Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Workshop with Presentation Brothers' Novices

From the 14th to the 19th June we had a joint workshop with our fellow Presentation Brothers’ novices. The first phase of the workshop looked at the Prophetic Dimension of Religious Life. The second phase dealt with Sexuality, Celibacy and Intimacy.
As we entered this second phase of our seminar, the following questions seemed to have been permanently glued in my mind. “How is man a sexual being? How is everything done by a human sexual?” These are some of the questions I have asked myself whenever the word sexuality is mentioned.
Initially I thought that sexuality is all about getting a man or a woman of one’s own preference and falling in love, only to realize that it is not as I thought! It is more than just being in the company of the opposite sex.
It was a time of discovery about the forces that drive the human sexuality. I noticed that the same energy is behind one’s human spirituality. There is no way an integrated human being can be active in his or her interactions with others and yet be dormant in his or her spiritual life and relationship with the Divine. One is either active in both or dormant in both. It is out of human sexuality that an individual’s relationship with God can be defined
At the end of the day I came to understand and appreciate how greater saints like St Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross were able to express their love. They did something beautiful for God just as Mother Teresa did when she expressed her love by dedicating her life to the poor of the poorest.
(Otieno Oyugi)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Feast of our Lady of Perpetual Help

This Byzantine icon was painted by an unknown artist in the 13th Century. The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is painted on wood,with background of gold. The painting isn't meant to be one of beauty but holds a message instead;"You can come to me". With an open hand and a gaze fixed on the viewer Mary invites the faithful to Jesus.

A bit of forgotten history

(Taken from our Educational Record of 1919 from an account entitled A bit of Forgotten History written by Br J Ward.)

In 1875 a National Synod of the Irish Hierarchy, held in Maynooth, issued decrees binding on ‘Brothers who conduct schools.’ The decrees, aimed specifically at our congregation, were of such a nature as to destroy traditions and long-standing customs of our Institute, and in the opinion of the Brothers, to alter materially our Constitutions.’

When the decrees were published in 1877 the Superior General, Br. Aloysius Hoare, sent two Brothers, Anthony Maxwell and Austin Grace to Rome. Among clerical friends they met there were the Redemptorists, Frs Douglas and Morgan who were both strong promoters of devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Fr Morgan was very active in helping with the presentation of our case and both priests insisted in placing the whole case under Our Lady’s protection. The Superior General directed all Brothers to make a novena to Our Lady. Subsequently Fr Morgan wrote to Br Anthony urging him to: ‘Have real confidence in Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and, if you think well to do so, make her a promise to put one of her pictures in every one of your schools, and to promote devotion to her among your pupils if you win your cause- and it will succeed.’ This course was pursued and on Dec. 3rd. 1878, the appeal was decided in our favour.

However, early in 1879, the Bishops reopened the case. Fr Morgan’s faith did not falter: 'Our Lady of Perpetual Succour will take care that you do not lose. She will protect the good cause, so confidence.’ Again ‘Try to weather the storm bravely under the mantle of Our Lady. She will protect you and bring all things right.’ Again Our Lady won the day and, on March 14th. all former decisions were reconfirmed.

‘Glory be to God in the highest, and everlasting thanks to our Lady of Perpetual Help.’

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The day Hector was killed - In the words of his sister Antoinette.

