Interview with Fr. Frank Santucci, OMI
The first Mazenodian Family Congress was held January 22-25, 2019 at the Whitley Center on the campus of Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. A select leadership committee chaired by Fr. Frank Santucci had pre-selected two delegates from each the seven groups that, together with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, participate in the Mazenodian charism. The seven groups are: Honorary Oblates, Oblate Associates, Oblate Affiliates, Oblate Employees, Oblate Mission Supporters, Oblate Partners, and Oblate Youth.
The purpose of the congress was to bring these groups together at the end of the Year of Oblate Vocations in order to get to know one another, to listen to one another, and to discern a direction for the future of the Mazenodian Family.
In addition to two keynote addresses, several presentations were made to the group leading to group discussions and workshops. The first keynote speech took place on Tuesday night with Tom Bushlack, Ph.D., associate professor of Theology and Ethics and Director of the Ashley-O’Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO. His presentation explored “the developments of a lay theology of ministry since the Second Vatican Council, and then place those trends into dialogue with the lived experiences of oblates today. Our goal is to begin to articulate a theology of the oblate charism, vocation, and ministry that can provide some guidance for oblates in our dual commitments to the renewal of religious life and to infusing the seeds of the Gospel in the secular world today.”
Wednesday evening the featured speaker was Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI, renowned author, speaker, theologian and president of Oblate School of Theology. Fr. Rolheiser also focused on the charism, “The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate were founded to serve the poor. Historically that foundation was also rooted in the Founder’s experience of the Cross, his sense of Mary as the special patroness of the poor, and his knowing that effective compassion and ministry can only come out of community. What does that mean for us today, seeking to live out that charism 200 years later?”
In addition, presentations at the meetings were made by Fr. David Muñoz, OMI, Sandy Prather, HOMI, and by Fr. Santucci himself. (NEED SOME ADDITIONAL INFO ON THESE TALKS)
What Happens next? According to Fr. Santucci. “We need to clarify our identity, Look at how the Mazenodian Family Members can help each other in the various expression of the mission, celebrate together our identity as part of the Mazenodian Family, and to plan for the future. Each group to do a directory of their group, what is an Oblate Partner? What is an Associate?, etc.” As soon as we have all the material together the committee will go through everything we’ve heard, the sessions where people gave feedback, the various talks. The important thing is the mission of evangelizing the most abandoned. We have the focus of the charism, that’s the lodestar, like the Constitution and Rules for the Oblates. It’s a work in progress.”