maintained and developed their own scientific journals and monographs on mission, yet for various reasons the access and use of this treasure chest of mission material at the formation level seems to have been quite limited or undervalued.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- How would you evaluate your preaching, teaching, ministerial language: inclusive vs. exclusive; paternalistic vs. partnership; condescending vs. constructive, etc.?
- How do you feel and react in a group where the dominant language, cultural expression, etc., is different from your own?
- In what ways do you consider or project that your language, culture, etc., is better, superior than another’s?
- Are missionary books, articles, journals, etc., part of your literary diet? What works or sources would you consider valuable or worthwhile for continued missionary formation?
As the experiences of numerous young missionary churches began to impact themselves on “Christian Europe”, there was the need not only to understand their historical development but also to construct particular ‘strategies’ or Models of Mission study in seminaries and mission institutes both Protestant and Catholic. Missiologists began to identify at least five particular models, expressed simply as:
- COMPARATIVE THEOLOGY; and,
- WORLD AGENDA
models. To put meat on these boney words, we begin with the following elaboration.
- Incorporation Model
With mission studies gathering support, an attempt was made to incorporate, attach or append this discipline with some area of theological studies. Many thought a natural appendage would be to Practical Theology, i.e., the self-realization of the existing Churches. Missiology would then be the self-realization or manifestation in missionary situations. It still left the vague and messy area as to what constitutes solely “foreign mission situations” and the “home mission”. What professor in his right mind would tackle that problem!
- Independent Model
With the rise of other new disciplines like Ethics, Ecumenism, Comparative Religions, some believed that Missiology should likewise stand on its own two feet among these other up-and-coming theological As mentioned above, Chairs of Missiology were half-heartedly established but at times relegated to anyone interested in attending to the ‘colonial affairs’ of the Church. “Foreign” mission was equivalent to the “foreign” service office of the church and still unconsciously considered by many as still “foreign” to mainstream theology.
- Integration Model
Another line of thinking was to integrate the teaching of Missiology with all areas of Theology, recapturing the innate missionary spirit found in the New Testament. With the passage of time and the ascendancy and monopolistic control of Theological teaching at that time, missiology was considered as something too exotic and peripheral for sound priestly formation. Some schools and institutes may have assigned some former missionary to teach this misfit of a subject, but to ask all teachers to integrate this exotic creature into their discipline was too demanding and even unnecessary.
- Comparative Theology Model
A more radical solution to the problem of the place of Mission studies in seminaries and institutes was presented by the Catholic theologian, Adolf Exeler. Despite the many difficulties, the experience of mission churches was demonstrating that the old missiological underpinnings were no longer sufficient and must be discarded for a totally new missiology: That the paternalism of old must be replaced with a partnership relationship; that European cultural imposition must cease; and, that the young mission churches must be subjects of their own theological and pastoral development. Understandably, this radical approach threatened the perceived harmony and unity of the traditional church model, plus would it simple replace an old form of Euro-centric colonialism with a new, young church imposition? It could also lead many traditional churches to the point of washing their hands of the complexities of the universality of the missionary call. Exeler’s new kind of thinking seems to have sowed the seeds of many aspects of liberation theology which would eventually confront the traditional church’s Missiology.
- World Agenda Model
Another emerging model is to clearly specify the object of missionary work. Is it simply to canvass for new members, transmitting a prepackaged doctrinal faith content, or is it respond to the world’s agenda, the socio-politico-economic concerns of mankind, a biblical response to the words, “God so loved the world”? Initial feedback on this model would suggest that Missiology would not need a Christian framework, that missionary work is more sociological, anthropological or political with a brushing of the religious. This model nonetheless forces one to reflect seriously on the distinction and relationship of the Church, the Kingdom and the World.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- Which of the above 5 models, if any, was emphasized in your formation?
- Which of the models best captures your experience and/or ideal of a Missiology model?
- In your contact or experience in seminary formation, are/were these or any model part of the curriculum and formation process?
- Would you consider the sociological, anthropological, social science, etc., dimensions as something particular and necessary signs of a missionary vocation?
- To what extent should the “world or secular” agenda be an integral part of the missionary’s and where can he/she make a difference in this complex playing field?
FUNCTION OF MISSIOLOGY
In our laborious search for an understanding and meaning of Missiology and its integration into the formation process, the author presents in this final stage three functions and tasks of this discipline. Without, hopefully, diminishing my original intent or style, I would express in three words these functions as:
Missiology must constantly pursue the faith dimension, and the ultimate measuring rod must always be how we are participating in God’s Mission and not our own. Only in partnership with other theological disciplines can this be achieved. We are not competitors or antagonist of the theologian – quite the contrary. In many ways a good missiologist is a good theologian and respects his/her limits while contributing his/her own richness and insight. It must avoid an elitist attitude or simply theoretical approach but help all in the church understand and develop a mission mind set.
- CRITICAL GADFLY
Not forgetting his giftedness and role in this complex reality, the Missiologist must be critical and continually challenge theology in fulfilling its role that all the Church is called to fulfill the mandate, “Go teach to all nations”. The theologian David Bosch uses the very provocative and descriptive word of ‘gadfly’ in trying to capture this function or task. In his super abundance of verbal exuberance he states,“The role of missiology is to act as a ‘gadfly’ in the house of theology creating unrest and resisting complacency opposing
– every ecclesiastical impulse to self-preservation;
– every desire to stay where we are;
– every inclination toward provincialism and parochialism;
– every fragmentation of humanity into regional/ideological blocs;
– every exploitation of some sectors of humanity by the powerful;
– every religious, ideological or cultural imperialism; and, finally,
– every exaltation of the self-sufficient individual over all creation.”To fulfill this mouthful of tasks and function, no doubt is a sufficient
life work for any missionary/missiologist, Bon Appetite!
Not only must Missiology act in collaboration with other theological disciplines and be co-responsible for the overall mission of the Church, but those involved in this field must keep a critical eye on those areas not appreciated or valued by the institutional Church. He/she must be like a detective and see beyond the often narrow focus of ecclesial reality to the new trends and fashions of the modern high-tech world or, as we often baptize this new creature, the secular world. There are many facets and aspects of this world of New Evangelization, and it takes a certain insight, giftedness and creativity to response to these new challenges of missiology often excluded in traditional theology and formation. Some of these areas detected so far could be in the areas of:* Emergent contextual theologies of the Third World;
* Dialogue with other religions and cultures;
* The Church’s responsibility for development on a world scale;
* Modern means of communication; and,
* Ideologies.Maybe a new mission of missiology is to rescue these areas hijacked by the other side, that ‘secular world’, and not let the Church be left holding the bag of what has been mistaken as purely the ‘sacred’.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- How is your own faith nurtured and challenged by the missionary dimension of the Congregation or your local community?
- Who are the missionary ‘gadflies’ in your community, dioceses, or province, and are they considered indispensable in their work or a mosquito-like irritant on the communal body?
- How can teachers/formators foster and cultivate this ‘gadfly’ gift in our candidates, our future missionaries?
- How is it possible to detect the new missionary trends or ‘fashions’ in the secular world and society?
Coming to the end of my searching for a Missiology, I must confess that I am still somewhat baffled and confused with my own findings and reflections. The distinction between Missionary and Missiologist I still find difficult to comprehend, and so there still lingers in me the interchangeable use of both terms. Somehow, I have still not captured the theological difference between them. There is also a personal feeling that even the words ‘foreign’ and ‘mission’ are quickly approaching the rendezvous point of obsolescence. If to be a Christian innately implies to be a missionary, is there not a redundancy in their separate usage? If we are ‘foreign’ in some accidental way, then are we really not all the same, especially in this globalized world? Can you not also feel more foreign in the place where you once felt native! Is not that the basic ambiguity or mystery of the nature of any Searcb?
To present, therefore, a detailed theological schema or a concrete syllabus for a course or tract on Missiology for seminary formation or personal ongoing development, may be presumptuous and definitely beyond my scope. There is in all of us the unconscious desire to ‘clone’ others to our own image and likeness, so it may be best to simply offer what helped or frustrated me in my past or ongoing missiological formation.
- Art as Theology/Missiology
The development and appreciation of the artistic dimension is indispensable in the formation of the missionary. We seemed to have, and may still be guilty of, concentrating on the cerebral, academic, logical development of the individual while neglecting the artistic discovery and liberation in the person. Frankly, I learned more Theology at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston than I did in Oblate College in Washington. Artistic development is not simply learning a technique, how to paint, draw, sculpture, etc., but to see the intimate hidden relation between things, and that out of a supposed chaos there can come goodness, beauty, and Truth. Whether it be the liturgy, counseling, community planning, discovery of new solutions to problems, inculturation, etc., the artistic dimension is an absolute necessity. There is nothing more sickening, boring and unchristian than a theologian or, heaven forbid, a missionary, without an artistic sense! Good Theology is Good Art!
- Mysticism and Missiology
It may be that the failure to develop a missionary sense may lie in our neglect of the mystical development. Looking back over my own formation, there was a lack also in the Mystical area of formation or that it was considered something for doctoral candidates or specialists. Biblical studies often concentrated on text analysis and hermeneutical concerns but little on the mystical element. Much confusion and frustration in the foreign or home missions seems to lie in our inability to understand and cope with the mystical dimensions of the person, the lack of understanding of the structure of the inner life, even the very nature of our sexuality. If properly understood, the celibate may be the most ‘erotic’ of the human/divine callings, and a better understanding of this powerful spiritual, mystical force may enable us to understand, appreciate and develop the missionary dimension in our lives and that of the congregation. The proper emphasis on Mysticism at the initial formation level, I believe, may help tremendously in the difficult task of integrating one’s sexuality and celibate commitment by fostering a better reflection on its source and continual inspirational force, the gift of the Spirit.
- Missiology and Cosmology
My feeling mentioned above, that both the words and understanding of ‘foreign’ and ‘mission’ are approaching extinction, may simply be a case of just growing old or that their fading is the strong indication of closure of another phase in the long history of mission and missiology. What seems so obvious is not only the need for new terminology which is one of the great contributions of the theological discipline but the need of a new cosmology. If globalization and technology are demonstrating that no place on planet earth is foreign, that nation states as such are in their last hurrah, then a new way of perceiving and speaking of our world, heaven, earth, universe, the COSMOS, is needed so as to prepare and send and evangelize this new mission reality. While being faithful to the Spirit, Biblical theologians may have to be more daring and creative, poetic, in interpreting the Scriptures reflecting this new Cosmology. Words, I know, both help and hinder our expression of reality, but I sense we can do a much better job in this vital area if we are to continue in this new time the mission of the Church, Congregation, the mission of the Spirit!
- Missiology and History
The former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Haval, once said that, “true education is seeing the hidden connection between things.” This definition, I believe, can easily be applied to history and to the role and task of all missionaries. Maybe it was simply a personal taste or inclination, but I always found the study of history fascinating more than a simple memorization of dates and facts. Missionary formation must foster this love and enthusiasm for history, and help us see the intimate relationship with Church, World, Economics, Politics, Culture, etc., for it is in attempting to connect these dots that we see clearly the manifestation of the Spirit in the world. Although the multiple Internet connections are tremendous and necessary in all our lives, they must be constantly evaluated in terms of their ability to help the missionary connect history’s infinite dots, which not only represent but are God’s people – gifted and entrusted to every true missionary. !Basta!
- •• Still Searching! Paul Hughes, O.M.I.
Nanchang, China – September, 2007
Mission Committee: The Executive Committee of the Asia-Oceania Region
is currently the Misson Committee:
Edwin Vasantharajah, President,
Charlie Inzon, Councilor One,
and, Chinnappan Sandhappan, Councilor Two.
OMI Mission among the Muslims in Southern Philippines
by Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, O.M.I.
In the Philippines, particularly in the South, Christianity and Islam have always been presented as two competing faiths for the same geographical area. Wittingly or unwittingly, the recent spate of lawlessness like kidnappings, terrorism and plain and simple banditry is read along the understood “separateness” between Christianity and Islam.
This tragic and sad reality is further exacerbated by the contemporary surge of the so-called fundamentalist movements both in Islam and Christianity. The likes of the Abu Sayyaf and Pentagon Group/s and the ISIS affiliated Khilafat group in Lanao del Sur and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom fighters in Maguindanao are often associated with fanaticism that sends jitters to the people in the area.
All these are familiar enough and part of our present problem. Often, they exercise tyranny over our spirits. They have produced a culture and a habit of suspicion and confrontation that make inter-religious collaboration and dialogue truly a very difficult task. It requires a commitment and determination to steadily school ourselves to resist and reject our habit of preferring suspicion to trust; our instinct to prefer the familiar confrontation to a new relationship of partnership in the world that is in difficult transition.
In the past as well as today, there is an ever-growing awareness of common territory and affinity between Islam and Christianity. The Qur’an in Chapter 5, verse 82, unequivocally encourages Muslims to cooperate with Christians.
“Thou wilt surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are the ones who say, ‘We are Christians’; that because some of them are priests and monks, and they wax not proud.” (S.5:82).
The Second Vatican Council document, Nostra Aetate, clearly articulates the common territory and affinity between Christianity and Islam.
“The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his Virgin Mother they also honor, and even times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason, they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds, and fasting.”
“Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The Sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.” (NA3).
Long before the historic document, Nostra Aetate, there were a few religious leaders in the Southern Philippines (the traditional Bangsamoro Homeland) who had understood the importance of Muslim and Christian understanding to attain a lasting peace and sustainable development. There were difficulties, frustrations and pains, yet they were transcended as they continued to learn how to live as neighbors.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) came to the traditional Moro Homelands (the Empire Province of Cotabato and the Archipelago of Sulu) in 1939. The Empire Province of Cotabato was as big as the whole Central Luzon that included the National Capital Region. It was also the period when the whole Cotabato valley was opened for internal migration for landless Filipinos coming from the Visayan Island and Luzon, particularly Northern Luzon.
The OMIs were given the mandate to evangelize and work at this vast territory of Muslims, indigenous peoples, and the migrants settling in the different parts of the Cotabato Valley. It was no accident that the OMIs in the Philippines were the pioneers in establishing new relationships between Muslims and Christians and indigenous peoples right at the very heartland of the Bangsa (Nation) Moro.
I attempt to encapsulate the OMI Missions among the Muslims in the five traditions that are closely associated to the OMI.
The first tradition is the continuing attempts to bridge the education and development gap in the Southern Philippines due to long years of government neglect. In the then-empire province of Cotabato and the Archipelago of Sulu, OMIs began the Notre Dame School System that brought quality education to the Moro peoples long before the establishment of the Mindanao State University. The Notre Dame School system has generated so much social capital that educated Moro people and the leadership both in the rebel front and in local government easily point to their experiences in the Notre Dame campuses all over the Southern Philippines as examples of harmony and unity between Muslims and Christians.
Post Vatican II, Sulu Vicariate and Cotabato Prelature had embarked on development programs following the universal call from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Populorum Progressio, that specifically articulated that “development is another name for peace.” Resources were generated to bring potable water to the rural communities, clinics were established in remote areas, to build houses for the poor and the “evacuees” now called “internally displaced persons”. To bolster agricultural productivity, farming cooperatives and credit unions were established. Four foreign Bishops have epitomized this tradition. They were Bishop Gerard Mongeau, O.M.I., of Cotabato, Bishop Francis McSorley, O.M.I., Bishop Philip Smith, O.M.I., and Bishop George Dion, O.M.I., of Sulu.
The second tradition was the struggle for justice and human rights, particularly during the dark years of Martial Law. Arbitrary arrests and detentions, military “zoning” (military encirclements of a community where all males were lined up in the public square and houses were searched and ransacked, usually at night), cases of “salvagings” (killed or liquidated and later the bodies were dumped into the river), and disappearances – all led to the formation of the first Christian-Muslim Leaders Association of the Philippines. Prominent personalities in this struggle were Bishop Antonino Nepomuceno, O.M.I., Episcopal Bishop Manguramas, and Sheik Omar Bajunaid. This group conducted capacity building for dialogue and monitoring human rights violations for Priests, Imams and Pastors. They were the pioneers in the beginning of this Interreligious dialogue, both at the national level and local levels that involved the Catholics, Protestants and Muslims.
They constituted the first “quick response” team to assist Muslim individuals and communities that were constantly harassed and repressed. The military wantonly violated their rights during military operations both in urban areas as well as in the remote areas.
It is a tradition that speaks of concern and sincere effort to achieve understanding between Muslims and Christians and to work together to preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice, and moral values.
The association was there to protect people’s basic human rights against the constant assaults of the fascist army of the Dictator Marcos. In times of war and calamities, Bishops Nepomuceno, Manguramas and Sheik Bajunaid were in the forefront to give relief, assistance, freedom and moral support as well. They were able to forge Muslim-Christian solidarity that witnessed to the common tradition of trust, friendship and hospitality amid the legacies of suspicion, anger and hatred. The Social Action Center in Cotabato, during the Martial Law years, became the powerful symbol of Muslim and Christian solidarity for justice, freedom and brotherhood.
The third tradition is the path personified by Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, O.M.I. Bishop Ben was a gentle, jovial presence in the midst of the Muslims. He was a friend to all, but most especially to the poor and the vulnerable sectors of the two provinces of Sulu and Tawi Tawi that constituted the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo. His passionate commitment to the poor and dialogue of life led him and the whole Vicariate to venture in a humble and non-threatening friendship with the Muslims. He wanted to be the humble and compassionate servant of the peoples of Sulu.
This path is now enshrined in the universally accepted dialogue of life that translates into everyday life the desired friendship that should characterize the relationships between and among neighbors. It is a path that continues, in daily living, to break down the walls (both visible and invisible) that separate Muslims and Christians.
To advocates of this path, it is actually a dialogue of life that carries out the joyful and humble work of proclaiming God’s unconditional love and his inclusive kingdom that recognizes and respects the dignity and spiritual treasures of the Muslim neighbors.
The fourth tradition is the pioneering peace education and advocacy began by the OMIs that run Notre Dame University (NDU). Under the leadership of Fr. Eliseo ‘Jun’ Mercado, O.M.I., NDU has become intimately identified with the peace process involving the Philippine Government and the two Moro Liberation Fronts – the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. NDU is the first institution of higher learning that has integrated peace education in its curriculum where both Muslim and Christian students are required to take peace studies. The University’s peace advocacy has led to mediation and conflict resolution efforts of the citizens (Muslims and Christians) in Southern Philippines.
Following the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro National Liberation Front, Peace Education became one of the flagship programs of President Ramos. Funds were appropriated for NDU to train people and build capacity for all Mindanao Universities with the hope that these Universities would in turn establish their own training centers.
In the same tradition, Fr. Roberto Layson, O.M.I., has embarked on establishing communities of peace in the Municipality of Pikit for people caught in the crossfire between the Government Forces and the Moro Fronts. These sanctuaries of peace became the nuclei of Peace Zones in the area.
Both Fr. Mercado and Fr. Leyson were recognized for their peace work and both became recipients of Benigno & President Corazon Aquino Award.
Ateneo de Manila University of Manila recognized five Oblates for their outstanding work in Southern Philippines: 1st was Archbishop Gerard Mongeau; 2nd was Bishop Benjamin de Jesus; 3rd was Fr. Eliseo Mercado; 4th was Fr. Roberto Layson; and 5th was Orlando Cardinal Quevedo.
In addition, Fr. Eliseo Mercado has been a recipient of two Presidential Citations: first from President Corazon Aquino for his outstanding Community Service, and second from President Fidel Ramos for his contribution in the shaping of the Peace Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro National Liberation Front.
The fifth tradition is the witnessing presence that leads to MARTYRDOM. The Southern Philippines is no alien to the ugly and violent and virulent face of fanaticism and extremism. The 1st victim is Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, O.M.I., Bishop of the Vicariate of Jolo. His witness of peace and reconciliation and dialogue was a threat to the then-emerging Islamic Extremism and the fanatics murdered him in Public Square in broad daylight in front of his Cathedral in Jolo on February 4, 1997.
Following the martyrdom of Bishop Benjamin, another Benjamin fell victim to the virulent extremism in Sulu. Fr. Benjamin Inocencio, O.M.I., was a Missionary to an island in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the Sulu Sea, Cagayan de Mapun. There he managed Notre Dame of Cagayan with passion and moving all resources to give quality high school education to the Jama Mapuns “physically marooned” in that remote island. He spent more than eight years of humble and faithful service to the people of the island. And in June, 2000, he was assigned Chancellor of the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo. At the same time, he served as Chaplain of the Notre Dame of Jolo College. Beside the Cathedral of Jolo, Fr. Inocencio was shot in the head that caused his sudden death on the feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28, 2000.
Then bullets struck again on January 15, 2008, this time in a remote island of Tabawan in the Municipality of South Ubian. Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, O.M.I., who spent his life in serving the poor people of Tabawan both in Notre Dame School and in the public schools was brutally martyred by “Extremists” who came to his residence. Fr. Rey was yet another witness of faith, friendship, and service to the least fortunate. He had been Director of Notre Dame of Tabawan High School and head of the Oblate Mission Station there under the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo. He had been ministering to the people of Tabawan and neighboring islands through education, infra-structure and developmental projects to alleviate poverty.
