The 2018-19 Oblate Novice class was officially welcomed to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, IL on August 17th, 2018. The following biographical sketches were written by the novices themselves.
Mark Anthony Hernández 28 year-old Mark was born on August 13, 1990 in San Antonio, Texas and was raised in Eagle Pass, Texas. Mark comes from a family of migrant workers. His grandparents and parents would travel from the Texas border to Wisconsin and Montana during the summer months to work in the fields and work as laborers. His mother became a high school teacher for individuals with Special Needs and his father became the Assistant Supervisor for the Texas Department of Transportation. Mark is amazed at the struggles his parents have faced in order to open many doors for him and his two older brothers.
As a sophomore in college, he visited Lebh Shomea; a House of Prayer run by the Oblates. It was here where Mark remembers telling God, “Whatever it is you want for me, that is what I want too.” Initially Mark thought he was called to make a difference in the world of banking, but he soon realized that God had greater plans for him than he could have envisioned. As a leap of faith Mark resigned from banking and began to venture into the investment of his lifetime; the investment in living the gospel. He attended a Come and See for the Oblates and it was here where he felt the call to “Let go” of his insecurity, doubts and fears. It was here where he decided to “Let God” lead him by the hand.
Mark joined the Oblate Pre-Novitiate community in August of 2016 alongside eleven other men. He was fortunate to have been placed in a missionary environment, and in a community with a diverse set of gifts and talents. He defines this experience as one where he was able to integrate his lived experiences with his studies in philosophy, his art works, and his interpersonal relationships. Mark felt encouraged in his desire to continue his discernment with the Oblates and applied for entrance to the Novitiate alongside two other candidates. Mark plans to be intentional in this year-long experience. He understands that this will be a foundational year for him and intends on deepening his awareness of self, his attraction to community life, and his relationship to Christ.
David Peter Chisha. I am 29 years old, born on March 14, 1989 in Chipulukusu compound Ndola, Zambia. I am the second born of six, three boys and three girls. I was baptized, received first communion and confirmed at St. Charles Luanga Catholic Church in Chipulukusu compound. I started my primary school in 1999 and completed my secondary school in 2011. I came to know about the congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 2012 through some pre-novitiate brothers who were doing pastoral work at the parish I was attending in Lusaka. I was inspired by the Charism of the congregation: “zeal to preach the gospel to the poor with their many faces, especially those who are most abandoned”. I joined pre-novitiate on 8th September 2014 and I lived in the pre-novitiate for four years where I was discerning about my vocation as a religious, learning about the founder and the Charism of the congregation and for three years I attended classes of philosophy while I was in pre-novitiate. I completed my pre-novitiate and philosophical studies on 18th May 2018. On 17th August 2018 I entered the novitiate where am looking forward to deepening my relationship with Jesus Christ in prayer, learning more about the religious life and the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Democracy Mudenda. I am 25 years old and I come from Zambia. I have two sisters and four brothers; both my mother and father are deceased. I came to know the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and was inspired by their example in working with the poor. They showed a true joy, love and care in their commitment and zeal for the salvation of souls. The Holy Spirit led me to consider joining them! I entered the pre-novitiate community on September 8, 2014. I completed one year of postulancy and three years at St. Bonaventure’s University, where I received my B.A. and diploma in philosophy and religious studies, as well as a certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education. I am happy to have been chosen to do my novitiate year here in Godfrey and look forward to deepening my love for the charism of St. Eugene and strengthening my identification with the Congregation.