By Fr. Louis Studer, OMI , U.S. Provincial
The Symposium’s goal was to heighten awareness of the interconnectedness between care for the earth and concern for all of life, especially the poor in our midst. Chief planners for the day were Br. Len Rego, OMI, Director of JPIC – OMI Lacombe Canada and Fr. Antonio Ponce, OMI, Director of JPIC – USA. Over 50 Oblates, Oblate Associates, professors, students, interested parties from both Canada and the U.S. attended the one day event. Another 80 folks followed the proceedings on-line.The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) offices of Lacombe Oblate Province, Canada, the JPIC Office of U.S. Province, and St. Paul’s Oblates’ University sponsored a symposium at St. Paul’s in Ottawa, Canada, on August 30th, 2017, on the theme, “the Cry of the Earth is the Cry of the Poor.”
Mme. Chantal Beauvais, Rector of St. Paul’s Oblate University, welcomed everyone and her brief introduction to the day included the plea for schools, especially colleges and universities to be places where theory, speculation, analysis must happen in discovering ways to care for the earth and the poor but practical applications of these theories must follow as well. Involvement cannot be only textbook analysis but must include praxis at the university level.
Fr. Gilberto Pinon, Oblate missionary in Bolivia, joined the conference by Skype. He challenged each Oblate community of the congregation to discover who the poor are in our midst and then use some practical steps in accompanying them. Oblates must give witness to an Oblate spirituality and theology of mission. That will form the basis, be the underpinning, for our care for the earth, for one another. Watch a video of Fr. Gilberto’s presentation.
Fr. Séamus Finn, OMI, Consultant to JPIC and Advisor for Corporate Faith Based Investing, outlined the Biblical tradition of who is identified as the poor and spoke about who are the “new poor”
in our world. He reminded us of some more recent strategies and plans in helping the poor: “halving the number of those below the poverty line by 2020; the Paris ecology summit; new organizations founded for helping the poor. Watch a video of Fr. Séamus’ presentation.
Sr. Linda Gibler, O.P., Professor at Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, summarized how the papal encyclical “Laudato Si” emphasizes the unity of all of creation. “The earth is a shared inheritance, given to all of creation, by God,” she told us. Watch a video of Sr. Linda’s presentation.
Mr. Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice, gave some practical steps for the participants to employ in caring for the earth, caring for each other. “Laudato Si,” he said, “is not so much new news as it is good news. It is a new opportunity for us to renew our care for one another, for all of creation, even for ourselves.” Watch a video of Mr. Gunn’s presentation.
Fr. Ken Forster, OMI, Provincial of OMI Lacombe Canada Province and I, gave a brief summary of the main thoughts of the day and spoke about how the suggestions offered might be more fully integrated into each of our Oblate communities in the Canada – U.S. region. Watch the closing remarks by Frs. Ken Forster and Lou Studer.
The 36th Oblate General Chapter spoke often about an “intentional interculturality, i.e., the conscious, deliberate integration of those from other cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, as fully participating members in our Oblate communities and ministries. Our mandate to Oblates and to those who share our Oblate charism, from the Chapter, is clear. Making the mandate part of our lives is the challenge now before us.
A joyful celebration of the Eucharist concluded our time together.