By Fr. Shanil Jayawardena, OMI
October 19, 1975, in St Peter’s Square in Rome, Pope Paul VI proclaimed Eugene de Mazenod blessed. In preparation for that event, the Superior General wrote to all Oblates.
For us this beatification is both a grace and a challenge. It is a grace which confirms and invites us to joy… a challenge which tests our fidelity: fidelity to the mission among the poor; fidelity to that quality of being which the Founder wanted for the Oblates.
In today’s world are we still the kind of missionaries to the poor envisaged by Father de Mazenod? Do we still go to the poor with the same preference, the same zeal, the same boldness, the same spirit of solidarity, the same love of the Church…? Do we still have the same deep attachment to Jesus Christ, the same concern for self-denial, the same inner thirst for holiness, the same conviction that the quality of our being is as important for the welfare of people as is the intensity of our activity…?
The beatification ceremony will be over quickly. And what will remain? Will there be the grace of conversion… new strength… a renewed thrust toward the poor?
To all of you I repeat what I told the 1974 Chapter: In the name of God be strong! Be strong in faith and in obedience to the mission you have received. Be strong in your love. Be capable of holding on and going ahead, out of love for the poor and fidelity to Jesus Christ — to Jesus Christ in his poor!
Through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin, “who is victorious over all evil” (1966 Constitutions, art. 6) and “the perfect model of our response to God” (1966Constitutions, art. 61), may Bishop de Mazenod’s beatification be for us the occasion of an authentic inner renewal! (F. Jetté, June 6, 1975, in Lettres aux Oblats de Marie Immaculée, Rome 1984, p. 19-24)