The people are more than 99% Muslims. The Christians are less than 1% and not all Catholics. It was about 8:30 in the evening of January 15, 2008, in the remote island of Tabawan, South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. When his killers arrived at his house, Fr. Rey was praying in the chapel. They looked for him and they wanted to kidnap him. He refused to go with them. So, they “manhandled” him and they brutally killed him. Later, Fr. Rey’s body was found just outside the school, left on a road near the shoreline from where the murderers sped away in a motorized boat. His body bore several wounds from gunshots, stabs and lacerations in the head, face, neck, abdomen, and on the back.
These five traditions show concrete Muslim-Christian collaboration on the ground that indicates the heart of dialogue and peace building. Like politics, peace building is local. They are rooted in “being” with the people, especially the poor and the vulnerable sectors of society. It is a “rootedness” that is shaped and fashioned by a shared living, sympathy and solidarity. This becomes the well-spring of active participation in all human endeavors, economic, political and cultural, always in favor of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. Oftentimes, this kind of witnessing is clearer and more eloquent than any signing of agreement.
Muslim-Christian collaboration is not something abstract. It is a human activity that involves our total life experience. It takes place in the individual as well as communal lives, as peoples of differing faiths live out their faiths and conviction according to the living traditions. No doubt the partnership and collaboration depend upon a bridging leadership that enhances mutual trust and understanding. It demands respect for the identity as well as the integrity of the other. It rests on the conviction that God, who is all merciful and compassionate, desires to draw all peoples and the whole creation into a relationship of love and peace.
This type of partnership should enhance a new culture that enables and empowers peoples to draw from each other’s traditions and common resources to help face today’s threats to global survival and work together toward peace with justice and the integrity of creation. Religious leaders as exemplified in the five concrete traditions on the ground should spare no effort to live and work together towards reconciling conflicts, eradicating bigotry and prejudices, and empowering grassroots level communities to act upon their own choices in self-development towards a more just and participatory society.
There are no simple formulas for enhancing collaboration and partnership. Every situation demands a serious study and reflection of the many and varied factors at play. Some of these are historical, social or doctrinal. But whatever the factors and their magnitude, it is, in the final analysis, everyone’s duty to see a better community where peoples of differing faiths and traditions live in love, justice and peace. As religious leaders, we have the obligation to emphasize that which unites us and to make a determined effort to set aside that which would divide us. We can only do this if we have full understanding of what the other believes and are committed to the principle of respect and recognition of the beliefs and feelings of every community and person.
In concrete terms, there is the urgent need to steadily school ourselves to prefer trust to suspicion; prefer friendship to familiar confrontation; and above all, prefer love and service to the usual hatred and bigotry. This demands a shedding off of the old as well as dying. But is this not the meaning of the saying: “the old gives way to the new and death leads to life?”
In concluding this continuing search for peace, I would like to cite two people as points for reflection and challenges to us. The first is the former UN Secretary General, the late Egyptian, Boutros Boutros Ghali, in his message to the 2nd International Forum on the Culture of Peace, 26 November 1995:
“Peace is the basis for the realization of all the finest aspiration of life itself.”
The second is St. Pope John Paul II, a man known to harness both the religious leaders and traditions to promote peace and dialogue among religions. During his visit to the Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, 6 May 2001, he said:
“It is my ardent hope that Muslim and Christian religious leaders and teachers will present our two great religious communities as COMMUNITIES IN RESPECTFUL DIALOGUE, NEVER MORE AS COMMUNITIES IN CONFLICT. It is crucial for the young to be taught the ways of respect and understanding, so that they will not be led to misuse religion itself to promote or justify hatred and violence. Violence destroys the image of the Creator in his creatures and should never be considered as the fruit of religious conviction.”
“Better mutual understanding will surely lead to a more objective and comprehensive knowledge of each other’s religious beliefs at the practical level, to a new way of presenting our two religions NOT IN OPPOSITION, as it happened too often in the past, BUT IN PARTNERSHIP FOR THE GOOD OF THE HUMAN FAMILY.”
Again, in his departure address (8 May – Damascus), he appealed to all the peoples and to their political leaders,
“… to recognize that confrontation has failed and will always fail. Only a just peace can bring the conditions needed for the economic, cultural and social development to which the people of the region have a right.”
(Note: I provide all the highlights to emphasize particular points.)
Two Beatitudes should lead us to the path of righteousness: “Blessed are the Gentle, for they shall inherit the land” (Mt. 5:5). And “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God (Mt. 5: 9).”
An Asian Missiologist Shaping the Many Faces of Asian Churches
by Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, O.M.I.
There are many and differing faces of the Asian Christian Churches. These differences are true not only between the Churches of the Reform and the Roman Catholics (RC) but also within the RC as the local churches undertake the challenge of inculturation following the Second Vatican Council’s teachings. Historically, these differences are also manifested between the more ancient Syro-Malabar Church, tracing its roots from the “Apostolic times” in the sub-continent of India, and the various Christian Churches that “accompanied” the western “colonial expansion” from the 16th to the 19th century. The rise of nationalism in the former colonies during and after the struggle for independence contributed also to the shaping of the various faces of local and particular churches in contemporary times.
The Missionary orders that “accompanied” the western expansion in the Continent of Asia had carved their niches in the various missiological approaches to mission as well as in giving the many faces of the Christian Churches in the continent. Even among the “unified” Roman Catholics, the missiological approaches of the Jesuits, the Dominicans, the Franciscans and the Augustinians varied both in form as well as in structures of the local churches. These orders shaped the many faces of the Christian Churches both by blood and apostolic labor. The examples of Xavier in India and Japan; Ricci in China; de Nobili and Rhodes in Indo-China; and the numerous martyrs in China, Japan and Korea are but a few examples of these missiological approaches to “implanting the Church” in the Continent of Asia.
No doubt, the encounters with the great religions and civilizations of Asia, particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and the Traditions and Rituals of China and Japan that included the divine institution of the Emperor presented formidable challenges to missionaries.
In a similar vein, the missionaries of the various Churches of the Reform that responded to the call of preaching the Word of God met the same challenges as they, too, planted their respective churches in the colonies.
Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, O.M.I., of Cotabato is born to a post- colonial and post-Vatican II Church. He also belongs to a missionary congregation, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate or O.M.I. for short. By vocation and formation, he is imbued with a missionary tradition that seeks to evangelize the poor and the most abandoned. The context of his missionary activities is Mindanao, specifically, Cotabato and the Archipelago of Sulu, the territory where the Muslim Filipinos live and are in numerical majority.
These concrete characteristics – his congregational missionary tradition and Islamic context – have contributed to a colorful missionary perspective that includes, among others, interreligious dialogue and peacemaking.
The War in Mindanao, in the early 1970s (tragically understood along the religious lines of Christianity and Islam), coupled with the widespread poverty in Cotabato and Sulu due to national neglect, shaped his consciousness and missionary outlook as well.
The other factor that contributed greatly to this missionary outlook was the rise of the small Christian community (Gagmay Kristohanong Katilingban or GKK) in the post-Vatican II attempts to become local and inculturated local churches. The GKK that metamorphosed into BEC, or Basic Ecclesial Community, was a parallel movement to the Latin American “Comunidad de Base”. The movement began with understanding the concrete historical context of the Christian communities that led to the work of “conscientization” on the realities where they lived. It was no accident that the various GKK nourished the active participation and empowerment of the lay people both in societal and church affairs.
To discern the missiological bend and approaches of Cardinal Quevedo, there is a need to identify the major “drivers” or “strands” that shaped his understanding of the Church and her mission. There are five (5) major strands that would, later on, be prominent or dominant in Cardinal Quevedo’s perception of the Church in Mindanao and the Church in Asia. These are the following:
The First Strand is the reality of poverty and the understanding of Church sent to evangelize the poor. This strand belongs to his Missionary patrimony as missionary to the most abandoned. The poverty of Mindanao, as the poorest and the least developed region in the Philippines, particularly of Muslim Mindanao, where the two ecclesiastical jurisdictions, that is, the Archdiocese of Cotabato and the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo (consisting of the two Provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi), remain as the “context” of his ministry both as a missionary and later as bishop. The sad conditions of the people serve as a major driving force in forming an image of “Church of the Poor” and a “Church in the Margin” that have been popularized by Pope Francis.
Thus, when Cardinal Quevedo took the helm of the leadership of the Federation of the Asian Bishops Conference, he was confronted, once again, by the widespread poverty in the continent. He envisioned the Catholic Church in Asia as a church-in-dialogue with the poor in Asia. The face of the Catholic Church is the “poor multitude” with no shepherds. By this he translates the “Church of the Poor” not only as a Church known for simplicity in lifestyle but also a Church that “speaks out for the rights of the disadvantaged and powerless against all forms of injustice” in the era of globalization and consumerism.
The Second Strand is the reality of Asia being the cradle of many and differing great religions and traditions, including the indigenous ones. In the Southern Philippines, this was the “Islamic strand” that is dominant in the Archipelago of Sulu and the Cotabato Empire Province. The activities of the Church in Cotabato and Sulu have always been undertaken to establish common fellowship between Christians and Muslims. His interactions with Muslims as a child and in school, as well as in his ministry, have fostered friendship and mutual hospitality. Thereby, the lived experiences with people of other faiths, particularly Islam and the traditional rituals of the Indigenous Peoples, have given rise to his “understanding” of “Church in Dialogue” with peoples of living faiths and traditions, particularly with Islam.
It is no accident that, when writing the mission statement of the Federation of the Asian Bishops Conference (FABC), he fine-tuned the understanding of an Asia Church’s vision of “triple dialogue with the poor, great religions and traditions of Asia” as a dialogue of friendship and hospitality with all peoples, especially with the poor.
The Third Strand is his passion for the “Basic Ecclesial Communities”. He articulates this “new way” of being church as “becoming an authentic community of faith”. To him, the Church is no other but a communion of faith-communities of authentic participation and co-responsibility. It is a movement towards Basic Ecclesial Communities.
When he was Secretary General of FABC, he identified the BEC’s as comprising and integrating many and parallel movements into particular Churches in the continent. These movements are the following:
- A Movement towards integral evangelization with a new sense of mission. Jesus is the Lord and Saviour. The Church is a compassionate companion, servant of the Lord and all Asian peoples’ journey towards the Kingdom.
- A Movement towards empowerment of men and women. Empowered by the spirit, lay people – men and women – participate fully in the ministry of the church.
- A Movement towards active involvement in generating and saving life.
- A Movement towards the triple dialogue – with other faiths, with the poor and with cultures.
The Fourth Strand leads him to an understanding of a Church that is an active participant in peacemaking. War and conflict, from his own experiences in Cotabato and Sulu, are akin to a room with “no exit”. The cycle of poverty, war, neglect and lack of development is familiar enough to him from his early childhood to being an educator and a missionary to the poor in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo and a Bishop of Cotabato.
In a larger scale, Asia, too, has not known lasting peace but fleeting “truces” until new wars erupt again. Cardinal Quevedo is a witness to these forms of war.
In post-World War II, Asia was the scene of many and violent wars. The War in the sub-Continent of India that led to the partition between India and Pakistan in 1948; the War in the Korean Peninsula in the 50s and the 60s that gave rise to the two Koreas; the bloody war in Vietnam that lasted from 1950 to 1975; the War of Partition between Pakistan and Bangladesh in the 1970s; and the many ethnic wars and wars of secession in various parts of Asia.
His own experience of the “bloody” war in the Southern Philippines, commonly labeled as war between Muslims and Christians, proffered among the local populace a particular consciousness and understanding of who were allies and who were enemies along faith lines. Oftentimes these categories were accepted uncritically.
His study and reflection of these realities of “unpeace”, particularly in Southern Philippines, brought a radical “rethinking” of the otherwise uncritical prevailing categories of “allies” and “enemies”. Upon seeing that the conflict in Southern Philippines is basically an issue of justice, he has become a peacemaker. A peacemaking Church belongs to the prophetic tradition of mission that is often lost when the church is perceived as an “establishment”.
The “Red Hat” bestowed upon him by Pope Francis in June, 2016, in many ways is now being understood as “honoring” his missionary work in the “margin” of Philippine society and as a peacemaker in the war-torn Southern Philippines.
The Fifth Strand is a “look” at the future, that is, the youth of Asia. Asia is a continent of young people. The majority population in the Philippines is made up of people below the age of 40. While the youth today falls under the “generic” category of “Millennials”, the future of the Church in Asia and in the Philippines lies in harnessing this millennial generation for who and what they are – as definitely the youthful face of the Church in Asia, particularly the Church in the Philippines.
Cardinal Quevedo was once President of a Catholic University – Notre Dame University in Cotabato. His encounters with the youth then have galvanized his resolve that, albeit the seeming loss of the sense of transcendence among the young people, they have always been in the forefront of social change. They are active participants in the struggle for freedom, justice, and human rights. They have also become active in the actual care for the earth involving themselves in environmental clean-up programs and in projects like greening the mountains and cleaning the waterways. Yes, he believes that the youthful face of the Asian Churches stands in contrast to older churches in Europe and America. Thus, he cites the youth not only as subjects of evangelization but evangelizers, catechists, counselors, social action partners, health workers and peacemakers, among others. No doubt the youth of Asia is the HOPE for the Church in Asia.
An interview with the man reveals a missiological perspective shaped by these lived experiences and historical traditions. When asked how he views the Catholic Church in the coming years and the challenges she has to confront, he simply smiles and hands over the document of FABC that he contributed to shape. He says that there are seven movements that should constitute the vision of the Catholic Church in Asia. These seven (7) movements are the following:
- A Movement to become a Church of the Poor and Church of the Young. The Church of Asia has to place herself at the side of the multitudes of the continent – the Poor and the Youth. To speak out for the rights of the disadvantaged and powerless against all forms of injustice;
- A Movement to truly become a LOCAL CHURCH. A Church that is truly indigenous and inculturated. A Church in dialogue with great religions and traditions of the Continent; in dialogue with all peoples, especially with the poor;
- A Movement towards interiority – thereby, a church becoming a deeply praying community;
- A Movement to become an authentic community of faith, a communion of communities of authentic participation and co-responsibility. A movement towards BEC;
- A Movement towards integral evangelization with a new sense of mission – Jesus is the Lord and Saviour; the Church is a compassionate companion, servant of the Lord; and all Asian peoples in the journey towards the Kingdom;
- A Movement towards empowerment of men and women; empowered by the spirit: Lay people – men and women – who participate fully in the ministry of the church; and
- A Movement towards active involvement in generating and saving life.
For Cardinal Quevedo, these seven movements actualize the triple dialogue that has been the “mantra” of FABC for years as far back as 1971, that is, (a) dialogue with other faiths; (b) dialogue with the poor; and, (c) dialogue with the cultures of Asia.
The task he has embraced is translating this “triple dialogue” in concrete terms amid the contemporary burning issues. The Church in Asia needs to face and address these issues that constitute the contemporary Asian realities. There is no way of escaping them by simply resorting to rituals and the usual expressions of worship. He identifies these five issues that would shape the image and understanding of Church in Asia. They are the following:
- Globalization – Consumerism, Secularism and Materialism eroding the traditional values: religious, cultural, and social;
- Fundamentalism – Rise of violent religious extremism;
- Political Realities – Centralization of powers, Pervasive corruption, Electoral frauds, and “Structural Adjustment Policies” dictated by external forces like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization;
- Ecology – Deterioration of the environment by uncontrolled pollution, degrading poverty, deforestation, utilization as a dumping ground of toxic wastes, hazardous products of industries unconcerned of environmental standards, violation of the right of people to a clean and safe environment; and,
- Militarization – increasing militarization of societies, culture of deaths and impunity, land mines, trade in small arms and lack of commitment to promote the culture of peace.
Asia is a “complicated” continent. In a similar vein the Church in Asia is complicated. Cardinal Quevedo, by his insight and experiences, contributes in shaping these many and various faces of the Catholic Church relying, more than ever, on discernment and on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit guides the many Churches in their missiological approaches to become the Church of the poor; the Church of encounter and dialogue; the Church of the youth and the Church in solidarity with the whole creation.
Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, O.M.I.
- The article is mainly based on the personal interview with the Cardinal.
- As supplementing the article based on the following sources: The various FABC Documents and the Cardinal’s talks on various occasions, specifically, FABC Papers No. 138 FABC at Forty Years: Responding to the Challenge of Asia, 2013; A Renewed Church in Asia – A Mission of love and Service (Final Statement of the 7th FABC (Samphran, Thailand: January 3-13, 2000).
- Further supplements are Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo’s unpublished works: “The Call to New Evangelization: The Church in Asia in the next 50 Years”; “Parishes as Evangelizing Communities: Exploring Pathways for Mission” (June 4, 2011); and “Towards a New Catechesis of the Family in Asia (Bangkok, Thailand: October 25, 2006).
Michael Rodrigo, O.M.I. (1927-1987)
Martyr in Living the Interreligious Dialogue
by Philip Singarayar, O.M.I.
Editor’s Note: Philip Singarayar, O.M.I. (1938- ) is a Sri Lankan Tamil. He was born in Talawakelle Kandy District and received his early education in Kandy, Jaffna, and Colombo. Priestly studies were at the National Seminary, Kandy. He was associate and pastor in the South Colombo Diocese Bilingual Parishes. He has served on the formation team in Kandy, Bangalore (India), and Washington, D.C., and as associate in the Bronx and Miami. He is now part of the formation team at The Oblate House of Theology, Chicago, Illinois. My thanks to Fr. Singarayar for this contribution, especially for insisting that Michael Rodrigo lived what he believed.
On the eve of November 10, 1987, Fr. Michael Rodrigo had come to the last part of the Eucharist when he heard a noise behind him. He turned, received the bullet of an assassin in his face, and his blood flowed into the chalice on the altar.
Michael Rodrigo was born on June 30, 1927, in Sri Lanka. His father came from a Buddhist family. He did his early studies at St. Peter’s College, Colombo. He did his priestly studies at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1948-1955, earning his first doctorate: “The Enlightenment of the Buddha” (1959).
His first assignment was in 1955 to the staff of the newly begun National Seminary of Sri Lanka in Kandy, under the rectorship of Fr. Fred Sackett, O.M.I., from Texas. He taught Liturgy and Comparative Religion. On weekends he went to the parishes and conducted seminars on Liturgy, thus living with the people and living what he taught.
From 1971-1973, he did his second doctorate in Major Religions. The title was “The Moral Passover from Self to Selflessness in Christianity and the Living Faiths of Asia” (Institute Catholique de Paris, 1973). From 1973-1975, he was at the Centre for Society and Religion, working with Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, O.M.I.
In 1975, Bishop Leo Nanayakara, of the newly formed Diocese of Badulla, invited Fr. Michael Rodrigo to take charge of his new seminary. The seminarians lived with the poor people in the villages and received their formation and classes in Philosophy and Theology. Thus, Fr. Rodrigo was a pioneer in challenging the traditional seminary formation. It was here that he heard the “Cry of The Poor.” In 1980, he took up residence at his new mission in Buttala, a strong Buddhist area, where the people were poor and neglected. He formed a small group of two religious sisters and lay people and worked for the spiritual and social betterment of the poor. In 1987, he gave a talk at the University of California at Berkeley on village dialogue and life, which reflected his work in Buttala. He called it “Christianity Living for Buddhism at the Village Level.”
Near the end of his life, he received threats and began to discern the Will of God for himself. On that fateful November day, towards the end of the Eucharist, he was discerning with his little group about the continuation of his ministry. It was then that he heard the noise behind him. Thus, he died a martyr, laying down his life at the altar.
December 7, 2011 – AsiaNews interviewed a young Catholic professor, Meemana Anton, for the 24th anniversary of Fr. Rodrigo’s assassination. The article may be read in Oblate Communications, 11/23/2011.
January 4, 2013 – Oblate Communications, 12/28/12, “25 Years Ago: Assassination of Fr. Michael Rodrigo, O.M.I.” gives more information about his legacy, especially in social justice and interreligious dialogue with Buddhists.
May, 2019 – Sri Lankan Oblates have published three beautiful issues of a journal dedicated to Rodrigo: Samvada, Sri Lankan Catholic Journal on Interreligious Dialogue, Nov. 2012; Nov. 2013, and Nov. 2014/14. They may be viewed on our Mission-Unity-Dialogue website: www.harrywinter.org, Dialogue/Islam page.
Mission Committee: In 2019, the five provincials of the region
established themselves as the committee.
Léo Deschâtelets (1899-1974),
Joseph É. Champagne (1905-1969) and the
Institute of Mission Studies, St. Paul University,
Ottawa, Canada (1948-2015 )
by Harry Winter
When Ronan Hoffman, OFM Conv., wrote his article “Missiology” for the 1967 edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia, he alerted his readers: “P. Deschatelet (sic), O.M.I., began teaching missiology in Ottawa in 1932, and he organized the first Semaine d’études missionaries du Canada in 1934. He was succeeded by J. Champagne, O.M.I., who became the first director of the Institute of Missiology at the University of Ottawa in 1948.”1
These two Oblate pioneer missiologists exercised an influence far beyond Canada. Fr. Deschâtelets, who served as superior general of the Oblates during the peak and decline of numbers (1947-72) was the animator of Mission. Fr. Champagne was the one who strengthened Deschâtelets’ vision by putting bricks and mortar around it, establishing the Institute of Mission Studies in 1948.
