“Les Mazenodiens” in Rome

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In the life of Les Mazenodiens (Oblate Aix youth group), February was marked by the trip to Rome where they were received by the International Scholasticate Oblate community. The encounter with Father Louis Logan, Superior General, was an important moment of this journey.

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Creating fraternal bonds with Oblate communities and young people working with the Oblates in France and abroad. The encounter with the Oblates of the International Scholasticate and the General House was a totally new discovery. The international dimension of these two communities reflect the universal and missionary character of the entire Congregation.

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In his meeting with Les Mazenodien, Fr. General encouraged them to rediscover the call to holiness, saying, “We need to check every day if we are still on the journey of Holiness.”

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The trip to Rome was also a discovery of the four major basilicas and a lot of other sacred places. Les Mazenodiens also took time to simple tour the eternal city.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: News

A Mass in the Mission Church

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“Do not be ashamed to say that we are Christian!” – Said father Paulin BEWA, Oblate originally from Chad, during his homily in the church of the Mission in Aix-en-Provence, on October 2nd.

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Are we witnessing to our faith in our everyday life? Today, out of respect for others, we say, we do not carry the cross, we do not have to show that we are Christians. We are Catholic Christians and we have Christian values to defend and pass on to the next generation. Let us not be ashamed to say “I am a Christian” – it is with these words that father BEWA called the faithful during the international Mass celebrated by a group of Oblates from 16 different nationalities.

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For nearly two months the Oblates of 16 countries participating in the Mazenod Experience, a Renewal session of the Oblate charism which is taking place in the cradle of the Congregation.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: News

The bicentenary of the parish mission preached by Oblates in Fuveau

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In September 1816, the missionaries of Provence, who later became Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, preached a parish mission in Fuveau. They were four: Eugene de Mazenod, François de Paul Henry Tempier, Pierre Mie and Sébastien Deblieu. At the end of this mission Marius Suzanne, born in Fuveau, became a member of this budding community.

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This year, the Christian community of Fuveau took an initiative to commemorate the bicentennial of this mission and that of the foundation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. During Holy Mass on September 25, 2016, a commemorative plaque of the mission was blessed and sealed on one of the pillars in the Church’s nave. Another plaque was mounted on the  mission cross, planted on the edge of the road, “route du Nord”. The mission cross was erected during the 1816 mission preached by the Missionaries of Provence.

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After a shared meal at St. Mary’s school, the participants attended a road show on the life of saint Eugene de Mazenod and the missionary activities of his community.

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The day ended at the Church with a prayer led by the Aix Oblate community and 20 Oblates, from different countries, who are currently participating in the De Mazenod Experience session in Aix.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: 200 years, News

The Fifth Bicentennial Conference

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Marie-Thérèse OTTAVIOLI gave a talk on Saturday September 10th in which she showed us the life and missionary work of the venerable Father Charles Dominique Albini.

Gérard Soldaini and Marie-Thérèse Ottavioli

Gérard Soldaini and Marie-Thérèse Ottavioli

Father Albini was born in Menton in 1790, into a family of “modest skill”. He was orphaned at the age of 15, he works voluntarily with his parish priest. He entered the seminary in Nice in 1810, studied philosophy and theology and shows “humble and charitable.” He will be ordained a priest in 1814 in the cathedral of Nice.

After a few years of idleness he works for a brief period as a professor at the Major Seminary of Nice.The young priest, Father Albini, met Fathers de Mazenod and Suzanne during a retreat preached in Nice in 1824 by the Missionaries of Provence. Impressed by the enthusiasm of the two missionaries, Father Albini request to join Eugene de Mazenod and his companions. So he did his novitiate at Aix and is committed to the new congregation with which he spends lavishly his time in apostolic activities. Thus, Father Albini will contribute to 16 parish missions. From 1827 to 1835 Father Albini, a professor at the Major Seminary of Marseille is very dedicated in missionary activities particularly among the Italians because he speaks the language. In 1835, he moved to Corsica, in the convent of Vico, where Mgr. de Mazenod agreed to send four missionaries under the direction of Father Guibert.

