OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE
Congress Special Edition
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Good News About Ministry
Natal Provincial Congress
Our Congress will take place at Glenmore Pastoral Centre, Durban, from Monday 24 July beginning with supper at 6.30 pm until Thursday 27th July at around 4.30pm. The Provincial keynote address will be on Monday evening after supper. It will set the agenda for the rest of the congress and motivate the issues to be discussed. Don’t miss that! For more congress details click here or scroll below.
2. Good News About Ministry:
18 June, the feast of Corpus Christi the
new Church of Blessed Sacrament in Virginia, Durban was opened by Bishop Barry WOOD OMI.
About 700 people packed the courtyard, waiting in anticipation for the Bishop to bless the Church and process with the Blessed Sacrament from the old church (now the new hall) into the new church.
The great doors of the new church were ceremoniously opened and the congregation poured in to the joyous singing of a choir made up of catechism children, and all the choirs of the parish.
Bishop Barry presided at the Eucharist. Concelebrants included parish priest Fr. Joe Money OMI, Fr. Stuart Bate, the Oblate Provincial Superior and a number of other Oblate Priests. Redemptorist priests Fr Scott and Fr Sean, who had led the parish in a mission for the previous two weeks, were also present. Deacon Tony de Freitas assisted Bishop Barry and Deacon Mike O'Neill acted as master of ceremonies.
Among the invited guests were the architects and builders of the church and older parish members.
After Mass, tea was served in the courtyard and then parishioners enjoyed a bring and braai which went on well into the afternoon.
3. Good News About People:
Oblate Admitted As Advocate
Father Chris RICHMOND was admitted to the roll of advocates on 9 June 2006 in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
He was presented to Judge Corbrink by Advocate Judy Singh. Attorney Jenny Anthoo had prepared the paperwork.
It was an official act of the court in which five others were admitted as either as advocates, conveyancers or attorneys. In a touching gesture, the judge congratulated the parents present on the achievement of their children. Advocate Richmond may now defend cases in the South African courts.
Before joining the Oblates Father Chris completed a law degree and worked as a prosecutor. He is currently completing a Masters degree in Canon law at St Augustine College of South Africa.
4. Good News About People:
New Natal Oblate
Scholastic Sithabiso SITHOLE has received an obedience to the Natal Province from Father General.
He recently completed his Scholasticate in Maroua Cameroon where he was approved for ordination to the priesthood. He returns to the province in July and will be ordained priest shortly after that.
5. Good News About People:
Scholastic Bafana NDLOVU was ordained deacon on 11 June in Maroua Cameroon. He was ordained together with a number of his classmates.
He returns to the province in July together with Scholastic SITHOLE. Both will be present for the congress.
Brothers SITHOLE and NDLOVU are both from Durban. After some studies at Cedara, they were sent to Cameroon for their theology programme which they have now completed. Both are fully fluent in French.
We are happy to have them back with us. Soyez le bienvenu!
Father Noel PETERS, Superior Inchanga District.
2. Change of email address and cell phone
We now have a database of all members of the province including details of email and cell phone numbers. Please remember that when you have a change of email address or Cell number we should be told immediately to keep our records up-to-date. The details will be available at the Congress when you should ensure that what we have for you is correct.
Book now by post, fax, SMS or email!!
"The World and the Way"
PART A: THE BACKGROUND
1. WHY A CONGRESS
A Requirement of Rule and Provincial Directives
Constitution 108 states (inter alia):
For greater participation in the life and mission of the Province, the Provincial in Council will:… according to needs and possibilities, organize a congress or a similar gathering of the Province, at least once during his term of office, in order to promote a common vision and determine common principles for mission.
Directory for the Natal Province:
51. The provincial in council calls a provincial congress when there are issues of importance on which to whole province need to be consulted.
55. The tasks of the congress are the following:
55.1 To consider the provincial's report on the state of the province;
55.2 To debate in depth the issues on the agenda which concern the religious and apostolic life of the province;
55.3 To determine the priorities of the province for the years ahead;
55.4 To evaluate initial and ongoing formation programmes;
55.5 To evaluate the missionary works of the province;
55.6 To receive reports from the various committees in the province, e.g. vocations, justice and reconciliation.
49. All members of the province are members of the provincial congress with the right to vote on issues presented by the congress.
50. The provincial superior may invite members sponsored by the province who are in first formation whether in temporary or final profession, but these do not have the vote.
