Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate - Newsroom

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The Faces of the People he West Side of Buffalo, New York is a melting pot of backgrounds and cultures. To serve this community, the Missionary Oblates have created a mission center comprised of a “melting pot” of priests.

Father Alejandro Roque was born in Cuba. Father Quilin Bouzi was born in Haiti and Fr. David Muñoz spent the first seven years of his life in Puerto Rico. Father Humphrey Milimo is from Zambia. Father Paul Nouri is Canadian and Fr. Stephen Vasek has Czechoslovakian heritage.

“There are many minorities, refugees and immigrants on the West Side of
Buffalo,” said Fr. Roque, superior of the Oblate Mission Center. “We are attentive to the needs of these people because we reflect in so many ways these people.”

In 2014 the Oblates decided to create domestic mission centers in order to better expand their outreach in communities where they serve. In addition to Buffalo, there are currently mission centers in New Orleans, Louisiana, Lowell, Massachusetts and Brownsville, Texas.

At these mission centers the Oblates live and work
together while ministering at parishes and community programs in the neighborhood. Holy Angels Parish in Buffalo, the oldest Oblate parish in the United States, serves as the home base for the Oblates’ work on the West Side of town. The Oblates also oversee two nearby parishes, Holy Cross and Our Lady of Hope.

Fathers Bouzi, Milimo and Muñoz are the parish team at the three parishes. Their diverse heritage is advantageous because many parishioners are refugees from war-stricken countries or immigrants from impoverished nations. There are substantial groups of parishioners from Latin America, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and several African countries. At Holy Angels, interpreters translate Mass totheir communities and the sign of peace is usually exchanged in seven languages.

“We are called to be with the poor, to lift them up and tell them that they are the children of God and that they are loved by God,” said Fr. Bouzi.

One way the Oblates at Holy Angels minister to the less fortunate is through the Fr. James Erving, O.M.I. Food Pantry, named after a former priest at Holy Angels who died of brain cancer at the age of 43.

The pantry provides food to more than 100 needy people each month. In addition to handing out the traditional canned goods, a variety of meats, vegetables and fruits are also distributed, continuing a desire of Fr. Erving to dispense nutritious foods that are minimally processed.

Helping the Oblates in their ministries are members of the Bishop Fallon Pre-Novitiate. These young men, who are discerning a calling to religious life, assist in outreach programs while studying at D’Youville College. The Oblates are also helped by a group of more than 40 Oblate Associates, lay people who have committed to working with the Oblates in ministries to the disadvantaged.

In January, parishioners from all three parishes gathered at Holy Angels to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Missionary Oblates. Father Muñoz said it was a wonderful chance to be reminded that the Oblate missionary spirit is still going strong.

The Oblate Cross continues to cover the world. And in Buffalo, people from around the world are covered by the compassion of the Oblates