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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

What Really Matters in Nigeria Now?

By Fr. Ali Nnaemeka, OMI

Nigerian Missionary Oblate Fr. Nnaemeka offers insights about the Nigeria presidential elections which has been postponed to March 28, 2015.

One of the problems of our generation is the failure to understand what counts; failure to focus on the essentials. For a long time now, Nigerians seem to have focused their attention on less important things, forgetting the essentials. Everybody has been tamed and forced to fight a war that does not exist. Politics has become the order of the day. In every platform people are obliged to politicize issues, whether they want it or not. In fact, we have all become actively partisan-  supporting a candidate that may not even know that we exist.
Even the unemployed youths have all been lured into advertising, a mediatized non-existing massive job creation, which cannot benefit them in anyway. They all speak of a President to be, whose credibility has no bound, even if they do not know how he is going to carry out all his political propaganda. Even the so-called religious leaders have all been conditioned to see nothing except who becomes the next President of Nigeria. God has even revealed to somewhat He has planned to do to whoever votes a particular candidate. All we are yet to see so far, is when a Church choir will sing Vote Buhari! or Vote Jonathan!, even when it is not clear if they really have a plan for a united and better Nigeria.
Our Nigerian Catholic Bishops make a right timely appeal as expressed in the newly released Communiqué:GOOD FAMILIES MAKE GOOD NATIONS at the End of the First Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the Daughters of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre, Lugbe, Abuja (February 20 – 26, 2015)
 “The time has come to realize that Nigeria is bigger than any individual, bigger than any of her ethnic, religious or political groupings. Our diversity is a beauty to celebrate in gratitude to God.  Every Nigerian has a right to be different in so far as such difference is not inimical to the common good and the ideals we share in common.  This is the time to reflect and to identify those ideals summed up in the words of our old national anthem: “Though tribe and tongue [and creed] may differ, in brotherhood we stand.” Faced with the challenge of nationhood, let us enlarge our traditional African concept of family.  Let us liberate ourselves from the shackles of ethnocentrism, of malicious ethnic and religious solidarity. Let us, in our diversity, recognize our common humanity.  For the sake of our children, and for the sake of generations yet unborn, let us see one another, irrespective of the families to which we belong, as members of the same family—the family of Nigeria”. See more at: http://www.cnsng.org/viewnews.php?

We have been staged one against the other in a country that should have been one..  No one asks the prospective contestants which Nigeria they are campaigning to govern? A country divided between North and South? A country divided between Christians and Muslims? A country where political party members have no plan or intention, than to fight  each other?
Who speaks now of our dear Chibok girls who have now spent ten months in captivity? Who talks about the deceased people of Baga? Who cares about the Nigerian refugees in the Chad, Cameroun and Niger? 
Our concern now is how to get our Permanent Voters Card – which is very good – but then, what about our fellow Nigerians who have been forced to quit their territories without burying their loved ones?  Nigerians have lost contact with reality. I am afraid we have already forgotten what really matters.

Ali C. Nnaemeka, omi

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ash Wednesday Reflection: Sharing Our Oblate Cross

By Brother Tembo Michael OMI,
Oblate Sexton House of Studies - San Antonio Texas

Sunday, February 8th, 2015, St. Bonaventure Parish in San Antonio, Texas organized a talk on Consecrated Life and two Zambian Oblate scholastics represented the Missionary Oblates; Brother Felix Nyambe OMI and Brother Michael Tembo OMI. The event had more three hundred students, First Graders to the Tenth Graders. 

video
Brother Felix encouraged the young people to take time and listen to their inner voice and see where God was calling them to be. He said, “The World is in need of healing. The world needs us. The world is waiting for doctors, teachers, priests, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. You and I are God’s instrument of Joy. 

This world is hurting and needs someone to give it a smiling face. Yes! You and I are the answer to the problems our brothers and sisters are facing.  You and I have to share our joys with them. You and the entire religious men and women gathered here today must be read to make our hands dirty by reading the signs of time.”

In addition Brother Tembo OMI, asked the students to study hard and pay attention to the advice parents give them. He asked the young participants gather to share what they have with those children who don’t have what they have.

And from the audience echoed the voice: “Yes, it is our responsibility to share what we have. We have to share our toys, our clothes, food and time with those suffering.” This was from a Seventh Grader. This voice was so strong that those next to the young boy went silent.

