Oblate Voices is a JPIC blog that follows stories of hope and is about how Oblates and associates live and experience mission work in the spirit of the Oblate founder, St Eugene De Mazenod of responding to the needs of poor and most abandoned around the world.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit

The first ever U.S.-African Leaders Summit starts August 4 – 6 in Washington DC. The theme for the summit is "Investing in the Next Generation". 

The summit, at the invitation of President Obama will bring together more than 50 African heads of state, ministers and CEOs of leading U.S. and African companies. The summits events will focus on Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Energy Initiatives for Africa, investing in Health, Food security, and Climate Change and combating Wildlife trafficking in Africa. 

Also expected is a number of civil society and faith organizations that are hosting side events. Which issues are of concern to you from your country or region that this Summit must address?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 International AIDS Conference in Australia

The International AIDS Conference (July 20-25) has opened in Melbourne, Australia where HIV/AIDS researchers, Faith groups, activists, caregivers and politicians have gathered to discuss the HIV/AIDS crisis.  The conference opened with a commemoration of the people killed aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine.

The Catholic Church through its various religious organizations is estimated to provide about 25 percent of care worldwide for people living with HIV/AIDS, especially in developing nations like Namibia and Zambia. Ahead of the 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Catholic Church organizations held a pre-conference from 18 to 20 July. The pre-conference focused on lessons and stories from Catholic Church response to HIV/AIDS crisis and reflect on how the Church is a witness to truth and solidarity.

AIDS 2014 Conference Programme seeks to promote scientific excellence and inquiry, encourage individual and collective action, foster multi-sectoral dialogue and constructive debate, and reinforce accountability amongst all stakeholders. For more information, visit: http://www.aids2014.org/

Friday, July 18, 2014

Voices of Solidarity from the Frontlines

Fr. Antonio Ponce OMI recently visited Oblate missions in Laredo and Eagle Pass, Texas. He reflects on the community environmental initiatives and pastoral challenges of the newly arrived immigrants.

Community Initiatives to keep Laredo City Environmentally Clean.

Laredo, Texas is a fast growing city. As its population grows so are the needs and services, such as keeping the streets, parks and rivers clean.  Wanting to know
how the city is doing in this regards, and to see how the people from community can help,

I accompanied Ms Birdie and Zocorro, members of the Greens of Guadalupe to meet staff from Environmental Services Department and the Keep Laredo Beautiful. They talked to us about the work they are doing keep Laredo clean and how they are working with members of the community and encouraging them join their work. The Greens of Guadalupe has been active in Lerado since 2007 after the late Fr. Darrell Rupiper OMI preached a workshop on integrity of creation to parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.  More specific information about environmental initiatives in Lerado http://www.esd.cityoflaredo.com/ESDWeb/news/main.cfm 

Also in Laredo, right by the Rio Grande, we met staff from Environmental Science Center. They shared with us about the different programs they offer to the community from the center. Through these programs they inform people about the wild life of the area, the impact human activities have on it, and the importance of protecting it. They also have a community garden that they use to teach people about how to grow and maintain a garden.

Responding to the Challenges of Immigrants in Eagle Pass.

This trip was
Collecting donations for newly arrived migrants

also a time to connect with visit my fellow Oblates in Eagle Pass who are about 120 miles from Laredo.
  Three Oblates, Fr. Jim Fee OMI, Fr. Paul Dass OMI and Brother Sergio Gonzalez OMI are serving the people of Our Lady Refuge and its two Chapels, Our Lady of Guadalupe and in Eagle Pass, Texas. 

Because of the proximity to the border, the Oblates are constantly responding to challenges of newly arrived migrants who come to the parish looking for help. Through the parish, they are providing spiritual support, food, shelter, and refer migrants where they can obtain legal assistance. A few weeks ago Oblates came together with some of volunteers from the parish to help poor families that were affected by a flood. They provided pastoral care, food and financial assistance.

Recommended background resource on why migrant children are fleeing Central America.  (Article on Gang Violence in Guatamala)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Our faith informs us to respond to the humanitarian crisis faced by unaccompanied children and families fleeing violence in Central America.

As the U.S. government responds to the humanitarian crisis faced by unaccompanied children and families, the Obama Administration and some Members of Congress are proposing changes to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008.

