Moving from Hermit to Pastor

Sarita, Texas

By Andy Sensenig OMI

Fr. Sensenig (kneeling) is with the Garcia Family, parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sarita. Fr. Sensenig is holding the Nativity Stole they gave him for Christmas.

Last August, I was asked by my Provincial, Fr. Lou Studer, OMI to augment my assignment ministering at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer with being the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Sarita, Texas. I was following a Texan Oblate Legend, Fr. James Foelker, OMI, who ministered there up to his 89th birthday.

To boot, the parish with it’s classrooms and expansive parish hall was built under the careful eye of another Texan Oblate Legend, Fr. Kelly Nemeck, OMI, who was also one of the founding members of Lebh Shomea House of Prayer.

Talk about pressure! But fear not, in an unusual way, living the eremitical life at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer has prepared me in a way to live more authentically the Oblate Life, which our Founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, OMI called all of us Oblates to do.

The guidelines of Fr. Kelly at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer stated that if you want to come or minister at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer, you have pray, often up to 4 hours per day.

Then Fr. Kelly would encourage everyone, who came to Lebh Shomea House of Prayer to come to the Mass in the Morning at one of our two chapels; Chapel of the Little Children or the Sacred Heart Chapel.

Some parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe who come to the 6 AM Adoration before our 7 AM Mass (Mondays thru Saturdays).

Finally, Fr. Kelly would strongly suggest that everyone attend Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament at the Sacred Heart Chapel. This practice goes back all the way to St. Eugene who encouraged all his Oblates to engage in the practice of quiet meditative prayer called “oraison.”

A beautifully written article on oraison by Fr. Kelly can be found on our international Oblate Website (www.omiworld.org) with a link below:

https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/prayer-oraison/

The practices of daily Mass, praying before the Blessed Sacrament, and private prayer helped me to truly dive into one of the wellsprings of Oblate Spirituality, the Oblate Rule. You can read and pray with the Oblate Rule everyday and learn something new every time.

Now, I come back to life as a pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Sarita with my eyes not only more open, but my vision widened and enlarged; thanks to lessons learned and re-learned at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer.

There is one practice that I am carrying with me from Lebh Shomea House of Prayer: daily Adoration along with the good practice of having a Mass each day of the week, which was established by Fr. Jim Foelker, OMI our pastor emeritus.

Fr. Andy (Back row, on right, next to tree) is with our group focused on learning about devotional prayer forms, which meets once a month. This time we watched “Power in my Hands,” a film on the rosary.

The additional practice of a daily Holy Hour began on Christmas Day and will help parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe develop some quiet time with Lord, while adding a little flavor of Oblate Spirituality as we all prepare for the upcoming Eucharistic Congress on June 16 – 19, 2022 in the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

Life is good in Sarita, because it’s always a joy to serve as a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, or what I like refer to myself as a “son of St. Eugene.”

Life is just better, when you take the time to pray!