Karel MEC, Casmir ARUL and Anthony THOMAS were among the 15 Oblate Scholastics from 5 different Scholasticates who spent 3 weeks in Aix last summer in a Session prepared for Scholastics. Listening to their personal reflections on their time in Aix it is clear that the experience profoundly touched the hearts of these young Oblates and allowed them to make “a concrete step in their formation to missionary life”.
The first difficult exercise of the Session was community building. To make a fruitful experience in Aix it is essential that the participants build a life-giving community. Karel, reflecting on his experience helps us understand the process involved in building a community, he tells us that “firstly, we overcame the language barriers, we prayed, celebrated and laughed a lot together, and despite the diversity we were able to form a living community”.
Another important aspect of the Session was the teaching on the life of the Founder. Through conferences and pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Eugene participants were given an opportunity to dive into the heart of the Founder so to know him and to capture “the spirit which must animate us and which we must communicate to others”, in this regard Karel mentions that “we got very good input and necessary time to share and to meditate profoundly on the life of the Founder; on some fundamental topics such as the oblation, the Cross and the Eucharist”. Karel “was deeply touched by the person of St. Eugene, by his zeal for the salvation of men, by his love for Christ and the Church”. This aspect of the Session lead Casmir to a conviction that, “each wall of the Oblate house and each street in Aix strongly spoke to me about the passionate love that our Founder had for Christ and the most abandoned”.
In one of his letters to Oblates in First Formation Fr. Marcello Zago writes, “Each Oblate draws from the Founder the spirit which animates him, he finds in the Founder a life model. We must never be tired or bored of developing a personal relationship, a more intimate bond, with Eugene… as a saint to imitate, a founder to follow, a teacher to heed, an intercessor to invoke and above all as a father to love”. The Session aimed at leading the Scholastics to know the Founder and to develop a relationship with him in line with this teaching of Fr. Zago.
Listening to the Scholastics who participated in this recent Session one is lead to believe that they took seriously these words of Fr. Zago. Anthony is very clear in this regard, he mentions that “during my time in Aix I felt the desire to have been among the first oblates, so to have seen this our loving father Eugene, to kiss him and say to him, ‘Dear father, I love you, and I want to live like you so daringly to do everything possible in this broken and faithless world to bring back people to Christ and his Church”. Casmir shares the same sentiments, he feels he has “experienced in Aix the heart and spirit of the Founder, the experience has effected in me a deep realization of myself in the light of the Founder. Through this experience I have received great strength and hope from the life of the Founder. This experience has given me the spirit of a daring heart of the Founder to live holy and to love Christ passionately. The task now for me, with God’s grace, is to keep this experience in front of me, to know Christ, to identify with him and to let him live in me every single day”.
For Karel “The program was quite dynamic, the presence of Father General and celebrating the Eucharist at the tomb of St. Eugene was the highlight of the Experience”. We keep these young men in our prayers and many others in different houses of Oblate formation.
(Karel is from Czech Republic he is currently at the International Scholasticate in Rome, Casmir and Anthony are both from India, they are currently at the Oblate Scholasticate in Melbourne).
BONGA MAJOLA, OMI