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Showing Solidarity with Refugees and Muslims July 5th, 2017

A report from the Denis Hurley Centre, Durban, South Africa

We had two opportunities this month to show solidarity with our neighbors, especially important since Refugees and Muslims are often groups who are kept at a distance and treated with suspicion.

June 20 was UNHCR’s World Refugee Day. The Denis Hurley Centre’s (DHC) Refugee Pastoral Care worked with other organizations in the Refugee Service Providers’ Network to offer a great day of activities in our Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall. Live music was provided by René Tshiakanyi a French-Congolese singer, songwriter and guitarist, who also entertained the crowds outside in the Mall. A film about corruption in Senegal was screened followed by a discussion and opportunities for people to get to know each other. Food was then served for hundreds. Pleasingly, the event was attended not only by refugees from many different African countries but also by South African nationals keen to break down barriers. 

(Members of the 3 Abrahamic religions breaking the Ramadan fast with dates. (From l to R) Sr. Cathy Murugan, HF, Sufiso Duma with Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI) and Ohad Rooiblatt, an Israeli volunteer with project TEN (Project TEN is an international development program that operates volunteer centers in developing areas).

The next day, being one of the last days of Ramadan, we encouraged non-Muslims to observe the fast as a way of joining in prayer with our Muslim brothers and sisters across the city and across the globe. Then at 5pm, as the rays of the sunset filled the upstairs room, we broke the fast accompanied by our Muslim partner organizations, Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI), Grey Street Mosque, South African National Zakáh Fund (SANZAF) and RAUF (Refocus and Upliftment Foundation).

A good conversation was held about Ramadan traditions and our healthcare team were able to find out ways to help the many Muslim patients who come to our clinic. Delicious snacks and drinks were then enjoyed by all.

Denis Eugene Hurley, OMI, was the South African Roman Catholic Vicar Apostolic of Natal and Archbishop of Durban, South Africa. He died in 2004. The Denis Hurley Centre is a community center created as a place of Care, Education and Community responding to the needs of people in the heart of Durban, South Africa. Visit the Center’s website:


Oblates of Jaffna and Colombo in disappeared people’s protest June 5th, 2017


Oblates in Jaffna and Colombo (Sri Lanka) stand in solidarity with Families of the Disappeared and on May 30th, the Oblate Fathers of both Colombo and Jaffna Provinces joined in a street protest conducted by the Families of the Disappeared people during and after the war. The public protest was launched after 100 days of Day & Night protest in Kilunochchi town. “The campaign is successful in many aspects,” said Fr. Ashok Stephen, OMI, “including participation, clear articulation of demands as well as the people’s determination to continue the struggle.”

Eleven Oblate fathers of both provinces, Jaffna and Colombo, joined in the protest and were the largest religious group present there.


Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI, Tours Biscuit Factory in Lagos, Nigeria May 19th, 2017

Fr. Seamus represents the Oblate International Pastoral Investment Trust  (OIP) on the advisory board of 8 Miles Private Equity Fund,  which met in Lagos, Nigeria for two days in May. The OIP has a small position in this fund that has a presence in six African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia. The fund has a strong commitment to development and responsible investing and aligns well with the missionary thrust of the OIP and the Oblates.

While in Lagos, Fr. Seamus visited 8 Miles’ most recent investment, a cream biscuit factory. According to an 8 Miles company profile page on the project, Nigeria’s biscuit sector has seen strong growth of 10 to 15 per cent per annum, and they are projecting this to continue, driven by population growth, rising disposable incomes and increasing urbanization coupled with the growing popularity of biscuits as a convenience snack. According to 8 Miles, the growth in this sector is also the result of a relatively young population, with 63% of the country’s 115 million people, below the age of 25 years. 

Beloxxi is a market leader in Nigeria with significant market share and has one of the most popular and highest selling cream cracker brands in the market, with a reputation for high quality. It operates several production lines from its plant in Agbara, Ogun State and multiple warehouses across the country. The Company employs about 2,300 people and operates  through a network of about 400 distributors. The Company has experienced growth rates in excess of 30% per annum in the last few years.

