Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 30, 2007
A devoted Oblate missionary plans to return to Italy
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
Oblate Father Camillo Prosdocimo has been a missionary priest for 55 years, most of it at the service of indigenous people in northern Alberta. Heís still going strong with hardly any indication of slowing down.
He is now ministering in the St. Paul Diocese, serving a few communities. For many years he also laboured in the Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese where he gave his full energy, working in dire conditions, living in small and cold little buildings that were little more than primitive shacks.
Today, Father Camillo at around 80 is still full of fire for the Lord. His love for the indigenous people he has served long and faithfully has not diminished. It will be a sad day for his flock whenever he decides to retire.
People will remember his prophetic gifts as he preached the Good News with sensitivity and passion. He was never dull and no one fell asleep when he spoke.
One canít help but be moved and changed as he preaches. He has a turn of phrase along with a unique musical tone. The listener canít help but be quickly involved in his sermons that always included short stories that catch the attention and stir the heart.
Father Camillo is a humble man with a great heart. Gentle with young and old, yet strong in his convictions, he challenges people without offending anyone.
He is also a great artist. He has painted religious scenes: our Blessed Mother, the Holy Family, as well as our Lord Jesus. His homilies are also inspired works of art, beautiful, creative and pleasant to the heart as well as to the eyes.
Father Camillo is a man who cares for people. Most of his missionary life he ministered among First Nations people. He did all he could to help his flock, from giving rides to people, to reconciling couples, to ministering to the sick.
He knew his people and treated them as family. Because of that people loved him and respected him just as he loved and respected them.
Born and raised in Italy, he joined the Oblates and served as a pastor but especially in parish mission work.
During the two-week long mission all the missionaries concelebrate Mass early in the morning. Then in the morning and afternoon they visit the homes, meet with the families, bless them and invite them to faithfully attend the evening Great Assemblies where the priests proclaimed the Good News.
Having heard of these parish missions, I invited myself to experience them in Italy and the team welcomed me. I participated fully in all activities: morning Mass, home visitations, Confessions, and the awesome Great Assemblies, which included singing, preaching, witnesses and touching rituals.
I took reams of notes and with the support of Father Camillo, we led these parish missions in Canada for several years. They continue to this day with the team of Father Al Hubenig and Brother Louis Andreas and well-trained lay people.
These last few years Father Camillo has been full-time pastor of a few communities in the St. Paul Diocese. He now hopes to return to his native Italy where he will be able to reconnect with his rich spiritual and artistic roots and enjoy a well-deserved rest. However, I donít think he will sit around much. He is a missionary to the core.
Albertans, having been blessed by this holy man and inspiring missionary, will have a prayer to share for Father Camilloís intentions, for his good health and blessed reunions with his people in Italy, and for Christís warm embrace when he meets our Lord face to face.
May his prayer be with us, as our prayer and fond remembrance of him will grace us on our common ongoing journey.
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