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Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation

A Ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

United States Province

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25th Anniversary Dedication Celebration of the Missionary Oblates Woods Nature Preserve July 13th, 2018

Down-to-Earth Oblates Break Ground 1993
by Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND

In 1993 two local women, Margaret Morrissey and Annie Hoagland, had a special vision for the River bluff area in Alton and Godfrey.  Wanting the land along the bluffs to be preserved for future generations, they tried to persuade area landowners to enter into legal agreements to preserve their land, but they were unsuccessful until the Provincial Council of the Oblates agreed.  Then other landowners also signed on!  Father Lou Studer was on the Council at the time, and he remembers this visit and their follow-up letter campaign. He also remembers that the Council agreeing unanimously to dedicate 16 acres as an Illinois Nature Preserve!  These acres is now named the Missionary Oblates Woods Nature Preserve.

“More Important Now Than Ever” was the theme of our celebration.  In the past 25 years more land has been developed and forests have continued to degrade; so, preserving high quality forested area has only increased in importance.  It was truly visionary to begin preserving as much forested area as possible twenty-five years ago.

The celebration was held on Saturday, July 7th outdoors from 2:00 – 4:00 pm and was attended by over 40 people, including Mayor Mike McCormick, representatives of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission and the Great Rivers Land Trust, faithful Preserve volunteers, friends and the Novitiate Community.  The program included a luncheon for special guests, several presentations and a guided hike into the Preserve.

Fr. Jack Lau, OMI

Jack Lau, OMI, served as the emcee, expertly weaving together the presentations with his passion for land and La Vista in particular.  Speakers included:

  • Debbie Newman, Natural Areas Preservation Specialist with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, who shared the history of the preservation movement in Illinois, pointing out that the Oblates were the first faith-based group to preserve land in the state
  • Pen Daubach, an Illinois Nature Preserves Commissioner, who highlighted the name “Oblate” as “one who offers”, saying that the Oblates have made a big commitment in offering their land to protect biodiversity and to preserve habitat.
  • Father Lou Studer, OMI, pointing out that Oblates are “down-to-Earth” priests and brothers seeking practical solutions to issues. “Oblates are close to the people,” he said.  “Oblates preach the message of Jesus who often used images from nature in his teaching.” Father Lou also summarized for us the work of Oblates in the

    Fr. Lou Studer, OMI

    justice, peace and integrity of creation priority, sharing this aspect of the Oblate spirit. 

  • Maxine Pohlman, SSND, who works with the Preserve volunteers, said that it was the work of this group of highly dedicated people who healed the acres by removing trash, invasive species, and planting native wildflowers. “They work hard, meeting monthly, to tackle a job that looked impossible, but the volunteers have made a huge difference in a few years.” For several years OMI novices have taken part in Preserve work, putting up boundary markers, removing honeysuckle, and participating in controlled burns.

After the presentations, the hike into the Preserve was a real eye-opener for participants who got to experience firsthand what land can look like when it is maintained by people who have learned to do the task correctly.  A clear view of the River, the presence of native wildflowers, and the absence of big honeysuckle bushes and invasive trees make the Preserve a beautiful example of what protected land can look like and how it can serve the community of life in this region.

Everyone took away with them a good share of Oblate spirit, esteem for the work of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, and the peace that comes with spending time in a beautiful place.

Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, with attendees

Debbie Newman, Natural Areas Preservation Specialist


Fr. Scott Hill, OMI, Attends Local ‘Families Belong Together’ Rally July 9th, 2018

On the last Saturday of June, the morning began with coffee and quiche. The early sun warmed the morning promising a bright and sunny day as over 2000 demonstrators gathered along the shore of Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA for the Families Belong Together rally. Local geese, families with their children and adults, gathered with the thousands of Americans, across the country, demanding the reunification of immigrant families seeking refuge from the tyranny of physical and emotional violence. Many speakers and musicians addressed the injustice encountered by immigrant families at the southern border of the United States.