8 Miles has identified select locations and sectors where its investment approach can be best implemented, with a focus on strong macroeconomic fundamentals, good governance, a favorable regime for foreign investors, and a track record of private sector reforms which make doing business easier.

More on Beloxxi Industries:

  • Beloxxi Industries Ltd. is a biscuit producer, with the largest share of the cream crackers segment in Nigeria
  • The company was established over 20 years ago as a biscuit importer and, in 2006, evolved into a local producer of cream crackers after building an ultra-modern factory in Nigeria
  • Beloxxi biscuits are sold via a network of >400 distributors and supermarket chains in Nigeria, with exports to Ghana. The product is also served on international flights from Nigeria
  • Market Potential: Growth in the Nigerian biscuits sector driven by increasing urbanization and rising popularity of biscuits as a convenience snack, in-between meals or on-the-go
  • With a well-known brand and reputation for high quality, Beloxxi is the leading product by sales volumes in Nigeria’s cream crackers market
  • Beloxxi enjoys cost and quality advantages due to a fully-automated and efficient production process. Exit potential also enhanced by world-class facilities

Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI Speaks on Faith & Sustainable Development at 2016 World Mining Congress October 25th, 2016


The World Mining Congress is an international event that takes place every three years. It is led by a secretariat and affiliated with the United Nations. This year’s event took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from October 18 – 21. The event aims to promote and support, both technically and scientifically, the cooperation for the national and international development of mineral areas and resources; implement a global information network concerning mineral science, technology, economy, occupational health and safety and environmental protection.

Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI, spoke on the Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN) panel, Why Partnering For Development is the Future of Mining.

The panel explored the social, economic and environmental dimensions that are so vital for a vibrant mining industry and a future that provides for an equitable distribution of benefits to all stakeholders.

Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI: Comments at World Mining Congress Rio, October 20th 2016

The church’s engagement with the mining sector and specifically with the Development Partner Initiative was initiated and motivated by three different factors.

  1. We have been blessed with a charismatic and disruptive pope who is responsible for the preparation of the encyclical Laudato Sí where we are presented with an inspiring vision of the interdependence and inter-relatedness that exists between all living beings and our common home, planet earth that builds on the teaching of his predecessors and of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). We are also called to task by Pope Francis for the ways in which we have failed to care for, cultivate and appreciate the gift of the natural world and instead mistreated the planet and failed as a consequence in our inter-generational responsibility to our children’s children.
  2. There are chapels and churches and houses of worship scattered across the world and especially in the remote regions where many of the mines and other desirable natural resources like oil, gas and timber are located. Faith leaders at different levels have for years been hearing from many of the people that live in these regions and many of the stories that they tell about their experiences of mining are not very positive. Many of the contributions that the industry has made to progress and development have been lost.
  3. The churches own and manage assets to support their various initiatives and they are shareholders in many companies that are active in the mining sector. They want to make those investments in industries and companies that are responsible and make a constructive contribution to the communities and societies where they operate. They also want to avoid investing in corporations that have a poor record on protecting the environment, in respecting and promoting human rights and in fulfilling their social license to operate. 

Three themes that are central to the mission of the church and of most faith traditions where the mission of the faith traditions and the mining industry intersect are promoting sustainable development, caring for our common home and protecting human rights.

  1. Promoting development has been on the agenda of the church for centuries and has been specifically highlighted by global institutions like the United Nations from the beginning. In recent decades the much debated adjective “sustainable” has been added to the conversation as the accomplishments and the failures of various development projects and programs have been critiqued and evaluated. A significant intervention into the development debate was made by Pope Paul VI in 1967 the encyclical Populorum Progressio when he called for the promotion of “integral human development” and sought to include much more than having more or simply measuring development in purely economic terms. The mining industry has often been a part of many development initiatives through their contributions to local communities especially in regions surrounding their operating sites and in communities that are impacted by the operations of their supply chain.
  1. In his encyclical Laudato Sí, Pope Francis has called all of us to care for our common home, Mother Earth that he points out has been critically damaged by much of human activity especially in the industrial age. He is quick to point out that there is no quick solution to the ecological crisis that we face but that each of us individuals and communities, institutions and organizations, the public and the private sector have a responsibility and a role to play in reversing these trends.
  1. The protection and promotion of human rights and human dignity are at the center of the church’s mission and enshrined in international law. They are more and more being encoded in legislation and being voluntarily embraced by different actors in the business community and particularly by stakeholders and shareholders in publicly traded corporations. Faith institutions and socially responsible institutions and individual investors that are working diligently to align the ways in which they manage these assets with their faith traditions and with their values are using this same lens to choose the companies and the industry sectors that they want to invest in.

