November 19, 2016, 9:00 a.m. One in mind and heart, members of the OMI Thai-Lao Delegation has gathered together at the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Din Daeng, Bangkok in thanking God for his unending graciousness afforded to the delegation. The Delegation celebrated the 200th birthday of the Congregation as well as the 50th year of the Oblate presence in Thailand ministering among the poor. The event was highlighted by celebrating the 50th year of Religious Profession of Fr. Pricha Thamniyom, OMI and Br. Bernard Wirth, OMI; and, the 25th year of priestly ordination of Fr. Claudio Bertuccio, OMI.
Prior to the Eucharistic celebration which started at 10 in the morning, the Delegation Superior with his council, together with Fr. Lauro de Guia, the Provincial Superior of the OMI Philippine Province, welcomed the mass presider, Bishop Phibul Wisitnonthachai of the Diocese of Nakhorn Sawan, as well as Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, the Papal Nuncio in Thailand. At 9:20 in the morning, a 30 minute video in Thai language which depicted the birth of the Congregation in France in 1816 and the coming of the Oblates in Thailand in 1966 was shown inside the church. It likewise presented the beginnings of the OMI ministry in Thailand as well as the present ministry that they have in the Archdiocese of Bangkok, the Dioceses of Udon Thani and Nakhorn Sawan.
The mass was concelebrated by around 30 priests coming from different religious houses, dioceses and Oblate members of the Delegation. Religious men and women, and parishioners from the different parishes where the oblates work, past and present, also joined the celebration.
Fr. Claudio gave the sharing. He shared about the beginnings of the Oblates in Thailand with the coming of the 3 pioneering Oblates in 1966 such as Fr. Gerard Fortin+, Fr. Christian Gilles and Fr. Jean Haberstroh+. The Our Lady of Fatima was a parish administered by the Oblates in 1970 and it also became the center of the Oblates in Thailand. Fr. Claudio further talked about the charism of the Oblates and their way of life: serving the poor and maintaining a simple life-style.
During the communion, Fr. Ronnie Torres and Fr. Gerry de los Reyes, sang the song “We are Oblates” together with the male members of the Our Mother of God Choir. After the communion prayer, Fr. Gerry gave the “thank you address” and at the end of his message he invited all the Oblates to stand in front of the altar facing the people to sing the song “Give Thanks.”
Fr. Larry de Guia, Provincial of the Philippine Province, gave a garland to each Jubilarian. Fr. Pricha, representing the Jubilarians, gave the thank you message.
Before the final blessing, Bishop Phibul delivered his message to the Oblates encouraging them to continue giving witness to the poor by examples. He made underscored about the service the oblates are doing in ministering to the Hmong people in his diocese. He further asked for their deep commitment for this ministry.
Everybody enjoyed a sumptuous meal after the mass which were prepared by Oblates’ generous friends and supporters from different places.
God indeed has been gracious to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Amidst the many challenges the entire Congregation around the world and in particular the Thai-Lao Delegation is facing, God has continued watching over them and supplying them with greater commitment in uplifting the dignity of the poor and the most abandoned. With the intercession of Mary Immaculate, the Patroness of the Congregation and through the inspiration of St. Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Oblates will continue to be on the side of the poor and the most abandoned.
Fr. Gerry Delos Reyes