At the conference

At the conference

At that time, Corsica is a “true spiritual desert”, the clergy lack of training, moralities are relaxed, social life is disrupted … Father Albini preached the 12 missions, often in difficult conditions, together, reconcile feuds between families, calm the population. Some of these missions have been marked by extraordinary episodes or mystical character.

Died of typhus in 1839, Father Albini is recognized as “Apostle of Corsica”. Today he is revered at the convent of St. Francis in Vico where the community of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate lives.

The Confraternity of Father Charles Albini today holds a great devotion to this Oblate and strives for him to be canonized one day as a patron saint.

Chantal BERNARD-BRET

Category: 200 years, News

Mazenodiens Weekend

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Prayer, liturgical celebrations, spiritual conferences and the time lived together in the joy of gathering at the beginning of this new academic year were part of the weekend program with the Mazedodiens that started on September 2nd with the Oblates in Aix.

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The Mazenodiens are a group of students and young professionals who have begun to share the desire to walk in the footsteps of St. Eugene de Mazenod during the celebrations of the bicentennial of the Oblates foundation. During Lent they met regularly for a time of prayer and sharing about the Word of God. This time was also a preparation for the mission to take communion during Holy Week to sick people at home or in the hospital of Aix.

Les Mazenodiens

During this weekend of the beginning of the new academic year, the Mazenodiens signed a letter addressed to the Superior General in which they request official recognition in the group and to its participation in the mission entrusted to the Oblates of Aix. The weekend is ended with the celebration of the Mass at the Church of the Mission, during which Sophie and Alexandre are committed for one year to live according to the spirituality of the Oblates to deepen their relationship with Christ in prayer and in service to the poor.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: News

A dream of the 2010 General Chapter

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The new international oblate community of Aix-en-Provence is a dream come true of the 2010 General Chapter! This new community is still less known within the congregation, and the International Eugene de Mazenod Centre Association, briefly referred to as CIEM, even less known. However, these two intimately linked realities have been in existence for some years now. It is with joy that I speak to you today of the Oblate community of Aix. My presentation will have two parts. In the first part, I will briefly present the historical context within which the community has been constituted, and in the second part I will present to you its mission.

2010 General Chapter

2010 General Chapter

Canonically established on the 25th of January 1816, the Oblates community of Aix is the oldest community within the congregation. Situated within the old Carmelite convent on 60 Cours Mirabeau, this community had St Eugene de Mazenod as its first Superior. This community is in the historical centre of the congregation, and it is today the headquarters of the International Eugene de Mazenod Centre Association.

Here are the most important steps within the foundation of this community:

The new project of the Aix community which was approved by the Provincial of France and the Superior General in council was proposed to the General Chapter of 2010. In order to have this new project realised, the Oblate house of Aix, which was the property of the Oblate Province of France, and known to the French law as de Mazenod Foundation, had to be at the disposition of the General Administration.

In order for this new project to take place, an association in conformity with the French norms had to be created. It is for this reason that in November 2011 International Eugene de Mazenod Centre was created. Fr. Paulo ARCHIATI omi, Vicar General, is the current president of this association.

Immediately after the house had passed from the jurisdiction of the Province of France to the General Administration, the house renovations that were conducted by Bro Benoit DOSQUET omi began. The renovations were supposed to take a period of two years; however, the official inauguration of the renovated buildings only took place on the 28th of October 2014.

The new community was composed almost at the same period as the beginning of the renovation of the house. The passing through of the Aix community to the jurisdiction of the Superior General dates from the 1st October 2012.

Community of Aix

Community of Aix

Today, the new community of Aix-en-Provence consists 5 Oblates coming from 5 different countries: Krzysztof ZIELENDA (superior), Poland; Benoit DOSQUET (bursar), Belgium; Joseph BOIS, France; ASODO ISTOYO, Indonesia, and Bonga MAJOLA, South Africa.

In his brief speech of the 21st of February 2013 addressed to the new community of Aix on the day of the installation of its superior Saverio ZAMPA , the Superior General said: “I would like that this new community helps each one of you to become a saint… Your communal life must be characterised by a profound communion with Jesus Christ, and consequently a profound communion amongst yourselves. This communion is not something closed or turned within itself. Our communion of life is a means of stability and efficacy for the mission, for the service and the announcing of the Gospel to the poor and the abandoned. I am convinced that if you live the commandment of charity given to us by the Founder, you will be enflamed by the missionary zeal. May all your activities flow from a united community searching always the Will of God today and discerning, reflecting, discussing, drawing its plans and evaluating its practises together. You therefore will be a prophetic call for the Congregation and the society.”

The dream of the 2010 General Chapter is therefore that of an apostolic community in Aix, which lives according to the Oblate Charism, a community rooted solidly within Christ, assiduous to prayer, a community capable of bearing witness to the Gospel in a radiant manner within its environment, and of a community fervent in exercising its mission.

The mission outlines of the Aix community are expressed in the foundation texts. In his speech of the 28th of June 2013, the General Vicar of the Congregation, defined the mission of the Aix community as follows: “the mission of this community is that of animating the Oblate Charism. All will be done to help this community of Aix fulfil its mission.”

However, the Oblate Charism must not only be taught, it must be lived as well by the community itself. For, the Oblate Charism animation finds its favourable environment when it is accompanied by the missionary exercise within the Church. In speaking of the latter, the Superior General said: “I would like that this community (…) serve as the basis for an effective mission for the animation of the charism, the ministry around the Mission Church, and the discernment of other missionary activities to come.”

The new community of Aix is well equipped by an internal regulation within which an important place is given to spiritual and fraternal life. The spiritual life of the community is marked by the rhythm of daily prayers, monthly days of recollection, and the annual retreat. The community follows a rhythm of two weekly meetings, of which one concerns work, and the other is of fraternal sharing on what was lived by each community member throughout the week.

The primary mission of the new community of Aix is the service of the whole Congregation and to those (lay associates, members of consecrated life Institutes linked to the Oblates and others) who desire to deepen their knowledge of the work and spirituality of St Eugene de Mazenod. This is done through initial and on-going formation meetings, retreats, sessions, expositions, conferences and other means.

The Aix house as the cradle of the congregation filled with history is the most suitable place for the animation of Oblate Charism. For Oblates, this house plays the same role that the “Holy Land” plays for all Christians; a place of pilgrimage to the source. Within a place such as this one, each item tells our foundational aspect: foundation room, Church of the Mission, First Vows chapel, Founders’ room, etc.

The priority in the Oblate Charism animation is without doubt the De Mazenod Experience which is a time of spiritual renewal lived in Aix.

2015 De Mazenod Experience

2015 De Mazenod Experience

The recipients of this program are the Oblates of the whole congregation having at least 10 years of perpetual vows. To this day, 40 De Mazenod Experiences were held in Aix. There are nearly 550 Oblates who have participated in this program. Currently taking place in Aix is a De Mazenod Experience in French, 16 Oblates are participating in this session.

In March 2015, the De Mazenod Experience program was redesigned in the light of the call to conversion of the last General Chapter.

Here are some elements of the new programme:

Progressive integration into the group, sharing, community prayer experience, pilgrimage on the footprints of St Eugene de Mazenod.

History of the Congregation and of the first Oblate community.

Oblate Charism.

Three steps allowing each participant to evaluate his life in view of personal and communal conversion.

15 days retreat according to the exercises of St Ignatius de Loyola.

Actual missionary vision of the Congregation, with a member of the General administration. Foundational Question: What are the challenges within my mission which makes of the mission of the Congregation?

The experience is concluded with the renewal of vows and missionary send-off

The dates for the next De Mazenod Experience are the following:

18 April – 16 June 2017 in English

5 September – 3 November 2017 in Spanish

Apart from the De Mazenod Experience, other forms of spiritual renewal programs are proposed by the General Administration or by the Aix community itself.

For example, in the course of 2016, the following Oblate Charism activities took place in Aix: a session for the Oblate students of Rome, for the Oblates of the Mediterranean province, for the Oblates of Byelorussia, etc. We have also welcomed the Permanent Committee of Brothers, the General Committee of the Oblates engaged in Higher Learning, the Congress on the Oblate Youth Ministry, Congress on Oblate Vocation, the council of the Assumption Province, Scandinavian Oblates, scholastics from Europe for a summer session, the novices of France, the inter-chapter of the COMI, etc. In going over this calendar, we can quickly make calculations and note that up to the present, in the course of this year, there has been close to 185 days of animation within the house in Aix in which, directly or indirectly, the whole community participated, and 2016 is not yet over!

