By Very Rev. Louis Studer, OMI, U.S. Provincial
Every three years, all the Oblates of the U.S. Province are invited to gather together in community to pray, listen, learn, and socialize! This year this invitation has been sent to all 220 U.S. Province Oblates, the Leadership Team of the delegation of Zambia, a mission of the U.S. Province, the Provincials and Vicars of the three provinces of Canada and several members of the Mazenodian Family.
The theme of Convocation 2020, meeting from Monday afternoon, April 13 until Friday morning, April 17, is a mandate from our Oblate Founder and Father, St. Eugene de Mazenod, “They Will Constantly Renew Themselves In The Spirit Of Their Vocation.”
In St. Eugene’s time, this directive undoubtedly referred to his Oblate sons and his ardent desire that they passionately spiritually grow and strengthen their vowed commitment as Religious and deepen their relationship with the Lord. It is certainly an urgent call for all Oblates to give of themselves more generously in their “oblation,” both to community life and to mission.
Even in St. Eugene’s day, men and women who supported the mission of the Oblates with their prayers and generous gifts were positively acknowledged and thanked as important sharers in the Oblate charism. St. Eugene himself often made note of their giftedness and their significant support of the Oblate mission.
Some Members of the Mazenodian Family
In our day, the numbers of these generous folks have been greatly increased, beyond just their prayers and gifts. In the U.S. Province, there are many donors who still support our mission, but many other groups as well: Oblate Associates, Honorary Oblates, Oblate Youth groups, Oblate Affiliados (vocation prospects), Oblate Partners, Oblate Employees, are all active participants in the Oblate charism. It is their desire to be part and parcel in the good ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 68 countries of the world! These groups vary only in why they were founded and in the particular way they are part of our charism.
Convocation 2020 will be a celebration of that reality! Joining the Oblates all five days will be the Honorary Oblates, that special group of men and women hand-picked by our Superior General to share in all the spiritual benefits and good works of our Congregation. They receive the traditional Oblate crucifix as a sign of their belonging to us, the distinctive sign of their oneness with us.
Joining the Oblates the last two days will be some representatives of the other six groups who have asked to share in our charism.
Convocation 2020 will also be special because of the presence of our Superior General, Fr. Louis Lougen, OMI, and our Canada-U.S. Region General Councilor, Fr. Warren Brown, OMI. They will update us on the state of our Congregation and our Region.
While some of the Convocations in the past have been decision-making in focus and purpose, this one will not be.
As the theme boldly states, the goal is renewal of heart and mind and spirit in the Oblate charism, in the particular vocation God has chosen for each one of us in the Mazenodian Family.
Speakers chosen for Convocation 2020 are skilled in topics and themes that encourage us to reflect on renewing, re-discovering, enhancing, our vocational call in the spirit of the Oblate charism. Topics such as the meaning of charism, the giftedness of our call from the Lord, Oblate missionary work in the world, will help us reflect and pray together on the theme.
Convocation 2020 is a time to step away from our busy lives to also share with one another blessings we have received from God as the Oblate Family and to ask God to help us grow spiritually in the vocation God has chosen for each of us: Members of the Mazenodian Family and Sharers in the Charism of St. Eugene!
Louis Studer, OMI