However, as I sat with my mother who gladly joined me at the rally, I felt a growing gloom as I considered the anguish of parents and children forcibly separated by the cruel and in-inhumane policies of the government that represents this country. A country once called “a city on the hill.” As I walked to the gathering site for the demonstration, I encountered another aging man who shared my gloomy feelings, asking, “how many times do we have to meet like this?” Indeed, how many times? As the families and adults gathered, I heard in the speeches and music the answer to our common question: “as many times as the vulnerable and powerless are harmed and treated unjustly.” As the crowd swelled my spirits began to rise, there was a spirit of compassion weaving its thread throughout the crowd. Many signs, in one way or another, spoke of “building bridges, not walls.”

(l to r) Fr.Scott Hill, OMI and his mother, Nancy, at the rally

While with this crowd, and standing in solidarity with the many children and parents being denied their intrinsic right of being family, I was reminded that my participation in this rally was my solidarity with the nameless children and parents, as well as my solidarity with my Oblate brothers and their parishioners who know the names and their humanity. 

Together, compassion has taken to the streets and the national demonstrations and the presence of my Oblate brothers and the many volunteers, echoed the words of St. Augustine: “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Crowds gathered for Families Belong Together rally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Our 2018 Summer JPIC Report is Now Available! July 9th, 2018

We are excited to share with you the 2018 Summer edition of the Missionary Oblates JPIC Report.

 

JPIC Report is the twice-yearly newsletter of the US Oblates JPIC Office.

Read the latest issue here!

Download a PDF version.

 

 

 


High-Level Meeting on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Scheduled for July 9-18 July 6th, 2018

INFORMATION SHARED by Fr.  Daniel LeBlanc OMI, (Missionary Oblates’ representative at the United Nations)

“We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.” Laudato Si’ 76

The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a meeting of the Member States of the United Nations under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The 2018 forum will be held from July 9-18. The HLPF is tasked with the central role of the follow-up and review of the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development. And the highlight of the forum is the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). As part of the follow-up and review mechanism of the SDGs, the VNRs facilitates the sharing of experiences and lessons learned and challenges by the Member States with a view to implementing the SDGs. Forty-seven countries will be conducting the National Voluntary Reviews during the 2018 forum. The HLPF platform provides opportunities for partnership among the Member States. Civil society organizations, UN agencies, the private sector, academia, and other stakeholders also actively participate in the forum.

The following goals, including goal 17 (Strengthen the Means of Implementation and Revitalize Global Partnership for Sustainable Development), will be reviewed during the 2018 HLPF. The central theme for the 2018 HLPF is, “Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Society.”

  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Read more

2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2018 

 


Missionary Oblates Sign Catholic Climate Declaration June 27th, 2018

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate has joined hundreds of Catholic institutions in signing the U.S Catholic Climate Declaration. The declaration reaffirms commitment to climate goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.   

Rev. Fr. James Brobst OMI, Vicar Provincial, was authorized to sign the Catholic Climate Declaration on behalf of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The signing is timely for many Catholics as June 2018 marks the third anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, which calls for care for God’s Creation and protection of the poor. Jose Aguto, Associate Director for Catholic Climate Covenant in a letter to Fr. Brobst OMI, stated that “the declaration affirms our shared commitment in prayer, word and deed to meet its goals for the sake of the one human family and Our Common Home.”

To read the Catholic Climate Declaration, please visit the Catholic Climate Covenant’s website.   (More signatures are still need needed. Parishes are encouraged to sign the declaration)

 


How Catholics are helping immigrant children separated from their parents June 25th, 2018

Around 20 to 30 new children have been attending Sunday Mass aSt. Eugene de Mazenod Church in Brownsville, Tex. Parishioners pray for the children during the liturgy and then serve them breakfast.

“They want to take care of them and let them know they’re loved,” said the Rev. Kevin Collins, an Oblate and pastor of the parish. The children come from Casa Padre, the nearby shelter for unaccompanied minors.

Read the full article at America Magazine.

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