In the Days of Reflection that were convened at the Vatican and at Lambeth palace, in the Days of Courageous conversation that were convened in Cape town and in the other convenings that have brought together faith and industry leaders, civil society and representatives of local communities, we have a model that can help to address some of the challenges that are faced by local communities, industry and those who want to support sustainable development. The commitment to care for and cultivate and protect our common home must be our number one priority. We cannot rest until we have found the avenues and the technology to do this and at the same time use the multiple and rich resources that are before us to support human habitation on the planet.

Missionary Ecumenism: Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation and Lutherans October 20th, 2016

by Fr. Harry Winter, OMI, Ministry of Mission, Unity, Dialogue (MUD), OMI USA Province


Rev. Harry E. Winter, O.M.I. Coordinator of Ministry of Mission, Unity and Dialogue

The upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Sweden, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, to celebrate the 499th anniversary of Luther posting his theses, trumpets the importance of both Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and Missionary Ecumenism.  Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary put it this way:  “I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence.”

His Catholic partner, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, added:  “Lutherans and Catholics will have the possibility of an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation, not simply in a pragmatic way, but in the deep sense of faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ” (press release from both LWF and PCPCU, Jan. 25, 2016).

Experts such as Norman E. Thomas note “Today the LWF is the strongest in staff and program of the various world confessional bodies” (Missions and Unity, 2010, p. 122). Oblates of course work side by side with Lutherans in Germany, Scandinavia, and the USA, especially our mid-western states. But the Lutheran signers of the 2013 joint booklet From Conflict to Communion come also from Brazil, Japan and Tanzania.

I recommend highly this 93 pp. booklet, which may be read and downloaded on the OMI USA website on Mission-Unity-Dialogue (  The booklet was written to prepare for the Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016 celebration. Chapters one, five and six are especially readable and relevant.

Many thanks to Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, who when he was Bishop of Duluth, MN, made available to me the covenant he signed between the Diocese and  the Northeastern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  In it, the importance of JPIC and Missionary Ecumenism are clearly stated.  “We commit ourselves to:

  1. Confess to God and to each other our past and present prejudices against each other’s traditions, practices and beliefs, and allow God to forgive our sin against each other and God. (1 John 1:8-10)
  2. Acknowledge the importance of each other’s traditions, learn to appreciate the contributions of each confession to the mission and service work of the Church, and pray for the day when we celebrate the Eucharist as one community.
  1. Pray for one another in our worship, both public and private, as a sign of our unity in Christ, as God’s Holy Spirit leads us to a more open understanding of one another.
  1. Listen to the Holy Scriptures and together be instructed by them.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 
  1.  Strengthen our witness to Christ in our struggle for peace and justice.   (Micah 6:8;  Luke 4:18-21)  

A growing number of dioceses in the USA have similar covenants, some including Episcopalians (Anglicans) are called LARC Covenants (Lutheran, Anglican and Roman Catholic).

May every Christian involved in Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC) pray for the success of the meeting in Sweden.  And may we sense the bonding between JPIC,  Mission-Unity-Dialogue, and Spirituality.

Read more: Acceptance of ‘Declaration’ is a Move Away From Conflict, Dr. Scott Woodward writes that the annual Prayer for Christian Unity will be heard all week in San Antonio.

Read more: Oblate School of Theology Leads Preparation for Pope’s Visit to Sweden, on

Superior General Louis Lougen, OMI Re-Elected September 30th, 2016

Republished from 



Rev Fr. Louis Lougen OMI was officially reelected as the Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate for another term of 6 years.

Congratulations and God bless you Fr. Louis.

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