“We have been in Aix-en-Provence at our Foundation House, where the life of our community took root and we made our first tentative steps as a religious community within the Church. The local tours to Oblate points of interest, the prayer, the educational sessions and the free time with our brother Oblates, is stirring new things within my heart. As a result of our time together I have had the opportunity to explore and talk about the charism, the spirituality and the zeal that animate my own commitment to ministry and community life.
While we have the opportunity to physically walk in the footsteps of St. Eugene, walking in the footsteps of our Founder is really a metaphor for finding new ways to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with one another and for ourselves to be converted by it. We are constantly reminded that we are contemplative missionaries, apostolic men with the mind and heart of Christ.
I am grateful for these days with my brothers who have gathered from around the world. Grateful too for the reminder that carrying the cross is our work, that sharing the Good News is our work, that living in communion with each other is our work, that respecting the uniqueness of the other is our work and that giving thanks and praise to God is our work. My one wish is that every Oblate have the chance to live the De Mazenod Experience and once again burn with fire, to give light and life to all; sending sparks of new life in every direction”. Douglas JEFFREY, OMI (Canada, Lacombe Province).
“The time that I have spent here in Aix-en-Provence, 60 Cours Mirabeau, has been for me a time of profound life-giving sharing, personal reflection, and a serious evaluation of my life as a Person, a Christian and more over as an Oblate. During this time I have become aware of my giftedness as an Oblate and also the talents and value of other Oblates. This has been for me a time to celebrate who I am as a person and as an Oblate, time of self-affirmation, self- appreciation and self-acceptance. But also this time has been a moment of a deep call to conversion and renewal. In times of prolonged silence prayer and reflection I have been able to look back and realized how our Good Lord has been present in my life and how He has faithfully journeyed with me until now. I have come to accept that there is no reason for me to run away from the silence but quietly listen to it, love it and meet God who is present in the silence.
Among the special moments for me was when Fr. Louis LOUGEN, Superior General, visited us for a week and one evening he invited all the Oblates present here to hold in our hands and venerate the Oblate Cross of the Founder. Praying next to the relic of the heart of the Founder and visiting the tomb where the Founder is buried; all these symbols and gestures have reawaken my heart and soul to the truth of the divine love of God for me personally. I can feel that I am having something of Christ in me. I feel renewed and called to holiness and the holiness of other people. I feel grounded in virtue, in touch with the Founder and ready to share with the world the Mercy and Tenderness of God.
Through this experience, I am now feeling that I have a heart of a Christian, a heart of an Oblate, a heart of Eugene de Mazenod and a heart of a Missionary. I have, slowly but surely, started to understand this Holy man, St. Eugene de Mazenod, I am journeying with him and I have once again fallen in Love with him. And through his charism and his spirit, I am really on fire, burning with love for God!” Tshidiso MOLEKO, OMI (Central Province of South Africa).
“What a Gift! As I reflect on my experience here in Aix, I can only say: “What a Gift”! Each day as I rise I am grateful for this gift…..this time spent where it all began.
Living in the Foundation House, walking in the streets and seeing the places where St. Eugene lived, walked and preached has certainly made my awareness of my Oblate life so much more real. The animators and presenters, as well as the Oblate Community here, the Tours of Marseilles have certainly renewed my commitment to that “Yes” that I made a number of years ago. I would certainly encourage everyone to say yes to this gift, if it becomes available to you”. Tony RIGOLI, OMI (USA Province).
On Monday the 13th of October the participants began their 15 days directed retreat in Lourdes. We entrust them to the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Blessed Mother.
BONGA MAJOLA, OMI