In the Oblate World, each February 17 is celebrated as “Oblate Day,” the anniversary of Papal Approval of the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. As is custom, the U.S. Provincial, the Very Rev. William Antone, OMI, sends out a special message to Oblates, Oblate Associates, employees, donors and friends to mark the occasion. Please click on the link below to read Fr. Antone’s letter for 2015.
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
United States Province
Oblate Day, February 17, 2015
Dear Brother Oblates and Oblate Friends,
Best wishes to all as we celebrate Oblate Day! This February 17th marks the 189th anniversary of the papal approval of our Congregation. In 1826 Pope Leo XII blessed the passion and vision of a relatively young St. Eugene. He was 43 years old. With this official blessing and approval, the first Oblates were called to fashion their lives according to the newly approved Constitutions and Rules. “We are men set apart for the Gospel.” (Constitution 2) For our Founder the Gospel was clearly Good News for the poor and abandoned. He would strongly agree with the desire of Pope Francis for “a Church that is poor and for the poor.” May each of us give thanks to God for the special call we are privileged to hear and respond to in our daily lives.
On this day we Oblates are invited to renew our vows. May our daily lives be taken up into what we vow. Today we also consecrate our lives to Mary who always leads us to her Son in order to do as he tells us to do. In so doing we are given a surprising sign of newness and a hope-filled beginning of joyful communal friendship for our lives. (John 2, 1-11)
Today, for our Honorary Oblates, Associates and Partners, Benefactors, Employees and Collaborators who embody in many ways lives lived according to Oblate charism: you are also invited on Oblate Day to let St. Eugene inspire you to go out to the world with the Good News of charity and generous service, especially for the poor and abandoned.
After a few years serving as provincial, I ask myself (like many of you do too, I suppose): “Where are we today as a province?” In particular, where are we as regards our Renewing the Province Mission process?
I continue to be hopeful about our future. The outlines of that future, though, are not at all clear, and we can easily become anxious. I believe, though, that as the Renewing the Province Mission process continues to be implemented, we need to trust the signs of renewal that we see.
I see hopeful signs that our fraternal and communal bonds are growing stronger and that we are reaching out to those on the margins, the poor and the abandoned. With the impetus of Pope Francis, I see hopeful signs that our oneness with the Church and with its emerging future will be a great source of renewal for us as Oblates. There are signs too of severe tests that await us. We are given the grace to choose to see such tests as a positive call to greater authenticity. We pray we can face these tests. So, while the outlines of the future are not clear, the signs give us reason to be hopeful. Certainly our faith, like that of Abraham, is the basis for our hope.
The simple fact that we are in the midst of our spring “Area meetings” gives hope…at least to me. We come together. They are short “over-nighters” and I am grateful to the area councilors for their work in preparing and facilitating the meetings and to all who are attending.
I have attended two of the five area meetings so far and as usual they bring together a beautiful group of men each connected with the profound religious bond of being Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The beauty is displayed in our diversity: different ages and backgrounds, temperaments and perspectives. The many areas of experience and levels of expertise are impressive.
The many personal examples of dedication, creativity and generosity of Oblates and Friends of Oblates in God’s service within the Church and within the Congregation are uplifting and inspiring. There are many, many brother Oblates and Friends of Oblates who do extraordinary things and often go unnoticed.
We have lost many to death over this last year and we do well to remember the life-stories of our deceased and older brothers. Their wisdom and example of perseverance are great sources of renewal for us as a province.
We are blessed with younger Oblates and they will carry forward the Oblate charism embodied in our various ministries. They too are a diverse group and yet united, like the rest of us, in our commitment to the essential Oblate values. We need to listen to them attentively.
During this Year of Consecrated Life, this second year of the Oblate Triennium and on this Oblate Day, we are being called to commit again to putting into practice the essential Oblate values expressed in our Constitutions and Rules. We are especially being called to the values of community life, zeal and daring in mission, the vows, especially poverty, and life-long formation. Our “oblation” requires a constant turning toward God in our lives.
Our neighboring Oblates in Canada and Mexico invite us to look beyond our borders. Our historical going out as missionaries to Brazil, the Philippines, Scandinavia, Tahiti, Mexico, Haiti, Zambia and elsewhere is part of our identity and should remind us that as a province we do not go only where we are comfortable going. We also go where we are needed as missionaries. (cf. Constitution 1)
May our developing Mission Centers be among the “icons” we look to as we celebrate the many ways we live out our calling. And may those who keep the home fires burning be examples of loyalty, insight, zeal and charity. Blessings of Peace and Joy!
Fraternally in Jesus and Mary Immaculate,
Fr. Bill Antone, OMI