The Apostolate of the Nazareth Oblate Preaching Community

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Introduction

“Nazareth’, situated in the diocese of Chilaw retains its identity as the house of preachers who go around the country breaking the Word of God. They conduct Novena and Mission preaching in the parishes, preach retreats for school children, youth, seminarians, those preparing for marriage, catechists, priests and religious.

History

In 1939 Rev. Fr. Edmund Peiris OMI was elected as the Bishop of Chilaw. By then the Bishop’s house was not completed its construction work, therefore Bishop Edmund Peiris took residence at Nazareth house, which was belonged to the Holy Family sisters at Wennappuwa.

In 1947 Missionary Oblates of Mary immaculate celebrated the centenary of their arrival to Sri Lanka, and with that Bp. Edmund Peiris OMI invited the Oblates to language their apostolic services in the diocese of Chilaw. They were offered Nazareth house by the Holy Family sisters under the leadership of Sr. Sacred Heart HF, under the condition that the Oblates at Nazareth would cater into the spiritual needs of the Holy Family sisters.

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Rev. Fr. Augustine OMI, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Croos OMI, Rev. Fr. Vincent Weerakkody OMI & Rev. Fr. Andrew Peter OMI were the “Pioneers” at Nazareth. Gradually the Oblate community grew up in numbers and in age.

In 1951 the Oblate Province of Sri Lanka brought the house and property of the Nazareth from the mother Helan HF, who was the then Provincial superior of the Holy Family sisters, to the sum of Rs. 77495.00. Since then Nazareth became an Oblate property. In 1985 two story building was added to the Nazareth house. In 2008, adjoining piece of land of 15.09 perches was added to the Nazareth Oblate property.

Today the Oblate Nazareth community, being aware of the needs of the time branch out its ministry into the following areas.

  • Novena preaching
  • Parish mission preaching
  • Retreats for youth, seminarians, school children, married couples, catechists, priests and religious
  • Attending to the spiritual needs of the Holy Family Convent at Wennappuwa
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Novena Preaching

The Oblate preachers at Nazareth are invited to prepare the parishioners for the respective feasts by conducting novenas. A novena (from Latin: novem means "nine") is an ancient tradition of devotional praying consisting of private or public prayers repeated for nine successive days. During a novena, the devotees make petitions, implore favors, or obtain graces by worshiping Jesus Christ, and asking for intercessions of the Saint to whom their Church has been dedicated. Novena traditions are popular and include devotional rituals such as congregational prayers, statue decoration, and hymn singing with music, as well as community fiesta events. A satisfactory number of parishioners take part in the novenas. At the novena which is followed by the Eucharistic celebration preachers deliver a sermon on a particular appropriate theme chosen for each day. One day is set apart as the penitential dimension of Christian life, on that day parishioners receive Sacrament of Reconciliation. During these nine days, preacher remains with the Church community in order to be available for the confession and counseling. As he listens and instructs people he also learns from them. He becomes sensitive to the current needs of the people. He breaks the word and bread for them. Preacher accompanies the faithful in their spiritual journey. The feasts come to its culmination with vespers on the previous evening and the festive mass often followed by the procession. Preachers at Nazareth are also invited to preach at National Shrines such as Marian shrine at ‘Madu’.

Parochial Grand Mission

Our founder St. Eugene De Mazenod considered mission preaching is the only way to bring back marginalized Catholics to the main stream. He himself conducted number of grand missions in various places in Southern France. ‘Missions’ are retreats conducted by the Oblate preachers which lasts three weeks in a parish especially during the Lenten season and also on the occasion of the celebration of a jubilee of a church.

About a month prior to the mission proper, we begin by trying to educate the parishioners regarding the meaning and importance of the mission. The first week of a mission is reserved for house-visiting. It helps to understand socio-cultural context in which the people live as well as the existing problems and difficulties they face.



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The preacher becomes familiar with the life struggle of the faithful to whom he is going to break the word. The second and the third week is the retreat proper. Preachers address adult men and women, the youth, the children, the married couples separately at different sessions. We who have lived a community life at Nazareth make ourselves present as en Oblate community, during the period of missions. We sit together and plan-out our work as a community. Mission comes to it is culmination with the celebration of the family-day in which whole family is assembled. At the end of that celebration all the families of the parish consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On Sunday the mission retreat comes to a close with the Eucharistic celebration and the Apostolic benediction imparted by the mission superior.

Retreats for youth, seminarians, school children, married couples, catechists, priests and religious

At the requests of many various categories of faithful we make our selves available for their spiritual needs.

Apostolate to the Holy Family sisters of Wennappuwa

We have been faithful to the foundation intention of the Holy Family sisters. We generously attend to their spiritual needs.

As a dynamic group of Oblates at Nazareth we read the signs of the time; we become sensitive to the spiritual needs of the people. We make ourselves available to preach good news to the poor in many faces. We also learn from the poor. As Oblate constitution no.37 indicates, “We fulfill our mission in and through the community to which we belong. Our communities, therefore, are apostolic in character” (C.37).

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