After the talk was over, while waiting for Mass, to celebrate Year of Consecrated life, there was time to socialize with the participants. There were many questions asked to the religious present at St Bonaventure.
One young person pulled the mother and approached one of the Oblates and asked if she could hold the Oblate Cross.  This drew the attention of others who wanted to hold and kiss the Cross.
The Oblate Cross
The concerned girl asked many question regarding the Oblate Cross. I wish I had all the answer to the questions asked. I saw the tears of joy in the eyes of the young girl and others as they took turns kissing and wearing the OMI Cross. I saw how the young girl did hold the Cross with tenderness and love. I saw you her tearing, wanting to hold on to the Cross.
Of all questions asked, these have remained bothering me. She asked: “What is special about this Cross that I cannot have it also? What must I do to have this Cross in our house? Can I ask my parents to buy this Oblate Cross for me? I love this Oblate Cross? Please give it to me?"

The questions asked by the young girl calls for deep reflection on all of us. “What is special about Lent this year? What must we do to poses happiness in our lives, house and our hurting generation?
Can we ask ourselves as Oblates, does our community equip us effectively with means of evangelization? Can we use our talents and gifts and time for the betterment of others? Can we beg to have the pearl?
Like I responded to the young person, what was she was to do to have the Oblate Cross? I wish I had all the answers the many questions the hurting people are asking. But at times we have to love and live the hard questions about life.

I suppose the answer lies in sharing being, being present in the lives of those hurting through first of all, attending to their bodily needs. We are to share our being. The three pillars of Lent summarize our being: Almsgiving Prayer, and Fasting.

Monday, February 2, 2015

February 8 is International Day of Prayer & Awareness against Human Trafficking

By Mrs Mary O’Herron
Missionary Oblates JPIC Ministry

On February 8, 2015 Catholics around the world are encouraged to participate in prayer services and actions that will raise awareness about human trafficking.

Designated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General, February 8 will now be an Annual Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human trafficking. 

This international day will focus on raising awareness and suggests praying about the violence and injustice that impact victims of human trafficking.

February 8 is also the feast day for Saint Josephine Bakhita, c. 1868–1947 who was kidnapped and sold as child into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once freed, she became a nun and dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. Pope John II declared her a Saint in 2000.

Resources:

With approximately 2 to 4 million people being trafficked within and across bor­ders each year, human trafficking has become a leading source of profits for organized crime. The overwhelming majority of those trafficked are women and children. Most are forced into sexual activity; others into forced labor.

What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking involves the recruitment, trans­portation, and forceful detention of people either from one country to another, or within countries. The term ‘Human Trafficking’ is used to describe modern slavery because the term reflects the mo­bility of both victims and perpetrators. Easy mo­bility makes it easy – and cheap - to own a slave.
Threats, force and/or deception are typical. People being exploited are either unpaid or given very lit­tle payment for their work or sexual exploitation, and are not free to leave these abusive situations. Each year, there are between 600,000 and 800,000 people trafficked across borders throughout the world. There are many more trafficked within countries as well, including the many who are traf­ficked within the borders of the US.
Human Trafficking is growing rapidly, despite ef­forts by governments and organizations to con­trol it. 

There are more people in slavery than ever before in the world’s history – over 33 million. Wherever there is poverty, war, or natural disas­ters, unscrupulous people prey on the vulnerable.

Signs that someone may be a victim: See a comprehensive list visit: http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/recognizing-the-signs  
If you suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking contact your National Human Traffick­ing Resource Center hotline to report the situation.

Action:

Modern Day Slavery Supports our comfort­able lifestyles: Learn more at www.slaveryfoot­rpint.org
Breaking the Snares, a website op­posed to human trafficking created by the Sisters of the Divine Savior (Salvadoran Sisters) that has many resources - in English and Span­ish - for parishes and other groups wishing to educate and mobilize people. The easiest way to find this Parish Resource Packet is to google Breaking the Snares.

Human Trafficking Prayer
Oh God, Great Healing One, please comfort each of Your children who are hurting because of the powerful greed of those who hold them in bondage and help them become free of these hideous bonds. Please heal all the wounds and scars they bear from their horrendous treatment and lead them to healing people and places.
In addition, Dear God, move among those who hold others in bondage or in any way profit from it to change their hearts and minds so they do this no longer. Also, please enlighten those who are unwitting participants in this use of people.
St. Eugene, you loved and served the poorest of the poor, please pray for all those held captive by others and for those who hold them captive.

Amen.