FROM THE EDITOR:
NEWS FROM THE PROVINCES:
Below is the latest account we have of the damage the earthquake did to our confreres of the Province of Santiago, Chile. Information is still hard to obtain due to the difficult circumstances of broken communications and travel made difficult by destroyed roads and bridges.
As we mentioned last month (SCALA#54) that we would do, we include information this month on the situation in Vietnam given to us by Father Vincent Pham Trung Thanh, Provincial Superior of Vietnam.
Once again we remind everybody not to let the needs of our confreres and people in Haiti slip from our minds. The spring rains there are making living conditions very harsh.
Perhaps it is a sign that we are living our Redemptorist charism to the most abandoned and poor that we have to multi-task in so many different, difficult situations around the world.
Fr. Joaquim Parron, provincial of Campo Grande sends this note:
“On January 29, The Province of Campo Grande celebrated the 80th anniversary of the arrival of the first Redemptorist Missionaries from the Baltimore Province. It was in that month of 1930, that the pioneer missionaries, Fr. Francis Morh, C.Ss.R. and R. Alphonsus Hild C.Ss.R. assumed the Parish of the Immaculate Conception in Aquiduana, Mato Grosso do Sul, in the wetlands of Brazil. Soon after, they opened new mission fronts in Miranda, Campo Grande and on the frontier with Paraguay in the cities of Bela Vista and Ponta Porã.
It was truly an honor to receive the Provincial of the Baltimore Province, Fr. Pat Woods C.Ss.R, and the Provincial Econome, Fr. Ed Faliskie C.Ss.R. The presence of Fr. Pat and Fr. Ed demonstrated the affection and high regard the Baltimore Province has always shown to Campo Grande. Also, we were able to express to them our gratitude not only for the men of Baltimore who came to evangelize our Brazilian people, but also for the efforts of many confreres who, even though they never set foot in Brazil, nonetheless helped and supported the missionary project among the most abandoned in this ‘Land of the Holy Cross’.
We Redemptorists of Campo Grande once again give thanks to God from the bottom of our hearts for the Baltimore Province, for its heroism, readiness to sacrifice and for the intrepid missionary spirit of this Redemptorist entity.”
While speaking of the Baltimore Province, Father Patrick Woods, Provincial Superior, writes: “Here at our Provincial Residence we have more Mass vestments of various liturgical colors than we are able to use. They are simple vestments and very lightweight. I am happy to offer them to any Redemptorist house at no cost, other than a prayerful remembrance of the laity who made and sewed them and if they were in memory of a deceased person. I think they would be good for the missions. I will even pay the shipping. If you are interested contact Father Woods at Woodscssr@aol.com or Father Francis Gargani, Rector, at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Bishop Roger Emile Aubry, C.Ss.R., the Vicar Apostolic emeritus of The Apostolic Vicariate of Reyes, Bolivia passed away in Bolivia on February 17th at the age of 86. The Swiss born Bishop Aubry was missioned to Boliva through the then Province of Lyon around 1950. By all accounts he was a much beloved and spiritually influential leader of the Bolivian Church. May he receive the eternal reward that is promised to the sons of St. Alphonsus.
Grace and Redemption for All!
Editor’s note: The accompanying photos of the churches are pre-earthquake photos. We have not yet received photos of the damage.
On Monday, March 1, 2010, in the afternoon, I was able to talk to Pedro Irizar by telephone about the situation of our confreres and communities in Chile. The earthquake was very strong, 8.8 on the Richter scale. It lasted about three minutes. The situation is very difficult for everyone and, in some places, it is chaotic. In many places there is a lack of water and electricity. Communications are down. There are highways that are cut off and bridges which are destroyed. A good evaluation of all the destruction still needs to be made. But already they are talking about 800 dead and many people injured. There is a lot of damage and destroyed property.
The confreres are okay, but quite shaken. The three communities most affected were Cauquenes, Penco (in the area of Concepción, the epicenter of the earthquake) and Temuco. The one most severely affected was the community at Cauquenes.
Temuco: The confreres are okay. The house was affected. Everything in the house was thrown around and the church also suffered some damage.
In regards to the seminarians who were on vacation, they have all been located and are safe. But some of their families have lost their homes as have the parents of Father Nestor.
The Penco community, which we did not have any communication with until today, is safe, but the church has suffered damage.
The difficulty we have is there is no money and we will be asking for this emergency assistance from the same communities that have also suffered from the earthquake here in Chile.