One of Léo Deschâtelets’ great gifts was his enthusiastic animation. He was the eighth and last superior general elected for life. Although ill health, particularly heart problems and deafness, forced him to resign on May 5, 1972, the twenty-five years he served as superior general was the third longest term of the eight. During those twenty-five years, his animation influenced first the Oblates of French Canada, then the entire congregation, and finally the whole Church through his role in various Rome-based organizations, and at the Second Vatican Council.
Léo Deschâtelets was born in Montréal, Canada, on March 8, 1899, and, although he was trained by the Christian Brothers and the Sulpicians, the example of an Oblate Arctic missionary, his great uncle Zepherinus Gascon (1826-1914), influenced him to join the Oblates.2
Oblate historian, Gaston Carrière, writing in 1969, stated, “He was certainly one of the first professors of this discipline (missiology) in Canada.” Hoffman noted above the importance of the first Week of Missionary Studies, organized by Fr. Deschâtelets in Ottawa in 1934. Carrière adds Deschâtelets’ role in “the 1936 Québec Week, this giving a great impulse to the study of missionary sciences in Canada.”3 In 1937, he was named undersecretary of the Missionary Union of Clergy and spent over a year in Rome, also serving as a director in the Oblate International Scholasticate. He saw at first hand the various cultures as the seminarians from many Oblate missions lived together. He attended the 1938 General Chapter as delegate from Keewatin, Canada.
Fr. Deschâtelets was named superior of St. Joseph Scholasticate, Ottawa, on November 20, 1938, serving in that capacity until November 21, 1944, when he was named provincial of the Eastern Canadian Province, which was the largest Oblate jurisdiction at that time, covering French-speaking eastern Canada and numbering over 800 Oblates, with another 100 in the mission of Lesotho, South Africa. His six years as superior of the scholasticate were years of joy, enthusiasm and openness for the faculty, students and himself. One tragedy did darken it, and followed Fr. Deschâtelets the rest of his life: during a summer excursion on July 7, 1942, at Perkins, Québec, two of the newly ordained priests and four of the seminarians were drowned when a sudden storm overtook their canoe.
An Oblate of international stature, Cardinal Jean-Marie Rodrigue Villeneuve, O.M.I., had taken the young Deschâtelets under his wing and assigned him as professor at St. Joseph’s Scholasticate in 1926 even before he completed his studies. Yet Fr. Carrière notes that Fr. Deschâtelets’ respect for Cardinal Villeneuve did not prevent him from changing Villeneuve’s policies when Deschâtelets took over Villeneuve’s position as superior of the scholasticate (Carrière, 1969, 90; see Tourigny 1976, 23, 41).
On May 2, 1947, on the second ballot of the election, the 48-year-old Canadian provincial was elected superior general. His long-term secretary, Fr. Tourigny, describes the critical stage in the Oblates’ growth. The death of the previous general, Theodore Labouré, had occurred on February 28, 1944; the vicar general, because of the war and its aftermath, had been unable to convoke a general chapter until the spring of 1947 (Tourigny, 1976, 49-51).
The new general began to share his vision both by many writings4 and frequent visits5 to the world-wide congregation. After the isolation cause by World War II, the new general’s spirited animation helped push the congregation to its peak of 7,628 members on January 1, 1966. By the time of his resignation in 1972, it had declined to 7010.6 Already, at the 1947 Chapter, “defections” were a problem (Tourigny 1976, 79). But the large exodus in the 1960s particularly anguished the very sensitive general.
As a student at the International Scholasticate in the early 1960s (when it occupied one wing of the general house), I remember in particular glimpsing departing Michael Wolfe, O.M.I., one of the first Oblates to work in Greenland. He was hoping that the general, because of the need for Catholic clergy in Greenland, would lobby for a married priesthood there, to include Wolfe. It was a particularly tense time when we were given to understand that the general could not support such a request, and Wolfe departed from the Oblates.
Yet in his leadership, Fr. Deschâtelets had continually stressed the spirit over the law (Carrière 1969, 94). When he opposed a married missionary clergy as full Oblates, it was not due to a rigidity caused by his many years of administration. It was rather due to a sincere and prayerful belief that such experiments were neither in the mind of the Founder of the Oblates, nor, in the 1960s, beneficial to the Mission of the Church.
A brief overview of Fr. Deschâtelets’ work in various Vatican organizations, from the Union of Superiors General to SEDOS (Servizio di Documentazione e Studi), with a short sketch of Vatican II, is given by Fr. Michael O’Reilly, O.M.I., in the issue of Études Oblates devoted to Deschâtelets’ 50th Anniversary of Priesthood. The student of Deschâtelets’ impact should consult these articles.7
As one of the several superiors general of religious communities named full members of the Second Vatican Council, he was probably the most widely traveled missionary at the Council.8 And he related to a group of Oblates that, when the Council was being prepared, religious order priests had no voice in its preparation (in contrast to diocesan priests, who were being consulted). As a member of the Union of Superiors General, Fr. Deschâtelets was requested to raise this issue with the appropriate cardinal. He was told by a dumbfounded cardinal: “We missed this, thank you for bringing it to our attention.”9
Probably the most famous of Fr. Deschâtelets’ writings is the August 15, 1951, 95-page circular letter (#191) Our Vocation and Our Life of Intimate Union with Mary Immaculate. It bore the instruction that it “is to be read in each Community as soon as possible after its reception. It will also be read during each annual retreat until the meeting of the General Chapter in 1953.”
The first half of this letter treats the eight crucial elements of Oblate spirituality. The third of these is “missionary,” and the author treats it as a challenge, admitting the tension between a certain monastic stability, and missionary flexibility (pp. 23-25). He then returns to the theme with Pius XI’s expression for the Oblates during the papal audience of the 1938 General Chapter, “Specialists in difficult missions” (p. 28; see also pp. 52-53 for the “most abject and miserable”).
In the second half, Fr. Deschâtelets explains “Why and how we should live our Oblate life in intimate union with Mary Immaculate” (pp. 53-92). Before he became very concrete about the methods (specific prayers to Mary, Marian shrines, etc.), he wrote these paragraphs, which could summarize the missionary concern of the entire circular letter:
Dear Fathers and Brothers, as Missionaries, we are the special apostles, the specialists of divine mercy. But, we shall never properly understand this specialization unless we keep in mind the remarkable way in which we belong to Mary Immaculate. Only thus shall we gradually develop the most characteristic trait of the Oblate, a whole-hearted and heartfelt sympathy for the souls who are most wretched of all. The purity learned and practiced in the school of Mary Immaculate will urge us to the conquest of the souls who are most neglected and contaminated by sin. The contemplation of the Immaculate one will fill our hearts with an apostolic and ceaseless desire to bring men to a true appreciation of the merciful God who wishes to receive the repentant sinner (p. 77).
Let us never forget that one of our principal obligations is to be apostles of Mary among the souls entrusted to our care; let us always remember that it is the poor who have most need of their merciful, heavenly Mother. It would be shameful if, in this matter as well as in others, we fail to follow the mind of our Founder. It was for the poor that he established the Congregation, and throughout his life his preference was for the ministry among the most abandoned (p. 84).10
Considering the way in which the Oblates of Fr. Deschâtelets’ time absorbed this document, the words of one of those strongly influenced by him, the former Oblate and now Executive Director of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights, are very relevant. In an unpublished article examining the way Roman Catholics and Protestant missionaries worked among the Sotho people in Lesotho, South Africa, Dr. Paul Martin observes, “Catholic proselytization focused on women.” He notes that the introduction of nuns “to educate girls and work with Sotho widows and estranged wives” resulted in some of the girls choosing to “become nuns and by 1877 there were six African sisters and eleven Europeans. The Catholics were able to offer an alternative life-style to Sotho women which the Protestants could not. They were thus able to attract Sotho women unhappy with their traditional situation”.11
It is interesting to note the role Mary plays in tempering the temptation to male chauvinism inherent in religious orders of men. And perhaps it is significant that one of those who absorbed Deschâtelets’ circular during his seminary studies noticed that impact on Sotho women.
Joseph Étienne Champagne
Already during his seminary days, Joseph Champagne specialized in Mission studies and dreamt of the best way to form missionaries.12 Ordained at Ottawa in 1932, he was sent to Rome for doctoral studies; his thesis in missiology was awarded with honors in 1938, and the principle elements were published in French in 1949 as Les Missions catholiques dans l’Ouest canadian.13
Although a chair of missiology had been established at the University of Ottawa in 1930, it was not easy to convince the administration that an institute of missiology could survive. Fr. Champagne began his formal request in 1945. He “used all the powers of persuasion at his disposal, not the least of which was that of Very Reverend Léo Deschâtelets, elected general in 1947,” (Gauthier 1969, 56). Note that both had been in Rome in 1937; both were at St. Joseph Scholasticate from 1938-44.
Fr. Gauthier, in his analysis of Fr. Champagne’s statutes for the Institute, observes how they anticipated Vatican II’s Decree on the Missions Ad Gentes (1969, 57). And his one book which was translated into English, Manual of Missionary Action, 14 drew Marcello Zago, O.M.I.’s, attention for the way it anticipated Vatican II.15
By 1954, Chinese and Vietnamese students had joined the American and European students in Ottawa (Gauthier, 1969, 58). Fr. Champagne had begun by influencing Oblate students at St. Joseph’s Scholasticate; now he was animating missionaries from many congregations around the world.
It was evident to the Oblate that any missionary needs to be aware of anthropology and sociology. This concern took concrete form on December 8, 1952, when he convoked a meeting which led to the establishment of the Centre de Recherches d’Anthropologie Amérindienne. Its subsequent development is described by Jean Trudeau, O.M.I., who succeeded Fr. Champagne as director of both the Institute of Mission Studies and Canadian Center for Anthropological Research.16
When Fr. Champagne died on March 19, 1969, on the feast of his patron, St. Joseph, also the patron saint of the universal Church, several of the remembrances paid attention to his suffering. It seems that he did not enjoy strong physical health; the way he offered those sufferings struck many. And the friction which he occasionally encountered between some missionaries and some missiologists added to that suffering.17
Institute of Mission Studies, (1948-2015)
During the meeting of the Heads of the Seven Oblate Universities and Theological Centers, July 21-25, 1997, at St. Paul’s University, an important luncheon occurred. Arranged by Fr. William Morell, O.M.I., president of Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas, the luncheon meeting took place on Wednesday, July 23, and included Frs. Dale Schlitt, O.M.I., Rector of St. Paul’s University; Eugene Lapointe, O.M.I., Director of the Institute of Mission Studies; Richard Coté, O.M.I., professor at the Institute; and myself, representing the Oblate Center for Mission Studies, Washington, D.C. The purpose of the meeting, as explained by Fr. Morell, was to promote coordination between the three Oblate institutions in Ottawa, San Antonio, and Washington, as regards missiology.
Oblate School of Theology plans to develop a Doctorate of Ministry with a concentration in Mission Studies, as a pastoral degree. We discussed how the proposed Ph.D. in Mission Studies by St. Paul’s would be an academic degree, and the only Catholic degree of this kind in North America. Plans were also made for expanding Mission, (the journal of the Institute) especially in Spanish.18
The Institute of Mission Studies has always been considered the jewel of the Oblate Congregation’s missiology efforts. Those who earned their Master of Arts in Mission Studies earned a valued degree. And the Institute has always been ready to help other Oblate and even non-Oblate institutions develop missiology programs.
When the Oblates in Washington, D.C., began to specialize in the ecumenical dimension of missiology, the then-director of the Institute sent the first thesis from Ottawa in this area as a gift to Oblate College, Washington, D.C.19 As its Mission Statement affirms below, fruitful contacts “with other Missionary Centres” have always been a goal.
The Institute of Mission Studies sees its task in the light of the missio Dei, the ongoing movement of the Father’s sending of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, of God’s history and dealings with a world of many cultures.
Founded in 1948 by Joseph É. Champagne, O.M.I., the Institute, under the aegis of St. Paul University, seeks to promote Mission and Evangelization as constitutive dimensions of the Church, and attempts to draw out and foster the full implications of this vision.
Aware that it is the mission of Christ that creates the Church, and ever conscious of the imperative to reach out to those who have not heard the Gospel or who have not really been evangelized, the Institute of Mission Studies has a dual focus around which it structures its activities and resources: the transcultural dimension and the intracultural dimension, that is, the missio ad extra and the missio ad intra.
Within this dynamic perspective, the Institute offers degree programs, courses, seminars, and ongoing training to anyone (laity and clergy alike) who wishes to meet or deepen the challenge of their missionary vocation. It seeks to make its resources especially available to the local Churches – at home or abroad – that wish to enhance their Mission efforts and programs.
The Institute commits itself to ongoing research in the field of mission studies, seeking to draw upon the best available resources and establishing fruitful contacts with other Missionary Centres and International Institutions.
Since the nature and scope of its Mission objective are so closely tied into the human, social and cultural patterns of peoples, the Institute embraces a decidedly interdisciplinary approach. It also seeks to promote genuine dialogue with other world, traditional, and folk religions, not only with a view to understanding them better but also for the purpose of mutual growth and enrichment.
The Institute attends its every endeavor with a spirit that seeks to foster hospitality, open discussion, teamwork, and the personal witness to one’s faith.20
Programs and activities include a one-year certificate in Mission Studies, and a two-year Master of Arts Degree in Missiology. Intensive study sessions of one or two weeks, consisting of 20-40 hours of courses followed by a workshop, are also offered. The fact that these activities are presented in both French and English has been the hallmark of the Institute, enabling a unique cross-cultural transfer to take place.
The journal Kerygma, which Fr. Champagne established in 1967 (renamed Mission in 1994), has also established its reputation as both scholarly and pastoral, both in French and English. Volume fifteen reminded its readers of the initial goal to become a communication medium among missionaries on the one hand, and “between the missionaries and the Institute of Missiology on the other.”21 Mission of course has specialized in the anthropology and missiology of the Native American peoples, both Indian (Dene) and Eskimo (Inuit). A valuable bibliography was furnished in the 1987 issue: “Twenty Years of Reflexion on the Church and Canada’s Native Peoples: Index” (21:245-51).
However, European developments were also included. One of the valued non-Oblate collaborators, Armand Garon, W.F., had his doctorate Hendrik Kraemer and the Mission to Islam, featured in the 1979 volume.22 And developments in the U.S.A., such as the effort of the Paulists to establish a national program for “drop-out Catholics,” were examined by Claude Champagne: “La nouvelle Evangelisation: la reponse des Paulistes (U.S.A.),” (2, 1995, #2, 221-52). Oblate missiologist Marcello Zago writes frequently in French, beginning with “La missiologie, sert-elle à quelque chose pour les missions?” 3 (1969) 65-74.
Of course, much time has been spent in adapting the Institute to modern developments in missiology. Initially, there was a long effort to examine its relation to Ottawa University itself (Gauthier 1969, 57). The most recent revision in the M.A. program was done in 1994 and “reflects the most contemporary research in mission” (Calendar, 1996-98, MIS 7).
Finally, one should not forget the evaluation service for missionaries, which gives both prospective missionaries and experienced missionaries an opportunity to “personally discover his/her strengths and limitations, with the help of a committee of experts that evaluates the pros and cons of his/her missionary plans”.23
The missionary thrust of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate began in Marseilles, France, with many decisions made by the Founder, St. Eugène de Mazenod, and his companions. With other Europeans, such as Frs. Perbal, Streit, Dindinger, Rommerskirchen, Seumois, Zago, etc., the Oblates’ contribution to the science of missiology took root and flourished.
Frs. Champagne and Deschâtelets represent the crossing of this European contribution to French Canada. In areas as widely diverse as the Arctic and Lesotho,24 the missionary thrust and the missiological contribution from Europe were now receiving an introduction to the New World. The Institute of Mission Studies at Ottawa, with its sturdy emphasis on both languages, French and English, makes an important and significant contribution to the broadening of missiology. And aided by many collaborators in French Canada, Champagne and Deschâtelets strengthened Roman Catholic missiology world-wide.
Editor’s Note: The three following paragraphs were sent by Robert Dixon, the Secretary General of St. Paul’s University, to Frank Morrisey, O.M.I., on Monday, August 13, 2018, and forwarded to me the same day. My thanks to both for this information.
“With a drop off in the number of students in the programs, the University had no choice but to abolish certain programs. A review of the statistics indicates that there was only one student registered in each of these programs in these semesters: M.A. in Mission Studies/M.A. en sciences de la mission–winter 2007; M.A. en sciences de la mission and dialogue interreligieux–spring/summer 2009; and, the M.A. in Mission Studies and Interreligious Dialogue–January 2010. At the Senate meeting of August 23, 2013, these previously mentioned programs were closed.
Concerning the Certificate of Interreligious Dialogue/Dialogue interreligieux, the last students were registered in 2012 and 2011 respectively, and the programs were closed in the Senate decision of August 23, 2013. In the academic year 2013-14, there was a Certificate in Mission/Studies/Certificat en sciences de la mission offered; however, due to a lack of students, the certificate program was closed in November, 2013.
By September 2012, the professors affiliated with the Institute for Mission Studies were absorbed into the existing Faculties of the University.”
Cavalry of Christ on the Rio Grande
by Bernard Doyon, O.M.I.
Editor’s Note: When Oblates learn about our ministry in Texas and Mexico, two expressions quickly come to mind. The first is the “Cavalry of Christ on the Rio Grande,” and the photo which accompanies it (see following page).
The second is the painful cry from the heart of Bishop de Mazenod: “Oh cruel mission of Texas,” as yellow fever and shipwreck cost him the lives of some of his best missionaries. Fortunately for Oblates and all evangelizers, Fr. Bernard Doyon, O.M.I. (1923-1997), longtime professor of church history at our seminary in San Antonio, Texas, documented the two expressions and the evangelization of the Rio Grande Valley (both in Texas and Mexico): The Cavalry of Christ on the Rio Grande.1
When I wrote Fr. Doyon asking him to contribute this section (September 17, 1996), he quickly replied (September 25, 1996), explaining that he didn’t have “the energy and health to prepare something new,” but offering the two following articles in their whole, and suggesting that from the third, “a few lines could complete the first 2 articles.”
To write well the history of our Missions is a crucial element in missiology. I am very grateful to Fr. Doyon for sharing these articles with us.
“The Cavalry of Christ” in Texas.
Oblates of Mary Immaculate
who spend their days in the saddle
tending the scattered Catholics in the vast mission fields.
Frontispiece, The Cavalry of Christ on the Rio Grande, 1849-83,
by Bernard Doyon, O.M.I., Milwaukee, Catholic Life Publications, 1956.
A poster was made and distributed; supplies are now exhausted.
A post-card is available at the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Austin, Texas.
- Saint Eugène de Mazenod: The Texas Connection (1849-61)2
What did the Bishop of Marseilles know about the new State of Texas and the Mexican border? He has no pictorial description: photography was still in its infancy. The National Geographic was not on his reading list. His information came from letters and later personal contact with Bishop Jean-Marie Odin, C.M., of Galveston. He stored the information more in his heart than in his mind.
Yet, he was not ignorant of world geography. His Oblates had gone to Montréal in 1841, and by 1849 had almost reached the Arctic. Moreover, he had traveled quite a bit while in exile. The first connection with Texas was not to his liking. He was clearly upset by the bold initiative that brought Fr. Pierre Telmon and companions to Brownsville on December 5, 1849. Bishop Odin had obviously done a good selling job in Montréal, and Telmon assumed he had permission of the Founder. It is a moot question whether Telmon’s daring was part of the Oblate charism. The fact is that de Mazenod did not hear officially about the Brownsville initiative until May 10, 1850, in a letter full of praise written two months earlier by Odin. Too late. Already in November, 1849, Saint Eugène had written in his journal with a bit of reproach: “…and here is Fr. Telmon who takes upon himself the mission of Texas, using faculties I had given him while he was in Pitsburg (sic) and takes two men of his own choice.” The Founder also wrote to a friend, January 14, 1850: “As for the subject of Texas, I cannot explain the reserve of Fr. Gaudet (he and Fr. Alexandre Soulerin, with a scholastic and a brother were Telmon’s companions), as if all the members of the Congregation were not obliged to communicate to me all they know to be advantageous or useful to our family…”
Moreover, he heard from other sources that life was very hard in Brownsville. Fr. Gaudet, who had remained in Galveston with the Bishop, admitted that he suffered from loneliness. He felt that his work at the Cathedral was definitely above his capacities, since he knew little English. Fr. Soulerin left Brownsville, November 11, 1850, and Telmon sailed from Port Isabel, January 22, 1851. Scholastic Gelot and Brother Menthe left the Congregation.