To this we can add visits having different durations varying from a single to several days, such as, for example, the Oblate Lay Associates from Canada, from the United States of America, from Belgium, from Japan, from Germany, etc.

In the course of the bicentenary year, we organised the celebrations on the 24th and the 25th of January, the expositions on the history of the Oblates, and a series of conferences on the life and missionary works of some great Oblate figures of our foundation.

During this year some animation activities that were asked outside of Aix also added themselves: participation and animation at the Anglo-Ireland provincial assembly, and a retreat given to the Oblates of the Province of France, and another one to the Oblates of the Mediterranean Province.

In a permanent manner, from a year to another, the community also exercises pastoral work in the Church of the Mission. This pastoral work consists, above all, the Eucharistic celebrations, welcoming for prayer and the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation. It is worth noting here that from the time of the Founder, the Oblates gave a great importance to this ministry.

The community of Aix exercises, equally, ministry to the Mazenodian Family which is made up of all those who, in one way or the other, are in contact with the Oblates i.e. friends, associates, volunteers, benefactors, etc. This ministry, set apart the meetings of all the members of the Family, consist of small groups of Christian formation and spiritual accompaniments.

Les Mazenodiens

Les Mazenodiens

The community of Aix, faithful to the Oblate Charism, exercises a youth mission. The most important component of this mission is the accompaniment of the “Frat Oser”, a group of students living in our house, and of Mazenodians, a group made of students and young professionals who are attracted by and wish to live the Oblates’ missionary spirituality and participate in our community mission. On Sunday the 4th of September, two members of the “Les Mazenodians” made their commitment in the Church of the Mission, this commitment consist in living for a year according to the spirituality of Saint Eugene de Mazenod in order to deepen their faith through prayer and service to the poor and their relationship with Jesus Christ. The third component of the mission with the youth consists of the community’s engagement in pastoral work exercised at Saint Mary’s high School.

In addition to these missionary activities of the Aix community, there is chaplaincy at Montperrin, the oldest psychiatric hospital of Aix served, it seems, by the first community Oblates of this town, and the activities led by a group known as Veilleurs de fraternité which are organised in favour of the poor. These two activities have a proper Oblate Charism element in them.

Musical concerts and some art expositions organised in the Mission Church or in the house cloister equally occupy an important and vital place in our mission. A glance towards the ad gentes mission exercised within the modern times areopagus.

The mission scope in Aix within the spirit of the Oblate Charism could still be even more extensive. The expectations from the local Church and the missionary challenges still to be discerned by the community are still many.

Is the new community of Aix-en-Provence a place of resourcing for the Oblate Charism? In the realisation of the project called International Eugene de Mazenod Centre, nothing was neglected by the General Administration, they have given everything towards the success of this project! We owe them all our gratitude! We deeply thank the General administration! For. their administrative tactics, the directives, elaborated during numerous long meetings, whose implementation has taken even longer and has involved a significant number of people because of the magnitude and specificity of this project. For it is all about a community that lives and exercises its mission within the Oblate Charism while doing its best by its life-witness, which is the most important means of transmitting the Oblate Charism. This is lived within the historical framework which is offered by the cradle of the Congregation, the “Holy Land” of the Oblates. Thus, the Oblate house of Aix is not simply a place built for sessions or spiritual retreats, but a place where Oblates who are ready to share their oblate life experience live and work.

The new community of Aix is like a well loaded boat which navigates to the wide. It is probably not going to discover a new world, the latter is already discovered! It will simply accomplish its mission by allowing itself to be led by the Holy Spirit where it would want to bring it.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Community, News

Aix community, “current-affairs”

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Six months have passed since we celebrated, on 24 and 25 January, the bicentenary of the Foundation of the Missionaries of Provence which will become, 10 years later, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The Community of Aix

The Community of Aix

We have not seen time elapse, because since the beginning of this year, many Oblates and lay people from around the world have been coming in numbers to make a pilgrimage to the place of our Foundation that we gladly call “our holy land”. Sometimes, we had to seek housing outside, our House being too small to accommodate everyone.