The TVPRA passed both chambers of Congress by unanimous consent and was signed into law by President Bush to address our international obligations of not returning vulnerable migrants to danger and to reduce the likelihood that the U.S. would deport children back into the hands of traffickers and others who would exploit them.  

Changes to the TVPRA would mean that children would not have a meaningful opportunity to have their story heard, apply for asylum, or be cared for humanely by child welfare personnel, and would be deported to potentially life-threatening situations.

RAISE your voice NOW through this ACTION alert to help protect these vulnerable children and mothers.

More information at www.omiusajpic.org 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Plight of the Poor and Vulnerable must be the Priority: Cardinal Orlando Quevedo OMI

By Tembo Michael OMI
Summer 2014 Intern – Oblate JPIC office - Washington DC

Cotabato Archbishop Cardinal Orlando Quevedo OMI recently spoke with the Oblate JPIC staff about hopes and challenges of missionary work in the Philippines. Cardinal Quevedo OMI is known for his involvement in the Peace Agreement, which was recently signed between the Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

In the midst of all these factions, Cardinal Quevedo OMI’s main concern is the plight of the poor and the oppressed indigenous people to have a dignified and respectable lifestyle. He has been calling on Government leaders and all people of good will to care for the vulnerable members of the society and change priorities. As a pastoral leader, Cardinal Quevedo OMI sees the eradication of poverty, combating injustice and seeking peace as some of the main concerns for the Church in Philippines and world. 

On the issue of mining in Mindanao, Cardinal Quevedo in conversation with the Oblate staff said, “I want confirmation that mining companies do not destroy nature; are not hazardous to humankind and creation and that there is transparent relationship among people, especially those who make mining policies and those are affected by the policies.”

From the Cardinal’s perspective, the global village is in need right relationship and this is only possible when we are obedient to God’s call, obedient by deliberately calling on those in leadership to set up societal structures to eradicate poverty, and societal imbalance in the world. Leaders in Government and all people of goodwill are to strive for right relationship, that is, relationship that produces life, justice and peace.

In concluding his remarks, Cardinal Quevedo OMI appealed to stakeholders in Governments to get priorities that are aimed at restoring human dignity, focus on reducing poverty, combating corruption; bring infrastructure development to vulnerable communities.  As a pastoral leader, the Cardinal Quevedo common requests from people are the need for hospitals, clean water, food, housing and good paying jobs. This call by Cardinal Quevedo OMI is a call to everyone.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Update from Oblate Mission in Laredo Texas

By Fr. Antonio Ponce OMI.  JPIC office

Fr. Ponce is currently visiting and connecting with Oblates parishes in Laredo, Texas. In this blog, Fr. Ponce reflects about his week of activities in Laredo. It has been a hot but an interesting week here in Laredo. I am staying at Our Lady of Guadalupe, where I am meeting with people from some of the groups and their leaders.

Meeting with Greens of Guadalupe and Rio Grande International Study Center

Last week I had the opportunity to meet Berta Torrez y Socorro Coronado, from "Greens of Guadalupe, who, inspired by Fr. Derrell Rupiper, have been involved in environmental issues in the Laredo area. On June 27, I was invited by Berta y Socorro to participate in the annual meeting of Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC), an organization whose mission is "To preserve and protect the Rio Grande-Rio Bravo, its watershed and environment…". 

Tricia Cortez, executive director of RGISC, made a presentation about the work done by the organization, the different groups that have joined their efforts to address environmental issues in the area and the challenges they face. For more info about RGISC visit website.

Meeting with people from The Laredo Humanitarian Relief Team

Also, last week, I been visiting one of the centers where volunteers are helping migrants, specially unaccompanied children, some of them as young as 6 months old. In recent days the number of woman and children has increased so dramatically that the federal government has call this a "humanitarian Crisis".  

The group called, "The Laredo Humanitarian Relief Team", form by people from different organizations such as, the Diocese of Laredo, Rotary Club, Catholic Social services, etc., help migrants contact their family members in the US, provide a place wither they can shower and rest and give migrants packages they can take with them once they live Laredo.  The package contained things like, water, toothpaste, soap, snacks, etc., all this donated by local people. For more information: http://www.voanews.com/content/influx-of-undocumented-kids-overwhelms-us-border-patrol/1941764.html