Power of Congress
54. The status of the congress is consultative and its recommendations are submitted to the provincial in council for ratification and implementation.
56. The provincial gives serious consideration to the recommendations of the congress since they express the mind of the members of the province brought together for that purpose; the provincial invites the full and free participation of all present. (R107).
57. Following the congress, the provincial in council appoints committees for the execution of the congress recommendations, or, he assigns the recommendations to existing committees for implementation.
Fundamental Motivation in the Spirit of God and Our Religious Commitment
It is clear to me, after 17 months as leader of our province, that we do need a forum where major issues that concern us can be discussed openly and in a spirit of brotherhood and common concern for God’s Mission. That, clearly, is the deeper reason for a Congress. My hope is that the congress will help us to be united mind and heart to a common commitment of our provincial community.
2. THE THEME OF THE CONFERENCE WILL BE "THE WORLD AND THE WAY".
These words are taken from a very provocative sentence emerging from the last paragraph of the "Letter from the 34th General Chapter". That sentence reads: "The world no longer works in the same way." The paragraph outlines the task for Oblates today in these words: "Our task is to be missionaries in this new pluralistic, sensitive and complex reality where like Jesus we are invited to 'cross over' and imitate his self emptying so as to enter more fully into the life of the other, particularly the lives of the poor."
3. CONTEXT AND ISSUES
The context of the congress is found in three events. The first is the work of vision and strategy done during the Immense Hope Project. The second is the recommendations identified by the Councillor for Africa after his visitation of the Natal Province in 2004 to consult for a new administration. The third is in the deliberations of the current administration.
The issues emerging from this context, which will be discussed at the Congress, cover four main areas:
A review and assessment of the Natal Province Strategy document from the Immense Hope Project presented at the OMI General Chapter in 2004.
A presentation of the current priorities developed by the current administration as a result of the visitation made by the General Councillor for Africa in 2004
A presentation by each of the subcommittees set up by the Provincial in Council to realise the goals and strategies developed in 1 and 2 above
A discussion of a number of other “issues of importance” which have developed in the last two years.
PART B CONGRESS PROGRAMME
ONE: THE STATE OF THE PROVINCE
a. The Inspiration of Our Glorious History: The Mother Province of the Oblates in Africa
b The Natal Strategy Document developed in the Immense Hope Project (See C1 below)
c. Our current provincial strategy including issues emerging from the Visit of the African Councillor
(See C 2)
d Owning the current vision: response from the members of the province.
TWO: REPORTS ON OUR SIX CURRENT PRIORITIES
a. Youth Ministry (presentation by committee and discussion)
b. Unity in the Province (presentation, workshop and report back)
c. Finance and Fund raising (Presentation by Provincial, Provincial Treasurer and committee members)
d. Zimbabwe Mission (Presentation by all members of Zimbabwe Mission and discussion)
e. Formation (To be decided)
f. Restructuring (Presentation by Fr Nkosi)
THREE: MINISTRY COMMITTEES
a. Retreat and Pilgrimage Ministry
b. Healing Ministry
c. Missionary Conduct and Support Group
d. Oblate Education ministry
FOUR: OTHER MATTERS
a. Districts in the Archdiocese of Durban (Durban South and Midlands or also Inchanga?)
b. Oblate communities in diocesan contexts
c Province Name (Natal, KZN, Emmanuel, Eastern, Other?)
d. Integrity in ministry; sexual abuse, harassment and other ethical issues
f. Other matters emerging during the Congress
The congress will need to develop resolutions regarding the issues that emerge. These will be voted on at the end of the Congress possibly by secret ballot.
PART C: RELEVANT DOCUMENTS
C1: NATAL PROVINCE STRATEGY DOCUMENT 2004 (A SUMMARY)
The Province participated in the Oblate project entitled:’ Bringing to Life an Immense Hope,’
2001: Launched 2001 in Rome. 2004: Concludes with the General Chapter
Natal like all provinces developed a practical Strategy Document for presentation at the 2004 Chapter which derives from the recommendations of eight Provincial Commissions: Personnel (Human Resources); Formation and Vocations; MAMI (Lay Associates); Mission Band; Serving the Poor; Ongoing Formation; Youth; Finance
We, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate of the Province of Natal, called by Jesus Christ to be good news, commit ourselves in apostolic communities, guided by the Spirit to serve the Church in transition with a renewed response to the poor.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A NEW NATAL STRATEGY
1. Personnel (Human Resources)
A methodological approach towards the restructuring of personnel within the Province
Oblate personnel should be less scattered and more focused on apostolic communities.
