Sunday, August 17, 2014

From house to house, Visit of the Delegate in the Orionine Missionary Year

Visit to USA

On 16th April I arrived at our house at Jasper Indiana, for the Easter Triduum which I celebrated with Fr Angelo Quadrini and all the people who attend our chapel in Providence Home, Jasper.  We had discussions with the Advisory Board for the improvement and future of the Providence Home which has its origins in 1933 and its founder Fr Aleksander Chwilowicz FDP from Poland.  After that I visited Phoenix, Arizona, to meet the Board of the Hickey Family Foundation which gives us so much help in the Philippines and Kenya to our work for sick and disabled children and young people.  I also showed the Board some PowerPoint presentations of our work in the Philippines, Kenya and India which encouraged them to continue their great help to us.

Fr Mirek Kowalczyk and daily Mass-goers 
at St Joseph-St Lazarus Parish, East Boston

Next, I went to Boston, to be with the confreres, Frs Mirek Kowalczyk, Fr Marcelo Boschi, Fr Gino Marchesani and Fr Alvamir Miguel Gonçalves, there, and carry out the canonical visit and discuss present and future work there.  First, however, I gave a talk to the Hispanic children and young people of the Madonna Queen Shrine on the Orionine Missionary Year.

Hispanic young people and catechists 
at the Saturday Catechesis, Madonna Queen Shrine, East Boston 

We had the Delegation Council meeting in Boston on 6-9th May, which Frs Eucinei Antonio De Souza, Fr Philip Kehoe and Fr Joseph Vallauri attended and then I returned to Rome on 11th May.

The Delegation Council (minus Fr Mariano Zapico)
at the Holy Cross Cemetery, Boston, where some of our confreres and sisters are buried

Visit to Kenya

I set out for Kenya on the night of the 14th May and arrived the next day.  Fr Paul Mboche Mwangi brought me to the formation house in Nairobi where final preparations were going on for the inauguration of the new chapel on 23rd May.  But first was the ordination of Deacon Morris Mawira Gichia on 17th May, near Meru, some 200 km north of Nairobi.  All the confreres and aspirants, a good number of our sisters, the family of Fr Morris and parishioners from Fr Morris’s parish, Kaburugi and Kandisi, and many people were present for the ordination administered by Bishop Salesius Mugambi, Bishop of Meru, to Deacon Morris and another deacon of the diocese of Meru.

Fr Morris Mawira Gichia FDP 
with some young friends after his First Mass, 18th May 2014

There were many priests, religious and seminarians of the diocese of Meru present.  Our own Bishop Raymond Ahoua FDP came especially for the event from the Ivory Coast and presided together with Bishop Mugambi.  The celebration was in Fr Morris’ home parish which had recently been created from the larger parish of Chogoria.  The people made us all very welcome indeed.  The next day Fr Morris celebrated his first Mass surrounded by Bishop Raymond and all the Orionine confreres and seminarians of Kenya.  This was a smaller affair inside the prayer house and not outside in the large school field as on the previous day.  We all rejoiced in Fr Morris’ ordination which brought the number of Kenyan Orionine priests to five, namely, Fr Peter Wambulwa Wakoba, Fr Raphael Kailemiah Limiri, Fr Paul Mboche Mwangi, Fr James Njoroge Waituika and now Fr Morris.  The other two Orionine priests in Kenya are Fr Alejandro Ruiz from Chile and Fr Achi Stanislas Gbeissay from the Ivory Coast.  The celebration was in the foothills of Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro, which is in Tanzania.

The second big Orionine event in Kenya was the opening and dedication of the new chapel presided over by His Excellency Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, the Papal Nuncio in Kenya, on 23rd May.  The chapel is circular, in keeping with the design of traditional Kenyan houses and can accommodate about 100 people comfortably.

