A Year Building a Better Future
In 2021, the Missionary Oblates were rebuilding current ministries while also building towards a brighter future for the congregation.
The rebuilding was a result of two natural disasters.
On August 14 an earthquake in Haiti destroyed or severely damaged about 80 percent of the Oblate parishes and ministries in the Les Cayes region, where most of the Oblate ministries are located.
“We were hit to the bone, knocked down but not destroyed,” said Fr. Ellince Martyr, O.M.I. Provincial for the Oblates in Haiti. “In spite of our precarious situation, the Oblates are determined to accompany the people of God and to give them hope against all hope.”
The Oblates have 16 parishes in the Diocese of Les Cayes. Three of their churches were completely destroyed and four churches were severely damaged. All three of the Oblate homes in Camp Perrin were destroyed.
Educational institutions run by the Oblates also suffered extensive damage. Two high schools in the Les Cayes area were nearly destroyed. All the Oblates’ houses of formation in the region were also significantly damaged.
In New Orleans Hurricane Ida caused significant damage at St. Augustine Church which is run by the Oblates. The church was built by African Americans in 1841 and is the oldest Black parish in the country.
At first the Oblates were hopeful that the damage was relatively minor. The most dramatic damage was the old iron cross atop the church had been toppled over by the storm.
But over the next few days it was determined that the damage was more serious than a toppled cross.
“The damage caused by Hurricane Ida was more severe than what we thought earlier,” said Fr. Emmanuel Mulenga, O.M.I. the church Pastor. “When we got rain later the water literally began coming through the roof. That brought mold and all kinds of other problems. Some parts of the ceiling and plaster began falling.”
The church had to be closed for several weeks because it was unsafe for people to gather under the damaged roof. Workers have since made the necessary repairs and Masses have resumed, including the popular Jazz Mass on Sundays which attracts visitors from around the world.
While the Oblates have been rebuilding in Haiti and New Orleans, they have also been building new ministries during 2021.
In southern Texas the Oblates took responsibility for three new churches in July — Our Lady of Consolation Parish in Vattmann and its two mission churches — Sacred Heart in Ricardo and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Riviera.
The history of Our Lady of Consolation Parish goes back more than 100 years. The original church was destroyed in a hurricane in 1916. The current church was built in 1919 with bricks made by parishioners using sand, mud and clay.
In San Antonio, Texas the Oblates are now responsible for Holy Family Parish. The parish is being staffed by Oblates from Zambia. The Oblates’ Zambia mission is overseen by the United States Province. Vocations are so strong in Zambia that Zambian Oblates are now coming to the United States to expand Oblate ministries.
At the request of Cardinal Patrick O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Oblates accepted the responsibility of St. Mary Parish in Georgetown, Massachusetts. The parish, which is more than 150 years old, also includes a mission by the same name in nearby Rowley, Massachusetts.
In looking to the future, the Oblates completed a total renovation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. The 2021–22 class of novices moved into their new home in August.
A capital campaign was held to cover the cost of the renovations. Donations are still being accepted to cover the final expenses. The new novitiate allows the Oblates to accept novices from around the world who can gather in an international community for one year to discern their calling to religious life.
On September 17 Fr. Steven Montez, O.M.I. became the newest Missionary Oblate as he was ordained in San Antonio. Father Steven has been part of the Oblate family since birth. His uncle is a Missionary Oblate who baptized Steven.
When Fr. Steven was asked to choose where he would like to celebrate his first Mass, he chose the Madonna House for elder and infirmed Oblates. Many of the residents at Madonna House could not attend the ordination because of poor health and Covid-19 precautions.
Father Steven said the first Mass was a way of thanking the elder Oblates for their prayers and support during his journey to the priesthood.
“When I was a scholastic, we had to move in with the elder priests for six months while our new house was being built,” said Fr. Steven. “They took me in and were so wonderful. They were always praying for me so it made sense that for my first Mass I would return and do the same for them.”
As 2021 comes to an end, the Missionary Oblates are grateful for the benefactors who make all these important ministries possible. The Oblates look forward to continuing this special partnership with their benefactors in 2022, so that they can continue to provide healing and hope to a world in need.
Five Missionary Oblates are spending their novitiate year at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. They are discerning their calling to religious life.
After the novitiate year they will take First Vows as Missionary Oblates.
