Visit of the Oblate Superior General
Most Rev. Fr. Wilhelm Steckling OMI, the Superior General of the
Oblates of Mary Immaculate, will visit Sri Lanka from November 30 to
December 24. This will be his second visit to Sri Lanka, his earlier
visit being in 2001.
Rev. Fr. Wilhelm Steckling
Fr. Steckling was born in Germany on April 23, 1947. He joined the
Oblates, and made his first Religious Profession on 1st May 1967.
He was ordained a Priest on July 20, 1974, and received his first
assignment in the same year as a Missionary to Paraguay. He was the
Provincial of the Vice-Province of Pilcomayo from 1986 to 1989.
At the 1992 General Chapter, he was elected Asst. General for
Formation, and in 1998, he was elected as the twelfth Superior General,
and in the 2004 Chapter he was re-elected to head the 4550 Oblates
throughout the World.
During his stay in Sri Lanka, he will visit all the Oblate Houses and
Districts. He will also address the different Groups of Oblates, the
CBCSL and CMRS. He will also preside at the Oblate Schoalsticate 50th.
Anniversary Jubilee and pay a courtesy call on the Archbishop of
Colombo, Most Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith and the Boship of Anurahdapura,
Most Rev. Dr. Norbert Andradi OMI. He will visit the Jaffna Province on
December 12, before leaving the Island on December 24.
Confirmation at St. John the Baptist Church, Nagoda, Kandana
His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo,
was accorded a grand welcome by the parishioners of St. John the Baptist
Church, Nagoda, Kandana. Rev. Fr. Preya Jayamanne, the Parish Priest,
Rev. Fr. Samit Rangana, the Assistant and the Parishioners assembled at
the entrance to the Church Road, under a large pandal. This has been his
first visit to the parish. His Lordship was taken in a sport model car
(an old crock) escorted by horses on either side through a
Most Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith officiates the Holy Mass
gaily decorated and illuminated road. His lordship visited Nagoda to
administer the sacrament of confirmation on two hundred and twenty boys
In his homily at the very outset he said today is a great day the
feast of All Saints. Saints are those who gave their lives to Christ.
They were people like you. The first Saint was St. Stephen. Today you
are all receiving the sacrament of confirmation. As infants in your
mother's arms, along with your god parents you received the sacrament of
Baptism, where your parents on behalf of you renounced Satan and all his
works and today you are young enough to say on your own that you will
renounce Satan and live a Godly life filled with the Holy Spirit right
throughout your life- time.
Today whilst leaving the church premises filled with the Holy Spirit
make a firm determination and place a solid foundation to lead a Holy
life. You can be a saint if you won't too. St. Damian was from a poor
family. He looked after the lepers and administered to them and finally
he himself passed away as a leper. St. Therese became a saint when she
was twenty-four years. Lately you have heard of St. Therese a nun from
India who became a Saint having looked after the aged, the sick and the
poor. His Lordship extended a challenge to the boys and girls and gave
them three little acts for them to do, to live a holy life.
1. Give your self up to the Lord 2. Carry your cross. 3. Go behind
Christ. Very difficult by you could succeed. The offering of the Daily
rosary, Our Lady will assist you.
Today most of the catholic families have forgotten the evening
rosary. Father, Mother together with the children worship the TV. You
find even in the streets boys and girls making love. It has become a
public show. Our Lord said, I am the vine and you are the branches. If
you take one step forward, Christ will help you to take one hundred and
eight steps. You are applied with Holy oil and I have given you a slap
too. You have received the Holy Spirit. Change your lifestyle, lead a
holy life, pray for others, especially for your enemies.
Be good to your family, respect and obey your parents and elders,
lead a holy life, say the daily rosary and be contended with what you
have. Christ will help you to do the rest.