What should we conclude? The truth is that Saint Eugène was never officially contacted. It was not a mere “peeve” on his part, as if his authority had been flaunted. I like to think that he trusted his men. Rather, the recall was due to the irregular character of the undertaking and, I suspect, to the conflictive character of Telmon. Therefore, the first connection of Saint Eugène was tenuous, but it was a beginning and in God’s plan served a definite purpose.
If Fr. Telmon had shown daring in coming to Texas, two years later the Founder himself made an equally daring decision to return. They were both moved by the same impresario: Bishop Odin, a Vincentian missionary.
By then, Saint Eugène knew quite a bit more about the developing Southwest and obviously was impressed by Odin’s appeal. They both spoke the same language (I do not mean French): there was a crying need for “missionaries” in the full sense of the word.
The decision was not a half measure. The contract, signed on November 14, 1851, stipulated there would be three Oblate priests for the city of Galveston and three for Brownsville. For good measure, the Founder added an Oblate brother. At that time the Oblate congregation could not yet boast of 200 members! The connection with Texas will never be severed.
Yet the first years were most trying, especially in Galveston, and would lead to a dis-connection there, to the point where Galveston has been almost forgotten. We find more correspondence from the hand of the Founder about this unhappy venture than about the Brownsville establishment and its famed “Cavalry of Christ.”
De Mazenod had agreed to “take charge of running a college” in either city for the education of young men and of teaching the seminarians of the diocese. It turned out to be an impossible task – feasible only 50 years later with the foundation of St. Anthony’s Seminary in San Antonio.
The seven Oblates left Le Havre in March, 1852, and reached Galveston on May 14 after 52 days at sea. In all, there were 38 diocesan priests, seminarians and sisters. Bishop Odin insisted that Oblate Jean-Maurice Verdet be the superior of the caravan. Saint Eugène wrote to him: “…It is time that you come out of your shell. The field that is opened to you gives very great promise.”
All the Oblates stayed in Galveston for a while “to be initiated”, and only by October did three of them continue on to the Mexican border. The founder at first considered the Galveston establishment more important, because he deemed the education of the clergy a primary aim of missionary apostolate. But the seminary-college existed only on paper or in the dreams of Bishop Odin. Yet de Mazenod continued to hope and encourage his troops. He successfully requested money from the Lyons Society for the Propagation of the Faith (I myself found these letters in their archives). He sent Jean-Marie Baudrand from Canada to supervise the construction. Baudrand died of the plague within a few months.
The so-called college opened its doors, January 1, 1855. Other Oblates from the North came to the rescue: Baudre, Naghten, James McGrath (in 1883 he became the first Provincial of the American Province), Brothers Cooney and Bodard. Bishop Odin, meaning well, interfered in the running of the school, which greatly upset the Oblates. Again, the Founder continued to support his men. But by the summer of 1857 he finally accepted the reality that his Oblates were in a false position and did not belong there. They had been promised too much and could not cope. The Founder reasoned that they could better serve as “missionaries” elsewhere. At least they could leave with the satisfaction that they had planted a seed for others to cultivate.
Meanwhile, St. Eugène had nothing but praise for the missionary work done in Brownsville since October, 1852, after an absence of 18 months. There was, of course, the outreach to other settlements by the “Cavalry of Christ.” The corner stone of Immaculate Conception Cathedral had been laid, July 6, 1856. Fr. Pedro Keralum had also designed and supervised the building of a church in Roma. The Oblates were willing and ready to turn it over to the diocesan clergy.
During this period, until his death in 1861, I sensed three very strong feelings in St. Eugène’s heart: Joy, Pain, Hope.
Hardly do we ever mention that our first Oblates in Texas did attract vocations to the community. Two diocesan priests who had come with the group in 1852 joined us and pronounced vows: Bartholemew Duperray and Paul H. de Lustrac. They both died of yellow fever in Brownsville, the first in 1855, the other in 1858. Another recruit, Brother Jose Maria Garcia, died the same year during his novitiate.
After leaving Galveston, there were eight Oblate priests in Brownsville. That is why two of them were able to help out in San Antonio in 1857 and remained there seven months. I gather that this encouraged the Founder’s vision to seek an establishment in Mexico. He also bolstered the decimated personnel with the addition of two more priests in 1859 and three more in 1861. He gladly invested in Texas at a great cost of personnel. He had no problem with what others could have considered only parochial ministry. Because of the outreach to the many small settlements in the Valley and in Mexico, our work there was true evangelization and he referred to it as “a continual mission”, as he and the first Oblates had done in Provence.
Why the Pain?
After the death of the Founder, there will be many more deaths caused by yellow fever. By 1862, one third of our rather young group had already succumbed due to unsanitary conditions. We only mention here two incidents when Saint Eugène’s heart truly bled in lines that should be remembered and cherished. The first is about Fr. Verdet, the very capable area superior, who disappeared in a ship wreck between Brownsville and New Orleans. When he heard of the catastrophe, Eugène wrote: “What an irreparable loss! He was so good and he will be so mourned. Divine Providence puts our resignation to severe proofs. In the future I shall always tremble when I know you are at sea.”
Upon receiving the news of more victims of yellow fever, he exclaimed: “What a thunderbolt, my dear children! I am not used to that kind of calamity, and never get used to it…oh cruel mission of Texas, how you wound my poor soul! Here is the fifth victim that you have swallowed. Who will be the next one? Reassure me immediately; hours are like days to my soul and days like weeks.”
Although the purpose of this reflection is to underline the role of Saint Eugène in the mission of Texas, the historian would miss his true focus about the Oblates and their Founder, were he to picture them outside this other dimension: the obvious and often repeated desire of Eugène to see them work in Mexico. It was an almost incomprehensible attraction, now vaguely called by some “supernatural instinct.” Even before the second group of Oblates set sail from France in 1852, he wrote to future superior Verdet to be on the ready to extend into Mexico. This is one daring move after another.
The Oblates who remained in Brownsville in late 1852 frequently, almost constantly, helped out in the twin-city of Matamoros. With more personnel available in 1857 after the Galveston fiasco, the Oblates could report glowingly about their errands of mercy into Mexico. It touched the heart of the Founder, and he said so.
In the correspondence around 1858, we read words like listening post, foothold, beachhead, stepping stone, spiritual invasion. The Founder gave the local superior carte blanche to assign as many as four men to Mexico. During his lifetime there will be only one official foundation, that of Ciudad Victoria, 200 miles south of Brownsville and the capital of the state of Tamaulipas. Within a year, the Oblates were expelled by anti-religious laws. But they always ministered across the border, mostly preaching traditional parish missions. Between 1858 and 1866 they reported performing 7,000 baptisms and 2,000 marriages.
Mexican bishops took notice, and offers of permanent establishments came from San Luis Potosi (seminary), Monterrey and Tampico. Nothing came out of it due to the chronically unsettled political situation and laws against religious communities.
In Marseilles, Saint Eugène remained well-satisfied at the prospect of doing something tangible for Mexico. Never had he sent his missionaries abroad with so little official red tape and so much trust in Providence. Mexico had completely won his heart. The thought of it continued to inspire and sustain his Oblates in the Rio Grande Valley.
When Saint Eugène de Mazenod died in 1861, the Texas Oblates felt like orphans, losing a father and a genuine friend. He remains present in our midst, listening to the prayers of the Oblates of Mexico City in favor of a cancer-ridden and death-bound parishioner.3 With the canonization of Saint Eugène we celebrate his continued and lasting connection with Texas and Mexico.
- “Daring” in Our History4
We are all familiar with the proverbial and vibrant line of Saint Eugène in the Preface: “We must spare no effort…leave nothing undared.” (Nihil linquendem inausum.) Hence, daring. Daring…to do what?
Of course, the Founder speaks of evangelizing the poor (our motto). In the U.S. region, and especially in our province, we have even more clearly defined our course and discerned our first priority: ministry to minorities, especially the Hispanic minority.
How did we get there? The Congress of 1979 saw a trend in our history of ministering to the poorest and strongly affirmed that it should be continued. Until recently, the typical Oblate did not need corporate reflection, a discerning process, or a congress to involve himself in the work of evangelizing the poor: he knew he was a missionary, he was available, he was sent. After he “received an obedience”, he generally let circumstances or his personality dictate the style of his efforts.
I have been asked to single out some daring decisions in our past, bold moves that have affected our course. If on occasions the decision was the result of expediency or seemed self-serving, Divine Providence found a way to redirect us to our priority.
The Best Example
In 1852, the Founder himself sent six priests and one brother to Galveston and Brownsville.
At the time, there were fewer than 200 Oblates in the whole world. It was a gamble! What did he know about Texas and the Rio Grande area? Only the picture that Bishop Odin of Texas painted of the priestless and abandoned flock on the Mexican border.
In his mind, he also considered this foundation as a “stepping-stone” to Mexico and Latin America. Let us keep that in mind. He also thought of our parish work and visits to the ranchos as a “perpetual mission.”
In 1883, after a period of painful hesitation and almost of discouragement, we arrived at two momentous decisions: First, what could be called the Lowell-San Antonio connection, meaning the erection of an American Province, with its head in the snows of New England and its feet in the hot waters of the Rio Grande. Second, our acceptance of a different ministry in a new locale: St. Mary’s Parish in San Antonio. It was the answer to an expressed need of fresh air and broader horizons. We were able to start diversifying our ministry and to receive new personnel from up North. But Bishop Neraz of San Antonio also insisted on his part of the bargain: that we accept the parish of Eagle Pass, and surrounding counties, thus remembering our original purpose. The change of scenery served as a booster to Oblate morale.
1901-1903 – The Oaxaca-San Antonio Connection
What business did we have starting the first theological seminary in Texas? It seemed a foolhardy project, foreign to our mission. Both the staff and student body had to be imported from Europe. Bishop Gillow of Oaxaca who invited the Oblates to his diocese also deeded to the Oblates that superb piece of property in Laurel Heights, San Antonio, with the stipulation that the future seminary to be built and staffed by Oblates should serve the education of priests who would work with the Mexican-Americans in Texas, and the education of his own seminarians (he never sent any).
Again, Providence arranged that we never forget our basic thrust in ministry: the poor, the minorities.
Shaking and Expanding
As the right-hand-man of the Provincial of Lowell, Fr. Henri Constantineau had an active role in these negotiations and constructions. He became our first provincial in 1904 and remained bursar until 1940. He was so talented and capable that today one would call him an entrepreneur. Under his leadership began an amazing expansion towards the North (Dallas, Brownwood, Mason, Brady, Stanton, etc.), eastward (Houston, New Orleans) and westward (New Mexico, California). He is the one who shook Texas out of its lethargy.
Constantineau tried to meet the need of diversification in ministries, and the other need of finding new works for Oblates who were not compatible or comfortable in the traditional Mexican-American culture.
The bishops who invited us had their own needs, and we tried to cooperate. But why did they invite the Oblates? They recognized in us a certain quality that perhaps we ourselves were unable to define at the time. In 1911, we were given Immaculate Conception Parish, Houston, in a supposedly more affluent Anglo-Italian part of town, provided (and the contract clearly stipulated it) we also assume the pastoral care of all the Spanish-speaking minority in the city of Houston and surrounding counties and that we accept the chaplaincies of all state penitentiaries in the diocese.
The same pattern obtained when we were invited to St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. Archbishop Shaw had known us in San Antonio and specifically expected us to work with minorities, this time French and Italian in the poorest section of town.
In north and west Texas, we were called to work with a Catholic minority engulfed in a predominantly Anglo-Protestant area. Again, our true Oblateness manifested itself when we realize there were more Mexican-Americans in that region than anyone had thought. Therefore, even when decisions were rather spontaneous and motives for accepting new work seemed self-serving, Providence wisely forced us to return to our priorities.
In writing history, it is easier to follow the map than to answer questions like “how and how well did we live up to our plans?” Were there new, imaginative approaches in reaching the needy? An interesting new approach was the Chapel Car around 1912 (appurtenances still shown at the Brownsville Historical Museum). The Oblates of Del Rio started a form of credit union or “burial society” to help the very poor, as early as 1908. Later, in the 1930s, Fr. Charles Taylor tried to organize farm workers in the Crystal City area. St. Anthony Seminary could be justly proud that it used its facilities during the summer to begin the “closed retreats” movement for men – before it developed into today’s renewal centers.
The Spain-Texas Connection
Here is an example of excellent use of our finances for the purpose of true evangelization. There was such a great need of Spanish-speaking missionaries in Texas that our province gladly made a deal in 1922 whereby we would financially support the junioriate of Urnieta and administer the two or three houses of Spain. Until 1931, the provincial of Texas was automatically the major superior of Spain. The Spanish recruits continued their theological studies at Castroville and San Antonio. Texas benefitted in terms of needed personnel for the missions. But another result of the Spanish connection, as it turned out, is that the Texas Province was asked and was able to start the very first Oblate mission in South America. We went first to Pilcomayo, Paraguay. Later personnel came from Germany, but the first superior was our own Fr. Joseph Rose, because he hailed from Germany and had learned perfect Spanish in Texas. Oblates formed and trained in Texas also went to Uruguay in 1929. The Spanish Connection must have seemed incongruous at first, but someone took a risk – and it worked.
Of course, the latest example of daring was the decision to commit our personnel and resources to a new mission in Zambia, Africa. As always, we were invited and even prodded by the General Administration, but the decision was the result of consultation.
My students used to tease me by asking: “What’s new in history”? If we ask new questions, we will find something new and hopefully stimulating.
III. The Response of the Oblates to the Founder’s Call to Evangelize
The third article sent by Fr. Doyon was presented to the Rome Oblate Congress “Evangelization and the Oblates” (August 29-September 14, 1982). It is available in Vie Oblate Life.5 Fr. Doyon was especially concerned to show how “ministries to minorities especially the Hispanics” (the first priority discerned by the U.S.A. Region in 1979) was a part of the Founder’s time, of the period following his death, and of the current Southern Province efforts. The description of the “new type of parish mission” (and other current experiences [VOL 42: 254-56] is especially important.
Another U.S.A. Oblate, Clarence Menard, presented a paper at the Congress stressing the time period 1842-83, first in the northeast U.S.A. (42: 257-64), then Oregon (264-67), and finally “Experiments in Education” (267-68).6 Both papers offer an interesting insight into missiology by U.S.A. Oblates in 1983.
Our webmaster, Rod Nelson, found an interesting photo on the Internet of three priests in front of the Cavalry of Christ. One Oblate from Texas joked that the one in the middle resembled President Theodore Roosevelt. Thanks to Oblate historian Bob Wright, O.M.I., we know that they are, from left to right, Fr. Constantineau, O.M.I. (first provincial of the former Southern Province), Fr. Ledvina (head of the Extension Society, future bishop of Corpus Christi) and Fr. Gourmelon, O.M.I. (novice master for the Southern Province). Both the photo above and this photo were taken in 1911, at the dedication of the first parish church in Mission, TX.
Robert (Bob) Wright, O.M.I. (1946- )
Editor’s Note: Bob Wright is professor of Church History at Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, TX.
Published Writings on Oblate Mission
“Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,” South Texas Catholic (Diocese of Corpus Christi), Special Edition, March 20, 1987.
“Oblate Missionary Presence in Parishes: Reflections on the Lived Experience of the U.S. Southern Province,” OCUS Journal (Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate), vol. 1 (1962): 40-44.
“Oblate School of Theology: A Rewarding 90-Year History.” SUSP Newsletter 8:10 (July-August 1993): 10, 20.
“Pioneer Religious Congregations of Men in Texas before 1900,” Journal of Texas Catholic History and Culture 5 (1994): 65-90.
Multi-page entries in The New Handbook of Texas. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996:
“Catholic Church,” 1:1026-1028.
“Catholic Congregations of Men,” 1:1028-30.
“Keralum, Perre Yves,” III:1074-1075.
“La Lomita Mission,” IV:37.
“Oblate School of Theology,” IV:1096-1097.
“San Augustin Church, Laredo,” V:791-792.
The Oblate Cavalry of Christ. Rome: O.M.I. General Postulation, 1998.
“150 Years of Oblate History.” SUSP Newsletter (San Antonio), June 1998, 10-11.
“Building Churches and Communities in 19th Century South Texas.” Heritage (Austin) 17:1 (Spring 1999): 16-20.
“Transient Clergy in the Trans-Pecos Area, 1848-1892.” Journal of Big Bend Studies 18 (2006): 7-45.
Republished, slightly edited, in Big Bend’s Ancient and Modern Past, edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Robert J. Mallouf, 238-75. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2013.
Multi-page entries in Historical Dictionary of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, vol. 2: The Oblates outside France at the Time of the Founder, edited by Yvon Beaudoin, O.M.I. Rome: Association for Oblate Studies and Research, 2010.
“Keralum, Pierre Ives.”
“The Virgin of San Juan del Valle: Shifting Perceptions in the Borderlands.” Catholic Southwest: A Journal of History and Culture 24 (2013): 3-29.
“Espejo de identidades cambiantes: la devocion a Nuestra Senora de San Juan en un valle fronterizo.” In Experiencia religiosa e identidades en America Latina, edited by Imelda Vega-Centeno, 105-129. San Jose, Costa Rica: DEI y CEHILA, 2013.
“Apostolic Community on the Texas-Mexico Border,” Oblatio 4, no. 3 (2015): 367-387.
Francis George (1937-2015)
by Harry Winter
Francis George, O.M.I., is best known today as the unexpected choice of the Vatican to become the eighth archbishop of Chicago, succeeding Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.1 But before his appointment to Chicago, he had established a solid reputation as an expert in inculturation, especially the way the Gospel and secular culture affect each other. Those who know him predict he will continue his academic interests, especially the interface of modern society and Christianity.
Francis George was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 16, 1937. He studied at St. Henry’s Preparatory Seminary, Belleville, Illinois, and made first vows in 1958. He spent his scholasticate at Pass Christian, Mississippi, and St. Joseph’s, Ottawa, Canada, and was ordained a priest in Chicago, on December 21, 1963. He was awarded the B.Th. in 1964, and the M.A. in Theology in 1971, both by the University of Ottawa.
Fr. George’s first obedience returned him to Pass Christian to teach philosophy (1964-67). After earning the M.A. in Philosophy at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., in 1965, he was awarded the Ph.D. by Tulane University, New Orleans, in 1970, serving as a teaching fellow there in 1968-69. He was then assigned to the Oblate House of Studies, Omaha, Nebraska, also teaching at Creighton University, eventually becoming Dean of Philosophy (1969-73).
As capitular at the 1972 General Chapter, Fr. George helped draft the very important missiological statement Missionary Outlook. Appointed provincial of the Central U.S. Province on May 30, 1973, and elected Vicar General of the Congregation at the 1974 Chapter, “in the General Council and in the Institute at large, he played an important role thanks to his sharp mind, his concern for justice and for the contemplative dimension of our apostolic life” (Oblate Information, Oct. 1990, p. 5).
After his second term of office, Fr. George obtained a Doctorate in Theology at the Urban University (Rome); his thesis was Inculturation and Ecclesial Communion (Rome: Urbanian U. Press, 1990). Three concrete examples (Jesuits in Eastern Canada, 1600s; Oblates in Western Canada, 1800s; Oblates in Greenland, 1900s) were excerpted and published in Kerygma 26 (1992) 153-64, “Ecclesiological Presuppositions in Inculturating the Faith.”
On returning to the U.S.A., Fr. George became Coordinator of the Circle of Fellows at the Cambridge Center for the Study of Faith and Culture, founded by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, Massachusetts. He had just been asked by his Province to head a service assuring the collaboration of Oblates and laity, and had agreed to become President of Oblate College Graduate School of Theology, Washington, D.C. within two years, when he was appointed fifth bishop of Yakima, Washington, on July 10, 1990.
As bishop of Yakima, he helped return the Oblate missionary activity to an area rich in Oblate history. When it was the diocese of Walla Walla in the 1800s, the famous Presbyterian missionary, Marcus Whitman, his wife, and 12 others were murdered there by the Indians. Oblates (who had arrived in 1847), such as Casimir Chirouse, Pascal Richard, and the famous Charles Pandosy, helped bury the victims and aid the survivors to regroup. Oblates thus assisted Christians in the Northwest in “providing the Church with its first martyrs.”2
After the Oblate missions were sacked (1855-58) and after some conflicts with the local bishop, we withdrew to British Columbia in 1878. When Bishop George arrived in 1990, the diocese of Yakima counted a total population of 404,000 with 51,311 Catholics (45% Hispanic). Only a few miles south of the episcopal see is the million-acre Yakima Indian Reservation.
Francis George was one of the seven Catholic participants who signed “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millenium.”3 This statement symbolizes an important development in recent missiology: the emergence of moderate evangelicals, who see the need to cooperate with Roman Catholics, especially charismatics. Some Roman Catholics remain suspicious of this development, as do many evangelicals. Catholic editor Richard John Neuhaus (assisted by Catholics George Weigel and Avery Dulles S.J.) and evangelical editor Charles Colson (assisted by evangelicals Mark A. Noll and J.I. Packer) thoroughly examine in their 1995 book both the statement and the controversy it has created.4 In a lecture at Oblate College, Washington, D.C., on March 14, 1996, Bishop George elaborated on the evangelization “convergence” which the document stresses. The group is ongoing, and Cardinal Edward Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, attended the September, 1996, and September, 1997, meetings in New York City.
