FROM THE EDITOR:
FROM THE UNITS:
As Father General wrote in a special message to the Polish province and which we distributed to the entire Congregation, our hearts and prayers were with the confreres and people of Poland in their time of grief at the loss of their President and his wife, Lech Kaczynski and Maria, who, on April 10th, in the service of their country, were tragically killed in an airplane crash in Russia on their way to a ceremony dedicated to Polish military personnel massacred in the Stalinist era.
Father Andrzej Kukla, C.Ss.R., of our community in Krakow attended the funeral and writes:
“The funeral of President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria
took place in two stages. On Saturday, April 17th, the Apostolic Nuncio,
Archbishop. J. Kowalczyk, with the Bishops of Poland, celebrated Holy
Mass for the victims in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw. The main altar
was adorned with portraits of all 96 persons killed in the crash.
More than 100,000 faithful gathered in the square and prayed for Poland,
for the victims, and for the families that have been touched by the
death of relatives. The Mass took on the character of a national ceremony.
Pope Benedict XVI was to send Cardinal Angelo Sodano as his personal
representative but he was unable to arrive due to the volcanic ash
cloud that blocked the skies of Europe at that time. This also prevented
other foreign dignitaries from arriving.
We Redemptorists pride ourselves on our missionary dynamism. The following list of events that will be occurring between now and September reflect that dynamism in the form of meetings to chart our future and events to celebrate God’s providence in carrying out our charism:
►Meeting of the Conference Assembly of Europe, May 9-12, 2010 in Vienna, Austria.
►Erection of the Province of Paraguay, August 1, Asuncion, Paraguay
►50th Annniversary of the Province of Bogota, August 2 – 7
►Youth Pilgrimage in Lviv, Ukraine, August 9 – 14
►Meeting of the Conference Assembly of Africa and Madagascar, August 21-31, in Ouagadougou, Burkina-Faso.
►Meeting of the Conference Assembly of Asia-Oceania in Bangalore, India, September 19-29
Grace and Redemption for All!
FROM THE UNITS:
From April 12th to 15th 2010, in Salvador, the Vice-Province of Bahia hosted an interprovincial study/retreat about the C.Ss.R. Constitutions and Statutes and the decisions of the XXIV General Chapter.
In Salvador, 77 confreres participated from the following Units: the Vice-Provinces of Bahia, Recife, Fortaleza, Manaus and the Province of Porto Alegre.
The facilitators, Father Vinícios Ponciano (coordinator SIER) and Father Marcelo Conceição Araújo (one of the vocales in the General Chapter), both of the Province of São Paulo, were well prepared. They used a diverse methodology and were secure and clear in the content of their presentations. To them we owe our sincere gratitude for the beautiful work that they did and for their witness.
The prepared content treated our Redemptorist identity founded on the Constitutions of the C.Ss.R. and the evolving new reality of the Congregation, via the process of restructuring, which stems from the decisions of the XXIV General Chapter. It is rich in its challenge and made us reflect from the depths of our being as consecrated Redemptorists.
Time was also well spent detailing the interprovincial projects at the URB level, and of our North-Northeast region. For instance: the Suriname project, the interprovincial novitiate in Campina Grande-Pernambuco, the interprovincial mission in Itabuna-Bahia, and the missionary help to the Vice-Province of Manaus.
The beauiful celebrations and moments of community prayer, the fraternal and cordial atmosphere and the active participation of confreres all added to the occasion being a very important moment within the interprovincial journey of our Brazilian Units. The evaluation made at the end of the enounter/retreat, demonstrated that fact.
From among the many comments made, we highlight a few:
-The encounter/retreat helped the theme of vocation and to renew our way of life. The reflections about the Constitutions and restructuring made one think in a profound manner and the good thing is that these reflecions were done in an interprovincial gathering.
-The confreres noted that the presented content ought not be the object of study and reflection only for students of formation or of new members. It ought to concern all Redemptorists, even the eldest, because the conversion demanded is needed in each confrere.
