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.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My Missionary Experience in Northern Quebec

By Fr. Ali Nnaemeka, OMI, Echo Des Collines, Maison Yves-Plumey, 2017

Going on a Mission far from my birth place and country was something I wanted to do since listening to my elementary school teacher speak about Irish missionaries who evangelized my people. Her words awoke in my young heart a very strong longing. Without understanding where my desire was taking me, I spent my childhood dreaming of going to wherever the wind was to bring me.

But with time, the desire to remain in my country overshadowed my original dream. And after my first formation, I returned home to Nigeria for Mission.

Later when invited to go on Mission in Canada, I rediscovered my initial dream. Once it was settled that I was to go to Canada, I was tempted to research the people and community where I was being placed. I later decided to have my own experiences and not depend on that of others. I was determined not to be conditioned by other people’s assessment of the First Nation people of Canada. When I arrived in Canada, it took one year of integration to fully understand their Church and social realities.

The inculturation program helped me to learn the language, culture and life style of the Innu Nation. I was also able to understand, within one year, the workings of the Canadian church in general and Quebec church in particular. After my one year of insertion and inculturation, two communities were assigned to my care. The two communities were 700 km apart (about 435 miles), so it was necessary to allow enough time for travel and visits. These two communities each had a very long presence of experienced missionaries. As a young priest who lacked experience in this part of the world, I had to find a new way of getting into the heart of the community. Little by little, I started by not just observing how things were done but leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit. At our communities, youth attended church mainly during significant celebrations. It was then necessary for me to find another way of reaching out to them. After several trials and errors, I opted to engage them in various activities like sports, community events and gatherings.

Today, experience has shown me that to succeed in a mission, a missionary should not wait to get approached by the community, but they should instead take the church to the people.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Panel Discussion on Climate Change Hosted by Washington Inter-religious Community Staff (WISC)

by Bayor Chantal

Exposure to climate change affects different people and different communities to different degrees. I had the honor of attending a panel discussion in Washington, DC on climate change, organized by the Washington Inter-religious Community Staff (WISC). Panelists presented on different aspects of the issue. The first panelist gave an overview of climate change and its consequences on the planet and humans. The second panelist highlighted economic repercussions on societies. The third panelist spoke about environmental racism, when people of color and the poor are disproportionately exposed to hazardous materials and pollutants, and the need to raise awareness on this public health and human rights issue.

The last panelist presented on the 2017-18 federal budget proposal put forth by the Trump administration and how some aspects of the bill will affect already disadvantaged communities. She called on NGOs and activists present to pressure the administration to negotiate a budget that is more compassionate to people, society and the entire planet.

Climate change can affect human life in two main ways: first, by changing the severity or frequency of health problems that are already affected by climate or weather factors; and second, by creating unprecedented or unanticipated health problems or health threats in places where they have not previously occurred. The meeting ended with a word of thanks from the Coordinators.