A long work-session, which aimed at assessing the two recently conducted De Mazenod Experiences and at drawing up a new program for this privileged Experience, came to conclusion on the 5th of March. Three members of the General Administration, the Oblate community of Aix, and two specially-invited Oblates participated in the session.
The De Mazenod Experience is meant to be a time of spiritual renewal, lived in Aix, the ‘Holy Land’ of the Oblates. This program has its origins in the decision of the General Chapter of 1953 which introduced to the Congregation the Second Novitiate, which, a year later, was to be renamed the De Mazenod Retreat. The first De Mazenod Retreat, given in French, was held in Rome. Subsequently, more retreats followed fairly regularly, in French or English, and were held in Rome, France, Canada, and the United States. The General Chapter of 1972 ended the organization of the Retreat at the Congregational level and recommended that Regions should establish their own sessions for spiritual and pastoral renewal. Finally, the 1986 Chapter launched the program called the De Mazenod Experience and chose Aix as a favourable home for such an Experience. The eligible participants for the program are Oblates of the entire Congregation with at least 10 years in perpetual vows. Today, forty De Mazenod Experiences have been held at Aix, and about 550 Oblates have participated in the program. The last two Experiences were held in 2014, in Spanish and in English respectively.
Recently, the De Mazenod Experience has been rethought in the light of the call to conversion of the last General Chapter.
The following are some of the essential elements of this new program:
Progressive Integration, sharing, community prayer, pilgrimage in Aix – in the footsteps of Saint Eugene. Fundamental question: How does the Founder’s life inspire my own?
History of the Congregation and the first Oblate community. Fundamental question: How does the life and experience of the first Oblates inspire my own mission?
Oblate charism. Fundamental question: What is my personal experience of the charism?
A 15 days retreat based on Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.
Concerning the present missionary outlook of the Congregation, with the presence of a member of the General Administration. Fundamental question: What are the challenges of the Congregation’s mission and how do they align with the challenges of my own mission?
Renewal of vows and commissioning.
The dates of the next De Mazenod Experiences will be communicated soon.
Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI