Photos and text by Fr. William Antone, OMI
On Saturday evening, September 7, more than a hundred friends, family members, Affiliates along with the local Oblates gathered for the annual “Acceptance Mass” at the Pre-novitiate in Tijuana, Baja California. 5 Pre-novices were formally accepted/re-accepted into the program in Tijuana, Baja California—2 are returning from last year and 3 are new. Floriberto “Beto” González is beginning his fourth year and Víctor Izquierdo his second year. Aarón Cruz, Alvaro Zapata and José Hernandez are beginning their first year.
Beto, 34 years old, comes originally from the state of Guerrero, Mexico. He got to know the Oblates through Fr. Daniel LeBlanc who represents the Oblates at the United Nations, in New York City. Víctor Izquierdo, 22, is originally from the state of Hidalgo, Mexico, and comes from the Oblate parish in Tijuana. Aarón, 27, comes originally from the state of Veracruz, Mexico. He has earned a master’s in computer sciences and has spent some time teaching. Álvaro and José are both 20 years old, and were born and raised in Tijuana. They both come from the local Oblate parish, and along with Víctor and Aarón, they have participated in the Affiliate program directed by Fr. Jesse Esqueda.
Fr. Lucio Castillo presided at the Mass, while Fr. Jesse preached on the closeness of Oblates to the poor and those who suffer. Fr. Webert Merilan, pastor of the new parish of María Inmaculada, along with Fr. Marek Stroba concelebrated. Oblate friend, Deacon Tim Schulz from San Diego, served at the Mass. Brother Peter Vasquez presented the Pre-novices to the assembly and Fr. Bill Antone received their commitment and presented them with the Pre-novitiate manual and a small wooden cross representing their promise to participate for one year in the formation program. After the Mass all present enjoyed dinner, music and at one point the gathered community took to dancing!