THE FOUNDING VISION TODAY: COMPANIONS IN OBLATION – PAUL THOJ XYOOJ, HMONG CATECHIST AND MARTYR

We strive to reproduce in ourselves the pattern of his life. Thus, we give ourselves to the Father in obedience even unto death and dedicate ourselves to God’s people in unselfish love. Our apostolic zeal is sustained by the unreserved gift we make of ourselves in our oblation, an offering constantly renewed by the challenges of our mission

CC&RR, Constitution 2

This is the Mazenodian ideal that impelled the Oblates, in unselfish love, to give everything to the people of Laos as co-operators of the Savior – even unto death. Paul Thoj Xyooj, was enthralled by this vision and became associated with the Oblates, sharing their supreme oblation of martyrdom.

Borzaga catechistBorn in 1941, son of a local chief in the Province of Louang Prabang, he was in the first group of catechumens of the newly-arrived Oblate missionaries. At age 16 he expressed the desire to be a priest, and went to the minor seminary. Realizing that his call was to marriage and not to priesthood, he left the seminary and became a catechist and worked with the Oblates among the Hmong people – being invaluable as he knew the language which the missionaries were struggling to learn. His simple faith was contagious, as one of the eyewitnesses testified in reporting his teaching:

“You are people who have original sin, thus you are sinners, and we only live one time on this earth because we will die and become earth again. However, God loves us very much, he has not abandoned us; that is why he sent his only Son Jesus, who was crucified to bear all our sins. He was buried three days, and rose again. He is with his Father in heaven. Jesus will return for believers to resurrect them as he was resurrected. So all the men will be handsome and the women will be beautiful, everybody will be healthy, and they will have eternal life. They will live with God in Heaven, with love, like the birds flying in the sky without having to work but having food to eat and clothes to wear for eternity.

Paul Thoj XyoojAt age 19, Xyooj accompanied Fr Mario Borzaga on his missionary journeys among the poor in the villages and was captured by rebels. Refusing to abandon the Oblate, he too received a martyr’s death. A member of the Mazenodian Family in life, he is soon to be beatified, together with 6 Oblates, ( cf http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=2803 ) and will continue to be an example of heroically living our founding vision and an intercessor for all members of Eugene’s universal family in our striving to live oblation.

Eyewitness have recounted his last moments as he pleaded with the rebels not to kill Fr. Borzaga:

The young Lao said,” Do not kill him, because this is not an American but an Italian, and he is a very good priest, very kind to everyone; he only does good things! “But they did not want to believe him. He then said: “I’m not leaving, I’m staying with him; If you kill him, kill me too. There where he will be dead, I will be dead, and where he will live, I will live. “The rebels replied:” You’re really stubborn, so you want to die too? “He replied,” Yes! “And so they killed them both.

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2 Responses to THE FOUNDING VISION TODAY: COMPANIONS IN OBLATION – PAUL THOJ XYOOJ, HMONG CATECHIST AND MARTYR

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This week – here in this place – I find the fires of zeal within me being stoked and fed with the stories and examples of quite ordinary people going about their lives, working and being – their way of giving their all to God, their oblation. These stories inspire me – not to go out and put myself in harm’s way, but rather to continue to live as I have been called by God.

    But this morning there is one particular sentence from Constitution 2 which causes me to stop and ponder: “Our apostolic zeal is sustained by the unreserved gift we make of ourselves in our oblation, an offering constantly renewed by the challenges of our mission.” There is mystery here for me this morning. I think of Paul Thoj Xyooj and Candido Castan San Jose and how they were two ordinary persons like myself and most others. When I look at the reality of my life this has not been and is not anything that I do on my own but rather with others; I think that on my own that zeal would die and fade away. How I give of myself, how I live my oblation is an offering which is fed and renewed by the challenges that present themselves. Those challenges are not just external to myself.

    “He has sent me to evangelize the poor. The poor are evangelized.”

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Thanks Frank, these are accounted we need to bring into our story,for they are. They continue to remind us how the Mazenodian family is part of our future reality and we are not us and them, we are Oblate!

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