by Alicia von Stamwitz
On the weekend of April 12—14, 2013, forty-five participants gathered at San Antonio’s Oblate Renewal Center and the new Whitley Center at Oblate School of Theology for the fourth annual De Mazenod Conference: “Discovering and Practicing the Presence of God: Catholic Spirituality for Everyday Living.”
Missionary Oblate Partners launched the conference series in 2010 with Artie Pingolt, President, convening the event and Fr. Tom Singer, Spiritual Director, coordinating. Fellow Missionary Oblate Partner and writer/editor Alicia von Stamwitz joined Tom in coordinating 2013’s gathering. The De Mazenod Conference seeks to promote broader collaboration and understanding around issues of faith and human development.
A lively mix of vowed Oblates, national leaders, partners, and friends attended the conference, including 11 Oblates from the U.S. and Lacombe, Canada provinces: Bill Antone, John Collet, Jim Deegan, Paul Feeley, David Kalert, Bill Morell, Frank Santucci, Dale Schlitt, Tom Singer, John Staak, and Lou Studer.
Tom Singer, our keynote speaker, reminded us that our previous De Mazenod Conferences were more externally focused on Church communications and evangelization. “For this year’s conference,” he said, “we thought it might be beneficial if we tried to share with our Partners some of our Oblate spirituality.”
Jim Deegan, our first presenter, led three sessions on, “The One Essential Thing” including practical exercises on Lectio Divina and Consciousness Examen. Frank Santucci, our second presenter, offered two sessions on “Eugene de Mazenod’s Vision and Spirituality,” and he guided us through dynamic small group sessions. Highlights of the sessions and further reflections from attendees and friends will be published later this year in our annual conference Journal.
At the start of the conference, Artie Pingolt expressed his hope that the conference would offer “spiritual oxygen” to the attendees. Apparently, this hope was realized. During our closing evaluation, attendees agree that the conference was a much-needed boost and breath of fresh air. One partner commented, “I’ve gotten more out of this conference than I have in all my previous eleven years as an associate!” A professed Oblate said, “It’s probably the best conference I’ve been to. Really!” Another simply gushed, “Wow!”
Artie extends special thanks to the sponsors of this year’s conference: Cliff & Mary Jo Bolner, Rosemary Walsh, HOMI, Renee Benson and John & Gee Gee Whitehurst.
About the Missionary Oblate Partnership:
The Missionary Oblate Partnership, which began in 2004, is composed of both Oblates and “individuals and institutions who support the Oblate charism of evangelizing the world’s poor,” according to the Partnership’s website. There are over 80 Partners in the US and Europe.
Together, members of the Partnership work towards two common objectives found within its mission. Primarily, it works to facilitate an understanding by Partners of the world’s poor that stimulates greater personal and spiritual solidarity with these poor as brothers and sisters. Secondly, the Partnership seeks to experience the solidarity as a call to action.
Further information about the Partnership can be found at www.oblatepartnership.org .