There were two congresses organized by the General Administration: one on Mission with youth and the second, which has just ended, on Oblate vocations.

The Congress on Oblate vocations

The Congress on Oblate vocations

The end of the year will be no less busy with groups from Italy, Germany, a session of three weeks for the Scholastics from Europe and, from September to November, a long session that we call “De Mazenod Experience” with 16 francophone participants.

We can only rejoice at all these activities, the House and the community being made exceptionally for them. Above all, our greatest joy is in meeting our Oblate brothers from all continents, to see lay people, young and old, engaged with us in the same spirituality and the same mission, to share with each other our hopes and the Kingdom of God which comes through, sometimes, many trials and suffering.

Best summer wishes to you all!

Joseph BOIS, OMI

Category: Community, News

Spiritual retreat of COMI

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The COMI have just left their Father’s house in Aix, after ten days. Silence falls in the cloister and in the common spaces of the House, where they shared the joy of living in the same places of St. Eugene and filled these places by their prayers, their sharings among themselves and their liveliness. For the first time, three continents of the COMI world found themselves together in Aix for a retreat and interchapter meetings: approximately 30 participants, mostly Italians, but also an Uruguayan and three Congolese.

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Elderly COMI members and those with health problems have not renounced the possibility of this experience: to come and find their Father, St. Eugene de Mazenod, in the bicentenary of the Foundation of the OMI. This House had never been inhabited by so many women at a time, only during the days of the Carmelite nuns in the 17th century! Hospitality, assistance and the availability of the Aix Oblate community contributed decisively to the success of this experience, while also strengthening the fraternal bonds with the COMI.

So many precious moments of grace were experienced! The Eucharist on the Tomb of St. Eugene, the Missionary mandate of two COMI members which will soon open a new mission in Argentina, the renewal of temporary vows of three COMI and a 50th anniversary of oblation: the COMI welcomed their vocation and their sharing in the Oblate charism, as women consecrated, called to live in the world.

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The retreat preached by their assistant, Fr. Fabio CIARDI, OMI, was rather an experience of fraternity, during which they felt received and welcomed by St. Eugene, as women, encouraging them to live charity among themselves and confirming them in their mission of evangelisation in communion with the Oblates, their brothers.

BONGA MAJOLA, OMI

Category: Mission, News

Bicentenary and the Congress on Oblate vocations

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In a letter of December 8, 2013 to the Congregation, Father General presented the pastoral care of vocations as vital for the Congregation. This ministry is in a close relationship with the mission that the Oblates exercise together with young people.

Congress participants

Congress participants

In the context of the bicentenary, two congresses have been organized by the General Administration in Aix. The first on Oblate mission with youth and the second on vocations to missionary life. The latter ended on 16 July 2016. Father General reminded all participants that Vocation Ministry is essential and it must be accompanied by prayer of the entire Congregation. In exercising this ministry and making it a priority we affirm our belief in the future of our Oblate family.

The Congress began by the sharing of experiences of participants in vocational ministry. Then, Brother Paul BEDNARCZYK from the Congregation of the Holy Cross gave a series of lectures on religious life and formation, making a connection with canon law and the general norms of oblate formation. After this time, the participants reflected on the pastoral care of vocations in the light of the Congress on the mission with youth. The conference given by Father General on the renewal of the Oblate vocation and the day of recollections lead by Father ASODO, contributed to the integration of the content of the Congress. The Congress ended with discussions on the major guidelines and proposals for vocation ministry.

Commissioning Liturgy

Commissioning Liturgy

The dynamics of the Congress were held together by powerful moments of prayer and liturgical celebration. The participants of the Congress had an opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Fuveau, a village where Father Marius SUZANNE was born, one of the first companions of the Founder. The Eucharistic celebration on the tomb of Saint Eugene de Mazenod in Marseille and the sending out of the participants on mission to young people who discern their vocation to missionary life, marked the conclusion of the Congress.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: 200 years, News

Congress on Oblate Vocations – Fr. General’s opening remarks

Louis Lougen

My dear Brother Oblates, As Superior General of the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate I declare the First Congress on the Oblate Ministry of Vocations to be officially open!