We were told there was going to be change at our school, that we would do maths and geography in Afrikaans. We were surprised, and the teachers weren't pleased about it. That winter in 1976 we thought, let's see what the first term is like. We did the first term tests, and they were disastrous.
The African National Congress and Pan- Africanist Congress were banned at the time but sometimes we would discuss the issue together and eventually they told us there would be a demonstration on June 16. Obviously everyone was thrilled.
The night before, we were so anxious, trying to come up with some banners that would have a big impact. We didn't have many, though "to hell with Afrikaans" was one example. We didn't want to tell our parents.
The day itself started normally, there was no sign of anything. Every day there would be an assembly, and we would be there singing and praying. While we were praying I saw students from Morris Isaacson high school.
I was excited but because we were praying I had to restrain myself. They were singing and chanting, they put us in the mood. Soon we threw our books down and got out our placards. Everyone was waving and singing in the streets of Soweto.
Our leader told us that the police were around the school and emphasised that we weren't to provoke them, otherwise the mission would not be fulfilled. As I was having a discussion with my friends, "bang", there was a shot. We had never thought there would be violence and we ran amok in confusion, hiding ourselves in nearby houses. Later on, when it was calm, we sneaked out again. It was like hide and seek - as soon as we heard shots, we'd hide and then when it calmed down, we came out.
I told my brother to stay next to me while I figured out how we could get home. While I was talking to him there was another shot. We ran back into hiding. When I emerged, Hector wasn't there. I said to myself maybe, because he is young, he is still hiding. The best thing to do, I thought, was to wait there, where I was talking to him, so that when he emerges, he will find me. Meanwhile, students were gathering at a scene. I wanted to go and see but couldn't because I was still waiting for Hector. But when I looked closer, I saw him there with the crowd, as if he was fetching something from them, because he was very tall. I was anxious. I could see the body frame and then I saw blood coming from his mouth. I tried to let them know that this was my brother: I have been waiting for him, can't you see he is hurt? We ran to the clinic, but we could see he was finished.
There and then I understood he was dead.
I tell myself now that I have forgiven but I won't forget. It's a part of me I cannot run away from, but I want to move forward in life. I always say those who died did not die in vain. Obviously there are going to be a few hiccups before we get there, but we are now in a process and I am hoping for the best.
(Antoinette Sithole – Sister of Hector Pieterson. Sithole,then 17,is the schoolgirl in the picture running alongside Mbuyisa Makhubo who is carrying the dying Hector, aged 12, in his arms)

June 16, 1976 - Soweto Student Uprising

In 1974, the National Party led South African government passed the ‘Afrikaans Medium Decree’ which mandated that all schools be taught in both English and Afrikaans. Afrikaans had to be used for mathematics, arithmetic, and social studies from the 7th grade. English would be the medium of instruction for general science and practical subjects (homecraft, needlework, woodwork, metalwork, art, agricultural science). Indigenous languages would be used for religion instruction, music, and physical culture.
A 1972 poll had found that 98% of young Sowetans did not want to be taught in Afrikaans. The association of Afrikaans with apartheid prompted black South Africans to prefer English. The 1974 decree was intended to forcibly reverse the decline of Afrikaans among black Africans.
The decree was resented deeply by blacks as Afrikaans was widely viewed, in the words of Desmond Tutu, "the language of the oppressor". The resentment grew until and children went on strike, refusing to go to school. The students formed an Action Committee (later known as the Soweto Students’ Representative Council) that organized a mass rally for June 16 to make themselves heard.
On the morning of June 16, 1976, thousands of black students walked from their schools to Orlando Stadium to protest against having to learn through Afrikaans in school. The protests were intended to be peaceful. The students began the march only to find out that police had barricaded the road along their intended route. After scuffles between marchers and police, the police opened fire into the crowd. Colonel Kleingeld, drew his handgun and fired the first shot, causing panic and chaos. Students started screaming and running and more gunshots were fired, killing 23 people, including children.
This incident triggered the uprising, which lasted for days and resulted in the deaths of between 200 and 700 people, with over a thousand injured. Photographs from the uprising were broadcast around the world and the event is seen as helping fuel the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s which eventually brought down the racist apartheid regime.
Today as we recall the memory and sacrifice of these young people marking Youth Day, we remember the many in the world that continue to live under oppressive policies and governments. G.B Shaw once said, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.” Scenes such as depicted in the photograph showing the dying Hector Pieterson cradled in a fellow student’s arms continue to this date as is indicated by another similar photograph taken in Palestine.
Let us allow ourselves to be inflamed by the spirit of those students and may their courage, their awareness of injustice, their desire to do away with oppressive structures continue to fuel our own passion to fight for justice.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup 2010

Let the games begin!!!! One month of football fever!!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Vivek!

It is yet another day - very bright day indeed and a sign of a new beginning in our midst. The birds are singing their melodious songs in honour of this great day and so am I.

Here is a phrase which comes into my mind as I struggle to depart from my bed; “I feared failure but I realize that I only fail if I do not keep on trying”. Today is the birthday of Br. Vivek, the Director of novices here in our Novitiate in Tamale.

