Five Novices Welcomed at IHM Novitiate in Godfrey, IL

Oblate Prenovitiate, Godfrey, IL

By Will Shaw

(Back row L-R) Formator, Bro. George Litiya, OMI, Jesus Javier Lopez, (U.S.) Chandu Ponugumai, (India) Alvaro Esteban Zapata Chapa, (U.S.) (front row L-R) Elisha Chisanga, (Zambia) Robby Mukangwa, (Zambia) Fr. Frank Kuczera, OMI, Superior, Fr. Louis Studer, OMI, U.S. Provincial

Oblates and friends gathered at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, IL on August 17, 2023 to welcome five new men to their Novitiate year. The five men are: Elisha Chisanga and Robby Mukangwa from Zambia, Chandu Ponugumai from India, and Alvaro Esteban Zapata Chapa and Jesus Javier Lopez of the U.S.

Having just arrived in recent days, the five men are still getting accustomed to their new surroundings, a task that will be somewhat more complicated for the men from India and Zambia who will experience a bit of culture shock as well. Their Oblate formators however, Fr. Frank Kuczera, a native of Poland, and Bro. George Litiya, from Zambia should be able provide them with the benefit of their own experiences.

After the men stated their intentions they received a medal with an image of St. Eugene de Mazenod. Afterwards, the gathering was invited to a delicious lunch prepared by the staff at the novitiate.

The novitiate year is the beginning of a candidate’s journey to religious life. The men will largely be isolated from the outside world during this year dedicated to study, prayer and discernment. They will be able to count on the support and prayers of the Oblate community as stated in this excerpt from community’s response to the men:

“…During this most special year of grace, may you encounter all the help you need to discern your vocation to the Oblate way of life.

In these next twelve months, you will be in our prayers in a very special way. We promise you our support and encouragement to each of you.

May the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod take hold of your hearts as you engage in prayer, study, community life and service to others…”

U.S. Provincial, Fr. Louis Studer celebrated the Mass welcoming the Novices
Bro. George Litiya watches as Elisha Chisanga takes his turn signing the official register attesting to the beginning of his novitiate year.
Chandu Ponugumai watches as Alvaro Esteban Zapata Chapa receives his medal from Fr. Studer
(L-R) Jesus Javier Lopez chats with Fr. Victor Patricio-Silva and Fr. Jim Allen
Prior to the Mass, Fr. Dale Schlitt (L) told Elisha Chisanga and Chandu Ponugumai what it was like to be a Novice in “his day” – 1962.
(L-R) Robby Mukangwa gets to know Oblate Fathers Allen Maes and Jim Allen.
Alvaro Esteban Zapata Chapa was caught ironing his shirt for Mass
Chandu Ponugumai tried out the chair at his study desk in his room
Elisha Chisanga was happy the big day had arrived!