“Formation as a Lifelong Process” is the theme of the second year of the Oblate Triennium, calling us to commit ourselves to the process of ongoing formation. The “De Mazenod Experience” is one of the recommended programs regarding ongoing formation. Fr. Andri ATMAKA from Indonesia Province and Fr. John MALAZDREWICH from Lacombe Province, recently participated in the De Mazenod Experience programme which concluded with a three weeks retreat in Lourdes, the following are their powerful testimonies from a lived Experience.
I am blessed that I participated in the de Mazenod Experience from September 5th to November 6th, 2014. It was really a graceful moment in my life as a Missionary Oblate and priest. After being a priest for 19 years, I felt that my energy was slowly decreasing. I did everything well in all my ministry, but there was a dryness and some feelings of boredom and emptiness in my life. I just did what I had to do. I tried to lift up my spirit and zeal, but somehow I lost my enthusiasm. I knew that I needed a break. I needed a new inspiration in my heart, I longed for my earlier motivations when I was a younger Oblate and Priest.
I thank God that I was given the opportunity, just in time, to participate in the De Mazenod Experience. With other 14 Oblates from many different countries, I began my two months journey. The motivation I had in my heart was openness. I opened myself and made myself ready to receive all my Oblate brothers as well as all the sessions that would be given; I opened myself to whatever experience I would get.
During the retreat in Lourdes, I had a lot of time to deepen my reflection. I became more aware that I was in a transition period from “human doing” to “human being.” I realized that since my first assignment as a priest, I lived my life according to my achievement. I relied on my own strength. I wanted to be applauded by the people of God, as “the good one.” Somehow I forgot my identity as a Missionary Oblate and Religious. Then I found that on my journey there was not always a success story. There were many fragilities, failures and weaknesses in my life and in my commitment as an Oblate and priest. I am now more aware that it is only through God’s amazing grace that I could do all that I was able to do in my ministry, it is through the same grace that I can stand even today.
Thanks to the De Mazenod Experience, today, I’ve come to realize and embrace the fact that I am only a human being, with many limitations and weaknesses. And yet God loves me so much. He is a Father who has been waiting for the return of his beloved son. He is ready to greet and hug him with his fatherly love. So, I come back home. Not bringing him all my achievements but my being. He asks me not to worry about anything, but to just trust him. Once again, He asks me to witness to His love through my daily life. I am very grateful to have participated in the De Mazenod Experience that I could be reminded that I am still loved by God! Andri ATMAKA, OMI
Following our three weeks retreat in Lourdes, France, we returned to our Foundation House in Aix. The last number of days have been an opportunity to begin to integrate all that we have lived during these past two months. As we reflected and shared our experience, it was evident that the “Call to Conversion” has been heard in many different ways by the participants of the program. The title of this program “Mazenod Experience” was wisely chosen, as this is precisely what this time has been, a lived experience of our Oblate life, in the spirit and charism of St. Eugene.
We ended the “Mazenod Experience” with the celebration of the Eucharist in the Foundation Room. This was a very moving experience. Each of us renewed our vows in the presence of one another. Vowing once again to life, our life as religious in the spirit and charism of St. Eugene. We celebrated the Eucharist together and were touched to be able to use St. Eugene’s ordination chalice. A very moving experience indeed ! We go back to our local communities and ministries renewed in our Oblate life. John MALAZDREWICH, OMI