De Mazenod Experience

Fr. James Ralston OMI from Johannesburg, South Africa (OMISA), recently participated in the De Mazenod Experience, he shares with us what this Experience meant for him.

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“In this, the year of my 25th anniversary of religious vows, I felt it pertinent to spend some quality time in reflection and revitalisation, so I applied to participate in the De Mazenod Experience. The 21 years since ordination have been spent in Formation as a treasurer for 8 years and the balance in parish ministry.

Coming on the De Mazenod Experience has been the realisation of a long-held desire. From the very moment I set foot on Aix-en-Provence I have experienced an emotion not experienced for ages. Being within the walls of where the Congregation began; being in the city where the Founder was born and visiting the places and sites of significance to the Oblates has brought a whole new reality to my life as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate.

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The time spent listening and reading about St. Eugène and the early Oblates, their experiences and their drive, enkindled in me a renewed enthusiasm and determination to bring to life what I have learnt, to bear fruit on my future life and ministry, not without its challenges and demands, but with a revitalised view of the commencement of the Oblates.

The retreat spent at Notre Dame de Vie outside of St. Didier was grace-filled and wonderful experiencing both extremes of tears, for joy and from frustration. The mere fact of being guided through the meditation with frequent encouragement permitted me to open my heart to the working of the Holy Spirit and to be able to view myself and my spiritual journey on a more positive light, this making me more responsive to God’s work in my life.

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My feelings of gratitude are beyond words, but not beyond how I intend to express them in my ministry and my life. My sincere thanks to God and all those who have made this De Mazenod Experience what it proved to be for me. I quote from my journal notes, “Should I begin to rationalise, I can see no logical reason why he (God) should have remained at my side as my protector, except the fact that he loved me to life and therefore continues to love me, even though there remain occasions of ingratitude in my life.”

I return to parish ministry, and a new obedience, filled with fresh zeal and an enlightened view on life and mission.”

James Ralston OMI