By Will Shaw with Janice Cooke
On October 5, 2023, the General Administration in Rome announced the appointment of the members new Provincial Council who will serve alongside the new Provincial, Fr. Raymond Cook, OMI. They, along with Fr. Cook will serve a term of three years. The new council will be installed along with the new provincial in Washington, DC on October 23, 2023.
Below is a short biography of each of the new council members.
Fr. Emmanuel Bwalya Mulenga, 42 years old, was born in Kabwe, Zambia. He attended school in Zambia and joined the Oblates there before coming to the U.S. to continue his formation and studies. He received an M. Div at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio and was ordained in 2012.
Since ordination Fr. Mulenga has had assignments as a Parochial Vicar in Zambia, and as Pastor of St. Augustine Parish New Orleans, LA. A member of the provincial Council since 2020, Fr. Mulenga, among other things, has served on the USP Finance Committee, the Formation/Vocation Committee, and as a representative to CROCUS.
Fr. (José) Antonio Ponce Diaz, was born in Jalisco, Mexico and will be celebrating his 50th birthday on October 14, 2023. Fr. Ponce did his Oblate formation in Mexico and was ordained by Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI in Tijuana, Mexico in 2009.
Since ordination his assignments have included: Colegio Vista Hermosa in Mexico City, Mexico, Iglesia San Eugenio de Mazenod in Tijuana, Mexico, Director of the JPIC Office, Washington, DC, and he served on the staff and as Formation Community Director/Superior of the Bl. Mario Borzaga Formation Community in San Antonio, TX.
Fr. Ponce has been a member of the U.S. Provincial Council since 2017 and most recently, he has been Parish Priest in Residence at San Juan de los Lagos Parish in San Antonio.
Fr. Salvador Gonzalez-Gutierrez, OMI, 52, was born in Puente Grande (Jalisco), Mexico, and grew up in Oakland, CA. After his Novitiate in Godfrey, IL, Fr. Gonzalez studied Theology at the International Scholasticate in Rome, Italy. He was ordained in 2004 at Sacred Heart Church in Oakland, CA.
Since ordination, Fr. Gonzalez has served as Parochial Vicar at three Oblate Parishes: Nuestra Señora del Carmen and St. Patrick’s in Lowell, MA, and at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Houston, TX. He was on staff at Immaculata Retreat House in Willimantic, CT, and King’s House in Belleville, IL. In 2020 he became Director of King’s House, and in 2022, he also took on the Directorship of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
Fr. Ray John Marek, OMI, 62, was born in East Barnard, TX. He was part of the Oblate pre-novitiate program at St. Edward University in Austin, TX. He then made his novitiate in Godfrey, IL, and then continued formation at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio and St. Joseph’s Scholasticate in Cedara, Republic of South Africa. He was ordained by Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI at Holy Cross Parish in East Bernard, TX in September 1989.
Since ordination Fr. Marek has served in a variety of assignments including: instructor at St. Anthony HS Seminary in San Antonio, and as Parochial Vicar in two parishes, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Houston, and at Our Lady of Guadalupe/St. Jude Shrine in New Orleans, LA. He attained a Doctor of Ministry degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology, after which he was Associate Professor of homiletics and Director of the D. Min. Program (2000-2005) at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. Fr. Ray John also served as Provincial Treasurer from 2012-2017. Since 2020, Fr. Marek has been Associate Director, and now Director of Lenox House of Spirituality in Oakland, CA.
Fr. Quilin Bouzi, OMI, 63, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Fr. Bouzi attended the Oblate Novitiate in Godfrey, IL and Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX. He was ordained at St. James Parish in Brooklyn, NY in 2007 by fellow-Haitian, Bishop Pierre-Antoine Paulo, OMI.
After ordination Fr. Bouzi served as Parochial Vicar at St. William Parish in Tewksbury, MA, and later at St. Stephen’s Parish in Miramar, FL. In 2011 Fr. Bouzi moved north to Buffalo, NY where he became Assistant Director/Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Hope Parish. He became Pastor of three parishes in 2014: Holy Angels, Our Lady of Hope and Holy Cross, all in Buffalo. Since 2017 Fr. Bouzi has been Pastor of St. William Parish in Tewksbury, MA.
Fr. Juan Manuel Gaspar, OMI, is 46 years old and was born in Houston, TX. Fr. Gaspar is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas as an educator with a concentration in Bilingual Education. After entering Oblate formation, he studied at the Oblate Novitiate in Godfrey, IL, and received an M.Div. in Theology from Oblate School of Theology. He was ordained at Oblate School of Theology by Bishop Gerald Wiesner, OMI, in 2013.
Since ordination Fr. Gaspar’s assignments have included: Parochial Vicar at Santa Rosa Parish in San Fernando, CA, as well as part-time Vocation Ministry in San Fernando. In 2016 he joined the staff at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL. Next, he became Director of the Bishop Fallon Pre-Novitiate and Residence in Buffalo, NY. He returned to Belleville in 2020 to become Director of the Henri Tempier House of Formation and Pre-Novitiate. Fr. Gaspar is currently Director/Superior at the Bl. Mario Borzaga Formation Community in San Antonio, TX.
If you missed the biographical sketch of the new Provincial, Fr. Raymond Cook, from a couple of weeks ago, you may see it HERE