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This Congress, mandated by the Superior General in Council as one of the very significant ways to mark the 200th Jubilee of our foundation on January 25th 1816, is meant to be a life-giving expression of our trust in the Holy Trinity who is guiding the Congregation to a new future. We are filled with hope and we recall the special grace Saint Eugene received on August 15, 1822 through the intercession of Mary that “this little family” would have a great future and be a blessing for the Church.

I am very happy to be here in our house of foundation in Aix en Provence! I am very happy to be with you, my brother Oblates who are ministering in vocational animation! I am blessed that often I have occasion to come to Aix. It is always special for me to come here and never a just routine visit.  There is always a sense of the Founder, Saint Eugene, of Tempier and the first companions in this house. Not only to I feel a connection to the past in the very setting of our house, but we experience our Oblate charism in a very tangible way through the life of the Oblates who have formed a community here and who welcome us into it.  This is the Holy Land for us as Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I think that even more so at this time of our 200th anniversary we are blessed with a special presence and grace of Saint Eugene among us.

This vocations Congress is an important highlight of our 200th anniversary. Let us cherish this time together. Let us give the best of ourselves these days with a spirit of hope and joy. Let us work hard for the good success of the Congress: first of all by our prayer here these days, personal and communal; by listening very attentively to one another and seeking to understand deeply the movement of the Spirit in our different contexts; by listening to our Oblate sources; and by listening to the appeal of the poor today who cry out for life, for salvation.

We remember that this third year of the Oblate Triennium is dedicated to Mission and to the vow of Obedience. I hope that this Oblate Triennium has been a source of grace for your Units and that the resources provided on the Oblate website for faith sharing and the search for signs of conversion have been spiritually enriching and a motivation for conversion. This year of the Oblate Triennium has seen the celebration of our 200th on the 25th of January 2016.  Other highlights of this Jubilee year are the Congress on Oblate Mission with Youth which was held in March 2016 and the present Congress on Oblate Ministry of Vocations.

Both of these ministries are helping us intensify the significance of our 200th Jubilee as an opportunity we cannot miss to look to the future welcoming new life and fresh energy in the Congregation. Both these ministries are related to one another in their aims and goals and there are rich possibilities of mutual interaction and support while respecting the specific goals of each ministry. We are indeed so blessed by the Spirit through these two congresses in our Jubilee Year!

In this present congress, we are not only deepening a very significant theme and vital dimension of our life and mission as Oblates, but we are also strengthening our Oblate spirit and our sense of belonging to the Congregation. Together let us claim the heritage we have received from the Founder who called us to be the “most united” family on earth and make it become more of a reality for our lives today. I hope this congress will be a deep spiritual experience for all of us as well as a real impulse for vocation ministry throughout the Congregation.

Many Oblates all around the world are united with us during these days and are joining us in prayer. They are expecting something from this congress to help them in their ministry of vocations. They are looking for inspiration, support and direction. Let us ask the Spirit for the grace to do something wonderful for the Congregation!

It is important that all of us are conscious of our responsibility to make known what we will experience at this congress to our home Units. We must share its conclusions and its spirit with our brother Oblates and our lay collaborators around the world. Because of this, I ask you already to creatively imagine how we can best share this experience, the work, the insights and the wisdom we will gain here. Please keep this in mind constantly throughout these days. We are not here just for ourselves, but we are here representing our Oblate Units around the world. We have present all the other Oblate ministers of vocation who are not here, as well as every Oblate, the Oblate associates and the young people whose vocational consciousness we are called to raise.

We are grateful to Father Cornelius Ngoka, Assistant General for Formation and the Internal Formation Committee who proposed this congress on vocations. They have worked hard with the local Aix community to organize this First Congress on Oblate Vocations with the complete support of the members of the Central Government. It is especially in light of our jubilee that we designated two congresses to be held during this jubilee year: the Second Congress on Oblate Mission with Youth, held in March; and now the First Congress on Oblate Vocations. These were organized to celebrate in a deeper way our jubilee, but also to highlight the importance of each of these ministries. So we live in the joy of the jubilee.

Thank you for coming and for your participative presence!

Louis LOUGEN

 

Category: 200 years, News