Oblates mark congregation’s 187th founding anniversary PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 10:58

Local missionaries of the Vatican-based Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) celebrated Sunday their congregation’s 187th founding anniversary, with about seven decades of their group’s contemporary lifetime time spent serving Mindanao’s Muslim and Christian communities.

The OMI, subsequently, also commemorated Monday the 56th year of its radio outfit in Cotabato City,  the station dxMS, one of its five broadcast facilities in Central Mindanao, which has actively been helping propagate Muslim-Christian solidarity through the airwaves.

The OMI was established by Eugene de Mazenod (August 1, 1782-May 21, 1861), a priest whose clan belonged to the French aristocracy.

At a young age, De Mazenod already showed attachment to poor French communities and, in so doing, angered the elite.

The OMI congregation, was formally given imprimatur to exist, with its pontifical base in Rome, in 1826 by Pope Leo XII.
De Mazenod was beatified on October 19, 1975 by Pope Paul VI, and, subsequently, canonized on December 3, 1995 by Pope John Paul II.

Station dxMS, which operates under the OMI’s Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation, became popular first as “Radio Mindanao and Sulu.”

Station dxMS, now known as “Radio Bida,” has strong advocacy for the unity of Mindanao’s culturally-pluralistic communities, and the preservation of the unique cultural identities of the area’s indigenous folks.

The 56th founding anniversary of dxMS was capped with its management’s conduct of a day-long medical and dental mission for Cotabato City’s indigenous residents.

The outreach mission was supported by the medical and dental corps of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, the Department of Health in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and the Integrated Provincial Health Office in Maguindanao.

Volunteers from the Cotabato City Veterinary Office, led by veterinarian Robert Malcontento, also provided free rabies vaccinations for dogs at a makeshift clinic inside the compound of station dXMS in Cotabato City, as part of the outfit’s community outreach project.

The first batch of Oblate priests to arrive in the country in the early 1930s was comprised of seven Caucasians led by Fr. Gerard Mongeau, a French-Canadian.

The Oblates have opened several schools in mainland Mindanao, in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, which integrated “peace education” in high school and elementary subjects to inculcate the importance of peaceful co-existence among local communities.

Four Oblates have already been killed while performing peace-building activities in Mindanao — Fr. Nelson Javellana, who was killed in an ambush on Nov. 3, 1971 in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat;  Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, who was Catholic vicar of Jolo, when he was shot dead February 4, 1997 in Jolo, capital town of Sulu; Fr. Benjamin Inocencio, who was killed by gunmen December 28, 2000 also in Jolo; and Fr. Rey Roda, who was brutally gunned down by kidnappers January 15, 2008 in Tabawan island Tawi-Tawi, in a bungled attempt to abduct him.

The deaths of the four missionaries have not dampened the zeal of the surviving Oblate priests in the Philippines to continue with their missionary works in far-flung Southern provinces.