De Mazenod Experience in Spanish – 2017

From September 12th to November 9th, with Chicho Rois (Western Sahara) and Domingo Di Meo (Italy), I led the De Mazenod experience (DMX) in Spanish by accompanying 13 Oblates from various Latin American countries, USA and Ukraine, and facilitating the encounter with God through St. Eugene.

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To be in the Mother House at Aix-en-Provence is always a unique experience. Being in the “holy land” of our congregation, it is to feel the strength of the Spirit that accompanied Saint Eugene and his first companions at the dawn of the Oblate life. It is to put one’s footsteps in theirs to experience what they have experienced and to discover the poor who needed the love of God on these Provencal lands.

At the beginning of the experience we had a touching celebration in the Foundation Room where we presented both our Oblate crosses and what everyone wish to experience during those months. The first weeks were a time of integration, study and personal reflection. Each day was presented an aspect of the life of St. Eugene or the Oblate Charism that helped us to re-read our own lives and to enter into the mystery of our vocation. It was the significant moments that allowed us to deepen our lives and our mission. We concluded this first period with a meeting with the heart of St. Eugene. During this celebration we were all able to hold in our hands the heart of Saint Eugene (venerated in the Founder’s Room) and feel the feelings and zeal for the mission of our dear Father.

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We, then, made a retreat for two weeks at Sainte Garde, a house held by the Institute of Our Lady of Life. Days filled with the Spirit of God who accompanied each of us in a different way and allowed us to re-discover the presence of God that was constantly manifested in the events of each day: in prayer, interviews, meals, walks, and our rest. The consecrated persons who took care of the house, the teachers and the young seminarians and students as well as the Provençal nature invited us to marvel once again of the greatness of the Lord.

On Sunday October 15th we had a chance to walk to visit the Church of Our Lady of Life and celebrating together the feast of Saint Teresa of Avila. We also shared a solemn moment of encountering the Lord with Saint Teresa.

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During the retreat, by the personal accompaniment, we perceived how God revealed himself to each person according to his own characters, and how he gave everyone what he needed to rediscover his life and his vocation.

Returned to Aix after the retreat, we welcomed Father Alberto Huamán, the General Councilor for Latin America, who introduced us to the ways that the congregation discovered to continue his mission at this time, and invited us to continue to follow in the footsteps of St. Eugene.

The high point was the presence of Father General, with whom we were able to speak personally. During the final and missioning celebration, we renewed our oblation that one day we made in fervor before him, our Superior General, who handed back our Oblate crosses and sent us to continue our Oblate mission.

We give thanks to God for all that we have lived and we also thank the Oblate community of Aix who, by its closeness, fraternity, and constant attention, allowed us to realize this encounter with God through Saint Eugene de Mazenod.

Omar FRIEDRICH, OMI