-The energy of the facilitators stirred up enthusiasm in the confreres, who clearly realized that the Congregation has much to do and that the task is great. The round-table discussion, which included confreres who participated in the XXIV General Chapter, helped to clarify many questions concerning the decisions of the Chapter and the process of restructuring.
-The interprovincial study/retreat brought together confreres of diverse Units, some of whom, although living in the same geographical area, did not know each other. The strength of our youth was highlighted as well. There are many young confreres among us and this is a sign of hope for the Congregation in the regions in which we live.
-The very clear presentation of the interprovincial projects that exist among the Redemptorists of Brazil, led to a widening of horizons, motivated and animated the confreres for more effective collaboration.
-The study/retreat took place in a very happy, fraternal, open and animated atmosphere, despite the rain that fell in Salvador during the entire time. The community living was excellent and the facility was very good.
-For the year 2011, the North-Northeast Units of Brazil have scheduled another interprovincial retreat. It will take place in the Vice-Province of Fortaleza, during the second week after Easter and is open to participation of other Units.
Editor’s note: From March 1st to 5th, the Region of Zimbabwe held an historic convocation attended by all the 28 current and aspiring members of the Region – all natives of Zimbabwe, led by Regional Superior William Guri. Father General, Michael Brehl, also joined in the convocation. The convocation was part of a year long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Region. During the summer, as part of the festivities, there will be 7 first professions, 4 professions of final vows, and 2 ordinations. An official celebration will be held on October 16th. The members of Zimbabwe took the occasion to consider their apostolic thrust, formation, finances and personnel for the next five years.
It was also a time to celebrate their history. The first Redemptorist presence in the Region dates back to 1912 as part of the missionary activity of the Region of South Africa. In 1960 the London Province sent two men to what was then called Rhodesia because South Africa had just become a Vice Province and would no longer be able to send men there. In 1989, when South Africa became a province, several units were asked to take up the mission to Zimbabwe. The Province of Vienna sent two men who tragically died of heart attacks within six months. So the Superior General at the time, Juan Lasso, appealed to the London province for help.
Father Ronnie McAinsh picks up the story from here:
My first real contact with Zimbabwe came when I was Novice Master in Plymouth where I had worked with our young men in Formation for eleven years. I opened a letter one morning from our Provincial which told me that I had been appointed as Superior of our Mission in Zimbabwe, with a mandate to renew the Redemptorist life there.
At that time, we had only two priests in Zimbabwe, both in poor health, one living in Borrowdale and the other in Tafara. I was to go with another young priest – who on receiving his letter, begged the Provincial not to send him to Africa. I was then assigned the assistance of two young Redemptorist students.
We had all sort of difficulties getting Work Permits to enter the country, but these were eventually granted in December 1989. And so the adventure began. I can well remember the excitement as we packed our trunks (we were told we would not be home for three years) and set off via South Africa, for Harare.
The first few months in Tafara were a mixture of highs and lows. We had very little money, only one car, and we could never find our way out of the Indian quarter of Town, which we thought was the best and cheapest place to shop. The liturgy in Mabvuku and Tafara was a mystery to us – the packed Churches, the huge number of young people and the constant demand for Masses for the sick and dying. In addition, great numbers of people called at Alphonsus House. It was only later that I discovered that this was partly because we tried to feed everyone who came!
These years were great years, even although they were tough. At the time, the property at Alphonsus House was very basic. The present classroom was the chapel, and places such as Our Lady’s (the large Student building with its computer lab, library and great Hall), Marianella (our Postulants’ residence) and the Retreat House were not in existence. Nor were the large dining room, professed common room or student common room in the main House.
Our cook, Sr. Richard, looked after us very well in these early days, as did a succession of gardeners and other helpers. The country was stable and there was a general air of hope in the Township parishes in which we worked. Indeed, in these years we were able to construct the large new church in Mabvuku, dedicated to our Lady of Perpetual Help, extend the church in Tafara, and build the community hall there.
We immediately began with a regular prayer life. This was the bedrock of our Redemptorist life: Morning Prayer, meditation and Mass at 6.30am, Midday prayer - which we often missed because we could not find our way back from Town - and Evening Prayer and Meditation again at 6.30. We had brought a second hand television from UK in our luggage, but it did not work; so the evenings were spent quietly – although very often we seemed to be at funerals in the Townships until 9.00 or 10 at night.