It won't be a surprise to me if one day, one of you from the Nagoda
Parish will take all possible steps and efforts to be a Saint. My
Blessings are with you, the Archbishop said. Rev. Fr. Preeya Jayamanne
thanked His Lordship for having come to administer the Sacrament of
Confirmation, thanked Fr. Samit, Rev. Nuns and the elders who took a
keen interest and pain to train the boys and girls and all those who
were present at the service.
Pope slams 'greed' of speculators
Pope Benedict XVI on Monday warned against the "greed" of speculators
in cereals markets as the UN Summit on food security opened in Rome.
Pope Benedict XVI (L) delivers a speech during the opening
session of a World Summit on Food Security organized by the Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on November 16. at its
headquarters in Rome. AFP
The Pope urged opposition to "greed which causes speculation to rear
its head even in the marketing of cereals, as if food were to be treated
just like any other commodity."
The Holy Father also criticised "those forms of aid that do grave
damage to the agricultural sector, those approaches to food production
that are geared solely towards consumption and lack a wider
The Pope, speaking at the opening session of a summit that has drawn
widespread criticism for the absence of key leaders from wealthy
nations, also warned against resignation or indifference towards the
problem of world hunger.
He said there was a "tendency to view hunger as structural, an
integral part of the socio-political situation of the weakest countries,
a matter of resigned regret, if not downright indifference."
The pontiff stressed: "It is not so, and it must never be so."
He said: "The weakness of current mechanisms for food security and
the need to re-examine them are confirmed... by the mere fact that this
summit has been convoked.
"Even though the poorest countries are more fully integrated into the
world economy than in the past, movements in international markets make
them more vulnerable." Last week the newspaper of the Italian Catholic
Church warned that the summit may "flop" unless it produces concrete
"FAO Summit risks flop- Much ado about nothing?" asked Avvenire's
Some 60 heads of state or government are at the summit, but Italian
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the only participant from the Group
of Eight industrialised countries.
Trials in a Christian's life
"I like to spend four weeks on the subject of 'Trials' in a
The best person qualified to speak on the subject is a person who has
faced trials, and believe you me, I am one of them."
1. James 1:
2. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let
patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete,
Initially, I found it hard to understand how one could be joyful
during a time of trial.
Your whole world is crumbling down before you - you do not have the
resources or knowledge to rectify the problem that has drawn you down
into this trial - and God through His word is saying 'Be Joyful'? No
wonder people say that Christianity is hard to practise!!
Note further on what it says:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all
liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let
him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of
the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose
that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded
man, unstable in all his ways.
That is exactly what I did, I asked the Lord teach me to be joyful in
this dire situation I am in - I have faith , I believe you and do not
doubt you but I want to be joyful as you ask me to - how do I do it to
receive the benefit of this trial as your word teaches me? I like to
share with you what He taught me and trust this will help you in your
1. Stay focused on Jesus and not on your trials. (this is not easy -
you have to wilfully pull back every time Satan draws you to think about
your problem.). You can do this by clinging on to the promises the Word
of God gives you as you wait on Him.
One of the promises He gave me was:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love
God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
So, one has to focus on God and His word to you and the faith in His
work in your life increases although everything around you is crumbling
- 2) Learn to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit:-
There are two important reasons for this:-
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
When you spend time with Him, He will produce Joy in your life.
He reveals God and His attributes to you which results in your
inner-being experiencing a deep sense of joy and peace as a result of
this revelation . For instance the truth that all things are possible to
achieve through an almighty God comes through to you and your problems
become strangely dim in the light of this revelation. This is the joy
that the Bible speaks of in the time of trial.
This joy is brought about by the knowledge that God is in control of
your life and He is bringing about a blessing (very often a spiritual
one) through this trial and slowly but surely my life has to yield and
be pliable in my maker's hand. May your trials turn out to be triumphs
in Jesus' name.