The phrase highlighted above is how I can summarize my entire experience with Br. Vivek here in the novitiate. He has always encouraged us (novices) not to fear making mistakes in life. Through this, I have unveiled the beautiful being inside me. This is just one of the many good insights that I have received from you Brother!!

Thanks for your giftedness and your creativity which is above measure. May God bless you and your family abundantly. On behalf of the Dagombas and the community we say;

Welcome Revy!

“AMARAABA” (welcome) REVY
Br Revy Hangandu is a member of the Mater Dei District leadership team. We are happy to have him here in our midst for a few days. We wish he has a pleasant stay and the weather stays kind to him!
In Tonga the community say; ‘Mwatambulwa Taata

World Environment Day

This is the day that holds water only to the likes of Wangare Mathai. That is what I used to think before, why? Because I was born and brought up in an already contaminated/polluted environment where nobody cared whether it was taken care of or not.

The issue of taking care of the environment clicked in my mind a few years ago when I realized that a beautiful stream in my village dried up. That particular stream was not only a source of drinking water for the villagers but served as the habitat of the aquatic creatures. All cattle were alike watered by the same stream.
That is when I realized that the nature should be dignified and treated with maximum respect that it deserves.

As a community, we marked the day by centering our prayers around the nature. We followed it closely by keeping our little compound clean. May God bless our mother earth!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

World Environment Day - 5th June

World Environment Day (WED) is a day that stimulates awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and public action. It is on 5 June. It was the day that United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was from 5-16 June 1972. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. The first World Environment Day was in 1973. World Environment Day is hosted every year by a different city with a different theme and is commemorated with an international exposition on the week that 5 June is on.
Under the theme 'Many Species. One Planet. One Future', Rwanda will be the Global host for this year’s event which will celebrate the incredible diversity of life on Earth as part of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Marking the birthdate of Edmund Rice

1st of June is tradionally marked as the birth date of Blessed Edmund Rice. He was born in 1762 to Robert Rice and Margaret Rice (nee Tierney) on the farming property of "Westcourt" in Callan, Ireland. Edmund Rice was the fourth of seven sons, although he also had two stepsisters, Joan and Jane Murphy, the offspring of his mother's first marriage.

Callan was a market town where the farmers brought their produce. It was located in a rich agricultural area which had a very agreeable climate. Crops of wheat, potatoes, barley, oats, and flax were sown in the Spring. The crops were harvested in the late Summer and early Autumn. All the farm work was completed by hand. Most of the rural dwellers were manual labourers who lived in mud-walled thatched cabins. These cabins had no beds. The roof was covered with thatch. The floors were made with clay trampled underfoot in order to make it solid. The houses did not have any chimneys or windows – the smoke escaped through the doors. A manure pit usually was positioned outside the door. The labourers usually kept a pig in the house. This animal was fed on the leftovers from the house but it was very important as its sale paid the rent. Many of these houses would have been by Edmund as he grew up in Callan.

The town had only two schools for its 3500 inhabitants. The Catholics attended a "Hedge school" The students paid a small stipend to the master.

Edmund was the son of a rich farmer who farmed 180 acres near Callan. He did not experience the poor social conditions described above. Even though he was a Catholic his family prospered during the economic boom period that benefited the richer classes in Ireland at this time. His family worked very hard and accumulated good profits from their farm enterprises. Their house was very different from the house occupied by the landless labourers. It was a long low cottage with four bedrooms. Each bedroom measured 10 feet by 9. It also had a parlour and a kitchen. The kitchen measured 17 feet by 12. Even though they were wealthy the Rices lived very frugal lives. This enabled them to endure harsh times and prosper in the good times. They could thus afford to educate their children privately and make provision for handsome dowries for their daughters.

Happy Birthday Peter Kabia

On the 31st of May Peter Kabia celebrated his 32nd birthday. We celebrated the day however on Friday the 28th with a meal and a clebration under the moonlit skies of Tamale! Peter is a wonderful presemce in the community and the gift of his person was much acknowledged and appreciated on that day. May God continue to walk with you, Peter, as you journey to discover truly the invitation to you, and may you wake each morning to listen like a disciple.