On May 27, 1996, Francis George was installed as the ninth archbishop of Portland, Oregon. Although he was there only eleven months, two developments occurred which emphasize his place in challenging secular culture. The first is probably ongoing, that of physician assisted suicide; the second, the role of the state in the confidentiality of confession, may be less acute.
Assisted suicide was legalized in Oregon in 1994 by a 51-49% vote. A second vote scheduled for November 4, 1997, drew Archbishop George back to the University of Portland to continue addressing this issue. During a September 13 conference “Life Still at Risk, Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Supreme Court Rulings,” he outlined themes underpinning four major arguments against assisted suicide, and put the dispute in context: “The debate about physician-assisted suicide is not only about how we relate to those who are terminally ill. It is the very basis of our world view about what (are) fundamental assumptions regarding the meaning of human life.”5
The second matter, regarding the use of a tape-recording in prison of an inmate’s confession, had begun before the archbishop came to Portland. Although he did not speak in court, he effectively presented the right of confidentiality in confession.6
Both his wide travels to the Oblate missions as provincial and vicar general, and his research, have led Archbishop George to become one of our keenest voices regarding culture. He intrigued the participants in the March 14, 1996, lecture mentioned above when he asserted that Catholics from the U.S.A. are culturally Protestant. And his appointment in late May, 1997, by the Vatican, to serve as one of the two “special secretaries” for the Special Assembly for America of the Bishops’ Synod (Nov. 16 – Dec. 12, Rome) means that his strong background with evangelicals, particularly Hispanics, will be used during this meeting which will discuss the friction among Christians in Latin America, among other matters.
For this list, see the September, 1998, and May, 2011, hard copy and Internet editions of Oblate Missiologists, pp. 65-66, on website Mission-Unity-Dialogue (MUD), Oblate Missiologists page, www.harrywinter.org.
Research and Published Writings
For this list, see the September, 1998, and May, 2011, Internet editions of Oblate Missiologists, pp.66-68, as above.
On January 18, 1998, Archbishop George was named the eighth cardinal of Chicago (and the fourth Oblate cardinal in Oblate history). From November, 2007. to December, 2010, he served as president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. His sense of humor has endured. For example, during the November, 2008, meeting of the NCCB, following the election of Barack Obama as president of the USA, the bishops were busy drafting a letter to send to the president-elect, and each was urging inclusion of certain concerns. Cardinal George raised his hand and asked if he could interject “a moment of levity.” As the bishops listened, he observed: “When we are ordained bishops, we should be given a mop instead of a crozier.”
He continued his leadership with the Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue, supporting the eighth statement “The Manhattan Declaration.” For this, see the Archive page, MUD, as above.
Cardinal George died on April 17, 2015. He had just finished his last book A Godly Humanism.
On December 11, 2018, Shalom World created a 90-minute video on Cardinal George in its series “Glorious Lives.” This was distributed by e-mail to the USA Province by Charles Hurkes, O.M.I., August 10, 2019. It ran on the EWTN network shortly before.
The European Mission Committee is the oldest of the five regional committees. But currently there is none, due to difficulties from the provincials in having it meet.
Robert Streit (1875-1930)
Johannes Dindinger (1881-1958), and
Johannes Rommerskirchen (1899-1978)
Bibliographers in the Service of Mission
by Willi Henkel
The front-page editorial for the October, 1994, issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, “Can Historians Learn from History?” began, “A good many years ago the German missiologist Johannes Rommerskirchen, O.M.I., raised the question, ‘Can missionaries learn from history?’”. We Oblates are grateful to the editors for reminding us that our three bibliographers were more than academicians; they were also missiologists. And we are grateful for permission to reprint Willi Henkel’s article which first appeared in the January, 1982, issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (6, #1, pp. 16-21), in its series on leaders of the modern missionary movement, and then was updated in the Orbis publication (Maryknoll, N.Y., 1994) Mission Legacies, pp. 391-401.
Fr. Rommerskirchen’s article “From Archive to Action. Do Missionaries Learn from History?” appeared in Worldmission 7 (Spring, 1956, #1) 31-39 and is one of the very few works of his to be published in English. (I am very grateful to Fr. Jean-Léon Allie, O.M.I., [1909-1996], the legendary librarian at St. Paul’s University, Ottawa, for finding this article for me during my visit there, June 19, 1995).
Willi Henkel, O.M.I., has been especially helpful in obtaining for Oblate Center for Mission Studies the complete set of Bibliographia Missionaria (see below). My gratitude to him for this, and many other ways in which he has encouraged OCMS.
The June 19-21, 1998, annual meeting of the American Society of Missiology discussed the 26 most important reference tools for Missiology. Thanks to the efforts of Willi Henkel, Bibliographia Missionaria (see below) was one of these, and the presentation made at the meeting was later published: Harry E. Winter, O.M.I., “Bibliographia Missionaria: Thermometer of Missiology,” Missiology 27 (Jan. 1999, #1):35-39. This article is now available on the website Mission-Unity-Dialogue, Oblate Missiology page: www.harrywinter.org.
Fr. Henkel took over the editing work from Fr. Rommerskirchen in 1977, and edited Bibliographia Missionaria for over 20 years. He was succeeded by Fr. Marek Rostkowski, O.M.I..
Oblates who continued the work on Bibliotheca Missionum were Josef Metzler and Nicholas Kowalski. All of these four Oblates did much valuable, often unsung work for Missiology in various Vatican offices. For an appreciation of Metzler’s work, see Willi Henkel (ed), Ecclesiae Memoria. Miscellanea in onore RP Josef Metzler (Herder, 1991). A festschrift in honor of Henkel was edited by Marek Rostkowski, La Missione Senza Confini (Rome, Oblates of Mary, 2000).
The high point of Bibliographia Missionaria was the presentation of the 70th volume on December 6, 2007, to Pope Benedict XVI: see the website Mission-Unity-Dialogue (MUD), home page, “High Point.”
Unfortunately, the Pontifical University of the Propagation of the Faith decided in 2018 to discontinue the resource. See the MUD website, home page, “Grieving for an Oblate Accomplishment,” and “Sad News.” More on the Oblate Missiology page.
Willi Henkel, O.M.I, is a German Oblate and successor to Streit, Dindinger, and Rommerskirchen as Director of the Pontifical Missionary Library and Editor of the Bibliografia Missionaria.
For the Select Bibliographies of Streit, Dindinger and Rommerskirchen in the 1997 Oblate Missiologists book, see the hard copy, or the Internet one available on the website Mission-Unity-Dialogue, Oblate Missiologists page, pp. 41-44.
CORRECTION: Footnote #2 on page 89, should read #1. Could not be changed.
Robert Streit, O.M.I.
Roman Catholic missiology as such did not exist at the beginning of this century, and even the theological courses and textbooks then included very little material about the missionary expansion of the church. Robert Streit, along with Joseph Schmidlin, pioneered in Catholic missiology, and it was Streit in particular who initiated the development of missionary bibliography through the publication of Bibliotheca Missionum.
Early Life and Education
Streit was born October 27, 1875, in Fraustadt (Posen), Germany, and grew up in Stendal (Sachsen), a town of 20,000 inhabitants. His father, the president of the parish council, put special emphasis on the boy’s early training in singing and music. Robert enjoyed religious pilgrimages with his pious mother, but it was the parish priest who discovered his priestly and missionary vocation, making the first contacts on his behalf with the Mission Secondary School in Valkenburg, Netherlands. A medical doctor refused to declare the boy healthy enough to undertake studies there, but the necessary certificate was finally obtained from another doctor. The school, directed by the Oblates, had about 120 students at that time and maintained a high standard of studies and religious discipline. Streit enrolled in the fall of 1889, and the teachers soon recognized his intellectual capacity and diligence.
After completing undergraduate studies, Streit began his novitiate at St. Gerlach, Netherlands, on August 14, 1895, and completed it on August 15, 1896. He then enrolled for philosophical and theological studies in Liege, along with students from Belgium, France and Ireland. He stayed in Liege very briefly, however, before going to Hiinfeld in the fall of 1897, where the newly organized German Province of the Oblates was opening its own scholasticate. There, together with his fellow students, he helped in the construction of the new study center. Streit took final vows as a member of the Oblate order on August 15, 1897, and was ordained to the priesthood on April 28, 1901.
Streit’s Early Writings
While still a student, Streit had published some poems under the penname “Bruder Eris.” His talent in composition was such that J. Classen, editor of Maria Immaculata, the monthly review of the German Oblate Province, asked the provincial to assign Streit to collaborate in that publication. He became a member of the editorial team in February, 1902, and served as editor-in-chief from October, 1905, to September, 20, 1912.
Throughout those years, Streit collected rich materials from all the Oblate missions: Canada, with the Inuit and Indian missions, South Africa (Transvaal, Natal, Free State, South West Africa), and Ceylon. In many letters, he encouraged the missionaries to write about their work, and he himself wrote numerous articles on the missions. He also published the following books: Das Opfer der Hottentoten (Victim of the Hottentots), 1907; Der letzte Franziskaner von Texas (The Last Franciscan from Texas), 1907; Das Opfer: Historische Erzahlung aus dem Zulu land (The Victim: An Historical Account from Zululand), 1912; Die Portugiesen als Pfadfinder nach Ostindien (The Portuguese as Discoverers of East India), 1909; Madhu (a Marian Shrine in Ceylon), 1912.
During this period, the Hereros of South Africa rebelled against the German colonists. Streit’s interest in colonial matters was reflected in his writings and in the conferences he held. In the summer of 1912, for example, the Colonial Institute in Hamburg invited him to lecture on missions with particular reference to the German colonies.
Streit and the Development of Roman Catholic Missiology in Germany
His contacts with the missions enabled Streit to note the failure of Roman Catholic church historians to deal with missionary issues in more than a very limited and superficial way. Scholarly periodicals did not mention such issues, and Streit showed that the existing mission literature was quite disproportionately of a popular rather than scientific nature. He developed his thought on that subject in a series of articles published from 1907 to 1910 in various journals. The articles dealt with exegetical, patristic, historical, and contemporary issues related to Roman Catholic missions, and also with Protestant missiological literature. Catholics had largely ignored or even despised Protestant missions, ever since Count de Maistre had described the nineteenth-century Protestant missionary enterprise as fruitless. Gustav Warneck’s Protestantische Beleuchtung der romischen Angriffe auf die evangelische Heidenmission (Protestant View of Roman Attacks on Evangelical Missions) had provoked no reaction on the part of Roman Catholics. However, Streit’s articles deploring the lack pf scientific mission studies found a considerable echo in German academic circles, thus preparing the way for a Catholic missiology. The primary need, he reasoned, was to provide an extensive bibliography of mission materials that lay buried in various libraries.
Following his inclination, Streit began collecting bibliographical notes, beginning with an examination of bibliographies of the old orders — Franciscans, Augustinians, Carmelites, Jesuits. He also studied classical bibliographical works by such people as Golubovich, Garcia Icazbalceta, Beristain, and many others mentioned as sources in the later volumes of Bibliotheca Missionum.
The financial resources for such an undertaking had still to be found. In 1909, at the Katholikentag in Breslau, Fiirst zu Lowenstein gave a memorable speech on “German Catholics and Foreign Missions.” A mission committee was formed as a result, and a conference took place on January 22, 1910, in Berlin. Streit was invited to speak at that conference on the duties and tasks of theology with regard to the missions. He declared the necessity of introducing missiology into seminaries and universities as a part of the curriculum, and he made three concrete proposals: to deal with the missions in theological lectures and textbooks, to train missiologists, and to establish a chair of missiology at a university.
At the committee’s request, Streit wrote a subsequent memorandum, emphasizing the importance of bibliographies for mission studies (a need ultimately met by the publication of Bibliotheca Missionum), and proposing the publication of a missiological journal. Professor Joseph Schmidlin at the University of Münster, in a further memorandum on the scholarly means of promoting mission studies, suggested academic mission associations, lectures, and a missiological review. Both memoranda were submitted to all 19 German bishops, missionary societies, and professors in the Catholic theological faculties and seminaries.
The matter was again considered at the Katholikentag in Augsburg in 1910, where the committee decided to launch a missiological journal, to ask Streit to present a plan for missionary bibliography, and to put Schmidlin in charge of developing guidelines for the publication of archival materials. More mission associations, academic lectures, and seminars, comparable to those Schmidlin had already begun in Münster, were recommended. In 1911, the first Roman Catholic chair of missiology was established in the Catholic Theological Faculty at the University of Münster, with Schmidlin as professor. The International Institute for Missiological Research was founded at Mainz on August 11, 1911. On October 4, Schmidlin was elected president of the institute and Streit was named its secretary, a position he held until 1924 when he was called to Rome.
Streit Is Called to Rome
On May 3,1923, Cardinal Van Rossum, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of Faith (Propaganda Fide), addressed a circular letter to the superiors of the missions, asking them to send books and objects of missionary interest for an exposition to be held in the Vatican during the 1925 Holy Year. Streit, together with other experts, was called to Rome in February, 1924, for the preparatory work. On January 5, 1925, the prefect put him in charge of the literature section. Some 30,000 books, many of them in non-European languages, had been collected, providing a unique opportunity for a survey of missionary literature. Pope Pius XI, himself a former librarian with special interest in missionary literature, encouraged continuation of the collection. It formed the nucleus of what was to become the Pontifical Missionary Library, entrusted to the care of the Propaganda Fide, and Streit was appointed the library’s first director.
Most of Streit’s life until he went to Rome was spent in the Scholasticate of Hiinfeld, where he participated actively in the religious and recreational life of the community. Although a recognized scholar, he remained at heart a modest priest, grateful to anyone who offered help in the bibliographical task. He regarded his learning as a means of service to missionaries and their colleagues, believing that the rich experience of the past could shed light on the present situation and aid in the solution of future problems. Throughout his life he was dedicated to pastoral activities, and in his homilies we see a pastor who knew how to arouse and communicate enthusiasm for the missions.
Streit’s health was never robust, and from 1926 onward he suffered from an inflamed bladder that was helped by medical attention and surgery but never cured. He had hoped to return to Rome following holidays in Germany in 1929 to continue work on Bibliotheca Missionum. But that was not to be. He died in Frankfurt on July 31,1930, at only fifty-five years of age, leaving the completion of that monumental project to his successors, Dindinger and Rommerskirchen.
- Johannes Dindinger, O.M.I.
Dindinger’s name appears on the list of contributors in the first volume of Bibliotheca Missionum. In the following volumes he collaborated to an even greater extent, helping also to compile the indexes, and he was the logical successor to Streit in the task of continuing that publication.
Dindinger’s Childhood and Studies
Dindinger was born at Heinrichsdorf in Lorraine on September 8, 1881. He learned both German and French at an early age. Like Streit, he did undergraduate studies at the St. Charles Mission Secondary School of the Oblates at Valkenburg, and took his novitiate at St. Gerlach. In 1902, he was sent to study philosophy and theology at the Gregorian University in Rome. The atmosphere in Rome was conducive to learning other languages and to the study of history, two of Dindinger’s major interests. In 1905 he received his doctorate in philosophy, and was ordained an Oblate priest in 1907.
Dindinger at Hünfeld, 1908-26
In 1908, the talented priest was assigned to teach philosophy at the Scholasticate in Hünfeld, where he met Streit. The latter continued to publish programmatic books and articles on Roman Catholic missiology, and Dindinger read them with enthusiasm. Streit, in turn, greatly appreciated Dindinger’s linguistic abilities and wide knowledge, and introduced him to the art of compiling bibliographies. The two became increasingly close collaborators.
During the years he was at Hiinfeld, Dindinger completed the three volumes of his Institutions Cosmologiae et Psychologicae. And from the early years of his experience there, he became acquainted with such pioneers of missiology as J. Schmidlin, A. Huonder, S.J. (the editor of Katholichen Missionen), and F. Schwager, S.V.D.
Dindinger in Rome
When Streit moved to Rome, he asked his superiors to assign Dindinger there also, so that the two men might continue to collaborate on Bibliotheca Missionum (originally planned as a four-volume work only) and in building up the Pontifical Missionary Library. After Streit’s untimely death in 1930, Dindinger became the editor of that publication and director of the library. From 1932 to 1948, he served also as professor of mission history at the Missiological Institute of the Propaganda Fide Athenaeum. After 1948, he devoted major attention to the ongoing volumes of Bibliotheca Missionum, but also collaborated in the Bibliografia Missionaria, which had begun publication in 1935 under the direction of his assistant, Johannes Rommerskirchen.
Dindinger, a kind and helpful person who would interrupt his own work to assist another with translation, had an unusual linguistic talent and an excellent memory. As a professor he was demanding, one who carefully weighed every word in his lectures and would not tolerate carelessness in the students’ examinations. His students, in turn, were proud to be “disciples of old Dindinger.”
Basically, he was an intellectual, whose piety was entirely unostentatious. He had great respect for scholarship, regarding intelligence and virtue as closely related. His judgment was prudent and sharp, but sometimes too critical and stubborn. Yet his readiness to help others was such that even the youngest student felt free to call upon him at any time. The surest way to become his friend was to ask his advice.
Dindinger died on July 31, 1958, having been able to continue his work until only eight days before his death.
III. Johannes Rommerskirchen, O.M.I.
Rommerskirchen, the son of a teacher, was born in Neuenhoven (Aachen) on January 5,1899. Like Streit and Dindinger before him, he had his secondary schooling at the St. Charles Mission School of the Oblates in Valkenburg and took his novitiate (1915-16) at St. Gerlach. His studies in philosophy and theology at the Scholasticate in Hiinfeld were interrupted by military service during World War I.
As a student Rommerskirchen lived in the community with Streit and Dindinger. He was ordained an Oblate priest on June 2, 1923. After completing his studies in 1924, his superiors assigned him to the editorial staff of the Oblate periodical Monatsblatter der Unbefleckten Jungfrau Maria. In the same year, he began the study of missiology at the University of Münster, and missionary bibliography was to become for him also a lifelong vocation. From 1926-33, under the guidance of Professor Schmidlin, his first bibliographical works were published in Zeitschrift fur Missionswissenschaft. Under Schmidlin he completed his doctoral degree in 1930, with a dissertation on the Oblate missions in Ceylon.
Rommerskirchen in Rome
Following Streit’s death in 1930, Rommerskirchen was assigned to Rome to assist Dindinger in editing Bibliotheca Missionum and in strengthening the Pontifical Missionary Library. From 1933 to 1955 he also taught the history of missions at the Missiological Institute of the Propaganda Fide Athenaeum. It was in Rome that he established Bibliografia Missionaria, a working bibliography of current scholarly literature for mission studies. The first volume of the latter appeared in the 1935 issue of Guida delle Missioni Cattoliche, but it became an independent annual publication of which forty issues had been published by 1978, the year of Rommerskirchen’s death.
Rommerskirchen’s greatest achievement was the completion of Bibliotheca Missionum, to which he contributed increasingly from volumes 6 to 30. (His own bibliography indicates the extent to which he was preoccupied with missionary bibliography as such, a task that left him little time for writing other kinds of articles and books.) It would be difficult to determine the precise extent of his collaboration throughout the history of that publication, but he became its editor-in-chief upon the death of Dindinger in 1958. He was assisted by N. Kowalsky, O.M.I., for volumes 13 and 14, and by J. Metzler, O.M.I, for volumes 22 to 30. From 1930 onward, Rommerskirchen also made a considerable contribution to the development of the Pontifical Missionary Library, and was its director from 1958 to 1972. During the forty-two years of his association with that library, it became an increasingly important collection for missiological research.
Rommerskirchen, the Man
From the time of his doctoral dissertation and earliest publications, Rommerskirchen showed a real talent for writing. He was able to present the missionary cause in an attractive, understandable way to ordinary people. But in giving full attention to missionary bibliography, a task he regarded as his particular vocation, the mastery he achieved in that field was at the expense of time for more writing he might have done. He summarized the spirit of this self-dedication in the words of the Oblate rule: Ferventi diletandi fidei desiderio (rendered by English-speaking Oblates as “an ardent desire to spread the Gospel of Christ”). A hard worker, he nonetheless enjoyed recreation and cultivating friendships among his confreres and other colleagues and students. Satisfied to have seen the completion of Bibliotheca Missionum, and the firm continuation of Bibliografia Missionaria in which he took active interest to the end of his life, Rommerskirchen died in Rome on February 24, 1978.
- The Nature of the Bibliographical Publications
and of the Missionary Library
Robert Streit said, “The task of a bibliography of missions is to present mission literature according to the modern, scientific requirements of bibliography, in such a way as to provide all who study about the missions with a reliable, handy, and rapid orientation to the available documents, and to reflect the current situation with regard to missiological writings.” This is precisely what Bibliotheca Missionum does. The first volume lists a number of collaborators, along with the rules and procedures Streit had specified in the interest of uniformity.
The publication as a whole includes African mission history from the tenth century, Asian from the twelfth, and that of the Americas from the European discovery of those continents. Volume 1 introduces the general literature on theory, pastoral concerns, and law with regard to the missions; volumes 2 and 3 are devoted to missions in the Americas; volumes 4 to 14 to Asian missions; volumes 15 to 20 to African missions; and volume 21 to the mission literature on Australia and Oceania. Streit had expected to terminate the series with volume 21 (1909), because that is the beginning date of Zeitschrift fur Missionswissenschaft a journal that adopted the publication of missionary bibliography as one of its aims. However, Bibliotheca Missionum was continued for nine more volumes (22 to 30) supplementing and updating the literature from 1909 to 1940 for Africa, 1950 for Australia and Oceania, 1960 for America, and 1970 for Asia.
This bibliography presents Roman Catholic mission literature in categories of various theological disciplines. First is material about the missionary objective among non-Christians, and missionary cooperation in achieving that objective. A second category involves catechisms, Bible translations, prayer books and other Catholic literature, dictionaries, grammars — all written by missionaries. A third category has to do with missionary writings on geography, ethnology, and religions.
Streit did not want to produce a mere catalogue of books. On the other hand, he considered it too expensive to reproduce lengthy abstracts from the books themselves. The “middle way” he chose was to add an annotation of a few lines to each title, enabling readers to understand its format and contents, and listing whatever materials are known to have been written about it. Insofar as possible, the place in which each book may be found is also indicated. Where the compiler was unable to locate a given document, he gave the source of his information about it.
The contents of Bibliotheca Missionum are arranged chronologically through volume 18. In volumes 19 and 20 (Africa), Dindinger found the material so vast and complex that he arranged it in alphabetical order of the missionary institutes instead, listing anonymous works at the end. Rommerskirchen thereafter continued Dindinger’s arrangement. Each volume has five indexes: authors; persons; subject matter; places, countries, and nations; and a linguistic index. The combined index in some of the volumes exceeds 100 pages.
Bibliotheca Missionum, from the first volume onward, has been widely appreciated. Schmidlin termed it the discovery of a new world, previously unknown to both Catholics and Protestants, and regarded it as an indispensable tool for the study of missions. According to Johannes Beckmann, the volumes on the Americas and Asia have special importance, and Beckmann notes that many outstanding scholars such as Kenneth Scott Latourette, Charles R. Boxer, Antonio da Silva Rego, and others have made extensive use of the publication. People doing research in such related fields as anthropology, history of religions, and linguistics have also profited from it. Thus Beckmann, in his review of volumes 19 and 20 says: “As one examines the long series of volumes of the now-completed bibliography of African missions, with its approximately 6,000 pages, one can be proud of a production for which the scholars in any other science may justifiably envy our young missiology. We express heartfelt thanks to the editor and his collaborators for the immense amount of detailed work, dedication, and effort reflected in these pages.”
This publication may be described as the counterpart and complement of Bibliotheca Missionum. It has been published annually since 1935 by the librarians of the Pontifical Missionary Library as a current bibliography on the missions.
The material in each issue of Bibliografia Missionaria is divided into four parts, following an introduction that lists special bibliographies and new periodicals: articles and books about the different branches of missiology—theology, law, history, the current situation of the missions and pastoral concerns (sections 2-6); auxiliary studies, such as dialogue, anthropology, religions, atheism, development (sections 7-11); missionary personnel, institutions, cooperation, spirituality (sections 12-15); finally, the various mission lands (sections 16-25). The arrangement thus moves from general to particular, from the principles of mission theology to the implementation of those principles in actual practice.
Since Vatican II, the material in Bibliografia Missionaria has become more ecumenically oriented. It now includes missionary literature in the major languages: English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, the Scandinavian languages, and Polish. A glance at the index (in Italian) is sufficient to note the wide coverage of missionary experience, problems, and discussions. The linguistic publications of missionaries are still listed but, with the growing importance of the local churches, locally produced bibliographies have an increasing usefulness for missionary literature today. That is particularly true of materials written in the languages of the Third World.
The Pontifical Missionary Library
As indicated above, Pope Pius XI prompted the establishment of a mission library when he encouraged a missionary exhibit during the 1925 Holy Year. The wealth of material collected on that occasion was placed under care of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. It was located in the same building and in close proximity to the congregation’s archives in order to make it readily available to mission scholars and to facilitate missionary research. We have already noted the succession of Streit, Dindinger, and Rommerskirchen as directors of this library, and it is largely through their efforts that it has become so useful an instrument for the study of missions.
In 1979, the library was moved to a new facility near the Urban University and merged with that university’s library. It now houses 100,000 volumes, 3,416 periodicals that have ceased publication, and more than 500 periodicals that are still current. In addition to the author/subject catalogues, there is a catalogue of books in 530 non-European languages (including some 270 African languages along with important collections in Chinese, Japanese, other Asian, and Native American languages). A microfiche section has been recently initiated, containing archival material on missions. Thus, the Pontifical Missionary Library, building on the vision of Streit, Dindinger, and Rommerskirchen, seeks to promote and serve he study of missiology.
Marcello Zago (1932-2001)
Assisi and Interreligious Dialogue
by Harry Winter
As eleventh superior general of our congregation (1986-98), Marcello Zago has influenced the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and the entire Church, in many ways. But the way which will leave the deepest mark was his role in the Assisi event of October 27, 1986, and his subsequent leadership in promoting interreligious dialogue between Christianity and other religions.
Born on August 9, 1932, at Villorba, diocese of Treviso in northern Italy, Fr. Zago completed two years of theology at the Treviso Major Seminary, and entered the Italian Oblate novitiate of Ripalimosani in 1955. On May 22, 1959, he received his obedience for Laos; was ordained subdeacon, July 12; deacon, August 9; priest, September 13. He pronounced his perpetual vows on September 29 and left for language studies in Southeast Asia. In 1961, he served as Superior-delegate for the Oblates in their pastoral year, in Sriracha, Thailand.
After working as both a missionary and formator in Laos, Fr. Zago returned to Rome in 1966. While a staff member of the International Scholasticate, he obtained a Doctorate in Missiology at the Gregorian University. He expanded his thesis on Buddhist funeral rites and the university published it in French as #6 in its missionary documentation series: Rites et cérémonies en milieu bouddhiste lao (1972, 408 pages). Gaston Carrière, O.M.I., reviewed it and observed “This working instrument, which is completed by an excellent analytical index, is indispensable for a better understanding of Buddhism” (Etudes Oblates 32  220).
Returning to Laos in 1971, he started and directed the Buddhism Office of the Laos-Cambodian Bishops Conference, until 1974. In that capacity he headed the Buddhist Delegation which Pope Paul VI received at the Vatican in 1973.
Fr. Zago was giving a course at St. Paul University’s Institute of Mission Studies in Ottawa, Canada, when the General Chapter of 1974 elected him Assistant General, a post he occupied until 1980. From 1981-83, he was a full-time Professor of Missiology in Roman universities, and was serving as superior of the Italian Province’s scholasticate at Vermicino when the Holy See, in 1983, named him Secretary of the Vatican Secretariate for Inter-Religious Dialogue.
Since 1973 he has been a Consultor to the Secretariate for Non-Christians (now the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue); the Holy See appointed him in 1984 as Consultor to the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Bishop Jean-Pierre Urkia of Savannokhet, Laos, and the Federation of Asian Bishops chose him to be their peritus at the synod on Evangelization (1974). He was a member, elected by the Union of Superiors General, of three synods: The Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and World of Today – Twenty Years after Vatican II (1987), The Formation of Priests (1990), and Consecrated Life and its Mission in the World (1994). Pope John Paul II appointed him Special Secretary of that synod. During the same year, he was a member, appointed by the pope, of the Synod for Africa. While in Rome, he was Vice-President of the Union of Superiors General’s Commission on Mission (1976-80), and since 1980, Consultor and member of the Organizing Committee of the same Commission. Since 1987 he has been a member of the Council for the Union of Superiors General, and especially involved together with two other Superiors General in two Congresses on Religious Life: in 1993 for Superiors General and in 1997 for Young Religious. He has served as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Consecrated Life (1989-94) and of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (1995-2001). (These organizations each have four Superiors General as members; the other members are Cardinals or Bishops).1
In his first letter to the Oblates, Fr. Zago subtly apologized for devoting so much of his time between his election as general on September 13, 1986 and December, to the Assisi event.
You will have noticed that an Oblate presented to the Pope the 37 non-Christian delegations that had come from all over the world; that the same Oblate led the ten groups of different world religions to the prayer podium. That Oblate was your superior General. Right from its very outset he had been involved in the organization of this historical event that has been described as the greatest significant step to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.2
Fr. Zago poignantly described the Assisi event first in the February, 1987, O.M.I. DOCUMENTATION and then reprinted in the Ottawa Institute of Mission Studies Kerygma (now Mission). This article should be required reading for every Oblate, not just those in first formation. Speaking prophetically, he concluded his article: “Of interreligious dialogue, the event of Assisi is a symbol, a peak, and a reference point that is rich in meaning.”3
The new general traveled world-wide as part of his leadership role. His writings now begin to reflect that world-wide familiarity with missionary situations.
On December 7, 1990, Pope John Paul II published his landmark encyclical on the Missions, Redemptoris Missio, or as it is known in English On the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate. Fr. Zago has never denied his very crucial role in gathering, writing, and editing this document. Thus, Fr. Zago’s “Commentary on Redemptoris Missio” becomes an important statement for anyone studying our general’s impact on missiology.4
Very early in his studies, Fr. Zago noted the similarities between ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Thus when John Paul published the first ever encyclical on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint (English title That All May Be One), on May 25, 1995, our general began a thorough study of interreligious dialogue, mission, and ecumenism, which was published in December, 1995.5 Any Oblate who wishes to explore the relationship between ecumenism, missiology and interreligious dialogue should begin with this article.
During Fr. Zago’s administration, Blessed Joseph Gerard was beatified in Lesotho (September 15, 1988) and Saint Eugène De Mazenod canonized in Rome (December 3, 1995). Making the missionary charism of these two evangelizers available to the entire Church was, of course, the work of many people, but it fell to the “always smiling” missiologist to be in the right place at the right time.6 Especially notable was the gathering of Oblate bishops December 2-5, 1995, (during the canonization) to discuss the relationship of their missionary Oblate life to the episcopal ministry.7
The role of the laity in mission is one of the newly emerging themes in missiology. Under Fr. Zago’s administration, the first ever International Seminar for Lay Associates took place at our General House in Rome from September 25-28, 1995, followed by the International Congress of Oblate Lay Associates, Aix-en-Provence, May 18-20, 1996. Significantly, the first article of Fr. Zago’s to be indexed in the Bibliographia Missionaria was on a remarkable American layman, Dr. Tom Dooley.8
From 1967 to 1997, Marcello Zago has consistently opened up new vistas for Oblates, especially in the spirituality of Oblate missionaries, in the dialogue first with Buddhists and then with all religions, and now in the revitalization of missiology, particularly as it affects ecumenism and the theology of the laity. In 1989, he received a doctorate honoris causa from the University of Ottawa, for studies on Buddhism and Interreligious Dialogue.
On March 28, 1998, Pope John Paul II appointed Fr. Zago Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and titular bishop (archbishop) of Rusellae. He died less than three years later, on March 1, 2001, of an acute form of leukemia at age 68.
His last visit to the USA was to the Mission Congress in Chicago, Illinois, September 28-October 1, 2000, where, in “his gentle, soft-spoken manner, Archbishop Zago challenged the Church in the United States to make a more visible ‘missionary impact’ around the world” (Rosanne Rustemeyer, SSND, Mission Update, Spring 2001, p. 2).
With the 25th anniversary of the original Assisi event (October 27, 2011), we can anticipate more interest in the statement of Pope John Paul II that “there is no conflict between proclaiming Christ and engaging in inter-religious dialogue” On the Permanent Validity #55). Archbishop Zago certainly had a great deal to do with that formula.
We are listing only those in English. Fr. Zago’s many French and Italian writings (and some in Spanish, German and Polish) may be found catalogued in Bibliographia Missionaria, beginning in 1967 (vol. XXXI). The writings in English may be found in the 1998-2011 hardcopy and Internet editions of Oblate Missiologists, pp.47-51.
For a complete list of all his writings, see Marek Rostkowski, O.M.I., “Il Patrimonio Teologico e Missiologico Di Mons. Marcello Zago, o.m.i.,” Vie Oblate Life 59 (Dec. 2000, #3): 395-429.
Diminishment and Increase
by Harry Winter, O.M.I.
The Missionary Oblates peaked at 7,628 on January 1, 1966. Since then we have decreased drastically in the First World, especially in Canada, France, England, and the USA, to about 3,623. Increases in Africa and Asia have slowed our decrease. Especially heartbreaking were the absorption of the Mission Institute of St. Paul’s University, Ottawa, Canada, into the regular faculty; the disappearance of the Oblate Center for Mission Studies in Washington, D.C.; and the termination of Bibliographia Missionaria (see above, pp.88, 98-100).
However, the growth of Oblate Associates, who make promises each year, has been a welcome and unexpected development. In the USA, and probably several other countries, Oblate Associates outnumber vowed Oblates. The National Director of Oblate Associates in the USA Province, Geri Furmanek, has published an overview of this development: “The Many Faces of Evangelization, Mission Enrichment & Oblate Associates in the U.S. Province,” Oblatio 1-2012/1: 109-112. The USA Oblate Associates also have their own website, accessible through www.omiusa.org., click on “Ministries.”
A symbol of this great advancement of the laity into Oblate spirituality and mission is the book Eugène deMazenod, A Saint for Today. Alex Hey had never met an Oblate, but in searching on the Internet for a patron saint of dysfunctional families, he came across the name of St. Eugène. His book, written when he was 25 years old and published by Leonine, Phoenix, AZ, 2017, has proven very popular, and he is considering a second edition. See www.omiusa.org, enter Alex Hey.
Social media: In the age of the Internet, we do not usually think of radio as a part of social media. Oblates have done a great deal of ministry by radio. The short description of Radio Liseli, in the Africa-Madagascar Region above, is only one of many. Our Oblates in Bolivia have maintained a much-appreciated radio station for years, and in the United States, Boniface Wittenbrink was famous for his radio station for the blind. Daniel Taillez worked with Radio Veritas Asia in the Philippines, Hmong language section. Hopefully, an Oblate can research more about our radio ministry. A recent article in the national Jesuit edited magazine, America, “A Blessed Broadcast,” by J.J. Carney, Aug. 19, 2019, pp. 28-33, explains very well how radio stations spread the Good News.
Are we ready to promote lay leadership in Mission, Unity and Dialogue? Read more about this on the Mission-Unity-Dialogue website, Family/Laity page, www.harrywinter.org.
One peculiarity of the Oblate structure for Mission, Unity and Dialogue is the role of the USA Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office (JPIC). Although headquartered in Washington, D.C., a view of its website, email@example.com, will show that it affects the entire Oblate world, and interfaces with other Christian Churches, other religions, and the secular world.
Our Oblate JPIC is far larger than that of any other religious community. Our structure for Mission, Unity and Dialogue is far smaller. A review of the Mission Committees for each region above will show how frail they are.
The initial and current director of JPIC, Séamus Finn, O.M.I., (1998-2014; 2019-) and director Antonio Ponce (2015-18) have been most helpful in sharing with our Mission-Unity-Dialogue (MUD) website the many insights they have with Evangelization, Ecumenism and Dialogue. Both allowed the JPIC Communications Coordinator, Ms. Rowena Gono, to assist with the MUD website. For all this I am most grateful.
It does seem urgent to increase the structures for MUD in each region, without diminishing that of JPIC.
As we sketch Oblate missiological accomplishments, we should not neglect the Oblates and laity who by their ingenuity and hard work have raised millions of dollars to build churches, seminaries, radio stations, and hospitals in lands beyond their own. A thorough examination of this would require another book. Such a book would be greatly aided if each of our five regions begins collecting material on these efforts and leaders. Our many publications for the laity include the nucleus of these stories.
Appendix One: Oblate Cardinals: Giants in Missiology
by Harry Winter, O.M.I.
The fact that St. Eugène de Mazenod was nominated at one time as a cardinal by the French government and at another time almost named by the pope, is well documented. Politics prevented his being actually named. See Alfred Hubenig, O.M.I., Living in the Spirit’s Fire (Novalis: Toronto, Canada, 1995), pp. 169-70.
The first of our six- and one-half cardinals in reality was Joseph Hippolyte Guibert (1802-86). He first served as Bishop of Viviers, France; then as Archbishop of Tours, and Cardinal of Paris, succeeding Cardinal Georges Darboy, martyred at the barricades during the revolution of 1871.
Our second cardinal, Jean-Marie Rodrigue Villeneuve (1883-1947), came from Québec, Canada, where the Oblates, sent by the Founder in 1841, were so numerous until recently.
Our third cardinal was named during the Second Vatican Council. Thomas Benjamin Cooray (1901-88) was from Sri Lanka, where St. Eugène had sent Oblates in 1845. He was the first Sri Lankan to be named a cardinal, and his cause for canonization reached in 2010 the stage of “Servant of God.”
Our fourth cardinal, Francis George, is described above.
Our fifth cardinal, from the Philippines, Orlando Quevedo, (see above) was named during Francis George’s administration. For the first time in our history, we had two cardinals at once.
Our sixth cardinal, Sebastian Koto Khoari (1930-), from Lesotho, Africa, was named in 2017.
On May 21, 2017, the feast of St. Eugène de Mazenod, Pope Francis named Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, I.V.D., a Laotian member of the Voluntas Dei Secular Institute, as cardinal. Since the Voluntas Dei Institute was founded by Oblate Louis-Marie Parent (1910-2009), Cardinal Ling considers himself half an Oblate. See the interview on www.omiworld.org by Shanil Jayawardena, O.M.I., where Cardinal Ling details his relationship with the Oblates.
Note that no two of our six- and one-half cardinals are from the same country. Each country, however, is one where the Oblates exercised great missionary work.
Survey of Oblate Writings about Indigenous Peoples
and Inuit (historically known as Eskimo)
from a Missiological Perspective
by Harry Winter, O.M.I.
One Oblate above all others influenced the recent missionary spirit of the former Eastern U.S. province: Arsène Turquetil, O.M.I., missionary to the Inuit of Hudson Bay. He became the first bishop of Hudson Bay, and retired to the Oblate Scholasticate, Washington, D.C., in 1943. From 1944 until his death in 1955, he ordained 76 Oblates to the priesthood. Perhaps more important than the actual ordinations were his sermons and conferences, especially on his role in having St. Thérèse of the Infant Jesus named co-patron of the Missions.
The story of how St. Thérèse worked a miracle for the conversion of the Inuit is most accessibly told in Michael J. Devaney, O.M.I.’s, booklet Arctic Apostle, distributed by the vocation department of the Eastern U.S. Province.1 Bishop Turquetil himself wrote a great deal, much of which is unedited.2
Besides his Oblate ordinations and writings, he influenced more people than even he probably suspected. On April 17, 1997, when Cardinal James Hickey spoke at the concluding Mass of the three seminary Cluster of Independent Theological Schools, he complimented the Oblates on their missionary spirit, mentioning how impressed he had been by the “bearded bishop,” whom he had seen at the Oblates during the Cardinal’s days as a young graduate student at Catholic University. And when an Oblate preached at the 9 a.m. Mass at the National Shrine on Mission Sunday, October 19, 1997, and told the story of Bishop Turquetil living across the street, advertising St. Thérèse’s missionary impact, a concelebrant, Fr. Columba Enright, TOR told the Oblate after the Mass that their current superior general, Very Reverend Bonaventure Midili, TOR, had been ordained by Bishop Turquetil. Fr. Midili remembers that the ordination day of September 29, 1952 was the bishop’s 80th birthday.3
Bishop Turquetil also seems to have had a direct role in the origin of the statement by Pius XI often recorded in Oblate literature: “The Oblates specialize in the most difficult missions, and yours is the most difficult of all. If I could go and see only one foreign mission, I would go and see yours, Hudson Bay.” Bishop Turquetil reported these words in early February, 1929, in a letter written after his papal audience, and cited by Fr. Devaney (pp. 26-27). The reliability of the quote is bolstered by Fr. Devaney having known the bishop when the bishop had retired to the scholasticate in Washington, D.C. However, the Pope of the Missions, as Pius XI rightly was known4 seems to have used the expression “specialists in difficult missions” in several contexts. Bishop Gabriel Breynat, O.M.I., in his Bishop of the Winds, quotes a very long newspaper article from the apostolic delegate to Canada, Archbishop Ildebrando Antoniutti, after his visit to Oblate northern missions in 1939:
I realized, in the course of my journey, how aptly Pius XI had described the part played by the Oblates when he called them ‘specialists in the most difficult missions.’ Pius XI himself, before my departure from Rome last September, spoke to me with lively emotion and very special interest of the missions of the Canadian Far North, saying that if it had been possible for him, in order to testify to his love for these missions, to visit some of the most difficult, he would have chosen those of the Oblate Fathers in Canada (p. 247).
