Superior General’s Newsletter – 9 – December 2009



Dear confreres,
            December 19th, 2009: 169th anniversary of Priestly Ordination of Father Luigi Brisson; the “Year of Priest”. I would like to share with you the momentous news:  today, Pope Benedict XVI signed the degree acknowledging the heroic nature of Fr. Brisson's life and his practice of the Christian virtues. It has taken a long time, but now that this important step has been taken and we can all be grateful to God.  It is, indeed, a beautiful Christmas gift for our Oblate family.
            The Vatican website publishes today this news: “le virtù eroiche del Servo di Dio Luigi Brisson, Sacerdote e Fondatore degli Oblati e delle Oblate di San Francesco di Sales; nato il 23 giugno 1817 a Plancy (Francia) ed ivi morto il 2 febbraio 1908.”
            Yes, we can, and ought to, celebrate this step.  Even more, we can encourage our people to pray in order to obtain, by intercession of Fr. Brisson, graces we need. We are in the process of composing a special prayer for this new stage of his process. I encourage everyone, from here on, to become more acquaintanced with the person and life of our founder, and to motivate our people to pray for their needs through his intercession.
            There is no liturgical honor provided for a person who has been recognized, by a decree, as having practiced heroic virtue. For this to happen, it will be necessary to await the conclusion of the process (and the hopefully, possible beatification). The acts characteristic of public cult are reserved to the beatified (and even in such cases, in a restricted way: limited to a religious family, or diocese). After canonization, evidently, these restrictions are suspended.
            It is necessary to act with good sense: the venerability is not a declaration of sanctity! Once, the title of “venerable” was given when a process was opened, as in the case of the Venerable Mother Chappuis. But, presently, according to the new legislation, the candidate is considered to be “Servant of God" from the opening of the process. “Venerable” is applied from the moment of the recognition of the heroism of his or hers virtues. In itself this latter step is only part of a human process and is not a qualification that leads automatically to a cult. God's signature through a miracle is necessary. Only then does a person enter the sphere of the Beatified or Sanctified and, consequently, merit a cult.
United to our Salesian Saints and to our Venerable Founder, Father Luigi Brisson, let us continue remaining in joyful thanksgiving, and united in prayers.           

Message for Christmas

            Reflecting upon Christmas that will soon be upon us, I would like to present a part of the Congregation's first formation person, Fr. Celestin Rollin, OSFS, Christmas message presented a hundred years ago during the Chapter given by him on December 19, 1909.
Chapter – Rome, December 19, 1909
[……] “Each celebration of a particular feast brings its own special grace, its own renewal of grace. How are you to prepare to receive the Savior? Just as you prepare to receive Holy Communion – by the Directory.
“First of all, you prepare by faith: it is God! Therefore one must show Him a deep and meditative respect. He is evil indeed who is negligent in doing God’s work. God’s work for us here is to take in this good, little Savior meditatively, in a sort of continual adoration. Faith engenders a feeling of our own unworthiness: who are we? In coming to us, Jesus enters a poor thatched house, but at least let us prepare it for him. From a feeling o unworthiness comes confidence: yes, it is God but also the Savior, the light of the world who comes. […..] Let us pray hard to our Savior that we might cooperate with his Light so that we might do some good, corresponding to our vocation.
“The second sentiment we are to have in our preparation for Christmas is hope. He come to us in his divine power, but clothed in humanity, so as to come to us only in mercy and goodness.
“Let us have a feeling of love towards this goodness! The more one loves, the more one is sorry for his sins; love begets contrition and contrition begets good resolutions.
“He comes with his crown of thorns: the weaknesses of infancy, poverty, persecution, and exile. Let us not recoil from these things in our life, but accept them with a generous heart as he did.
“Meditate on this profound mystery and find there goodness and mercy and inspiration to englighten you as well as the strength to act!
“Everywhere, ‘Come, Jesus!’ We can’t have all these thoughts at the same time, but let us have them in an habitual manner. A habit is acquired by repeated acts. Let us practice our Directory well.
“We must pray to God to give us the consolation of forming people in this way. Even now, we can take advantage of every occasion of doing so. We ought to give good example but also spiritual alms, with prudence, humility, with fidelity and the desire of making Jesus loved.
 “Have courage, my sons! And especially fidelity!”

(Comment of Fr. Lewis Fiorelli: One could entitle this chapter, “A Directory-inspired preparation for Christmas”. What is important is not so much what Father Rollin said on this occasion, but his insight that there is a peculiarly Oblate way of preparing for Christmas, and, by implication, any liturgical feast. That preparation is intimately related to the Institute’s central document: the Directory. The Directory, in turn, is not principally a written document, but a manner of life, a Way of continual, habitual union with God. From this contemplative core flows our loving action on behalf of the neighbor, the Church, and the world. There is insight and wisdom here!)

A First Oblate reaches his 100th Birthday

In our present General Directory, page 79, registers the fact that our confrere, Fr. Paul Lackner, was born on November 22, 1909. With the information at our disposal, this makes him the first Oblate of St. Francis de Sales in the 134 year history of the Congregation to reach the milestone of living for one century. We thank and praise God for his life. Congratulations, Father LACKNER!
Fr. Lackner was born in Wien, and entered the Congregation in 1928. His priestly ordination took place in 1933. Among other ministries in the Province he has been Novice Master, Provincial Superior and teacher in Fockenfeld. Presently he is being cared for by the Franciscan Sisters at their hospital, near Munich, Germany.

Indian Mission: A New Stage and New Leadership

During last October, Fr. Konrad Esser accompanied me on my visitation to our mission in India. A high point of this visit was the inauguration and blessing of the new formation house, Brisson Nilayam, in Eluru. Besides being our third house of formation, this inaugrantion also represents an advance of our Oblate presence, with our entrance into the state of Andra Pradesh. Presently eight theologians and two formation  persons are living at the house.
During this visitation an Assembly of all the Indian confreres, occurred during which new leadership was selected. Pe. Baiju Puthussery has been named the new Delegate of the Superior General of our Indian Mission. Fr. Mathew Mukkath, Bala Swamy Dande, Chandra Sekhar Pinapati and John George Kadavumkandathil were choosen as  members of the Indian Council.
The return of Fr. Joseph Költringer to Europe significies a new moment for our Indian confreres since they will now be assuming the responsibilities inherent in our mission in that country. Let us pray for the new leadership and for the entire Indian mission. I especially wish to invite all to be untied with two of our Indian confreres who will be ordained priests: Deacon Rayapa Reddy Yeruva who will be ordained on December 27th and Deacon Mathias I. Kumar who will be ordained on December 29th.


Fr. Aldino José Kiesel, osfs
Superior General