Lord Jesus Christ help me to consider my trial a pure joy even as
your word teaches me - Help my heart to stay focused on you during this
time of trouble and not be tormented by what is happening - teach me to
cast my cares over to you as you have instructed me and in faith wait
for you to work things out for me. Let me not struggle in your arms
during this time but trust you and stay still. Thank you Lord for the
joy and inner peace given to me because you live - and help me to See,
that because of this my future is secure in you. Amen
Reminiscences of Bro. Paul Nizier FMS
The 10th death anniversary of Bro. Paul Nizier, the pedagofue par
excellence falls on December 8. An embodiment of virtues, values and
discipline enunciated by Marist brothers, he passed away on December 8,
1999 at the ripe old age of 92. For his death anniversary this year, I
would like to present the memories of my close association with Bro.
When the free education scheme was implemented in 1945, Maris Stella
College, Negombo was a prestigious fee-levying school and there were
moves to continue it as a private institution.
However the legendary Bro. Anthony, the Director of the college at
the time decided to enter it to the free education stream to enable the
poor students in Negombo and the vicinity to reap the benefits of higher
Bro. Paul Nizier FMS
At that time Bro. Paul Nizier was the head of the primary section in
Maris Stella. He endorsed the decision of Bro. Anthony and opened up new
classes for the primary in temporary sheds to accommodate the influx of
increasing students seeking admission to the school. I entered Maris
Stella in 1947 and I could vividly remember the day Bro. Paul Nizier
admitted me to the primary. I went to the interview with an uncle of
mine. Bro. Paul Nizier asked me to read a passage from an English book
and find the way to the end of a jigsaw puzzle. I read the passage with
some difficulty but solved the puzzle without any problem.
At that time my father Warnakulasuriya Santiago Fernando was the
leader of the LSSP in Negombo and he clashed with the Church on many
issues. When Bro. Paul Nizier perused my baptismal certificate, he
inquired from my uncle whether my father was the LSSP politician.
He answered in the affirmative. Nevertheless he had no hesitation to
admit me. He enrolled me to a 6th year class. I never shined as a
student in the primary in Maris Stella. Although I was among the first
five in examinations, I was never considered as an outstanding student.
I tried to take part in some athletic events but got knocked off in the
heats being the last or one before the last. Nevertheless Bro. Paul
Nizier always bolstered me.
Now and then he picked me up to recite the litany at novenas. Once
our literature master was on leave and there was no teacher available to
act for him. Although I was not the monitor in the class Bro. Paul
Nizier entrusted me to take the lesson. I imitated the teacher and read
the passages from the text book for the others to repeat. Towards the
end of the period Bro. Paul Nizier had been watching us without our
knowledge. Later he congratulated me and commended other students for
their attention and good behaviour.
When I was in the collegiate section, Bro. Paul Nizier addressed the
students on Switzerland after a sojourn abroad. At the end of his
speech, he remarked that students who would be future leaders should try
to develop Sri Lanka like Switzerland. And looking straight at me he
said "One of the future Ministers is seated among you." But his forecast
never materialized. As a lawyer after flirting with politics for some
time, I found myself a misfit in the field and joined the judiciary.
When Bro. Conran, the principal of Maris Stella went abroad for a
holiday Bro. Paul Nizier acted for him. One day our class teacher was on
leave and Bro. Paul Nizier took a lesson. At the end of it he inquired
from every student what he aspired to be. All the students except I
mentioned that they wanted to be doctors, engineers, lawyers,
accountants and so on. That was a 'B' form.
In my case I could not think beyond becoming a teacher. My father and
my uncles were all teachers. That was the limit to my world as well. So
I said that I wanted to be a teacher. Bro. Nizier wished all success and
remarked "One day the boy who wants to become a teacher would be above
all of you." This time his prophecy came true. All except I gave up
studies after the senior form.
After I left Maris Stella, I kept on corresponding with him. He
watched my progress both at the University and the Law College. In
secondary classes at Maris Stella, now and then I was the first in class
at examinations. Bro. Paul Nizier had the wrong notion that I was always
the first in class.