More recently, Jozef Pielorz, O.M.I., weighed in with an article in VOL (51:99-101, 1992, April) “L’affirmation: ‘Les Oblats sont les specialistes des Missions les plus difficiles’ est-elle de Pie XI?”.
We may conclude with certainty that Pius XI received several Oblate bishops from the Arctic with the observation that Oblates are specialists in difficult missions (Pielorz, 1992, p. 101); that Pius XI also told this to his associates (Antoniutti, in Breynat, 1995, p. 247) and that he probably told Turquetil that if he could visit only one mission, it would be Hudson Bay (Devaney, 1958, p. 27).
The current Oblate bishop of Hudson Bay, Anthony Wieslaw Krotki, made a point of visiting Bishop Turquetil’s grave in the Oblate cemetery at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, in September, 2013, shortly after his appointment as bishop on May 30.
There is a great joy in the literature about the evangelization of the Inuit, and there is incredible pain and effort and suffering. We now sketch that literature, beginning with those that come most closely to being missiology treatises, to those that had a greater influence on recruitment than on the study of missiology, and finally to Oblate contributions to more specialized study of the Arctic. We will consider the literature on some of the tragedies which occurred to Oblates in the Arctic and present the famous apology of 1991.
For the more scholarly, we highly recommend a publication of the Churchill-Hudson Bay diocese, Eskimo. Now in its 52nd year, Eskimo was first published by Oblates Jean Philippe (1909-) and then Guy Mary-Rousselier (1913-94). There have been French and English editions since 1946 (discontinued in 2015).
- General Oblate Arctic Literature
Roger Bulliard, O.M.I., (1909-78). Inuk: published in French in 1949, it was awarded the Montyon Prize by the French Academy in 1950. Translated into English in 1951, and published by Farrar (New York), with an introduction by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (pp. vii-ix), this work comes closest to being a missiological treatise. It is the story of Bulliard’s transformation into an admirer and critic of Inuit culture, with many sections on customs, geography, etc. Breynat called Bulliard “One of our best missionaries in the Inuit country” (p. 259). Inuk had an enormous influence in attracting Americans to the Missionary Oblates and to the North.
Pierre Duchaussois, O.M.I., (1878-1940). Mid Snow and Ice, French original 1921, English published by Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Buffalo, NY, 1937. The French original was “crowned by the French Academy” according to the English title page. He is quite good at documenting the ongoing struggle with Protestants (e.g. pp. 259, 298, 319, 333, 361) and the way Pius IX (pp. 237-38), Pius X (261) and Pius XI (xv-xvi) treated our Northern Missions. Fr. Duchaussois was a prolific writer; his first book on the North presented the work of the Grey Nuns: The Grey Nuns in the Far North, 1867-1917, McClelland: Toronto, 1919.
Adrian G. Morice, O.M.I., Thawing Out the Eskimo, translated from the French by Mary T. Loughlin, Boston, Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1943, 241 pp. In his preface, then-Bishop (later Cardinal) Richard J. Cushing wrote movingly of meeting “the hero of the present book, Bishop Turquetil,” whom he calls both “Bishop of the Wind,” and “Bishop of the North Pole” (p. 7). By the year 1935, when Fr. Morice (1859-1938) stops his account, he had treated extensively of Hudson Bay and Bishop Turquetil, and had moved on to Fr. Pierre Henry, O.M.I.5
Charles Choque, O.M.I., KAJUALUK: Pierre Henry, Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, Apostle of the Inuit, 1985, Churchill: R.C. Episcopal Corporation of Hudson Bay, 282 pp. (ISSN 0-9692163-0-0). Well-researched and documented, but without an index, this paperback gives a great deal of realistic detail about the ministry of Fr. Henry (1904-79) and the Hudson Bay development until 1971 when Fr. Henry left the Arctic. Charles Choque authored four more biographies on Arctic Oblates – Lionel Ducharme, O.M.I. (1982), Joseph Buliard, O.M.I. (1987), Guy Mary-Rousselière, O.M.I. (1998) and Bishop Arsène Turquetil, O.M.I. (2006).
A surprising number of U.S. Oblates worked in the Arctic. Perhaps the best known was James Michael Patrick Dunleavy, O.M.I. (1910-42), who was killed tragically in a car accident while on vacation in the U.S.A. The thesis cited above (p. 109) lists 7 articles by Dunleavy, all in the Eastern U.S. Province’s Oblate World, from September, 1939 to May, 1941.
From the Southern U.S. Province came Robert J. Biasolli, O.M.I., who wrote both for its magazine Mary Immaculate (6 articles from December, 1939, to September, 1942) and the Oblate World (October, 1941, June, 1943).6
Charles Gilles, O.M.I., (1911-2005), born in Milwaukee and ordained in 1938 for the U.S. Province, was assigned immediately to the Mackenzie Vicariate. He served as Superintendent at Breynat Hall, Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, and as provincial bursar in the Northwest Territories from 1962-66. His retreat conference on the Arctic to the Washington seminarians was summarized in the province newsletter of December, 1996, pp 2-3. The thesis cited above (p. 109) lists 7 articles he wrote on the Arctic. Fr. Gilles supplied us with the following information concerning the other U.S. Oblates formally assigned to the Arctic.
Fr. William J. O’Brien, O.M.I., was ordained at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., June 11, 1935. He was assigned to the Mackenzie vicariate and was stationed at Nativity Mission in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, on the northwestern shore of Lake Athabasca. After three years, he returned to the first American province and eventually left the Congregation to become a priest of the diocese of Buffalo. The thesis cited above (p. 109) lists 3 articles.
Fr. Thomas P. Griffin, O.M.I., born in New York state and ordained in 1928 in the Texas province, went to the Inuit missions of the Mackenzie District in 1929 and remained there 9 years, returning to the United States in the summer of 1938. In the early 1960s, Fr. Bill Leising (see #II below), home for a visit from the North, decided to visit Fr. Griffin. They had never met. He found him in charge of a small parish in Texas. Fr. Griffin died at Seymour, Texas on May 5, 1968. The thesis cited above (p. 109) lists one article.
Fr. Leonard Scannell, O.M.I., from Manchester, New Hampshire, was ordained at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., May 30, 1939, and left that same year for the Mackenzie missions. After a short time in Fort Smith, he was sent by Bishop Breynat to the mission at Fond du Lac, Saskatchewan, at the eastern end of Lake Athabasca. Following Pearl Harbor, he returned to the United States and enlisted in the army’s chaplaincy service. After 1945, he remained for some years with the troops in occupied Germany. He subsequently left the Oblates and was for a short time listed as a priest of the diocese of Columbus, Ohio. It is not known if or where he is living. He would have been 86 in 1997. The thesis cited above (p. 109) lists 6 articles.
Fr. Bernard Brown, O.M.I., was ordained by Bishop Turquetil at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., on May 31, 1948. That same fall, he arrived at the Mackenzie missions, accompanying Fr. Bill Leising and a barge-load of surplus army material for use by the missionaries. A few years after the end of Vatican II, he applied for laicization, for which he waited patiently more than two years. He is presently living with his wife at Colville Lake, N.W.T., just within the Arctic Circle, a little to the northwest of Great Bear Lake. There, they recently observed their 25th anniversary, Bishop Paul Piché, O.M.I., having blessed their marriage at Fort Simpson in 1972. Novalis Press, Ottawa, Canada published (1997) Brown’s Arctic Journal of 272 pages, plus 32 pages of photos. The thesis cited above (p. 109) lists 16 articles.
[Note: Bernard Brown died on July 4, 2014. Many of his paintings can be viewed on the Internet.]
These priests and their writings had a wide and deep influence in keeping Oblate work in the Arctic in the mind and imagination of American Catholics.
From October 2-4, 2017, Séamus Finn, O.M.I., and the Oblate Investment Pastoral Trust (OIP) visited Nunavik and the Raglan Mine, as part of their ministry to lessen the degradation of the earth and people by mining: see USA JPIC and www.omiusa.org, enter Nunavik and Seamus Finn.
- Oblates Who Flew in the Arctic
Paul Schulte, O.M.I., The Flying Priest Over the Arctic, N.Y., Harper, 1940. A pilot for Germany during the last year of World War I, Fr. Schulte (1895-1974) told in an earlier book (The Flying Missionary, N.Y. Benziger, 1936) how his good friend, Fr. Otto Fuhrmann, O.M.I., had died in the missions of South Africa because no transport was available to take him to a hospital. Fr. Schulte then took it upon himself to found and become the first director of MIVA (Missionary International Vehicular Association), which is still quite active.7
After flying for several years in the missions of South Africa, he found himself being directed by Pius XI to help “the poorest and most isolated of all missionaries, those in the Arctic” (p. xi, 1940). Fr. Schulte’s adventures in the Arctic are described in realistic detail, which attracted many young men to follow him into religious life, probably the more adventuresome the better.
William A. Leising, O.M.I., Arctic Wings, Garden City, Doubleday, 1959; paperback, Echo Books, 1965. On May 27, 1940, Cardinal Francis Spellman, in the Oblate chapel of the Miraculous Medal, Washington, D.C., “ordained sixteen Irishmen and myself,” is how Fr. Leising describes the beginning of his Arctic ministry (p. 12). He gives vivid detail of the effect of World War II on the Arctic missions. By June of 1950, after several months of training by the Jesuits (they “supervise just about the best flying school in the country, Parks Air College of St. Louis University,” p. 136, 1959), Fr. Leising had obtained his pilot’s license and was engaged in some adventures which attracted many to the Oblates. The existence of the paperback version was an especially advantageous development.8 There does not seem to be a direct relationship between Fr. Schulte’s work and Fr. Leising’s, although Fr. Leising describes some of Fr. Schulte’s heritage: pp. 306, 324, 1959.
The Grey Nuns especially figure in Fr. Leising’s descriptions, for example pp. 21-24 and 331-33. The editor remembers Fr. Leising visiting the novitiate in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, in 1958 and regaling the novices with stories of dealing with wolves surrounding his plane when he and a Grey Nun were forced to spend the night in the plane on the ice.
Gabriel Breynat, O.M.I., Bishop of the Winds, Alan Gordon translator, New York, Kennedy, 1955. Although Bishop Breynat did not fly as a pilot, much of his book tells of his trips in his plane piloted by Louis Brisson. Levasseur gives some details (2:167).9
No missionaries were killed in plane crashes until the tragedy of November 12, 1986. Bishop Omer Robidoux, O.M.I., of Churchill-Hudson Bay, Fr. Theophile Didier, O.M.I., the pilot and a layman from Churchill, and Sister Lise Turcotte (Grey Nun) from Rankin, all died when their Cessna crashed while landing in Rankin Inlet on the western coast of Hudson Bay.10
III. Two Technical Writings
Since the writing by Oblates about subjects of a more technical nature in the Arctic is so wide and varied, we will give only two examples. One is the botanist, Arthème Dutilly, O.M.I. (1896-1973), who taught for many years at Catholic University of America. He would collect plant specimens each summer in the Arctic, especially with Bishop Turquetil’s help. Fr. Dutilly’s works are mainly in French.11
The other Oblate is much more contemporary, the poet and artist René Fumoleau, O.M.I. (1926-2019). The Lutheran Arctic scholar Wayne A. Holst reviewed Fr. Fumoleau’s latest work, Here I Sit:
Canadians of various faith traditions will recall this talented priest and missionary, perhaps associating his name with a ground-breaking investigation into the Native treaties, As Long As This Land Shall Last (1975), or his breathtaking photography of the Mackenzie Valley and the Dene people, Denendeh (1984). Some will have seen his films I Was Born Here (1976) and Dene Nation (1979).12 Fr. Fumoleau left the Oblates but remained a priest. He died on Aug. 6, 2019. Lacombe provincial Ken Forster cited Fumoleau’s poem “Wait” as he notified the province.
- Writings about the Tragic Side, Indigenous Peoples and Inuit
Probably the most well-known of the missionary disasters occurred at Bloody Falls on the Coppermine River, between October 28 and November 2, 1913, when Frs. Jean-Baptiste Rouvière, O.M.I., and Guillaume Le Roux, O.M.I., were murdered by two Inuit, Sinnisiak and Oulouksak. Practically each of the accounts above goes into great detail about this tragedy; the decision of the Oblates not to seek the death penalty created a sensation.13
Our North American Regional Counsellor, Warren Brown, O.M.I., has reminded us “Brother Alexis Reynard actually could be called the first Oblate martyr since he was killed in the Arctic in 1875. His story was told at the recently held “Oblation and Martyrdom” Symposium in Spain in May 2018″ (e-mail, Dec.10, 2019). An upcoming edition of Oblatio will include the symposium talks.
Other Oblates simply disappeared with no trace ever found: Joseph Frapsauce, O.M.I., drowned, probably on October 24, 1920, at Great Bear Lake (Levasseur 2:171-72; Breynat 159-61); Henri-Paul Dionne, drowned, in October 1949 near Eskimo Point; as recently as 1956, Joseph Buliard, O.M.I., disappeared in late October near Garry Lake. Leising describes the agonizing search for him: 292, 322-25.
Many died young, many had to return quickly to Europe, the United States or southern Canada. The Oblates did reap much glory from their Arctic work but paid a heavy price. Perhaps Duchaussois best sums it up when he writes (1937, xiv): “when visiting so many graves of the ‘Missionaries of the Poor’ in the land of snow and ice, I have found it very hard to have to shorten the Acts of those apostles of the primitive Church of the Far North.”
Fr. Albert Lacombe, O.M.I. (1827-1916), is legendary for his development of written Native languages, and for defending the Native Peoples of Western Canada. Recently another figure, more tragic, has become visible: Irish born Con Scollen, O.M.I. (1841-1902). It seems that Lacombe may have taken credit for some of Scollen’s work. See the article on Scollen in the online Oblate Historical Dictionary (www.omiworld.org), and the short items of July 13, 2016, “Oblate at the Smithsonian,” (the only Oblate to have materials in this vast collection) and July 3, 2018 “Tragic and Talented Former Oblate,” both on www.omiusa.org.
- The Apology to the Native People
In 1991, The Oblate Conference of Canada, with Fr. Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., President, issued “An Apology to the Native People.” As Dr. Holst shows, this particular apology fits into a larger religious climate of missiological reassessment of the relationship between European culture, Christianity, and the culture of what the Canadians call Indigenous Peoples and Inuit.14 Unfortunately, the Oblate apology does not seem to have been well-prepared through consultation with Oblates in the field, and provoked strong reaction.15 The very first apology to Indigenous People of Canada was made in Edmonton at Lac St. Anne pilgrimage center in July of 1992 by then Provincial Superior of Eastern Province of Canada, Most. Rev. Douglas Crosby, O.M.I.. The very first apology to Inuit Residential school students was given by Most Rev. Reynard Rouleau, O.M.I., at reunion celebration in the Igloolik community January 18, 1996. Since then an apology was made on April 18, 2014 to Inuit Residential school students by Most. Rev. Anthony Krotki, O.M.I.
Bishop Reynald Rouleau, O.M.I., has been acknowledged as the first Canadian bishop to apologize to indigenous students (Igloolik 1997) for any harm resulting from the church’s collaboration with the Federal Government in the operation of a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet, N.W.T.
As Holst bluntly states in his review of Martha McCarthy’s From the Great River to the Ends of the Earth, “Today, the Oblate missionary presence in the North is but a faint shadow of its former self.”16 But in reviewing another work, Robert Choquette’s The Oblate Assault on Canada’s Northwest, Holst concludes with a statement which sums up the Oblate attitude today.
He (Choquette) admits to, but comments little on, the reality that fully 85% of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and Inuit claim currently to be Christian. This must indeed say something of the deep, steadfast love and commitment of many Oblate religious. It is also clear that, in addition to their recent apology, the Oblates intend to remain with the Indigenous Peoples and Inuit – now more than ever and as long as they can – as friends, advocates, and students.17
According to the lore of the Washington community, when Bishop Turquetil was told that his cancer would soon be fatal, he requested the superior to call the members together. He asked to be given the solemn anointing of the sick, vested in his episcopal robes, and surrounded by the priests, brothers, and seminarians. He then informed the startled superior that in his honor (Turquetil’s), there would be no class the following day.
This spirit of daring, audacity, and whimsy breathes through the literature sketched above, along with the physical and mental obstacles which the Arctic presented. It is no wonder that many U.S. Oblates, spurred by these challenges, “went foreign,” to Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American countries, South Africa, Japan, the Philippines, Scandinavia, and Zambia. And it is certain that as long as there are Oblates, new mission stories will be written, inspired by those of the Arctic.
The former Western Province USA began sending Oblates to Alaska. Currently USA Oblates serving in Alaska include the Archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska, Roger Schwietz, O.M.I., and seven other Oblates. They follow in the Arctic footsteps of their Canadian brethren, who at first benefitted from Oblates from France and many other countries.
Dr. Holst (p. 66) recently highlighted an article by Ted Schmidt, “René Fumoleau’s Dene Christmas: A perennial Favourite,” in Canada’s Catholic New Times, on December 27, 2011. The two-page article is worth reading any time of the year: type into your search engine “René Fumoleau’s Dene Christmas.”
Jules Dion, Fifty Years Below Zero, by Raymonde Hache, (Nunavik Publications, 2005) tells the story of Fr. Dion’s fifty years with the Inuit of Nunavik. Also available in French. On April 2, 2017, Dion received a Gold Medal of Merit from the Province of Québec, for his ministry with the Inuit.
November, 2019 (from Bishop Krotki, inserted Feb. 2020)
A scholarly publication, Inuit, Oblate Missionaries, and Grey Nuns in the Keewatin 1865-1965 (2019), authored by anthropologists Frederic B. Laugrand and Jarich G. Oosten, is a unique blend of archival sources and Inuit interviews. The book reveals that “while Christianity was adopted by the Inuit and major transformation occurred, the Oblates and the Grey Nuns did not eradicate the old traditions or assimilate the Inuit, who were caught up in a process they could not yet fully understand… In the long run, that turned out to be a bonus, as they (the missionaries) became intent on preserving Inuit tradition for future generations, warning against the harms of westernization.” As evidence of this, one only needs to look at the prolific work of Fr. Franz Van de Velde, O.M.I. and Fr. Guy Mary-Rousselière, O.M.I., in documenting Inuit traditions, the presence of the Eskimo Museum (Itsanitaq Museum) formerly curated by Bro. Jacques Volant, O.M.I., in Churchill, and the efforts of various Oblates to preserve the language. Lucien Schneider’s English-Inuktitut dictionary, (Ulirnaisigutiit (1985: original version 1970) is still in use today. Fr. Téophile Didier, O.M.I., (Hon. Doctorate – University of Toronto 1986) and Fr. Robert Lechat, O.M.I., (Order of Nunavut 2015) contributed to a massive number of liturgical and scriptural productions resulting in the Churchill-Hudson Bay diocese holding the largest body of indigenous language religious publications in Canada.
From editor Harry Winter, O.M.I.: During a visit to the Oblate Retirement Center at Richelieu, Canada, in October, 2019, Fr. Alexandre Tache, O.M.I., insisted that I meet Fr. Lechat, a French Oblate who spent all of his ministry in the Arctic. Lechat and I went to the Deschâtelets Archives, which occupy a wing at the retirement center, and an archivist showed me the many shelves full of books in several different Inuit dialects, all composed by Lechat, and mainly presenting our sacraments.
Then Tache arranged that I would be with Lechat for lunch. He regaled me with stories especially of how his relationship with Anglicans working in the Arctic had changed from bad to good after Vatican II. I asked this 99-year-old priest if any interviews had been done of his life and ministry. He firmly said no. He added that I could find this information in his obituary, which he wasn’t ready to give to anyone.
 Fernand Jetté, O.M.I., Round-table Discussion, Meeting of Heads of Oblate Universities and Centres of Theological Studies, St. Paul’s University, Ottawa, July 22, 1997. Fr. Jetté explained this from St. Eugène de Mazenod’s time onward.
1 Sermon for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, entitled “The social problem of South Africa”, Archives of the Archdiocese of Durban.
3 Daily News, 11.2.59.
4 Sunday Times, 23.4.61.
5 Hurley, D.E., “Apartheid: A Crisis of Christian Conscience”, Johannesburg, SAIRR, 1964.
6 Sunday Tribune, 28.1.68.
7 Meer, F., in “Memories of 50 years: from Segregation, through Apartheid, to Liberation and Democracy”, Diakonia Council of Churches, Durban, 1997, p. 33.
8 Hurley, D.E., “Can the Churches do anything for Peace?”, SACC, 1976.
9 Diakonia News, June 1981.
10 SACBC Justice and Peace Commission, “Conscientious Objector Phillip Wilkinson: Further evidence from the trial”.
12 The Star, 5.2.82.
13 Hurley, D.E., “The Role of the Churches and the Responsibility of the Faithful in South Africa”, Louvain, Belgium, p.5.