The five novices come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
PABLO HENNING was born in Venezuela and moved with his family to Texas as a child. While a student at Rice University, he started a charity that sends medical supplies to some of the poorest regions of Venezuela. The charity, Saludos Connection, is still operating today with Pablo’s mom overseeing the operations.
ETIENNE KABEMBA is 46 years old and from Canada. He was born in Congo and is well-prepared for missionary life as he has been to 92 countries, working a wide variety of jobs as he experienced an amazing number of cultures. He has lived in Canada for the past 15 years working as a nurse. Throughout his adventures Etienne said he has always had the idea of religious life in mind and now is the time to make it a reality.
Three of the novices are from the African nation of Zambia.
CHILESHE MULENGA chose to pursue a religious calling after exploring a career as a doctor. He decided that he would rather be a healer of the soul than a healer of the body. Chileshe said he inquired with the Oblates after reading an article about the congregation in a magazine. The article included photos of the Oblates in cassocks with their large Oblate crosses and Chileshe said those images really drew him to the Oblate family.
ROYD MIYOMBA learned about the Oblates while listening to a radio station operated by the Oblates in Zambia. He lived a roving life as a child attending six different grade schools. At first his parents had concerns about him becoming a priest, preferring he look at teaching or becoming a pharmacist. But they eventually came around to his decision, and when Royd left to come to the United States his mom gave him a simple instruction: “Keep the faith and make us proud.”
SIPHO MUKOBOLA was just 11 years old when he left home to attend a minor seminary and start his Oblate journey. He started feeling a calling to the priesthood at the age of five when he became an altar server. Sipho’s mom is a high school teacher and one of her co-workers is a former Oblate seminarian who
introduced Sipho to the Oblates
In September I was blessed to attend the ordination of Fr. Steven Montez, O.M.I. As I gave Fr. Steven a blessing during the ceremony, I couldn’t help but think of all the blessings the Oblates have received this year because of friends like you.
In the face of tragedies, you have helped the Oblates rebuild ministries in Haiti and New Orleans. You have been with us as we take responsibility for new parishes throughout the United States. And without the generosity of our benefactors, we would not have been able to renovate our novitiate so that it can house generations of Oblates to come.
Christ reminds us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Thank you for your giving heart. I pray that you and your loved ones will have a blessed new year.
In Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate,
Fr. David P. Uribe, O.M.I.
Oblate Chaplain Director
Act now before it’s too late! Your end-of-year donation will allow the Oblates to continue our lifesaving work in more than 60 countries. The gifts you give to the Oblates
will live on in the lives of the poor people we serve.
Here are several ways to give:
- Outright cash gifts are the easiest to give. You may donate by check, credit card or monthly pledge payment.
- Donate through your IRA. For taxpayers aged 70½ and older, federal law requires annual distribution from IRAs to be included in the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI) and taxed. The IRA Charitable Rollover allows taxpayers to directly transfer up to $100,000 to the Missionary Oblates without paying taxes on the
- Donate stock. If you hold long-term (purchased more than one year ago) publicly traded securities, you may be able to benefit the Oblates while avoiding capital gains tax and obtaining a potential federal charitable tax deduction (if you itemize on the fully appreciated value of your stock).
- Donate back your Oblate Annuity Trust distributions. Donate your Oblate Annuity Trust payments back to the Missionary Oblates.
- Create a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). A donoradvised fund is a simple, flexible and tax-advantaged way you can make charitable donations. You can quickly and easily designate a grant from your donor-advised fund to the Oblate Missionary Society, Inc. through your financial institution (such as Fidelity Charitable or Schwab Charitable).
To learn more about making a gift to the Missionary Oblates,
contact Lori at the Office of Charitable and Planned Giving at
1-800-233-6264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Title: Oblate Missionary Society, Inc.
Tax ID: 26-0634043
Rest in Eternal Peace…
The Missionary Oblates are grateful to our friends who have remembered us through a bequest or charitable gift annuity. Please join us in prayer for these benefactors who have been called to their eternal rest with the Lord.
Peter P. Baker
Joan Marie Croft
Oliver De Geeter
Joseph Frank Gall
Dr. Richard L. Hall
Salud Borja Lang
Marjorie & Frank Manko
Elizabeth Pels Nash
Daniel E. Schmidt
Mary Andree Tokoly
Jo Ann Wheatley