When I was the President of the Law College Catholic Association, in
1969 we published the annual of the society called 'Veritas' (The
Truth). I posted a complementary copy to Bro. Paul Nizier as well. While
acknowledging the magazine he appreciated my contributions and reminded
me that St. Thomas Aquinas was the patron saint of scholars. At Maris
Stella I was known as 'Leslie Fernando'. I was amazed to realise that he
had kept a track of my other names as well. It was from Bro. Paul Nizier
that I learned that the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas has been changed
from March 7 to January 28.
Bro. Paul Nizier was happy that I married from a family who had been
benefactors of the Catholic Church and he attended our wedding Mass at
Wennappuwa, in 1973. He appreciated my joining the judiciary. When I
became a District Judge, he wrote to me that the premises of the Marist
Brothers' House at Bandarawela abuts that of the District Judge and
suggested me to get the next transfer to Bandarawela. I did get
Bandarawela in 1987 and served as the District Judge there till 1989.
What a lovely time we had at Bandarawela with Bro. Paul Nizier as our
immediate neighbour. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays we walked to St.
Anthony's Church with Bro. Paul Nizier for novenas to St. Anthony and
Our Lady of Perpetual Help. On the way back we had tea at our place and
enjoyed his company till the dusk.
On the other days of the week my wife and I went for walks in the
evening. On our return Bro. Paul Nizier was there awaiting for us with
chairs arranged in front of Marist Brothers' House with refreshments.
Sitting in the hillock, we enjoyed the panorama of the fascinating
surroundings. We discussed all about Negombo, Marist Brothers, kings and
cabbages till we could see 'Udarata Menike' passing through Bandarawela.
It was a wonderful sight to see the train with lights on going through
the hills towards the end of 1988, the turmoil prevailed all over the
country surfaced in Bandarawela too, and I had a trying time as a judge.
At times I had to act for the Magistrate and go for murder inquests.
There were some leaflets, posters exhibited around the residence and
there were some demonstrations too demanding certain orders over some
deaths. I never yielded to pressure and threats and gave orders
according to my conscience.
There was a time it was not safe for me to stay the night at the
District Judge's bungalow. I never sought police protection as that
would be inviting attention and they might have attacked for the weapons
as well. Bro. Paul Nizier invited me to stay with him and I spent the
nights at Marist Brothers' House. My wife and the domestic aid stayed
the nights with the family of the Divisional Engineer in his bungalow.
When Bro. Paul Nizier invited me to stay with him I explained him
that by accommodating me, his own life too would be in danger. But he
brushed aside the risk saying that there was the Blessed Sacrament there
and both would be safe at his place. At that hour staying with Bro. Paul
Nizier was a great consolation to me and he was a tower of strength to
me in those traumatic days.
In 1989, Bro. Paul Nizier left Bandarawela and took up residence at
Our Lady's Hermitage, Tudella. At the end of the year I too got a
transfer as the District Judge Avissawella. When we came down home, my
wife and I visited Bro. Paul Nizier without fail. When I retired from
the Judiciary too now and then we called on him. When I visited Bro.
Paul Nizier for the last time he was very feeble.
At that time he was collecting testimonials to initiate the process
of canonization of Bro. Anthony as a Saint and I too obliged him. In my
testimonial I emphasised that like Christ the Master Bro. Anthony too
opted for the poor when he opened the doors of Maris Stella for free
education. Bro. Nizier commended it saying no one else had thought of
that aspect of the career of Bro. Anthony.
Bro. Paul Nizier passed away within a couple of weeks on December 8,
1999. My wife and I were there at the grave-side when his body was
interred at the general cemetery Negombo which is only about half mile
from our place. I feel after staying all over the country Bro. Paul
Nizier is resting in peace close to us. He has only gone before us and
are we to meet again in another world?
The writer is a former High Court Judge and Vice-President of the
Newman Society Alumni Association