The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo,
begins the celebration of dedication of the new chapel, formation house, Nairobi

 It will enable the aspirants, postulants and junior religious to celebrate the liturgy in a very dignified manner as the Church wants.  Fr Joseph Vallauri, who opened the first house of the Sons of Divine Providence in Kenya, concelebrated and also gave an inspiring talk about the beginnings of our presence in Kenya in the 1990’s culminating in the opening of the formation house at Karen-Lang’ata in 1996.  I also said a few words putting our presence in Kenya in the context of the Orionine Missionary Year.  A good number of relations, friends and parishioners from Kandisi and Kaburugi were able to attend as well as our Sisters and other religious and priests.  The celebration ended with the eating of a beautiful cake modelled on the new chapel.  Next year we hope to begin the theological house of the Delegation in Nairobi, now graced with a beautiful chapel with “Instaurare omnia in Christo” over the front entrance.  On the next day I went to Kaburugi to celebrate two Sunday Masses in Kikuyu and even managed to preach in the local language.
After a lot of personal meetings and a meeting with all the confreres in Kenya, I set off for the Philippines on 27th May, arriving in Manila on 28th.  I was sorry not to be able to participate in the celebration of the perpetual vows of three of our Kenyan Sisters, Agnes, Makena and Stella on 31st May at Laare, Meru diocese, which, however, some of our confreres attended.

Visit to the Philippines

Fr Anderson Monteiro De Rezende, superior and novice-master at Montalban met me and took me to the novitiate house where I stayed with the novices who were about to make their first profession, that is, three from the Philippines and three from Kenya.  I also saw all the new aspirants who had arrived at the Don Luigi Seminary at Montalban making a total of 60 aspirants, under the care of Fr John Socorro Castillo and Br Ramon Padilla.
Then I visited the Cottolengo Filippino where Fr Stefan Bulai was in charge and saw some new developments there.  There was building work going on at the novitiate to prepare 10 additional new rooms to accommodate the expected 17 novices for the next novitiate year.  A new conference room was also being prepared.  In the seminary two new toilet and shower blocks and study areas were also being finished.

The 60 aspirants with Fr John Socorro Castillo
 in the seminary chapel at Montalban

On 30th May, the eve of the first profession, six new Philippine novices entered the novitiate in a simple ceremony in the novitiate chapel.  On 31st May in the large beautiful seminary chapel the six novices, Aldrin, John Carl, and Rowell from the Philippines and Harrison, Joseph and Emmanuel from Kenya, made their first profession before me and all the confreres, sisters, relatives, friends and aspirants present in the Philippines.  Parents and family members of the Philippine novices and “adoptive” parents and friends of the Kenyan novices clothed them in the new habit and supported them on this special day.  Many friends from the local parish of Montalban, Payatas and other places were also present, as the newly-professed began the journey of their religious life towards perpetual consecration to God.

The newly professed Brothers Joseph, Rowell, John Carl, 
Aldrin, Emmanuel and Harrison signing their vows forms

In the afternoon of the same day, three new Kenyan novices arrived and entered the novitiate, just in time.  They had been delayed because of difficulties with obtaining visas.  The expected 6 Indian novices had greater difficulties obtaining visas and began their novitiate on the feast of St Aloysius Gonzaga, 21 June.

Novices of the Delegation 2014’2015 
– 6 from the Philippines, 6 from India and 3 from Kenya 
with Fr Anderson Monteiro De Rezende, novice-master and Br Anthony Gachau Mbuthia, tirocinante

After these few days in Montalban I went to our community of Payatas, 15 km away, for one night, and was greeted by Frs Julio Cuesta and Diego Lorenzi.  I then travelled with Fr Joseph Van Cu and Br Anthony Gachau to Lucena for a visit of more than a week.  After the 5-hour journey I began to feel very weak and began to have a bad cough and so had to visit the Lucena Catholic Hospital for some treatment the next day.  They treated me for bronchitis and gave me a number of medicines and I gradually improved.  Fr Joseph Van cu and I celebrated Sunday Masses at the community house of Alupaye and then Talao-Talao and Dalahican.  On Monday, we took part in the diocesan priests’ recollection day with the bishop of Lucena.  The next day I went with Fr Joseph and Br Anthony Gachau to Mauban to get the boat to the island of Cagbalete where we have pastoral care of the Catholic Christians and celebrated Mass and visited several of the chapels staying overnight in a resort.  We returned on the small ferry-boat in heavy rain after being made very welcome by the people of the island, especially Kuya Tin (“Big Brother” Augustine) and his fellow volunteers.  On my last day there I visited Bishop Marquez of Lucena with Fr Joseph Van Cu and the meeting was very fruitful.
Brother Anthony Gachau, Fr Joseph Van Cu and I returned to Manila by bus and we arrived at Payatas in the early afternoon after a taxi ride from Cubao bus station.  We then had a meeting of all the confreres present in the Philippines (Frs. Eucinei and Martin were having their home visit at that time so were not able to be present).

Confreres at meeting in Payatas
– left to right: Br Anthony Gachau, Br Ramon Padillia, 
Fr Joseph Van Cu, Fr Anderson Monteiro, Fr Diego Lorenzi, 
Fr Julio Cuesta , Fr Stefan Bulai and Fr John Castillo.

I returned to Montalban and spent some more time with Fr Anderson and the novices as we awaited the arrival of the Indian novices and we had various celebrations and meals with Frs John Castillo and Fr Stefan Bulai and the seminarians.  I also celebrated Mass in English in the local parish.  I left for Rome on 19th June.


In Rome, I tried to rest and restore my energy which was rather low and get finally cured of bronchitis with the help of our local Dr. Morena.  It was also a time to share with Fr Flavio Peloso, our Superior General, news of the Delegation and discuss various matters with the General Councillors and also to apply for a visa to visit India.

UK & Ireland

I departed for the UK and Ireland on 21st July and arrived in time for the meeting of the Confreres on 22nd August at Hampton Wick (London), the Annual General Meeting of the Members of the Sons of Divine Providence Charity. Fr Philip Kehoe, Fr Henryk Halman, Fr Joseph Tirello, Br Feras Abu Rahmoun and Fr Francisco de Assis all made me very welcome.  On Wednesday 23rd July we celebrated the Annual Gathering of the Orionine Family in the UK and this year the theme was the Orionine Missionary Year and the story of our congregation’s presence in the UK, as well as the presentation of annual report of our activities and finances and the presentation of awards to some of our staff.   We also had a speaker from the Princess Alice Hospice, Esher, Surrey, on the work of the hospice as it can touch the lives of elderly or terminally ill people.  Fr. Francisco de Assis Silva Alfenas, from the Brazil North Province, is studying English there at present.

Fr Francisco de Assis Silva Alfenas
from Brazil who is studying English

Br Feras Abu Rahmoun took me by car to visit Fr Roy Elikowski and we had a good half day together, going out for a nice meal.  He is doing well in spite of his illness and is in good spirits.  Let us continue to pray for him.  We continued our journey to Up Holland where we stayed with Fr Stephen Beale and Br Anthony Njenga.  Br Feras stayed the night and returned to London the next day.  I stayed in Up Holland for a few days and was able to see some old friends and familiar places from times past as well participating in some events with Fr Stephen and Br Anthony.  I had spent 20 years in Up Holland in the past (1967-1989, with a two-year break in Rome, 1975-77).
On Friday 1st August it was time to fly to Dublin to stay in the community there while all the confreres in the UK & Ireland plus Br Francis Porto Dos Reis, from the Vatican Community, went on their annual retreat to the Jesuit Retreat House at St Beuno’s, North Wales.  However, I was not alone as there were also two ladies from Italy and two younger ladies from Venezuela staying in our accommodation for visitors in Dublin.  Then there were our two friendly dogs!  I had daily Mass and contact with the staff and visitors to the Day Centre for older people and the residents of Fr Bidone Court.  When Fr John Perrotta and Fr Michael Moss returned from their retreat we had a lot of sharing of experiences and plans for the future in Dublin.  They have prepared a strategic plan for our congregation in Dublin.
Finally I left for Rome where I am now for a few days before leaving for India on 19th August.

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