The task before us is very difficult because we have to rebuild the church, parish hall and house in Cauquenes. Cauquenes is very significant for us as it is our second foundation.
Dear Father General, it is in difficult times such as these that we more clearly appreciate the presence of God. In these days I have witnessed the capacity of our confreres to be strong and work indefatigably. It is admirable to see Fathers Raul and Julio taking care of the elderly confreres despite all the difficulties, while also attending to the needs of their people, bringing them spiritual comfort, food and helping to arrange shelter -- although they too have been left without anything.
I thank Father Enrique López and all the members of the Congregation who have expressed their prayerful concern and support for us at this time.
We can only look ahead to rebuild ourselves with the hope that Christ our Redeemer is always with us and we will move forward
Three Korean brothers have been preparing for profession. Our novice, Bro, Jacobo Park, has finished his retreat and just awaiting the joy of profession day on February 10th. Bro. Michael Kim is now on retreat for his renewal of temporary profession on that same day. For the last two weeks, Bro. Stephano Jung is in seclusion as part of his 30 day retreat, for final vows on February 25th.
Recently, Fr. Casimiro Kwon, regional superior, and the perpetual novena team had a meeting with the Archbishop of Kwangju about having a novena in his Archdiocese. He gladly approved the plan. So by next month, a suitable church will have been selected, and the novena started. However, the best blessing we have received is that more confreres are praying in community!
Last year the Province of Vienna celebrated the Centenary of St. Clement M. Hofbauer's canonization. This year the Austrian Redemptorists will celebrate the jubilee of another prominent Austrian Redemptorist: Servant of God Brother John Baptist Stöger, known for his holiness. Brother Baptist Stöger was born 200 years ago, on October 4th, 1810, to be exact.
Anniversary celebrations are being planned for the autumn. The focus of the celebrations will be in Eggenburg, a small town in Lower Austria, around 80 km north-west of Vienna. It was there, in the Redemptorist monastery, that Brother Baptist lived and worked for most of his life.
Brother Stöger worked as a gardener in the Eggenburg monastery’s garden. He died on November 3rd, 1883, having spent 46 years in the Congregation. Wherever he went, whatever he did, he did it for the love of his fellow human beings. At the same time he excelled in a sense of reticence, humbleness, forbearance, dedication, and prayerful zeal. His lifestyle might easily be summed up in the well-known summary of St. Benedict’s rule of life: “Ora et labora - “Pray and work”.
This cross will be carried in procession on Good Friday through the streets of Madrid to be acclaimed and venerated. And then it will continue its missionary advance through other dioceses, fulfilling, besides its pastoral message, its principal meaning: celebration and convocation; directed in a special way, but not exclusively, to the young. A celebration and a convocation that prepares us for and anticipates already the great celebration and great convocation of the World Day of Youth, Madrid 2011, in which some two million persons are expected to come to our country in order to be with the Pope. This will be one more opportunity to make real the logo around which we gather: “Rooted and built up in Christ, firm in the faith” (Col.2:7).
Editor’s note: You may find more information in various languages
about World Youth Day in Spain in 2011 at:
Rome, February 18, 2010
Editor’s note: Father Vincent Pham Trung Thanh, Provincial Superior of the Province of Vietnam came to Rome to receive the cremains of our confrere, Father Francis Xavier Huu Hua, for return to his beloved Vietnam. He took the opportunity to update us on conditions in Vietnam.
SCALA: What is the socio-political situation of Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975?
Rigorously implementing their politics, the communist regime put all the previous government's soldier and officer in the concentration camps for re-education. Imposing their ideology, the communists have rejected the right of private property. They have limited people's freedom to the very strict minimum. The freedom of religion is the most severely controlled. The whole country has fallen into deep economic misery and profound moral crisis.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Eastern communist bloc regimes, the Vietnamese communist government loosened it’s economic policies making things a little easier. Religion was also tolerated a bit more. However, other social problems have emerged and developed. Corruption is widespread and growing out of control. It has caused social and moral decay, and consequently, has downgraded the moral education of the people. It has created many forms of injustice; and it has caused a growing gap between the rich and the poor.
SCALA: What is the situation of the Catholic Church in Vietnam?
FATHER THANH: Since the Vietnamese communists entered into power, almost all religious properties and facilities for education, for medical service, for social charity and philanthropy have been nationalized. Even monasteries and convents have been dispossessed and occupied by the government. Government officials have used them for their own interests and benefits.
The leaders of the Catholic Church in Vietnam have spoken out on this. They have continuously appealed to the highest government levels, but have been ignored. In 2008, an entertainment complex with a night club was scheduled to be built on the land that was once the site of the former Nunciature in Hanoi, which has been occupied by the government since 1975. The Archbishop of Hanoi, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, reacted by gathering his faithful there to pray for justice and peace. He also met with the government of Hanoi to reaffirm freedom of religion as a basic human .right. He denounced the totalitarianism of the government’s policy of "request and grant* for rights that are legitimate to the Church. He also demanded the unconditional return of properties, which had not been used for the purpose of the common good.
Hanoi's authorities retaliated against the Archbishop by different tactics. They mobilized their state-run mass media machine to distort his words and to defame him. They quarantined and segregated him in order to paralyze his pastoral activities.
Following the case of the Nunciature in Hanoi, the government applied the same tactics with the same ambition to the Redemptorist’s property in Thai Ha (Hanoi), then for Tarn Toa parish church (Quang Binh, Vinh), Loan Ly church (Hue Archdiocese), the property of the Paulist Sisters in Vinh Long (Vinh Long), and recently for Dong Chiem parish (Hanoi).
SCALA: What is the situation of the Redemptorists in Vietnam today?
FATHER THANH: Since 1975, most of the Redemptorist properties and buildings in Vietnam have been nationalized. We name here just some of the major ones: Large pieces of land and the juvenate-high school belonging to the Redemptorists in Hue; Redemptorist monastery in Nhatrang (now becoming Hal Yen hotel); 50 hectare piece of land, a chicken farm, and Redemptorist studendate in Dalat; the monastery and 150 hectare plantation of coffee and oranges in Phu Son; the monastery and 150 hectare of coffee and fruit land in Phu Dong; the 12 hectare monastery and studendate facility and the 12 hectare plantation of rice in Thu Due; 8500 square meter graveyard belonging to the Redemptorist community of Saigon; other self-supporting activities of our province such as a ranch of 1000 pigs, a factory of animal food, a 100 room hotel, etc.
The recent serious case of confrontation between our Redemptorist confreres and the government has been that of our community in Thai Ha (Hanoi). Our Redemptorist community there had legally owned a 60,000 square meter piece of land. Since 1954, under the pretext of “borrowing” for the people, the communist government has gradually occupied most of that land, narrowing down our portion to only 2700-square meter. In August 2008, the government officially sold this piece of land to a private real estate company, ignoring all our previous legal appeals on this issue. Our confreres and the faithful of Thai Ha reacted peacefully by organizing prayer vigils for peace and justice. These vigils have now become a regular spiritual activity of that parish community. The local government has responded by starting a systematic campaign to vandalize our monastery, to harass our confreres, to imprison and to prosecute our faithful, and to disrupt the peaceful carrying out of our community’s mission and the peace of the parishioners.
SCALA: How has all this affected your ministry in Vietnam?
FATHER THANH: Through the particular circumstances and difficulties, all our confreres, have had an opportunity to be more conscious of our concrete mission as Redemporists in this country. We have a providential occasion to recognize anew the poor people whom we would like to serve and to whom we should announce the Gospel of our Redeemer. They are the victims of grave social injustice and severe moral deterioration. They are oppressed not only physically and materially, but also, and especially, morally and spiritually. They are the real and concrete abandoned human
Our commitment to the poor, for their human rights and for justice is concretized through such actions as: Prayer vigils in communion with the whole Church; studying and making known the social teaching of the Church, being the voice for the oppressed, witnessing to the truth and promoting social justice through our mass-media apostolate.
All our actions are always undertaken under the inspiration of the official teaching of the Church. We value the guidelines of the Vietnamese Episcopal Conference, and we are open to reflection and dialogue with our Bishops on the issues of social justice.
SCALA: What is the response of the Vietnamese government?
FATHER THANH: We know that, to protect their regime and to obstinately preserve their own interests, the communist government in Vietnam does not accept any questioning of their power. They will keep being single-minded and oppressing the poor people; and they will continue to persecute our Faith.
The vicious tactics of this communist government include using their State-run mass media to spread lies and propaganda, to distort the truth, to reject justice, and to discredit those who dare to speak out, like the Redemptorists. They also mobilize their uniformed police, their secret agents, and even their protected gangsters to assault citizens, to harass religious and priests, and to imprison political dissidents. Their goal is to terrorize and to suppress all opposition.
SCALA: Is there hope for dialogue?
FATHER THANH: For many years, tha authorities of the Catholic Church, and in particular, we Redemptorists have tried to dialogue with the government . We have repeatedly presented to the political leaders our constructive opinions and suggestions in view of the common good. Unfortunately, they have never valued our good will. So many of our petitions and open letters to them during these many years have been put aside by them.
We will keep dialoguing with them. We will have to be, however, as guileless as doves and as wise as serpents. We will especially have to be prudent in order not to fall into their trap and not become divided among ourselves.
SCALA: How can we help?
FATHER THANH: We humbly appeal to our confreres to support us by prayer. Concretely, when we are attacked and when our confreres’ safety and lives are endangered by this abusive, irrational government, please inform our Congregation in order that they might be in communion with us through prayer.
In such cases, we would also request our Redemptorist Units around the world to inform the political leaders of their countries, so that they can raise the issue of respect for human rights to the Vietnamese embassies and consulates in their countries. This concrete action will have a very powerful effect, because presently the Vietnamese communist government does care about their image before the international community.
We will try to keep you informed and updated on our situation. And we are grateful to the confreres for their concern.
The General Council recently approved the definitive texts of the XXIV General Chapter: the Message and Decisions, plus a Preface by the new Superior General, Most Rev. Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R.
The original language is English. The carefully translated texts in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Polish, Italian and German have also been approved. Everything has been sent to Valsele Tipografica, the publishing house of the Province of Naples. Seven booklets have been printed, according to language.
Enough copies have been sent to each (Vice)Province, Region and Mission so that every confrere, Redemptorist bishop, community of Redemptoristines or other affiliated Institutes within its boundaries should receive one. We hope everyone will receive a copy before Easter. There will be some extra copies available in the General Curia. Please contact me if you need more copies (email@example.com).
These official versions of the final documents of the XXIV General Chapter will also be available on the web site of the general government: www.cssr.com. Please go to this link: http://www.cssr.com/chapterdocsxxiv/Documenti_Finali-EN.pdf
We will also be sending copies of the official photograph of the new Superior General. We are sending each Unit an average of 2-3 for each community plus a few more. This photograph should be placed in all our common rooms, sacristies, schools, etc. Again, if needed, I should be able to send a few more.
The official Acts of the XXIV General Chapter, Acta Integra Capituli Generalis XXIV – 2009, is in the process of being prepared for publication. It will still be a while before it is ready. Hopefully it will arrive to you in the Easter season. We will probably send at least one copy for every community. Analecta C.Ss.R. 2008-2009 is also being prepared for publication, but will probably not arrive till mid-summer or in the dead of winter, depending on what part of the world you live in.
May the Lenten season bring us all the grace of conversion to the justice of God, which is mercy!
Father General, as the first Redemptorist Superior General from Canada, was interviewed by Canadian Catholic Television “Salt & Light” while preparing to move to Rome. The interviewer is Father Tom Rosicka C.S.B., a Basilian priest, who is chief executive officer of Salt & Light. He also serves on the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
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Recent noteworthy events in the Redemptorist Family. For a complete record of Transitions visit the Officialia site
First Profession of Temporary Vows:
Profession of Perpetual Vows:
60th Jubilee of Profession:
60th Jubilee of Ordination:
50th Jubilee of Ordination:
25th Jubilee of Ordination:
Rev. Krzysztof Mamala (Vice Province of Bahia) appointed from June 20, 2010 to June 20, 2013 for the pastoral care of the polish language faithful of Sant’Alfonso, Rome. February 24, 2010.
Rev. John Joseph Steingraeber (Province of Denver) appointed for the audit of April 2010 as Internal Auditor of the General Econome office. February 24, 2010.
Rev. Steven Neel Wilson (Province of Denver) appointed for a period of six years (July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016) as Internal Auditor of the General Econome office.
Erection of Houses:
Domus “Saint Francis of the Stigmata – Postulantado” in the city of Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Erected February 4, 2010.
Domus “Mother of God” in the city of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. Erected February 4, 2010.
Domus “Thai Binh” – Address: Thon Bong Dien Bac, Huyen Vu Thur, Tinh Thai Binh, Vietnam. Erected February 4, 2010.
Domus “|Da Nang” – Address: Thi Tran Tien Ky, Huyen Tien Phuoc,Tinh Quang Nam, Vietnam. Erected February 4, 2010.
Domus “Vinh Long” – Address: Tan Hoi, Thi xa Ving Long, Tinh Ving Long, Vietnam.
Domus “Giong Trom” – Address: Xa Binh Thanh, Huyen Giong Trom, Tinh Ben Tre, Vietnam. Erected February 4, 2010.