Interview with Fr. Richard Hall, OMI
The Missionary Oblates held their January Come and See weekend, January 18-20 in San Antonio, Texas.
Sixteen young men came from Utah, California, Illinois, Tennessee, Virginia, and Texas to attend. Plus, one more attendee is a native of Sri Lanka who discovered the Oblates and his vocation while doing research for a Ph.D. at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio.
The men who attend a “Come and See” are, for the most part, university students who came to know the Oblates through retreats, confessions, the website or contact with other Oblates. Some are referred through personal connections. For example, two of the men who attended came through Fr. Ray Cook who ministers at Rice University.
Oblate Vocation Director, Fr. Richard Hall says he can tell when he speaks with a young man who is searching for something in life, “It may or may not be a religious vocation, but you can tell that they are searching for something. So when I have that sense that they’re searching, I ask if they’ve ever thought about religious life? Could it be that God is calling them? Would they care to investigate that a little more? If the answer is yes, then I have more conversations with them, we get to know each other, and if they continue to be interested I invite them to a Come and See.”
The Oblates emphasize that these weekends are not retreats, they are more of a “…practical, pastoral, way of getting to know who the Oblates are through prayer, through ministry, and through interactions. At this particular weekend, the interactions were with our scholastics.”
Activities at this weekend included: morning and evening prayer, liturgy every day. A presentation by Fr. David Muñoz on the charism and St. Eugene. Often times they’ve never heard of St. Eugene so it is a “must” that they know who they are connecting with and who the Oblates are because of St. Eugene.
The Oblates also have a ministry experience for them. The group often connects with the Oblate Associates from San Juan de los Lagos Church who have an outreach feeding and clothing the poor and homeless of San Antonio. The men prepare meals and clothing for handing out and they interact with the poor listening to their stories and getting to know them.
One of the young men in this group is currently a hair stylist, a special skill that came in very handy during their visit. Fr. Hall recalled, “there were a couple of women who were giving free haircuts to the homeless, after we had been there a while, I looked over and saw that our candidate had gotten one of the trimmers and was cutting hair. That was a beautiful example of initiative, I thought this person is made for ministry, he is somebody that simply jumped in and got involved. That’s the kind of person we want to continue to walk with.”
Ages ranged from 23 to 40. The 40-year-old is a policeman. If he were to continue, it would be necessary to obtain special permission from the provincial, the normal age range for candidates is 18-39.
Fr. Hall is quite convinced that the Oblate vocation efforts are having unusual success due to some special help: “This group had very mature, solid men. They asked great questions and participated with enthusiasm. Of this 16, we have about 7 or 8 who are applying for admission to our formation program. “I think the spirit of St. Eugene really looked down upon us this time…I noticed that during the year of Oblate Vocations we increased numbers in the Come and See Weekends and in those entering our formation programs and I really do believe that it had a lot to do with St. Eugene.”
The next “Come and See” Weekend will be held in the summer of 2019 with an exact date to be determined.
Any men ages 18-39 wishing information about the next “Come and See” Weekend, or information about Oblate life is invited to visit the Oblate Vocations website: https://www.omiusa.org/index.php/interested-in-a-missionary-life/
Or call and speak with one of our Vocation Directors: