By Geri Furmanek, National Director of Mission Enrichment and Oblate Associates
Twenty-five Oblate Associates of Miramar, Florida gathered on Saturday, April 6, 2013 for a Day of Retreat and Thanksgiving at St. Stephen’s Parish Hall. Fr. Pauldass Selvaraj, OMI (India) invited Geri Furmanek, National Director for Mission Enrichment & Oblate Associates to give the annual day of retreat. It was especially important at this time, since the Missionary Oblates are returning the parish to the diocese (as part of the Renewing the Province Mission discernment) by the summer.
In the past, most Associate groups began around a particular Oblate. However, when the Oblate was transferred, fell ill or died, the group tended to slowly fade and eventually cease to exist. With the establishment of a National Office and the emphasis on lay leadership, Associates continue despite the fact that there may not be an Oblate physically present with the group. If they choose, they can continue to be part of the Oblate Family through contact with the National Office and the greater Associate world.
Associates are men and women who freely chose to gather monthly, despite their busy schedules, to pray, reflect and develop their spiritual lives. The retreat day, entitled, Gift of Hope, was a moment of grace. Some Associates had just completed their year of formation and several others were in the process of completing the recommended background materials on the Founder and various aspects of the educational/spiritual resources.
The day included significant time for personal sharing, silence, prayer, spiritual input on St. Eugene’s charism and Pope Benedict’s encyclical, On Christian Hope. Participants thoroughly enjoyed the encouragement they received from St. Eugene (aka Will Shaw, who serves the Province as Director of Province Communications, and as Director of Production at Oblate Media.)
Miramar Associates were reminded that they must take time to grieve and talk about the loss that is involved in the Oblates leaving. The changes in these next few months will be difficult. However, if they choose, they can continue to be Oblate Associates. The National Office will continue to provide resources, support and connections with Oblates to support their spiritual journey. In response, the Miramar Oblate Associates want to stay connected to the Oblates and the National Office, and are committed to living out their baptismal call as Associates. They know that the future will have some difficulties, but are energized to live the charism of St. Eugene along with the other Associates throughout the world. Presently, John Venezia, Yvette Fuentes and Tony Casas will help to coordinate the group.
Thank you to the Oblates who have served at Miramar. Thank you, Fr. Paul, for your invitation and commitment to supporting these men and women; and thank you to Fr. Alex Roque, OMI, Fr. George Roy, OMI and Bro. David Uribe, OMI for their gracious hospitality! Please keep them all in your prayers as they transition into a future of hope.
Retreat Participants: Fr. Paul Selvaraj, Bro. David Uribe, John Venezia, Marge Cesta, Mary Raynor, Carol Huff-Gacitua, Johnny Gacitua, Jennifer Ramlogan, Tony & Honey Scott, Charlie Fitch, Yvette Fuentes, Tony Casas, Sincera Noel, Matthew Glynn, Katherine Kalpoo, Angie Kalpoo, Lucy Marcano, Delia Vazquez, Grace (Allagracia) Cruz, Leela Pestana, Maralyn Shaw, Dominic Shaw and Wesley Frank Shaw.