On the 20th to the 22nd of November 2015, 23 oblate lay associates from all three South African oblate provinces met for the first ever retreat as one United body. The associates met at Parnassus Farm (Magalisburg) – the camp site of St. Benedict’s oblate school in Johannesburg.
The retreat master Fr. Thabang NKADIMENG, Director of the Associates in the Northern Province, preached the retreat on the theme “The Interior Castle”. As we approach the amalgamation of provinces, many steps have to be taken just as the soul has to enter different chambers in the castle to reach the diamond who is God, as we find in the spiritual writings of St. Teresa of Avila.
St. Teresa of Avila teaches us how to trust in God and how to always be aware of the need to remain within the castle and not outside.
The retreat is a time of introspection: knowing myself and my calling as a Lay Oblate Associate. How can I as a lay person live the Oblate spirituality in my everyday life? What novelty, if any, do I bring to the Oblate world especially during this time of globalization?
As the new united province will most likely venture into new ministries or retake ministries that have since died, the associates feel a period of discernment is necessary and the involvement of the laity is paramount.
The 23 members representing the three provinces continue as “Proudly Catholic” and embark on going into the world preaching Christ and Him Crucified. It is God who has called us to this most noble vocation and will make sure the united province continues the good Oblate work begun by so many missionaries before. St. Eugene will exhort us once again to leave nothing undared for the Kingdom of God.
“God will never ask of us anything beyond what we can do.” (St. Eugene de Mazenod, September 27, 1842.) (Oblate Associates of South Africa)