Change scattered commitment to dioceses.
Withdraw from the Archdiocese of Cape Town by the end of 2004.
Withdraw from Diocese of Umzimkulu when last priest there retires.
Withdraw from Westville parish. (After the term of office of the incumbent pastor).
Apply a greater focus on our mission to Zimbabwe.
Take on a particular mission within a specific area with the Archdiocese of Durban.
Rural Midlands and urban Durban South district, as foci for Oblate missionary activity and
Implies redistribution of personnel and withdrawals from Vulindlela, Durban Central, and Highway.
To be continuously aware of the process of amalgamation of the three South African Provinces, and to ensure that resolutions enhance that process.
2. Formation and Vocations
Formation and vocations have to be considered as a priority.
We must identify possible formators and prepare them in due course.
The Province should set up a formation committee to evaluate programmes and assist in the planning of pastoral programmes and holidays for students.
Special attention needs to be made for on-going formation. A formator should be assigned as a mentor to young Oblates within the Province.
Vocations should be linked to a definitive Youth ministry in the Province.
Investigate the Anglo-Irish model.
Investigate the possibilities of Red Acres as a site of Youth Ministry.
Youth planning and programmes warrant good budgeting. This is very important.
Membership of 1,224, in the Archdiocese of Durban. Small percentage of Zulu speaking.
Appoint a new MAMI director.
Oblate pastors to play a more active role in establishing MAMI in their parishes.
More attention given towards Zulu parishioners.
(Vade mecum) should be published. Produce regular newsletters.
Develop a model of MAMI appealing to all: rich and poor, urban and rural, Zulu and English.
4. Mission Band
A need in the country and the region as a whole.
Launching as soon as possible.
It will involve all the South African Provinces.
Establish a team designated for such a ministry of preaching missions and giving retreats.
There should be a closer link between the Mission band and our Marian Shrine of Ntshongweni.
Include healing ministries, Couples for Christ, where lay associates play a more active role.
Linked with an Oblate community, witnessing in mission together with sharing of ministries.
5. The Poor, Poverty
Traditionally the poor for us, was the most abandoned,
Embraces mainly the physically poor, simple country folk, youth, prisoners and the illiterate.
The poor are the ‘disempowered’ especially the ‘poor in spirit’ and all who are seeking the Lord.
We mission through pastoral ministries, education, training programmes, and media presentations, and challenge local politicians to assist in projects for development and support of the poor. We mission also to secularsiation.
Evaluate our commitment to rich parishes with a mind of giving priority to the poor.
Need to evangelize the rich in order to help the poor through their wealth.
Investigate ways of fundraising to allow Province expenditure in its commitment to the poor.
Oblates live their vow of poverty, and carry out their duties of financial responsibility.
Redress the reports of financial misconduct of Oblates. Accountability has to be emphasized.
A disciplinary commission should be established to deal with such misappropriations.
More SHARING among the Oblates and openness to Province’s needs, not private needs.
An attitude of readiness to contribute to the Congregation and not just drain it.
6. On-Going Formation
With initial formation being prioritized, ongoing formation plays a secondary role.
A committee of at least two persons set up to foster projects of on-going formation. To examine:
Formation sessions for different age groups.
Draw on expertise such as psychology, spirituality, medicine etc.
Collaborate with other provinces.
Examine YOMI process to ensure regular evaluation and planning.
Animate district communities during the monthly retreats and recollection days.
Investigate Oblates for specialisation after ordination.
Review format of our annual retreats especially the length.
We consider also our senior clergy. Sabon House, the place of retirement, is a challenge for us to think about. We have to keep investigating ways and means of caring and improving their lot.
Encourage those who qualify to go to the Aix experience in France.
At the Parish level
Get youth to participate more actively within the Parish. Develop possibilities of leadership among them within the Church and in society.
Set up a structure for involvement of scholastics in youth ministry.
Consider reviving movements: Chiro, YCS, YCW, etc in the parishes.
Use the old programmes and ideas to formulate new programmes and ideas.
A Youth Centre be established by the Provincial and Council.
A five-year plan needs to be put into place as we begin we this special ministry.
