OMI Colombo Sri Lanka

The Touch of the Jubilee of Simplicity

The attitudinal stance for pragmatic simplicity attracts public attention and the notice of the concerned people. Besides, it radiates the quality of inner consciousness, and the level of vigilance on societal connections that one experiences. While the elaborately organized events aim at getting inscribed as historical records of the past, the simple and modest events touch the hearts where they remain enshrined for reflections of the present. When it was decided by the OMI Provincial Administrations of Colombo and Jaffna to withdraw from going ahead with the widely planned 175th jubilee activities of the Oblate presence in Sri Lanka, at Tewatte Basilica, things had gone too far beyond the point of no return as several thought. The Jubilee Committees of both OMI Provinces have worked hard in collaboration to make the occasion of the Jubilee celebration fixed for 01st December 2022 glamorous. When a few Oblates directly expressed their counter views to having a grandeur event, it was also not difficult to read the sensitivity and the mind of the silent majority. Being with the ordinary people, they too have felt the ongoing adverse effects of the economic bankruptcy of the country, of the political and social instability resulting from the rising level of corruptions, and of the loss of law and order threatening civilized living. The context therefore was not at all conducive to go ahead with the proposed jubilee celebration, though substantial amounts of resources and energy had been already spent for preliminaries. Lying beneath such an envisaged event, as rightly understood by the OMI Provincial administrations, were a counter witness to being with the poor and powerless, a betrayal of religious integrity, and a victimization of those who honor the contribution of the Oblates to the local church and the country. The self-effacing replacement event, held on December 01st at De Mazenod Provincial House, Colombo 15, went on very well achieving all the esteemed objectives set for Tewatte event. The collectively expressed Oblate family spirit was at its apex point. The number of Oblates, belonging to both Oblate Provinces, who turned up for their active participation in the simple ceremony was over one hundred. It was an amazing unity to see at these troubled times of the country. There was joy with the determined focus for getting inspired and renewed by the glories of the past. There was the mutual sharing of the newly-emerged ongoing challenges of Oblate ministries to seek guidance and moral support of one another. There was the realization of the new poor in the powerlessness of the silent majority who starve, who have lost their jobs, and whose children are denied of decent education and upbringing. Evangelizing the poor with haste was seen as a sacred and mandatory duty. There was also the public pledge to continue the powerful Oblate tradition of dwelling in the maternal care of the Blessed Mother Mary. Thus, the concealed affirmation of everybody present was that their life narratives, as of the Oblates gone before them, would be seeds sown on the soil of the local church to make vibrant Oblate presence a never-ending endeavor. The features of pomp and glory were absent at the celebration of the Eucharist which was presided at by our own brother Oblate Most Rev. Dr. Norbert M. Andradi OMI, the Bishop of the Diocese of Anuradhapura. His immediate concelebrants at the altar were Very Rev. Fr. Henricus Asodo, OMI, the 2nd Assistant General who unexpectedly joined with us in the midst of his busy schedules, the two Provincial Superiors Frs. Roshan Silva OMI and Eugene Benedict OMI, and Fr. Pius Pohdueng, OMI from the OMI Delegation of Bangladesh. At the end of the celebration, the closure of the 175th Jubilee Year was announced, and it detailed clearly the work which have been accomplished during the Jubilee Year in spite of the unforeseen obstacles emerged from the situations of covid-19 and economic and political upheavals. There is legitimacy in seeing the simple meal which was served at lunch, foregoing of the festivity, as a mark of Oblate missionary consciousness or an attempt to integrate ‘Oblate Heart’ with the poor. One may add prophetic stance to the affair, well and good. At the end of the day, one may say, ‘Our stance of simplicity has brought us everything we need. What more do we need from an elaborate Jubilee celebration?’