14 Hurley, D.E., “Graduation Address at the University of Cape Town”, 1988 p. 2.
15 Ibid, p. 4.
16 Hurley, D.E. and Khumalo, D.J., “A Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop and Bishop Dominic Khumalo for Pentecost Sunday, 14 May 1989”, News Bulletin of the Catholic Archdiocese of Durban. No. 245, May 1989, p. 40.
17 Meer, F., Ibid, p. 31, 32.
18 Congress of South African Trade Unions.
19 Hurley, D.E., “The Role of Religion in Reconstruction and Development”, unpublished paper delivered at a Catholic Consultation on Reconstruction and Development, July 18-21, 1995, p. 1.
20 Nolan, A., “Passing on the justice mantle”, Challenge, October-November 1994, p. 4.
22 Hurley, D.E., “Memories of 50 years”, p. 30.
1 Francis George, Vie Oblate Life 34 (1975) 115-16; and 42 (1983) 285-89; interview, George by Winter, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 1997
1 Ronan Hoffman, OFM Conv., “Missiology,” New Catholic Encyclopedia (McGraw-Hill, N.Y., 1967) 9:904. The University of Ottawa, confided to the Oblates in 1856, became part of the Province of Ontario public educational system in 1965; theology and allied sciences became St. Paul’s University. The first non-Oblate rector, Dr. Chantal Beauvais, was named in 2009.
2 Irénée Tourigny, O.M.I., Léo Deschâtelets Oblate of Mary Immaculate (General House, Rome, 1976), p. 18. Fr. Tourigny had access to all of Fr. Deschâtelets’ unpublished papers and served as his secretary during much of his generalate.
3Gaston Carrière, O.M.I., “La preparation d’un Pere et d’un Chef,” Etudes Oblates 28 (1969) 85. See pp. 93-95 for Deschâtelets’ great interest in “Catholic Action,” an emerging lay movement in the Church at this time. During this time he obtained licentiates in philosophy and canon law and a doctorate in theology, from the University of Ottawa: Tourigny 1976:32.
4 For a list of his writings, see Tourigny on his Memoirs, (p. 10, 14, passim) and one of his assistant generals, Stanislas-Albini Larochelle, O.M.I., “Pere Leo Deschâtelets, O.M.I.,” Vie Oblate Life 50 (1991, August, #2) 141.
5 For a list of his visits, see another of his assistant generals, Jean Drouart, O.M.I., “Voyages and visit’s paternelles du T.R.P. General (1947-1969), Etudes Oblates 28 (1969) 140-60. Tourigny gives a list of the new missions accepted during Fr. Deschâtelets administration: Appendix II, pp. 149-53. The new general wrote in 1974 an analysis of what he had been like on May 2, 1947: “Ce que j’étais en 1947…,” VOL 33: 145-56.
6 The statistics are given each year in the publication by the general administration; for 1966, see A.R.O.M.I. June, 39 (#6), p. 73; for 1972, Information 64/72 (February), p. 1; for 1997, when membership had declined to 4,844, Information 353 (February 1997) p. 1. In his report to the 1972 General Chapter (Circular #274), Fr. Deschâtelets used the figure of 7,540 (1966) as the “high-tide” of the congregation: p. 384. The decline has been sharpest in North America and Europe (except for Italy and Poland); in Latin America, there are more Oblates than ever, with a growing number of scholastics.
7 Michael O’Reilly, O.M.I., “Unico Ecclesiae Servitio’,” Études Oblates 29 (1969, #2) 161-67; the entire issue comprises pp. 82-172 of the annual volume. Thomas J. Reddy, O.M.I., “The Renewal of the Congregation” is especially good for the 1966 Chapter: 170-71. Tourigny (1976, 62) gives a different slant on this Chapter.
8Harry E. Winter, O.M.I., “The 1972 General Chapter’s Work in Missionary Concern for Christian Unity,” Etudes Oblates 31 (1972, #4) 282. See pp. 278-79 for a view of married missionaries somewhat different from Fr. Deschâtelets.
10 Léo Deschâtelets, O.M.I., Our Vocation and Our Life of Intimate Union with Mary Immaculate (Rome, General House, 1951), Circular 191. See Larochelle 1991: 150-51 for more on his Marian devotion.
11 Paul Martin, “Moshesh’s Sotho Society and the Christian Missions (1833-84): Conflicts, Costs and Benefits,” unpublished manuscript, 1996, 29 pp.
12 René Gauthier, O.M.I., “Le Père Champagne de la missiologie,” Kerygma 3 (1969) 56.
13 Herménégilde Charbonneau, O.M.I., “Décès du Père Joseph É. Champagne,” Kerygma 3 (1969) 3.
14 Joseph Étienne Champagne, O.M.I., Manual of Missionary Action (U. of Ottawa Press, Ottawa, 1948), translated by Roy L. Laberge.
15 Marcello Zago, O.M.I., “La missiologie sert-elle à quelque chose pour les missions?” Kerygma 3 (1969) 70-72. He also presents Fr. Champagne’s limits: 72-73.
16 Jean Trudeau, O.M.I., “Le Centre Canadian de Recherches en Anthropologie,” Kerygma 3 (1969) 62-64.
17 Marcel Patry, O.M.I., “Un géant dans l’Amour, Éloge Funèbre,” Kerygma 3 (1969) 45-47; François-Xavier Saint-Arnaud p.d., “Ses Oeuvres l’accompagnent.” ibid 48-51; Marcel Bélanger, O.M.I., “En souvenir,” ibid 52-55.
18 Descriptions of the meeting are available in the provincial newsletter of the Eastern U.S. Province, Sept. 1997, p. 5; Bill Morell, O.M.I., 2 pp., “MEMO for the Record,” July 29, 1997.
19 Henri Goudreault, O.M.I., to Harry Winter, October 5, 1972, enclosing Malcolm Martin, S.A., The Missionary Influence in the Origins of the Ecumenical Movement and its Development in Latin America (Ottawa, Canada, 1972), 127 pp.
20 Calendar, 1996-1998, St. Paul University, Ottawa, p. MIS 3.
21 Jean-Guy Goulet, O.M.I., “A Missionary Periodical,” Kerygma 15 (1981, #36) 109. Named Kerygma by Fr. Champagne, and evaluated very “triumphantly” in his “Examen de conscience,” Kerygma 1 (1967, #4) 3-5, it was renamed, with explanation by its then editor, Martin Roberge, O.M.I., in the first issue of 1994, pp. 7-8. Kerygma began with an emphasis on the proclamation of the joyful news of salvation, “living the spirit of optimism of Vatican II.” Mission plans to continue this element, while adding more on “development and liberation, religious freedom…and inculturation.”
22 The editors published “Second Thoughts on the Mission to Islam,” which was pp. 334-424 of Garon’s 439 page doctorate, as pages 13-68 of Kerygma 13 (1979). See also, Herménégilde Charbonneau, O.M.I., “Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965) Hommage au Père Garon,” ibid, 1-11.
23 Calendar, 1996-98, MIS 9. See Henri Goudreault, O.M.I., “Service d’Évaluation des Missionaries,” Kerygma 6: 190-95.
24 Lesotho had been united with French Canada from 1930-47, “twinned” from 1947-67: Donat Levasseur, O.M.I., A History of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Rome: General House, 1989) 2:103-04, 279.
1 Bernard Doyon, O.M.I., The Cavalry of Christ on the Rio Grande, 1849-83, Milwaukee, Catholic Life Publications, Bruce Press, 1956. The expression, “Cavalry of Christ on the Rio Grande,” was known to the translator of Duchaussois’ Mid Ice and Snow: Mary Loughlin mentions it in the appendix, p. 381, 1937, new edition.
2 Bernard Doyon, “Saint Eugène de Mazenod: The Texas Connection (1849-61),” Southern Province U.S. Newsletter, Nov.-Dec. 1995 (vol. XIII, #22, issue 290), pp. 4-7. The article was prepared for the canonization of Bishop de Mazenod, which took place on December 3, 1995.
3 Jesús Hernández Serrano attended the canonization, and looked in fine health. His cure is told by Fr. Alfred A. Hubenig O.M.I., Living in the Spirit’s Fire: Saint Eugène de Mazenod (Ottawa, Canada, Novalis), 1995, “Epilogue,” pp. 319-25. See also Catholic Digest, “A Modern-Day Miracle,” Dec. 1995, p. 45.
4 Bernard Doyon, “‘Daring’ in Our History,” prepared for the annual (1994) January Southern U.S. Provincial Congress.
5 Bernard Doyon, “The Response of the Oblates to the Founder’s Call to Evangelize,” Vie Oblate Life 42 (1983) 241-56.
6 Clarence Menard, O.M.I., “Oblate Evangelization in the United States, Early Phase (1842-1883),” VOL 42: 257-68. Other authors examined in this book also participated: Francis George (pp. 285-99) and Marcello Zago (pp. 335-72).
1 The appointment on April 8 made p. 1 of The New York Times, April 9, 1997. The Chicago Tribune sent reporters to Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada; and Rome, Italy: see their very extensive coverage both of the appointment (April 9) and the installation (May 7 and 8, 1997). The Oblate dimension of Archbishop George’s life was thoroughly presented, especially ministry to the poor and abandoned. The Chicago archdiocesan paper The New World, devoted the May 2, 1997 (vol. 105, #18) issue to the new archbishop.
2 Maurice W. Armstrong et al., The Presbyterian Enterprise (Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1956), p. 176. The daily Yakima Herald Republic gave front page coverage to Archbishop George’s participation in the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Oblate missionaries: Sept. 15, 1997, pp. 1, 3.
3 Text available in Ecumenical Trends 23 (June, 1994) 83-91. Archbishop George described how he came to be involved in the project in “Oblate Interest,” Mission Unity 30 (October, 1994).
4 Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus (eds.), Evangelicals and Catholics Together, Toward a Common Mission (Dallas: Word, 1995).
5 Reported by Hazel Whitman, CNS (Catholic News Service).
6 Crux of the News, May 20, 1996, gave the details of the case just before Archbishop George came to Portland; Feb. 3, 1997 Crux gave the favorable outcome for the Catholic Church, decided on January 27, 1997.
 See J. Pietsch, O.M.L, “P. Robert Streit, O.M.I. Ein Pionier der katholischen Missionswissenschaft”. Schriftenreihe der Neue Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft 11 (1952): 7-8.
 For the bibliography of R. Streit, see J. Pietsch, “P. Robert Streit,” pp. 50-55.
 R. Streit. Führer durch die katholische Missionsliteratur, (Freiburg: Herder, 1911), xi, 146 pp.
 See J. Pietsch, “P. Robert Streit,” p. 52.
 See J. Schmidlin, “Chateaubriand und Maistre über die Missionen,” Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft 21 (1931): 297.
 See Die Konferenz der Missionskommission des Zentralkomitees der Katholikenversammlungen Deutschlands am 22 Januar 1910. Offizieller Bericht von Dr. Werthmann, Freiburg: Caritasdruckerei, 1910.
 R. Streit, Die Missionsgeschichte in ihrer gegenwärtigen Lage und der Plan einer Missionsbibliographie. Denkschrift im Auftrage des Missionsausschusses des Zentralkomitees der Generalversammlung der Katholiken Deutschlands (Freiburg: Caritasdruckerei, 1910), 30 pp.
 Zwei Denkschriften zur Missionsgeschichte: 1. Über die Herausgabe missionswissenschaftlicher Quellen, von Universitätsprofessor Dr. J. Schmidlin. 2. Über die Herausgabe einer Missionsbibliographie. von P. Rob. Streit. Freiburg: Caritasdruckerei, 1911.
 See J. Glazik, M.S.C., 50 Jahre Katholische Missionswissenschaft in Münster, 1911-1961. Festschrift herausgegeben von … (Münster: Aschendorff, 1961), 212 pp.
 See R. Streit, “Die Eröffnung der Weltmissionsausstellung im Vatikan,” Die Katholischen Missionen 53 (1924/25): 133-38. R. Streit, “Die Missionsbibliothek der Vatikanischen Missionausstellung,” Die Katholischen Missionen 54 (1926): 165-08. R. Streit, Catholic Missions in Figures and Symbols Based on the Vatican Missionary Exhibition (New York: Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1927), 172 pp. (translated from the German).
 See J. Pietsch, “P. Robert Streit,” pp. 43-46.
 See R. Becker, O.M.I., “P. Dr. Johannes Dindinger, O.M.I. zum vollendeten 70. Lebensjahre,” Missionswissenschaftliche Studien, Festschrift, J. Rommerskirchen und N. Kowalsky, eds. (Aachen: Verlag Metz, 1951), pp, 13-18. For Dindinger’s bibliography, see ibid., pp. 16-18, also Bibliografia Missionaria 22 (1958): 4-6. Sylloge, a much-valued collection of documents of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, was edited by Dindinger and G. Monticone (Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1939), 788 pp.
 See N. Kowalsky, “P. Johannes Dindinger,” Der Weinburg 39 (1959): 349.
 See A. Reuter, O.M.I. “Ein Leben im Dienste der Missionsbibliographie. Zum 70. Geburtstag von P. Johannes Rommerskirchen, De Archivis et Bibliothecis Missionibis atque Scientiae Missionum Inservientibus, Festschrift, ed. by J. Metzler, and published as Euntes Docete 21 (1968): 11-21.
 See W. Henkel. “The Bibliography of Fr. J. Rommerskirchen,” De Archiois d Bihliofheeis, pp. 23-32; also in Bibliografio. Missionaria 41 (1977): 5-12.
 R. Streit, in Bibliothca Missionum, 1 (1916): v-vi.
 R. Streit, in ibid.: x.
 J. Pietsch, “P. Robert Streit,” pp. 20-21.
 R. Streit, in Bibliothca Missionum 1 (1916): xi.
 J. Schmidlin, Theologische Revue (1917): 366-68. For further reviews, see J. Pietsch, “P. Robert Streit,” pp. 24-30.
 J. Beckmann, “Werden, Wachsen und Bedeutung der Bibliothca Missionum,”. in De Archivis et Bibliothecis Missionibis. pp. 33-57.
 J. Beckmann, in Neue Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft 12 (1956): 74.
 On this subject, see J. Metzler, “La Pontificia Biblioteca Missionaria ‘de Propaganda Fide:’” Bibliografia Missionaria 25 (1962): 5-17, and “The Pontifical Missionary Library ‘De Propaganda Fide’” De Archivis et Bibliothecis, pp. 347-60.
1 I am indebted to the editor of O.M.I. Information, Sept. 1986 (236/86) for the above information: pp. 1-2; Ned Carolan, O.M.I. helped me update it.
2 Marcello Zago, O.M.I., “The Superior General’s First Letter to the Oblates,” O.M.I. INFORMATION, December, 1986 (240/86), p. 2. See also the editor’s description of Assisi on p. 4.
3 Marcello Zago, “Day of Prayer for Peace,” O.M.I. DOCUMENTATION, February 1987 (147/87), pp. 1-8; Kerygma 21 (1987) 97-106. See Writings below for other journals with this article. For two examples of how the Assisi event has continued and expanded, see June Hager, “A ‘Holy Alliance’ for Peace?”, Inside the Vatican, December, 1994, pp. 14-15, describing the November 3, 1994 Sixth World Conference on Religion and Peace (at the Vatican), and James S. Torrens S.J., “A Letter from Florence,” America, December 16, 1995, pp. 4-5, describing the Ninth International Encounter for Peace, October 22-25, 1995.
4 Marcello Zago, O.M.I., “Commentary on Redemptoris Missio,” Redemption and Dialogue, ed. William R. Burrows (Maryknoll, N.Y., Orbis, 1993), pp. 56-90.
5 Marcello Zago, O.M.I., “The Missionary Importance of the Encyclical Ut Unum Sint,” Omnis Terra 29 (Rome, 1995), pp. 488-92. I am grateful to Father General for calling my attention to this article: Zago to Winter, April 30, 1996.
6 When he was a seminarian in 1957, his superior described him as “always smiling”: O.M.I. Information, Sept. 1986 (236/86), p. 2.
7 Thirty-four Oblate bishops and one prefect apostolic participated: O.M.I. Information, Feb. 1996 (342) pp. 9-10.
8 Marcello Zago, O.M.I., “Laici missionari, il Dr. Dooley nel Laos,” Missioni O.M.I. XLVI (Roma, 1967, #7), pp. 18-24. See also the interview with O’Grady cited below in Writings, 1978-79.
1 Michael J. Devaney, O.M.I., Arctic Apostle, Bishop Arsene Turquetil, O.M.I. (N.Y.: Paulist Press, 1958 originally; reprinted in 1959 by friends of the author and now distributed by the Vocation Dept. of the Eastern U.S. Province). See Devaney to Winter, March 27, 1997, for the unusual story of its authoring and printing. Donat Levasseur, O.M.I., in his History of the Missionary Oblates (Rome: General House, 1989) gives some details on Turquetil: 2:184-94. And Achiel Peelman, O.M.I., authored the article on Bishop Turquetil in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (N.Y.: Macmillan, 1998), p. 685.
2 An Oblate of Mary Immaculate, in his very valuable master’s thesis A Bibliography of the Works of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the United States, 1915-54 (Washington, D.C., Catholic University of America 1958) lists (pp. 134-35) 14 articles on the Arctic by Turquetil from July, 1939, to December, 1944: for the magazine of the Southern U.S. Province Mary Immaculate (8), for the magazine of the Eastern U.S. Province Oblate World (5), and for the magazine of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith World-Mission (1): “St. Therese, Missionary of the Eskimos,” 5 (Winter, 1954) 435-65. Among his writings: a very complete Inuit-French grammar; a thorough examination of marriage (French); documents for the first diocesan synod (French, 79 pp); and an English untitled 10-page manuscript whose first phrase is “To begin my story of the conversion of the Eskimo.”
3 Midili to Winter, November 15, 1997, noting that it was on this Mission Sunday that Pope John Paul II chose to declare St. Thérèse only the 3rd woman Doctor of the Church.
4 Josef Metzler, O.M.I., “Pius XI, 1857-1939, The Missionary Pope,” Mission Legacies, edited by Gerald H. Anderson and others, Maryknoll, N.Y. Orbis, 1994, pp. 55-61. Metzler’s article appeared in an earlier form: “The Legacy of Pius XI,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research April 1993, pp. 62-65.
5 The French original contains 76 photos; the English, only one. The French is footnoted, and much more complete; the English has no documentation. Mary Loughlin seems to have written the English epilogue herself; it is entirely different from the French epilogue. And her “Translator’s Prologue” (pp. 9-24) gives us a thumbnail sketch of Fr. Morice’s writings (pp. 23-24). The French original is Monseigneur Turquetil O.M.I., Apotre des Esquimaux et le Miracle des ses Missions, Winnipeg, 1935, 283 pp.
6 See also Mary Travers, Fighting the Good Fight, the Life and Work of Fr. Bob Biasiolli, O.M.I. (Missionary Society of Oblate Fathers of Texas, 1983).
7 MIVA’s USA director is Fr. Philip DeRea, M.S.C.; the national headquarters is 1400 Michigan Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017; listed in the Catholic Directory 1997, p. 1251. A nine-page Mission and Ministry Statement and report is available.
8 John Madigan, O.M.I., described how the paperback helped attract him to the Oblates: interview, September 23, 1996. The thesis cited above (p. 109) lists 15 articles written on the Arctic by Fr. Leising from December, 1944 to February, 1946. Most recently, his “Tuktu: The Adventures of Tuktu Atata” was published in the Oblate World and Voice of Hope October, 1996, p. 6.
9 Breynat visited Turquetil in Washington several times. Their late-night bridge games and spirited arguments are part of the lore of the Washington community.
10 Oblate Information #240 (Dec. 1986), p. 4.
11 Arthème Dutilly, O.M.I., Contribution à la Flore du Versant Sud De La Baie James, Quebec-Ontario (CUA Press, Arctic Institute, 1963).
12 René Fumoleau, Here I Sit (Novalis, 1995), reviewed by Wayne A. Holst, Presbyterian Record 120 (October, 1996, #9) 45. Dr. Holst is a research associate with AINA (Arctic Institute of North America), University of Calgary, and has been most supportive of OCMS.
13 Levasseur 2:170-71 documents the murder; Breynat (1955) is most detailed (146-55). Duchaussois (1937) is also thorough: 363-73.
14 Oblate Conference of Canada, “An Apology to the Native People,” Kerygma 25 (1991, #57) 129-33. Dr. Holst presents the context in a paper he gave to the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion (June 5-8, 1994) and printed in Mission 3 (1996, 2) 153-61: “After the Apologies: Discerning and Applying Native Spiritual Traditions in the Canadian Churches.”
15 See especially Kerygma 25: 141-58.
16 Martha McCarthy, From the Great River to the Ends of the Earth: Oblate Missions to the Dene, 1847-1921 (Edmonton: U. Of Alberta Press, 1995), reviewed by Wayne A. Holst, Arctic Journal, March, 1996, p. 99.
17 Robert Choquette, The Oblate Assault on Canada’s Northwest (Ottawa: U. Of Ottawa Press, 1995), review by Wayne A. Holst, Arctic Journal, Dec. 1995, p. 397.