Photos and Story from Fr. Andy Sensenig, OMI
This last weekend, (December 2-3), Fr. Tim Paulsen, OMI asked me to come up from my assignment at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer in Sarita, TX, to lead a group of people interested in becoming Oblate Associates on a day retreat at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Houston.
I was blown away by the number of people, who showed up for that retreat. Twenty-three people showed up on Saturday, December 8th, and these people have been in a formation process since 2016!
Fr. Tim explained to me that the lengthy formation process had many “starts and stops caused by Hurricane Harvey among other things.” Despite Fr. Tim’s always pleasant, easy going demeanor, I could feel in him, and in the people who were interested in becoming Oblate Associates, scrappiness and a powerful passion to live the charism of St. Eugene.
After our Saturday Retreat, the retreatants made their Oblate Associate commitments at the weekend mass they would normally attend. The commitment ceremony would take place at the end of mass. The individuals would be called forward by Fr. Tim and they would read their commitment certificate informing the community about their year-long promise to live as an Oblate Associate. The individuals would make their commitment in Spanish or in English depending whether it was a Spanish-speaking or English-speaking Mass.
Then the newly promised Oblate Associate would sign his or her commitment certificate on the altar with Fr. Tim or I signing on as a witness. Finally, Fr. Tim would present the newly recognized Oblate Associate a small Oblate Cross similar to the one that Oblates of Mary Immaculate wear on a daily basis.
It’s impressive how Fr. Tim encourages enthusiasm for the Oblates at Immaculate Heart of Mary. For example: after each Mass, whether it is weekday or weekend, Spanish-speaking or English-speaking, everyone prays for vocations to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. This has clearly been going on for some time, because even the altar servers who assisted at the masses I attended recited the vocation prayer from memory!
Needless to say, it was an inspiring weekend for the Mazenodian Family at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Houston, TX. I was just grateful to be a part of this joyful event.
Thank you, Fr. Tim and all the good people, who are part of this vibrant and vital parish community.