Provincial Blesses Henri Tempier Pre-novitiate in Belleville

Belleville, IL

By Very Rev. Louis Studer, OMI, U.S. Provincial

Fr. Juan Gaspar (L) shows Fr. Studer the community room during a tour of the new Pre-novitiate

Oblate Juan Gaspar, Director of the Henri Tempier Pre-Novitiate Residence and Oblate Raul Salas, Associate Director, requested that I bless their new house of formation on the feast of Our Lady of the Snows, August 5th. This new residence is located on the grounds of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. The Pre-Novitiate is the first stage of Oblate formation for a young man who is discerning a vocation to the Oblate way of life.

Photo: Bishop De Mazenod's friend, Fr. Henri Tempier, OMI

Fr. Henri Tempier, OMI

The new residence is located on the top floor of the Guest House at the Shrine. The pre-novitiate moved from Buffalo, New York, this summer. The newly renovated facility can accomodate eight pre-novices and three Oblate staff. Complete with kitchen, dining area, community space and beautiful chapel, the residence is named after Fr. Henri Tempier, OMI, close companion and friend of Father and Founder St. Eugene de Mazenod.

Fr. Tempier is often referred to as the “right hand man” of St. Eugene as he was able to carry out and put into practice many of the ideas and the vision of St. Eugene. Tempier is often referred to as the “unsung hero” of the Oblates as he has always remained in the shadow of St. Eugene. Without Tempier’s practical help and know-how,  some Oblate historians say that the Congregation would never have survived. It was Tempier who made the difficult journey to visit the fledgling ministry of the Oblates when they first came to Buffalo, New York. He gave them support and encouragement in their ministry in those early years.

Oblates continue their presence in west Buffalo, almost 180 years later, ministering at two parishes there on Buffalo’s west side. Vocations to the Oblates from our numerous ministries there have been plentiful these many years, particularly from our parishes and from our teaching in high schools.

The Oblate Formators gathered for a photo at the new facility. (L-R) Fr Frank Kuczera, Novice-master, Fr. Juan Gaspar, Director of the Pre-novitiate, Fr. Raul Salas, Associate Director of the Pre-novitiate, Fr. Humphrey Milimo, Associate Director of the Novitiate

Marlowe Romero

Luis Ramirez






Along with the staff and guests, two early arrivals were also on hand for the blessing.  They are both second-year Pre-novices.  They are: Marlowe Romero , San Antonio, TX  and Luis Ramirez, from Houston, TX.

In addition to housing the Pre-novitiate, the building is also the temporary home of the Oblate Novices while the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois is being renovated. The novices are expected to be at the facility in Belleville for approximately two years. Novice-master, Fr. Frank Kuczera, OMI and Associate Novice- master, Fr. Humphrey Milimo, OMI will continue to oversee the novices in Belleville.

Photos from the Blessing of the Tempier Pre-novitiate

Fathers Studer (L) and Allen Maes visit the chapel on the Novitiate side of the building, Fr. Frank Kuczera is on (R)

Pre-novitiate chapel

With Fr. Gaspar, Fr. Studer blessed all the public areas of the Pre-novitiate

Residents and guests gathered in the kitchen-dining area of the Pre-novitiate for the blessing

Fr. Studer led the short ceremony

After the blessing, a celebratory luncheon to welcome the new Pre-novitiate and temporary Novitiate