A quality team has to be chosen to run the Centre, which means releasing two or three men for training. They need to do extensive research in this area and establish the paradigm such ministry entails.
Consider the possibility of Redacres as a venue for Youth training sessions.
The Provincial (or an appointed person) would need to liaise with the Youth Commission in the Archdiocese of Durban.
The Province is not viable. More money is going out than what is coming in. Many Oblates lack accountability and not duly contributing as they ought, especially with regards to stipends, donations, and other means of income.
Costs of formation, especially ‘initial’ are the greatest of our expenses. The acceptance of the Zimbabwe Mission is a strain on our financial resources, which has for example, doubled the costs of formation.
Peter Foley is our option to succeed Joe Money as bursar.
We need a fund-raiser. Albert Danker and Paul Schroeder were recommended.
Clarity required on existing policies of financial accountability, as spelt out in the Constitutions and Rules, and in the Financial Directory.
Educate the members of the Province that want to receive to develop attitude of giving.
A Finance Committee be formed, consisting of three Oblates, the bursar and two lay people.
Full discussions before any future property transactions. Review reducing holiday allowances.
Monitor closely the Christmas and Easter collections that the Archdiocese has offered to us.
When donations are made, it is important to always respect the donor’s intention,
Oblates should always inform the Provincial about their donations.
Oblate pensioners must consult with the Provincial on the use of their pensions.
All the ‘Commissions’ and Congress are thanked for their contributions and the presentations of their many points. Such a gathering, as a Province was an affirming activity. The Congress is not a point of conclusion but a point of commitment that initiates us into a new level of action.
C2: CURRENT PRIORITIES AND STATEGIES OF NEW PROVINCIAL COUNCIL AND LINKS TO 2004 STRATEGY DOCUMENT
Natal Province 2005-2007 Administration Current Priorities and Strategies
(Workshopped at a three day seminar of Provincial council May 2005 taking into account the visitation of the Councillor for Africa in December 2004)
Including a link to 2004 IMMENSE HOPE Strategy document
There are SIX (following the following ORDER OF PRIORITY)
1. The Mission to Youth (no 2 and 7 immense hope)
We see the youth as the category which is the most abandoned in our society today. There is a great desire amongst many Oblates to respond to this. We must take this as a sign from God.
2. Unity in the Province (not in Immense Hope but strongly emerged from visit of Africa Councillor)
Superficially, there are very good interpersonal relations between Oblates in the Natal Province. But the demographics of the province show two very different groups with very different worldviews, cultures and approaches:
-An older, predominantly English speaking, group of about thirty three over sixties primarily made up of missionaries from overseas and English speaking South Africans. The average age of this group is 68; just under half have retired from active ministry.
-A younger, predominantly Nguni speaking group, of about FORTY NINE under fifties made up of predominantly Black Africans. The average age of this group is 35.
3. Finance (no 5 & 8 Immense Hope)
The Province has severe financial problems especially relating to cash flow because of two principal factors, which are in fact good things.
1. Taking responsibility for the Zimbabwe mission which is unable to generate funds
2. The growth in vocations over the past few years (especially in Zimbabwe)
4. The Mission to Zimbabwe (No 1 in Immense Hope)
This is currently our fourth priority mainly because it is going so well and not an immediate issue to resolve. The main task is to consolidate our presence in the mission, to actively support the missionaries there and to ensure an effective transition as Zimbabwean Oblates are appointed to the Mission. The first Zimbabwean Oblate will be ordained a priest in January 2006 and from then on a steady flow of scholastics will hopefully complete their first formation and be appointed to the Mission
5. Formation (No 2 in Immense Hope)
This is currently our fifth priority and it continues to be a priority for us because of the large numbers we have in formation. They are our immense hope for the future. Our formation programme is very successful and that is because we do it well. Natal currently supplies the Superior for the Cedara Scholasticate, two other Scholasticate formators and a full time spiritual director. Six others are involved in Prenovitiate work
6. Restructuring of the South African Provinces (Not in Immense Hope though mentioned in 1, 4)
We have been participating with Northern Province and Central province in examining ways in which the three provinces in South Africa could be more effectively restructured. This is ongoing and our council is supportive of what has gone before.
Issues of Immense Hope which did not emerge strongly for us.
Not because these are not important but because the six chosen were considered more urgent
Stuart C Bate OMI