We made a lot of mistakes in these early days. We did not understand the culture, and we so often had to learn how things were done in this new setting.
In 1991, we decided to have our first vocations’ workshop. To this came many young men. Fr. Guri is the sole survivor of that meeting! Eventually we accepted postulants - William Guri, Joel Nkunsane and Benjamin Posvo - who joined us and moved into the primitive conditions of a little house we call Bethany. But they were young and enthusiastic – and as postulants travelled all over Harare doing apostolic work; Nazareth House (on bicycles), the School for the Deaf at Emerald Hill and Chichester Convent, a bit nearer home.
These were later joined by others such as Raymond Mupandasekwa. Tendai Tamai and Abel Makahamadze; and so our family began to grow. Since we were determined from the beginning not to simply be a group of priests in Zimbabwe, but a Religious family, we quickly encouraged the vocation of the Brother – men who chose not to be ordained priests – but who wanted to share in the great Redemptorist adventure. Today there are six finally professed brothers all with theology degrees. The presence of our Brothers has complemented the work of those called to the priesthood in our Region, and given a special quality to our Redemptorist Religious Life in Zimbabwe.
One of our great Redemptorist traditions is the preaching of Missions. In the first few years, I gave a few retreats, mainly to priests, Brothers and Sisters – but I longed to preach a mission. The language was a barrier. However, an opening occurred when the parish priest of the Cathedral in Harare, Fr. McCabe, invited me to preach a Mission there. It was a wonderful experience. Although the Mission began at 6.00 each evening, the Church was always full by 5.30, and extras chairs outside and loudspeakers had to be brought in. It was a great experience and confirmed me of the hunger that the people of Zimbabwe have for the Word of God preached with conviction and vigour.
Over the years, similar Missions were preached in other parishes in Harare, notably, Borrowdale, Rhodesville, Mablereign and Mt. Pleasant, and also in the Cathedral in Bulawayo, (twice) as well as two other parishes in that city. School Missions also began in both big cities. And so our privileged work of preaching the gospel to all – especially those who had left or lost the faith, took off.
Since then, I have preached Missions with Zimbabwean Redemptorists in parishes in South Africa, and I am certain that this great work will continue.
I wish to express my thanks to, and confidence in, the wonderful group of Zimbabwean Redemptorists who now work in our Region. They have proved themselves worthy sons of St. Alphonsus.
Of course like all human being there will be mistakes, and ups and downs over the years. However, I have to say that I am proud of the way in which the Redemptorists live the charism of St. Alphonsus, and are dedicated to assisting the most abandoned and the poor though preaching, works of mercy in the social apostolates, spreading the Word through our bookshop and media, and educating people in many areas of life. To them I repeat the words of the Gospel, “Well done good and faithful servants”. And I add to this the promise of St. Alphonsus, that there is a great crown waiting in heaven for all who live and die as Redemptorists. May the next fifty years be richly blessed with personnel and ministry for the Redemptorists in the Region of Zimbabwe.
Editor’s closing note: The political and economic challenges of Zimbabwe are some of the greatest challenges that Redemptorist missionaries face anywhere in the world. The Congregation is very proud of it’s Region of Zimbabwe. What follows is a report and photographs of one important ministry in Zimbabwe among many, that of Brother Benjamin Posvo and his work with “The Mavambo Trust.|”
Mavambo Trust is a not-for-profit organization established in 2001 that provides educational assistance, health, nutrition and psychosocial support to orphans, vulnerable children and young people in the Mabvuku, Tafara and Goromonzi districts of Zimbabwe. The Project name is Foundational Literacy for Life. The relationship between Mavambo Trust and Redemptorists is that The Redemptorists co-founded Mavambo. The relationship has been interactive and proactive. This is due to the fact that the two organizations share the common vision of working with the vulnerable so that they reach their full potential.
1. To Capacity build staff, volunteers ,community-bBased organizations or local initiatives in Mabvuku, Tafara and Goromonzi to better support Orphans and vulnerable children
2. To assist OVC to obtain Birth certificates
3. To provide Educational Support
4. To provide psychosocial support
5. To provide Child rights training
6. To increase access to education on HIV and AIDS and Reproductive health to adolescence
· Provided PSS activities for 11,800 children by August 2009.
· Mobilized 6,000 caregivers on Child Protection by September 2009
· Trained and retained 130 community facilitators since 2003.
· Trained 300 children in Palliative Care, as they do most of the care-giving (June 2009).
· Work with child-led support groups for 141 children living with HIV and AIDS resulting in fighting Stigma and Discrimination to date.
· 95% of the 12,000 children supported by Mavambo remained in school because of the skills learned, which enabled them to cope.
· Received an AWARD from Children First Project funded by USAI D from a total of 23 partners paying attention to Responsiveness, Transparency, Accountability, flexibility,
· Submission of required reports on time.
· Administration offices
Everyone knows that bioethical issues are of great importance in today’s world, but they need to be dealt with competently and applied in places where they are relevant, taking into consideration the moral formation of future generations. In this way bioethics becomes “culture formation” capable of inquiring about the possibility of identifying ways and means of being more formative and not just the transmission of information.
The conference on "Life", which was held from April 23 to 25 in our parish of Ecce Homo, was marked by a basic but reasoned analysis of some problems in bioethics. The idea of holding a conference on issues such as conjugal love, fertility and medically assisted procreation, contraception, abortion and parenting, was a way in which our parish wished to engage the complex culture of our times. The center of moral vision was placed in the context of the person and the “couple.” A genuine and convincing dialogue on realities related to bioethics ensued, but carefully so as not to dispense these realities from an ethical evaluation.
The conference was the first of its kind, born in the wake of a pastoral thrust that our parish community has undertaken for a number of years: an emphasis on families. That is, to speak of "families" and not "family", the latter often seen uniquely and traditionally Christian. The pastoral thrust, on the contrary, while not underestimating the strength and beauty of the Christian family, wanted to open up reflection on the current state of human unions. Professor Giovanni Del Missier, professor of systematic morality at the Alphonsianum presented the material in a context of pastoral reflection for parish level understanding with clarity and skill.
Iraq's Forgotten Conflict
Editor’s note: We have six confreres ministering in Iraq.
Untold until now is the story of “a campaign of liquidation” against Iraq’s religious minorities who, post invasion, have had to endure torture, killings, forced conversions and exile.
As troops move out of Iraq, and in the wake of elections, US and British politicians refer to “the emergence of a pluralistic democracy”.
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk begs to differ. "200,000 Christians fleeing Mosul alone, in fear of their lives, and 1,000 murdered, is not much of a basis for pluralism or democracy.”
It’s not just Christians who suffer. Both Mandaeans, who speak Aramaic – the language of Christ – and the Yazidis, goldsmiths with a history going back further than Christianity or Islam, are fast disappearing, too.
Just what is happening to these urbane, educated, intelligent minorities? Why is it happening? What can be done? And what hope can there possibly be for that ‘pluralistic democracy’?
"Does nobody care about what is going on here?" asks Archbishop Sako, "it’s nothing less than the destruction of our ancient and honoured heritage, and our religious and cultural traditions."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, does. He tells the BBC that he fears it heralds the disappearance of Christianity from the Middle East.
He blames Western ignorance of Christianity in Iraq, which is not about missionaries and converts – Christianity was there long before St Augustine turned up in Britain on his mission of conversion, and half a millennium before the Prophet Mohammed was born. He also blames "a particular kind" of Islam which, to the horror of many Muslims, has wiped out centuries of fruitful religious co-existence.
The book is currently available in English with the hope of further language translations becoming available in the future.
Recent noteworthy events in the Redemptorist Family. For a complete record of Transitions visit the Officialia site
Profession of Perpetual Vows:
Ordination to the Priesthood:
70th Jubilee of Ordination:
60th Jubilee of Ordination:
50th Jubilee of Ordination:
25th Jubilee of Profession:
25th Jubilee of Ordination:
Suppression of House: